Gender roles. What are they? According to the World Health Organization, gender roles “refers to what males and females are expected to do (in the household, community and workplace) in a given society.” (WHO, Gender mainstreaming for health managers: a practical approach, 2011) I was not raised on gender roles. My mom and I ran our mini-farm ourselves without the help of a male figure. Well, sort of. My best friend lived across the field and her family often helped us chase and capture our escaped hogs, but all mechanicals, mowing, building, etc was left to my mom and I. I learned to work on my own vehicles and to this day my husband has come home to the hood up on my truck because I was working on something.
This is How We Do
So I tell you all of that to say, that is how I am raising my children. There are not ‘boy’ toys or activities, nor are there ‘girl only’ toys or activities. I want my daughters and son to grow up to be well rounded individuals. I want my son to play with dolls so that he can learn to be a compassionate and loving father. My daughters need to know how to perform basic routine maintenance on their vehicles. I don’t want them stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.
Witnessing the Destruction of Gender Roles
I have overheard some hilarious interactions and pretend play conversations between my youngest two. My son wants to play super heroes and catch the bad guys. My daughter wants to play house where she is a mommy. They have learned how to compromise and combine their two styles of play. They put on their superhero costumes. Grab their baby dolls and run off to fight crime while wearing their babies.
Isn’t that how many of us parents get through life?
Many times my daughter will grab my son’s toy tool sets and begin fixing things around the house. They witness me grab the drill to hang or craft something new. They have seen me mow the grass and fix a leak under the kitchen sink. So, it isn’t exactly outside the norm for them.
As a mom, I struggle with Mom Guilt. Our very own Lauren did an outstanding job of addressing this phenomena in her article, Mom Guilt is a Liar. Go read it. AFTER you finish this one!
Moving on…I ask myself daily, am I doing enough? Am I teaching the right things? Have I screwed up my kids’ development? All of the questions. All of the time. Even in my sleep. When I overhear these interactions between my youngest kiddos, or my oldest rolls her eyes because a girl at school was having a fit over stepping in mud, I feel that sense of accomplishment. That I all my efforts are truly paying off and that I must be doing something right. Not only do they not limit themselves to their gender specific roles, but they compromise with each other to find a way to play together.
So, I say to you mommas and dads, you are doing great. Even when you wonder if you are doing the right things, you are doing all of them AND MORE!
Go forth and crush those gender roles so our kids can be kick ass parents too!