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9 Ways To Raise Your Child Without Gender Bias

9 Ways To Raise Your Child Without Gender Bias

It’s hard to believe that even in today’s open society where people feel more free to be themselves, we are still bombarded with the sort of gender stereotypes that were still just as prevalent 50 years ago. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Dolls are meant to be played with by little girls, and trucks and action figures are reserved for – you guessed it – little boys. Don’t let anyone catch a boy trying on his mother’s high heels for fun, or a girl watching a football game attentively, longing to be a part of the team. Because those things are not for their genders, right?

Wrong. But you knew that already, didn’t you? There is no research to suggest that a boy with an interest in playing dress up, or even makeup and nail polish, will grow up to be the next crazed serial killer. Likewise, a young girl who prefers sneakers to ballet slippers will not later become some ball-busting masculine-driven woman. Though even if she did, what is the real harm in that?

The solution is to start early with your children, by refusing to give into the gender-biased rules set by society and retailers. It may be hard, because other parents are nothing if not incredibly judgmental of the moms and dads around them. But stick to these tips to try your best to live by and you may just be gifted with a well-rounded, intelligent child. Go figure, right?

1. Integrate All Toys

This means that if you have a son, allow him the opportunity to explore what is deemed as the “girls” toy section at department stores. Don’t be so quick to steer him in the direction of those super hero masks. But to be fair, maybe after he has had the chance to peruse the latest Barbie Dolls, let him wander over to the other options.

If you give a little girl a doll, she will take care of it and remain motherly and affectionate as if that baby doll were her own real child. If you hand one to your young son, he will cradle it and be maternal and loving and treat it as if it were his own real child.

But first he needs to have the opportunity to do this, to explore a softer side of himself, and at a young age too. The earlier they can learn that there are no boundaries in playtime, the quicker they will catch on that it is entirely okay to mix their building blocks with their tea set.

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2. Shop In Both Sections

This goes for both clothes and toys, but you already know a bit about the toy situation, eh? Target recently announced that it will soon be doing away with gender-based sections of their children’s departments, opting for signs that say something like “Kids Clothing” instead of the requisite “Boys Clothing” and “Girls Clothing.”

And rightfully so. The whole assumption that all boys should wear blues and greens and girls should stick to pinks and purples is simply outdated. We’ve all seen the rather tacky shirts that say things like “real men wear pink,” but maybe they’re on to something.

If we can start the notion early that boys are allowed to wear pastels and shades of blue and girls are permitted to opt for simply graphic tees over their frilly capped shirts, then there will be less room for gender-biased actions later.

3. Promote Sports And Culture Together

It may come as no surprise to see this mentioned yet again, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to make it clear to your children early on that they have the option to participate in any extracurricular activities that they are interested in. No, this doesn’t mean forcing your son into a tutu or steadfastly convincing your daughter that she wants to be an umpire, but give them the choice to try out a little of everything.

Take your son to both a football game and a ballet recital. Let your daughter experience a baseball game, and follow it up with a cheer-leading competition event. Whatever gender-themed activity you thought you had to steer clear from because your child isn’t the “right” gender, well, think again.

Give yourself some breathing room mentally and give your child the chance to choose for themselves.

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4. Promote All Colors For Both Genders

Yes, this goes for clothing, as we mentioned before, but it also applies to pretty much everything else in life. Your first mistake may be in painting the nursery blue upon the news that you’re having a boy.

Don’t get us wrong, blue is a great color and if you really enjoy it, then by all means, go ahead. But if the only reason you chose it was because it is “for boys” isn’t the right reason. Skip ahead a few years, as you’re taking your son shopping for school supplies.

If he selects the pink pencil case, don’t be so quick to try and sway him away from it and to a more “masculine” color. We get it that you may be envisioning other kids teasing him, but the last thing you want to do is stifle him in any way.

5. Expose Them To The Correct Terminology

When you’re doing pretty much anything with your kids, from choosing a bike to picking out curtains, there is inevitably the mention of something being a “girl color” or a “boy bike.” This of course goes back to these ideas already being firmly implanted in us.

We get it, you can’t help but think of that as the first thing that comes to mind. But the whole idea is to train yourself to stop thinking that way as you raise your children to think freely and as neutrally as possible.

Be generous with your praises of both your daughter and son being “beautiful.” Even throw in some “pretties” now and again. The more you use such terms neutrally, the more naturally they feel.

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6. Share Chores With Your Spouse

As your children grow, it is important for them to see both genders in every type of role in the home. If you and our spouse are the same gender, then it is still plenty important for your children to simply see housework and responsibilities shared.

Don’t designate the more masculine of you two to take out the garbage and open jars because you are a “big strong man.” Let your children see Mom putting together that new kitchen table while Dad is folding laundry in the living room.

Gender stereotypes play such a huge role in the home that this is almost a no-brainer, and it really does take little effort to simply share the work, regardless of who society thinks is the stronger of you two.

7. Let Them Be Themselves

Even if it is questionable, or weird. If your son is adamant in his interest in getting his nails painted while you are working on yours, then give in without a beat. Like we said, there is no scientific evidence to say that doing so would hurt him. On the contrary, it would be promoting him to be himself and follow what he feels is natural to him.

If your daughter truly wants to wear those striped leggings with that polka-dotted tunic and bright orange sneakers, then guess what? She’ll be fine too. There is always the worry, of course, that their peers may find them off putting or even resort to name-calling.

But, guess what? Kids will do those sorts of things no matter what. Allowing your child to follow their imaginations and hearts is setting the foundation for them to not become those kids.

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8. Don’t Use The Logic Of “You’re Supposed To. . .”

Once again, this promotes the idea in your child’s head that because they are a certain gender, they “should” be interested in something or someone. It sets the stage for your child denying themselves of a certain happiness that comes with being yourself and being confident as a result.

Instead of telling your child what they are supposed to be doing, as told by society, give them choices so that they can decide for themselves what they should really be doing, based off of their own inner thoughts and feelings.

9. Remember That You Are Leading By Example

It is one thing to put these sorts of tips to use and to even follow through with them when it comes to your child, but the moment you succumb to these gender-biased rules and stereotypes yourself, you’re setting yourselves back a few hundred steps.

Don’t let your daughter catch you pouting to your husband that something is too heavy and you need his “manly arms.” And be sure to refrain from ever telling your wife – in front of your kids or not – that she’s good at cooking because she is the woman and that it’s simply a compliment. Such things only perpetuate the society-generated stereotypes that you as parents should be working hard to quell.

Is this the be all end all list of tips to raise your child to be perfectly perfect? Of course not. But helping them form an open mind about themselves and everyone around them is certainly a decent start.

Featured photo credit: The Birthday Backhoe/Nate via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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