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Changing Gender Stereotypes – Starting At Home

Adding to the list of parenting goals, challenges and maneuvering surprises along the way is the mighty weight of tackling gender stereotypes when they fall out of our children’s innocent mouths, and ensuring we’re not setting them in a negative way at home. Mighty heavy indeed!

I’m positive that every one of us has had our children say something so intrinsic with stereotypes that we grew up with that it makes us maybe smirk before we stop them and determine what to say next. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom when we had our first child, so it’s been important for me to teach my children that this was a choice, that it’s not my job to stay home (because certainly many of their friend’s moms do not) and that dads can stay home to raise kids too (we have a friend’s family that has a structure like that, which certainly helps to use as an example).

In her recent blog post, Betty-Ann Heggie looks at whether gender stereotypes are indeed part of our genetic thumbprint, or created by society.

Although I have witnessed extreme, caricature-like gender behaviour from a few of the men I have worked with, nonetheless, I have concluded that our differences are not innate, but rather due to the societal cultural expectations imposed upon us. ~ Betty-Ann Heggie

She shares how she witnessed men in her office sharing their concerns and struggles on parenting while outside those doors displaying a tough and ruthless marketing strategy. Would his employees take him as seriously if he shared his thoughts on how his daughter melted his heart at her ballet recital on the weekend? We’d hope so, but can’t say with certainty, and that needs to change.

With a husband as a police-officer, certainly a male dominated industry, and me as a stay at home mom, those issues can come up from time to time. Aside from pointing out our friend who is a stay-at-home dad, it’s interesting to note that his wife is a police officer. Our children need examples of each gender participating in all roles in the household and society so they too can make choices when they’re older based on what they truly have interest in rather than what they’re “supposed” to do.

dad painting daughters nails
Dad does the manicures in our household!

In the workplace, Betty-Ann says challenging gender norms is what will ensure better future leaders. Leaders need to embrace the characteristics “typical” to their gender, while also stepping across those gender lines and practicing the qualities of the opposite gender. We need to stop referring to assertive female leaders as “bossy” (or worse) and even-tempered male leaders as “soft”. We simply need to refer to them as “good leaders” and raise them to achieve that end.

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  • My hubby and I would to do pink and blue jobs. But, over the years, we have dropped it and we still challenge each other. I do the garbage and majority of the housecleaning. He does the yard work etc because it is more involved. I don’t do any DIY projects in the house either – I expect him to do it.. I wish he would help out more with the cleaning, laundry and cooking but, it doesn’t happen often.

  • We cater to our kids interests regardless of gender stereotypes….Our daughter plays on a boys hockey team and wants to play in the NHL. Her little brother cooks me pretend food in our pink play kitchen while dressed in a Strawberry Shortcake apron…while later taking a slap shot into the hockey net…It’s great to just let them have fun.

  • We don’t have stereotypes in our house, everyone helps out with everything regardless of whether it is a “male” or “female” stereotype job.

  • I take out the garbage, and hubby does the laundry. We don’t have male/female chores at our house – they are just chores!

  • When my children were growing up they would sometimes challenge a chore I had given saying it is for boys or it is for girls. I would tell them it was part of being a family and that everyone had to take turns doing all work. Now that they are grown with families of their own I am happy when I see they have used this concept in their own lives. Everyone takes turns cooking, cleaning, doing yard work, doing laundry, taking out the garbage etc. in their families.

  • In our household we always did what was needed at the time. We both cook, cleaned and took turns driving the children.

  • Just the other day, the light bulb in our living room burned out and I just took the initiative and changed it. Without a second thought, I went to the garage, grabbed the ladder and changed the light bulb myself.

  • I have challenged gender sterotypes in my household by being the one who does small household projects such as putting up a new shelf or the hardware for a new curtain rod. I have learned to use a drill and be comfortable with it.

  • My daughter watched me pull out the hideous lino in the back entry of our home when I was 7 months pregnant. Maybe not my most intelligent moment but I think everyone can do all the jobs (not all at once obviously).

