Gender Neutral Parenting : Creating A Gender Neutral Environment At Home
Have you noticed, everytime we visit a toy store and the first thing the storekeeper asks is – you require the toy for a boy or a girl? Ever noticed how sometimes a boy child refuses to pick up toys or clothes because they are pink in colour? Ever noticed usually on birthdays, a girl baby gets gifts like dolls and kitchen sets, and boy gets cars and vehicles.
We don’t realise but gender based stereotypes are ingrained in our society and it’s surprising to see how each and everything related to a baby is gendered – be it clothes, toys, games, etc.
Gender based stereotyping creates gaps in skills for both girls and boy. The idea that boys can do certain things and girls cannot or vice versa begin to stem in our child’s mind. And as they grow older, this becomes a thought process and they view everything through a gender – specific lens.
If we want our kids to be open-minded and free, it’s important to create a gender neutral environment at home so that they are able to decide their likes /dislikes etc without having gender playing any role in it.
The idea of gender equality is something we need to teach our kids right from the start and it’s essential to sensitise parents and children alike about the same. Raising a boy and girl twins, I aim my best to create a gender neutral environment at home. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of – pink is for girls, blue is for boys– but I try my best to keep such stereotypes at bay and create an environment that focuses on equality between both the genders.
What is Gender Neutral Parenting
Gender neutral parenting allows children to express themselves without feeling pressure from being masculine or feminine. It focuses on fostering good skills or traits for all humans to grow up with so that they’ll be successful no matter what society is saying they should do or shouldn’t do.
Gender neutral parenting begins as early as possible. A kid not exposed to gender biases, roles & stereotypes will look at the world differently from us.
How To Create A Gender Neutral Environment At Home
Sharing with you all few ways by which we can create a gender neutral environment at home for our kids to bloom without any pride & prejudices.
1 Expose children to gender neutral toys from an early age.
Children learn from what they see around them and what they are told. For instance, if you tell your son/boy that dolls are only meant for girls, he is going to believe it and make fun of other boys that play with dolls. This is the first and foremost steps in creating a safe, gender-sensitive space for your kids. I let my kids pick their own toys. They choose their own toys in the colour of their preference.
2. Educate children on the concept of being gender neutral
I keep telling my children that they are free to wear what they want, like the colours they want to, be friends with who they want to and express any emotions in the way they seem fit regardless of what their gender is.
3 Give them freedom to express their emotions freely
A boy can cry just like a girl. Let them freely express their emotions. Do not impose restrictions or set boundaries on their emotional expression. What matters is the child is a human and emotions do not have any gender.
4 Encourage children to play with kids of the opposite gender
When play only takes place with the kids of the same gender the opportunity to be familiarized with the opposite gender is lost and so is the sensitivity towards them.
5 Involve them in housechores
I involve both my kids in activities that build skills related to household; caregiving and basic work habits. Boys and girls can learn the same skills for managing the house or work and develop confidence in their abilities in all the spheres.
6 Educate them through stories
We read books that bring awareness on gender neutrality. Let them know and learn that roles and career options are not defined by gender. Books and syories that instill lessons like – gender doesn’t matter when it comes to success or, that men & women can do the same jobs and feel the same emotions. This helps children to know that they can express themselves freely and be who they want to be in this world.
7 Sharing the load at home
Children pick up by observation. If they see gender neutral behavior at home and listen to such conversations, they pick up the same. My and my husband try to share the load at home. We do the house work together, and involve kids in the same too.
8 Don’t go overboard
Don’t go overboard in the attempt to create gender neutral environment at home. If the boy child wants to play with a blue car, let him do so. Don’t stop him in the name of being gender neutral. As long as he has picked up that toy out of his own interest and joy, it’s ok. Forcing him either way will defeat the purpose.
We live in a world of stereotypes, and sometimes even the most open-minded of us subconsciously enforce our thoughts on kids through simple statements. Kids pick up on our statements and ideas of what a boy or a girl can & cannot do. Let us as parents consciously choose to break this pattern and set our children free by raising them in a gender neutral environment at home. Let us lead them through example and nurture them to bloom to their fullest.
This post is part of the #BlogchatterA2Z challenge run by Blogchatter
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