I and ‘the star’ were going for our evening stroll. The star, all of 15 months now, is a little shy in front of the strangers. In the lift, we met an uncle from the building.
Uncle: “Why are you hiding behind your mom? What makes you so shy? Are you a girl?”
(I got really pissed off on hearing this)
Me: “What is wrong in being shy? He is just a kid, not comfortable with strangers.”
Uncle (immediately got defensive): “Beta, don’t mind, I was just joking.”
A group of boys, all aged between 9-11, were playing football in front of my building.
I and ‘the star’, were going back home. I overheard 1 boy telling the other boys, about one of them.
“This guy always says no to everything”
Then he looked at the boy in question and said, “are you a girl?”
Then looking at other boys, said “I think he was supposed to be a girl but by mistake he was born a boy!”
Instance 1 is a small example of how our kids are subjected to gender stereotyping in day-to-day life, while Instance 2 is another small example of its impact on young minds. They form opinions, categorize and judge each other, and grow up to become prejudiced individuals.
No wonder this couple went too far in protecting their child from getting stereotyped and stifling his real personality.
What is Gender Stereotyping?
Gender Stereotyping is basically putting down someone because of their “sex” or not believing they are able to do something because they are either male or female. [Source: Wiki Answers]
What is the impact of Gender Stereotyping on kids?
I believe, all the issues related to gender discrimination and gender insensitivity spring from stereotyping. When you start judging a person’s capabilities on the basis of gender, you are doing him or her grave injustice. What is worse is that at some point we start believing that it is okay to do so.
At home, kids observe parents and their roles, their interaction with each other and their expectations from children, which initially shapes their outlook about gender roles. Eventually, this reflects strongly in their self-image and opinions about their capabilities.
Why should our children feel less capable or, conversely, more privileged because of their gender?
As a parent we have a huge responsibility of opening their minds and sensitizing them about gender issues. The reason being even if at home we give them a neutral environment, outside of home they would encounter discrimination at every step.
The best gift we can give our children is unprejudiced upbringing and equal opportunities. Little kids are impressionable. They are like sponge, taking in everything that parents teach or tell or do. We have to make sure that we are raising well-rounded, unbiased individuals. And eventually, this shall have far-reaching implications on the society at large.
Note: There is so much to say on this topic that this post is like a drop in the ocean and I hope we will explore various aspects of it on this amazing parenting platform.
Here’s an interesting article on Gender Stereotypes.