  • I asked my eldest…she replied that the only sterotype she recalls is her younger brother insisting boys are better fighters. I will have to get her to punch him for this. Kidding. We do not have many sterotypes in our family ( not for the adults anyhow). I do ofter find myself having to challenge the sterotypes expressed by grandparents though…we are very clear that marriage is not always heterosexual and little girls can win burping contests.

  • I vividly remember my two sons informing me one day that boys don’t do laundry. I was a single Mom at the time and had told them that it was time for them to learn how to do their own laundry so I would have time to do the other 1000 things I had to do. Needless to say with had a family meeting that night, which included their baby sister, to discuss the very subject of gender stereotypes. I can proudly say that both of my boys can now not only manage to do a load a laundry but any other typical household chores that are needed to be accomplished on a daily basis.

  • I struggle with gender stereotypes (and worse – blatant sexism) mostly at work. I work in a male-dominated field, and our role is often alongside construction sites, which are even more male-dominated workplaces.

    In our home, my husband does almost all of our cooking (which I am SO grateful for). I still do the majority of the housecleaning. We are expecting our first baby this fall, and my husband is hoping that I want to return to work early so that he can take advantage of parental leave! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the interesting article and the chance to win!

  • I had my sons help me with the laundry and I have to say, they fold better than I do. Should I say, they chose their own particular way to fold…… like they do in the stores.

  • Every day!!! I’m a working single mom… I think that challenges it enough – but on top of that I do home renos (yay for youtube!!!!) πŸ™‚

  • I have consciously challenged gender stereotypes in my own household by fostering my daughter’s desire to play with trucks, cars and trains which have been typically categorized as toys for boys. I think it is important to not put gender-based restrictions on our children to afford them unlimited opportunities.

  • Raising a boy and a girl presented many opportunities to challenge gender roles. One of our household rules was no “boy jobs” and no “girl jobs”.

  • I’ve never thought of gender specific chores . We work on projects together to have a happy and beautiful home.

  • No stereotypes here, he takes his turn doing dishes, and he makes breakfast on the weekends. and I’ve had a go at doing yard work too.

  • the only thing that comes to mind is I take out the garbage, my son occassionally does cook but mainly I do all cooking, cleaning etc

  • My brother grew up with all sisters and loved that we had play necklaces. We didn’t think anything of him strutting around in them as well as us. When he arrived at school in his beautiful green bobbles I simply couldn’t understand the comments, and neither could he so he wore them all day.

  • With two little girls in our house – I remind myself & family gift givers that there is no such thing as a “girl” or “boy” toy – just whether the child enjoys that activity or not!

  • I decided quite young that I was not going to have kids. I’ve never regretted that choice, but do come across the odd individual who asks me, “But whyyyyy don’t you want kids?” Like it’s an affront to them personally. I don’t think men get that question nearly as often as women.

  • I am a stay at home mom to three little girls, so my role in our home is quite traditional. I work hard every single day to ensure my girls are self-confident, strong, open-minded and vocal, and I always use the word TEAMWORK, as I want them to understand that housework and cooking are not a womans job, per say, but the responsibility of us all.

  • I consciously challenged gender stereotypes in my own household when our son brought his clothes to be washed when home from university. I told him he would now have to do them himself because that is what his sister did in the same situation. You are an adult and can take care of your own laundry. Parents have to teach them to grow up and be responsible.

  • We don’t have any gender stereotypes at home. I am happy cleaning our home and my wife is always working on the fence at home. We want to show our kids that there isn’t a job that’s just for girls or boys. Everyone can do it.

  • I am quite ok with my husband doing the ‘manly’ stuff around the house. He does like to cook, so we do a lot of sharing that job. We don’t really challenge any stereotypes.

  • We often talk about gender stereotypes at our house. If we see something on TV we talk about it. We often talk to the kids about that they can do whatever they want and both males/females can do anything.

  • As a divorced parent I do both types of ‘gender’ jobs in this house, & try to teach my kids the same values. I still am like a stay-at-home mom, but with a part-time job & then I mow the lawns, shovel snow, & fix minor stuff around the house. And now my daughter is helping out with those jobs, too like taking out the garbage.

