You are probably familiar with the term “man cave.” It is surprising to me that we have not heard anything about gender stereotyping in adult activities. It will never cease to amaze me how concerned many people are about “gender stereotyping in toys.” Let’s face it, the majority of adult women choose to be feminine and the majority of men choose to be masculine, and we do not express outrage about that.
I am not arguing that we should make sure all boys’ toys are blue and all girls’ toys are pink – far from it. What I am saying is that, as the mother of two girls and two boys, I have observed that they are inherently different. Give my children a pile of rocks and the boys will build racetracks for their cars and the girls imaginary tea party treats for their dolls. Yes, my daughters played with toy cars, caught lizards and spiders, and my boys loved dressing Barbie dolls and playing house with their sisters, especially when the houses were designed from cardboard boxes from newly delivered appliances. As they grew older and their social circle inevitably became more “gender specific,” interests for my boys changed to playing and watching sports, and my girls to shopping with their friends and giggling a great deal.
If you are concerned about gender stereotyping, more than likely it is due to encountering it in either your child’s school or social circle. Your concern is understandable, just not something I myself ever had to deal with. Thinking back over the raising of my now-adult children, I realize much of my lack of concern is because of how my husband and I dealt with raising our children. Making sure gender stereotyping does not cripple your child’s interests and activities begins at home.
As a parent of boys, girls, or both, you can send emotionally healthy messages to your children by doing the following:
If you follow these tips, your desire to give your children the best life experiences possible will guide you to have a positive attitude about gender roles that becomes part of your life, as well as that of your husband and children. The more natural your approach to gender roles, the more your children will become strong and capable individuals, independent and satisfied with their career and life choices.