Women’s day just passed by, and modern age women do not long for empowerment. They long for equality and equal treatment. As modern parents, we do not distinguish between our children. We have looked past genders and stereotypes. But, we live in a world where gender stereotyping exists. If not in our homes, it persists in all facets of your child’s development- school, colleges, office, promotions, etc. Women succumb to stereotypes, time, and again. But, the change begins from home.
Being responsible parents, it is our very duty to inculcate a fair and equal treatment for our children. Should you be parenting a boy and a girl, or have a single boy or girl child, it is your moral duty to raise them in a gender neutral space.
10 Tips to Make your Home a Gender Neutral Place
Here are 10 effective tips for making your home a gender neutral place:
1. Start with the Toys
We tend to associate our children with their interest in toys. While girls playing with a set of hot wheels is still okay, but boy being part of a Barbie tea party would be looked down upon. Let the children be. Toys don’t have a gender; it also depends upon the temperament and interest your child has. It’s okay to have different interests. Don’t let your children fall prey to the toy stereotypes.
You can also buy your kids gender neutral toys like puzzles, blocks, etc. There are many companies that offer monthly educational toys for your child’s development. Go ahead and subscribe to them.
2. No Pink and Blue
Girls like pink and boys like blue, refrain from this color stereotype. The color bifurcation is reflective of how different they are. Don’t let this be inculcated in your child’s head at an early age. Be it pregnancy announcements, baby announcements, kid shopping, don’t let the pink and blue fever mold your child’s thinking that they are different.
3. Encourage playing together
One important thing you can do as a parent is to encourage the kids to play together, irrespective of their gender. They need to be adaptive to each other’s interests and learn from them. Even at birthday parties, have neutral games, sports, and other activities.
4. Engage them in chores
In a stereotypical Indian household, girls are expected to be a know it all, while boys are offered the privileges. It’s unfair to let this thinking prevail. Indulge your children in chores equally. Ask your boy to help in the kitchen and your girl in accompanying her dad in mending the machines. Home is where they learn.
5. Be good examples
As parents, we tend to be role models for our children. They learn from us. They see what we do, and this is inculcated in their very behavior. Both parents should be involved and indulged in household chores. This is typically important in India, where women struggle with gender stereotypes.
6. Substitute Fairy Tales with Folk Tales
We wish classic fairy tales were less stereotypical. We always have a Damsel/Princess in distress and a Prince charming who comes forward for her rescue. These tales impact your children in more ways you can think. The girls think they need a man to support and help them, they are not self sufficient. It inculcates a sense of inadequacy in them.
On the contrary, you can substitute fairy tales with folk tales of strong women. Tell your children real-life inspirational stories about men and women who brought about a change in their lives. Animal tales are still better as they don’t particularly target a gender.
7. Gender is important but irrelevant
You need to teach your child that gender is important, but an irrelevant factor. What matters is how they grow up as responsible individuals. You must educate them about gender inequality, what is okay and what is not okay.
8. Your Language
There was an experiment done in Whitstable Junior School, Kent, where kids were asked to draw pictures of firefighters, astronauts, doctors, etc. You would be surprised that every kid drew the picture of a man. Hence, we see some gender barriers existing already. So, you must use “They” when referring to the police, astronauts, professionals, etc. instead of “He” and “She”.
9. Share your story
Kids associate with their parents more than anyone else, and they associate and learn more from your story. Share your story with your children. Tell them about the biases you faced and how you overcame them. This will inspire and educate them in many ways.
10. Get Them Together
Get your children to enroll in activities together, be it learning a new dance form, learning karate, etc. Your boy and your girl must do things together. This will imbibe a sense of equality in them.
The above tips are easy to practice and important to lay gender neutrality as basic foundation for the children. The way you talk, behave, and respond to your children affects their thinking. Don’t let this evil of gender bias play with or limit the opportunities of your children.