Do we instill fear in our girls and bravery in our boys? Do we set our girls up to be scared of life?
I listened to a podcast today that made me reflect on my childhood and think about the future in raising my children. We were given a few books when my daughter was born that I have refused to read to her because they put women in a box that I am not at all about. I will be throwing these books to the curb. It’s hard for me to get rid of books but I will be booting them with no problem.
The podcast was an interview with author and badass Caroline Paul. She has written a book called the “Gutsy Girl: Escapades for your life of Epic Adventure”. I haven’t read it yet, but I am very excited to pick up a copy and share it with the women in my life. Both young and old.
Back to the point. The question at the top of this page. As parents, do we instill fear in girls and bravery in boys? We can all see that society pushes gender roles onto all of us, both men and women. We wear certain clothes, speak a certain way, downplay our strengths or play up our weaknesses. Do we do this in part of our upbringing? When we tell our little ones to “be careful” do we steer them away from taking risks in their adult life? Do we say “be careful” to girls more than boys? I would say so. We say “toughen up” to our boys, “brush it off”. What do we say to girls? “Awe, poor girl, be careful.” or, “Don’t do that, you’re going to get hurt”. It’s not rocket science. Tell someone to always be careful and they’ll do just that, probably with a little self doubt and low self-esteem. I’m sure many of us can relate to those feelings, even just a little bit.
Then there’s the question, should we raise girls and boys differently?
I keep trying to rack my brain for a scenario where I would tell my child something different based on their sex, and I can’t think of any. Body parts, don’t touch others and don’t let them touch you. The way they dress? Maybe? Unfortunately, its the shitty reality in this world. But then I fight that because what does that say to girls. It’s your fault for being tempting? That’s messed up. Ok, let’s focus on the early years. Are boys and girls that different before they reach puberty? I would say no. So why treat them that way?
Am I naive? Am I stubborn? I don’t think so. Well, we could argue the stubbornness. If I have a boy after having our daughter I wouldn’t want to guide them to do things differently based on sex. I think back to where I grew up and how I was spoken to. My parents did a good job in pushing me to do all the things the boys could do. I played in the schoolyard with them, rode a skateboard headfirst down a hill like them, ran just as fast, threw just as hard, my parents never told me not to. I think that’s pretty obvious in the person I am today. Not to say I lack self doubt but those are my hang-ups from this big world and some other baggage.
Some food for thought.
What do you mamas and papas think? Anyone with a boy and girl who feels differently? Please share with us. I would love to hear other points of view on this!