No matter how hard you try, raising your toddler without gender bias is going to be difficult. You can do everything in your power to ensure that your little girl or little boy doesn’t witness or learn gender stereotyping in your home, but the rest of the world isn’t exactly helping you out. For example, when was the last time you took your child to the pediatrician and interacted with the male nurse? How often do you get pulled over for driving too fast and the cop who caught you is a woman? Your bad driving abilities aside, your toddlers are exposed to gender bias on a daily basis. It’s up to you to make sure the rest of the world doesn’t hinder your child’s way of thinking.
1 Forge a strong bond with your child. The closer you are to him, the more likely he is to adapt your strong beliefs and interests. As you advise your child on different career paths, you can get him thinking about non-traditional male jobs, such as teaching or nursing. Of course, if you’d rather he went to medical school and became a doctor, that’s fine. The point is to teach him that he can be a nurse if he wants to, because it is not just a job for women.
2 Stop passing on gender bias to your kids. You may think you aren’t, but the little things you do go a long way to teach your toddler about gender bias. When your daughter’s preschool teacher sends her home with a homework assignment that involves math, don’t tell her to ask Dad for help because men are better at math and women are better at English. Help her out. If you can’t do it, ask Dad for help, but make sure she knows you are asking for help because he’s actually better at math, not because he’s a man.
3 Provide your children with non-traditional toys. If your son likes to play chef, buy him a play kitchen. Don’t assume that it’s for girls and that he should have a play grill rather than a play kitchen. If your daughter likes to play with trucks, buy her some. Make sure your kids have an array of toys that encompass both genders so that they don’t feel any gender bias, such as females should be in the kitchen and taking care of the kids while the males are supposed to be working on the car and manning the grill. You don't have to love it when your son dresses up like a princess, but remember that he's just a kid who thinks it's fun. Now, if your husband enjoys dressing up with your son, feel free to worry a bit.
4 Allow your children to participate in sports and activities that defy the gender bias. If your daughter wants to play for the football team, let her sign up. If your son wants to take gymnastics classes, let him. Teaching your kids that they can participate in any activity, regardless of their gender, is the best way to raise them without gender bias.
5 Give your toddlers chores at home that teach them non-traditional roles. Have your son and daughter help with simple household tasks that encompass the range of both genders. Have them both help with the dishes, folding the laundry, doing the shopping and working on the car or in the yard. They will both learn the value of doing all different types of household tasks, which shows them that it’s not little Suzy’s job to wash the dishes while little John changes the oil in the car. Of course, you don’t have to let them continue to help with things they are really bad at. If little Suzy shows zero aptitude for oil changing, it might be better -- and cheaper on car repairs -- to keep her doing indoor chores.
- Remember not to use phrases such as, "the man of the house," or "that's a woman's job," when speaking to or in front of your toddlers.
- Try to find places to take your children that don't show gender bias. If you can, find a female pediatrician with male nurses or an automotive repair shop with female mechanics so your kids can witness the lack of gender bias.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images