Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gender Roles and Stereotypes

I see there is a post on BotB about this from last night, and I'm just starting to read all the responses now, which is good, because lately I have really been thinking about how what we do as parents and people will now start to affect the burrito as he is fully able to view and take in everything around him.

I have noticed that hubs' family is especially supportive of gender roles and boy stereotypes. I can't remember exactly the situation, but someone tried to give him something purple, and MIL said "no, that's a girl color!" I said that I don't want to tell him that certain things are meant only for girls or only for boys. I also pointed out that he has four spoons of differing colors and one of them is pink and I use it even though it's not a "boy color." Hopefully if I keep pointing it out, she'll get it. I try to make it more about the way I want him brought up and not a me vs MIL sort of thing (just because recently I've noticed that her mannerisms and way of acting around the burrito are not exactly in tune with in point: please do not let my child lick your fork which just had a seasoned steak on it).

But I digress...I don't want to post the whole conversation here, but I did want to put down some snippets so I recall them later:

(original thread)
(original original thread)

I don't know the answer, but I will say that I'm amazed at how much of a "boy" Gabe has turned out to be.  There's just so much that comes from society that you don't even realize.  I try to expose Gabe to a wide range of toys and experiences (he has dolls, he has play food, he has puzzles, he has trucks etc), but he's currently obsessed with cars, trucks, airplanes and trains.
Where does my responsibility as a parent lie?  Do I encourage the things he is interested in even though they are pretty stereotypically "boy" interests?  Do I try to steer him towards more gender neutral interests in order to "balance" him out for lack of a better word? - armandos

...listen to a child's cues and be aware of their comfort level. I have two friends with little kids who are displaying gender non-conforming behavior. Explaining why peoplereact the way they do without blaming the child or telling them what to do makes a difference. These are kids who know their sex, don't have the words to describe gender expression, but who are truly discovering what fits for them. - BGG

I am  thinking of a blog post (which I can't remember) where a mom was called in because in her 1st grade classroom, her daughter was in trouble for being violent.  They were writing a story and each kid built on the page in front by the previous kid.  Her daughter's had to do w/ something violent and the teacher insisted that she had NEVER seen such violence in a story before...but the daughter's page was building directly off of the MORE violent pages that came first...but no one cared about those because boys could be violent. - GBKC

But I also grew up knowing that physically, I am a girl and there are certain things that are expected of me as a girl (for lack of a better term).  I knew that going to church on Sunday, showing up in a dress would be less controversial than showing up in khaki's and a tie.  I was blessed to have incredibly supportive family/friends and not to have any serious inner gender/identity issues and could go between my desire to be more tomboy and societies expectation for me to be more girly. - Balls

As far as the coddling girls and toughening up boys thing... it is the total opposite at my house.  It has nothing to do with their sexes, and everything to do with their personalities.  Rough housing is an equal opportunity sport in this house, and nobody holds back anymore on Riley than they do on Nathan.  Nathan tends to be more sensitive if he gets hurt or feels upset, and he needs the hugs and cuddles to get over it quickly, so that's what he gets.  Riley tends to do better with the "you're alright, shake it off and get back up!" speech, so that's what she gets more often than not. ... I think that expecting everyone to conform to them is definitely not ok, but there is nothing wrong with "girls like to wear dresses" and "boys like to play with trucks" as long as people understand that it is ok for it to be the opposite. - Leslie

My MIL has voiced her concerns about us not teaching him proper gender rolls.  She sees photos of him playing with the vacuum, pretending to cook, etc.  She truly feels that we should be pushing the cars, trucks, and trains.  He owns "boy toys" and chooses not to play with them very often.- MadameFP
This is something I worry about with MIL. I believe that every kid no matter the sex should know how to do things around the house - laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. I know that hubs will support this, because he's a clean freak by nature (his time in the Navy added to this). But hopefully she won't discourage that. My common sense says she would not, but my inner monologue worries about everything. I just have to focus on how hubs grew up I think, because she raised him, and he makes a killer french toast. Score.

One of my favorite selections from The Parent's Tao Te Ching - A New Interpretation:

2. Take Care With Labels
When you teach your children that certain things are good,
they are likely to call all different things bad.
If you teach them that certain things are beautiful,
they may see all other things as ugly.

Call difficult things "difficult,"
and easy things "easy,"
without avoiding one and seeking the other
and your children will learn self-confidence.
Call results "results,"
without labeling one as success
and another as failure
and your children will learn freedom from fear.
Call birth "birth,"
and death "death,"
without seeing one as good
and the other as evil
and your children will be at home with life. 
 - AKA
↑ I need to get this, I completely agree with this excerpt. Thanks akalutts for posting this! ::adds to Amazon list::

Well, I have a little time before he starts being heavily influenced by outside sources...I'm not entirely sure that the other kids at daycare are giving him pressure right now. But I am interested to read the book that aka quoted and see if there's anything that I can start doing (or not doing) now to help make the burrito a more tolerant, well-rounded, and communicative individual. Or, just not screw him up. Isn't that what every parent aspires to?

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