It is important for parents to evaluate periodically if they are raising their children in most gender neutral way? We should be mindful of not falling into the gender traps set by society since ages. We don’t even realise that as parents we are allowing or sometimes even promoting behavior which is sowing seeds of gender inequality in young impressionable minds of our children. World is gendering little children and as a parent it is our responsibility to protect our children from getting stereotyped. Here are some key pertinent questions which would tell us if we are raising our children in gender neutral way.
Are we drowning our girls in ocean of pink ?
Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. This one has gone too far. There is also a gender discrimination here as you do witness newborn boy babies getting gifts or apparel in blue color and newborn girls in pink but as they grow blue goes away and all colors except pink or peach come in for boys but girls are drowned in pink for another 7-8 years. At Least it would have been fairer to girls if blue had stuck to boys the way pink stuck to girls but that’s not the reality. I have a 3-year-old daughter and without my ever picking up pink stuff for her or promoting pink as a color , pink is her favorite color. Everything she wants is in only one color and that’s pink. I do not know how to “de-pink” her and bring to her attention the diversity and beauty of all other colors. There is nothing wrong with pink color but then there is nothing special also about pink color which other colors don’t have. Just because she is a girl, a child’s color palette should not be limited to pink or purple.
Are we choosing extracurricular activities classes for our children through invisible gender tinted glasses? Dance for girls and sports for boys – sounds familiar?
Activities beyond studies are very important as these activities not only shape a child’s personality but also shape his or her point of views and opinions. For children between age 3-8, when there isn’t any preference or particular interest of child, parents choose the activities which sometimes mirror their own interests and sometimes mirror gender stereotypical norms. In Dance classes, you would find more girls than boys and in sports classes, more boys than girls. I would recommend to expose your child to both and then let the child choose. Here also, many girls are kept away from sports & related activities only because these have been categorised as boys stuff. Imagine what would have happened if Saina Nehwal or PV Sindhu would have not been introduced to badminton. A Sport not only teaches you a skill but also the lessons in teamwork and grit. Sports shape your personality. Let’s not keep our girls away from the amazing world of sports.
Are we choosing gender neutral toys for our children or as gifts for other children?
Why do we buy LEGO or Thomas & Friends engines for boys but not girls? Why does a girl get to play only with Barbie doll, read princess stories and watch movies such as Frozen. In my daughter’s second birthday, barring few, most of the gifts were either kitchens sets/house plays or Barbie related toys. Why don’t we gift girls Lego sets, cars or engines ? By not doing so, we deny them the exposure to another world itself and thus keep them away from developing multi dimensional interests and personality. Girls like Barbie because that’s what they get to play with- at home, in friend’s house or at birthday parties. Toys Industry is promoting gender stereotyping which contributes to gender inequality in a way. Visit any aisle of girls section in a toy store and you would find plenty of Kitchen sets, house sets, makeup kits, hair dryer kits and scores of barbie and her friends as if the world is getting young girls ready for their future jobs in kitchen and house. This one has serious repercussion in promoting gender inequality in household chores when these children grow up and are playing with real house and kitchen sets. Read my blog on gender inequality in sharing household chores here.
Read further on gender traps when raising children in concluding PART II of this blog series.