  • my husband works away, so I’m left at home to deal with everything, and when he does come home, he does do dishes and I keep him away from doing laundry.

  • With women working more outside the home, all family members contribute to the house and outside work. We all benefit and my son’s wife will one day thank me for his cooking and cleaning skills.

  • When something breaks in my household I fix it. It’s nice to not have to rely on the boyfriend for everything.

  • I constantly challenge gender stereotypes with my two daughters. I let them play and dress how they want and don’t push “girl” toys, games or clothing on them!

  • We usually play the typical gender roles in my household but when i get sick, my husband helps with all the cooking and cleaning and when he has to go way for work, I take on any small repairs that come up around the house.

  • Many years ago when I found myself a great job and hubby was still trying to find himself, we had 2 children at the time and made the decision for daddy to be the stay at home dad. This, was frowned upon by many and I just hope that by now things have changed!

  • We do this basically every day with my eight year old son, who has Disney eyes, big lips and loves his long hair. We’re not bothered by it (oh my I love his hair!), but the constant (every. single. day) confusion for a girl does start to annoy.

  • I’m a single mom so I do all the jobs…I’ve learned to do more traditionally male jobs such as shovel snow, fix leaky sinks and put in flooring.

  • I guess everytime my hubby cooks, washes dishes and does the laundry, we are challenging stereotypes.

  • My hubby travels alot for work so I do most of the pink jobs and we save the main blue jobs for when he is home.

  • We didn’t have Barbies and there were no Princesses back then. I tried to make both children just regular people.

  • I don’t know about challenging the stereotypes in our household, so much as not really paying any attention to them. The kids all know that they can be themselves and do what they love, as well as doing their part to help take care of the house.

  • For the main part we all so everything except working on the car that’s the husbands job everything else is equil

  • There’s really nothing I can find that is stereotyping at our home. We simply do what we can do and whoever has time to do them.

  • I don’t think it’s been an issue for us. We go to our strengths whatever they maybe and help each other as needed. I had to think on this and feel my husband and I make a great team after 25 years so it’s working.

  • SADLY we stereotype in our house. I can’t lift like I used to (I don’t have the same sort of upper body muscles as my husband boasts) nor am I tall like he is (I have almost fallen off the counter trying to get stuff down in the less used cupboard so I call on him constantly) Although he can cook, he’s not as good at it as I am (not that I’m very good myself lol, but I’m the lesser of two evils) I also run to him when it comes to doing things for the truck (I couldn’t get lift the hood on the truck the other day without my arthritis screaming at me)

    But I’m old and I think young people don’t have the same sorts of ideas that we do

  • I consciously challenged gender stereotypes in my own household when hubby and i built it from the ground up when people thought i could not do the “guy things”

  • My husband does the cooking and cleaning he actually likes it and me I put out the garbage and can change a tire on a car

  • When you are the parent of a beautiful young girl you challenge gender stereotypes all the time! How can you not grow and teach them that they can be absolutely anything that they want to be. Each generation pulls a little bit further ahead than the generation before – there will come a day when differences are only noted by how much effort you put into something – not your gender, race or other.

  • For the most part, we share jobs – just doing things as we see they need to be done. But there are some stereotypical roles we fall into – he does most of the yard work, and I clean more.

  • In my house hold,we both really pitch in with what needs to be done! My husband does have certain things he does and I have specific things I do.But honestly he or me would help each other!

  • We have never pushed boy/girl toys. My son’s proudly ride their pink and purple tricycle around the neighbourhood — because it’s a bike it’s not meant for a girl or a boy it’s meant to be rode. It’s meant to lead to adventure, pretending and fun memories.

  • There is a stereotype that the woman should not be the primary breadwinner and I know my partner really struggles with the fact I do make more money and so I find myself challenging it every day — I make more so why wouldn’t I contribute more?

  • In our house jobs were jobs regardless of who did them. When I was seriously ill after having children, it was a matter of who was capable at the time ,& the urgency of the job that was the dictating factor as to who did it.
    Both my kids were taught how to clean, cook, do laundry & to be independent at an early age. Every one helped out .

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tenille-lafontaine

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