Parenting is not easy. You want your child to behave well and you have a certain ideal image of how your child should behave. Mothers love to dress their little girl like a princess and fathers dream of seeing their son becoming a hero in the army.
Parents educate their child about what girls should do and what boys should do. They draw the line between genders, but is that a good way to raise your child?
We are limiting our children by categorizing boys and girls.
The following 6 examples show that gender stereotypes are passé and might give you a reason to quit old school parenting and start seeing the benefits of gender-neutral parenting.
It starts with the parents
Parents have to set the example for their children. Our grandparents had a set structure in the past; the mother stays home to take care of the children and the household while the father goes to work to provide for the family.
You are free to create your own structure when it comes to parenting, whether you are married, single, or co-parent.
When you have a newborn child, the father has now also the opportunity to stay at home from work with paternity leave. This gives the parents the choice to divide the tasks in their favour, which opens an environment for gender-neutral parenting.
Why do our daughters play with dolls? And why do our sons play with cars? Do they have to because their mother says so?
“Cars are for boys, you’re a girl you should play with Barbie.”
What if your daughter really loves to play with cars, would you let her?
You can let your children choose out of a variety of toys, so they have the freedom to chose and develop interests.
One of the biggest stereotypes in clothing is pink for the baby girl and blue for the baby boy. When parents announce that they are having a baby by only showing the colour baby blue, everyone knows they are expecting a boy.
Also school uniforms divide the two genders explicitly as girls have to wear a skirt and boys have to wear trousers.
We do not need this explicit gender division in clothing because times have changed. Brands like Zara, for example, introduced ‘ungendered’ clothing, which is a collection with the exact same pieces for men and women.
“Boys are stronger than girls.” We have heard it more than often. This stereotype puts boys and girls in groups because of their physique. That is why sports like soccer, and basketball are typical boys sports and ballet, and figure skating are typical girls sports.
This Always advertisement says it all.
Luckily now we see lots of girls playing soccer and boys taking dancing classes, no sport should be for one gender only.
The Disney movie Frozen breaks down the typical stereotype where the prince saves the princess and they live happily ever after. Disney movies have shown us too much of this gender stereotype where the man has to save the woman till Frozen came on the big screen. This movie is quite feminist oriented as it highlights the strength of a woman, in fact they leave men in the background. The scene where Elsa saves her sister Anna with a kiss, showing true sister love, puts the focus on women and feminism.
A last but very important point why gender equality matters is the example of transgender people.
Look at Caitlyn Jenner, a trans-woman who lived the majority of her life feeling trapped in a man’s body, until two years ago where she decided to become a woman.
Let her be an example for transgender children, and a reason why gender-neutral parenting matters. Let your child develop their own personality, and give them the opportunity to make their own choices.
“That way, our kids will grow up to be freer than we are. They will not only learn to play the game by the rules, but change the rules of the game. They will have more options to pursue their happiness and fulfilment.” — Caterina Kostoula
Gender-neutral parenting will be the future, where gender stereotypes will fade away.