Image source : Steemit
When we were expecting V, we often debated the idea of knowing the gender of the baby before she was born. While it is a common practice in many countries, much to my delight it is a big ‘NO NO’ in India. I always wanted it to be a surprise and I can vouch for the fact that it is totally worth it. People around me often expressed their views on how knowing the gender beforehand helps you plan better – buy clothes fitting to a specific gender, do up the nursery in a particular color or for that matter even buy toys which are of particular interest to a baby boy/girl. It made me realize how these stereotypes are ingrained in our minds so deeply that we cannot help but create that bias with kids as young as a new born. While there is nothing wrong with girls loving dolls more than cars, I feel we should give the opportunity to explore everything until they are of the age where they can begin to work out for themselves what it means to be a boy or a girl. Few of the options that I am going to explore with V to avoid the gender stereotypes and would suggest you to try out are as follows –
1.Integration of Toys
Research says the earlier kids learn that there are no boundaries in their playtime, the quicker they will understand that it is okay to experiment, to explore and express their instincts. I was really happy to see few baby carrier brands advertising toddler boys carrying dolls in their doll baby carriers – after all, if boys learn to care and display the so called ‘maternal instinct’ it only helps them evolve as kind and loving people.
2. Using neutral meaningful words
Having a daughter and seeing all things pink and purple automatically makes you utter the word pretty multiple times in a day. Lately, I realized that there are so many more meaningful words which can help me express my excitement and boost her confidence better. So, I have consciously moved to phrases like “Hey V, you look so confident! I love your smile, you look so happy!You are such a brave child!” These are all neutral words and after all, it is more important to be kind, brave, generous , wise – definitely more important than being just pretty.
3. Leading by example
We often assume that babies do not understand much but the reality is they are very observant and really grasp things which they notice on a regular basis.Hence, from the very beginning it is important to show them that there is no specific role to a gender.For example, the kitchen can’t be the mom’s spot all the time and in a very similar way the dad can’t be fixing the plumbing issues at home on all occasions.
4. Appreciating Interests
We as parents must not encourage or discourage our babies towards a particular interest area which is based on our choice. The best option is to just let be and observe how the baby develops his/her likes and dislikes with time.
5. Promoting common sports
Sports could start pretty early in childhood. I have a toddler who can hit a ball with the bat and I am open to let her watch and experience the game of cricket or baseball if she likes. Children must understand early in their age that extracurricular activities are really great for overall personality development and they are absolutely free to choose what they enjoy playing.
6. Using neutral colors
Let’s get out of the blues and pinks. While I strongly feel that blue would look as great on girls and it does on boys and vice versa for pink, I do understand the plight of parents whose kids get teased by their friends for not wearing a ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ color.We can go for neutrals like yellow, grey and the whites or for that matter any color that we really like irrespective of the gender stereotypes.
7 Questioning our own attitude
This is something really interesting that I picked up in one of the articles that I read recently. The way our society is saturated with gender stereotypes, we tend to adapt ourselves and cultivate the same mindset with time.I think there is absolutely no shame is introspecting and challenging our own beliefs when it comes to gender stereotyping. Probably , that would only help in getting more ideas to make this world bias free.
Stereotypes are very well entrenched in our minds and in the society .It really takes a lot of conscious parenting to get rid of the biases with which probably we have been raised too. Starting early would only be a good decision towards making the future free of stereotypes!