From men will be men to what was she wearing, we still have many miles to walk in order to achieve gender equality. But we can come many steps closer to this goal if we can save young minds from being corrupted by the rigid and constraining gender stereotypes which are enforced by our patriarchal society.
Why? Because no child is born into this word believing that one gender is superior from the other. Children merely internalize what they see around them. They look at us, the adults, as their role models and simply imitate our behavior. And why not? We are adults. If we are doing it, then it must be right. But is it?
Patriarchal notions have become like an important family heirloom which is passed from one generation to the next. And it should become our top most priority to break free from this cycle. So, let’s start early and teach our children some lessons which challenge the current system.
Here are 5 things that parents must essentially teach their children:
1) Say No To Gender Stereotypes
Don’t let gender stereotypes interfere with your child’s upbringing. Let them be free to make their own choices instead of teaching them things like pink is for girls and blue is for boys or that girls like dolls and trucks are for boys. Make them understand that jobs are not gender specific. Show them examples of how a woman can be a fire fighter and a man can be a nurse.
2) Let Them Be Assertive
You won’t want your children to be a pushover. This is why it is essential that you teach them from an early age to be assertive. Encourage them to identify their feelings and form opinions. Teach them to speak up and take a stand for themselves as well as for others. Most importantly, teach them how to say no without feeling guilty. Trust me, they will thank you for this later.
3) Teach Them Consent
Children should be taught the meaning of consent as soon as they are old enough to recognize things. It doesn’t have to be about sexual consent. In fact, the basic concept of consent revolves around boundaries. Teach them about respecting the boundaries of others and at the same time help them create their own. Strengthen your teachings on consent by respecting your child’s wishes after he/she has said no. don’t force them to hug, kiss or play. Because no always means no.
4) Sex Education
Young children are often curious about where babies come from. Answering their questions regarding this can be a good start for you to have “the talk”. You can start from an early age and continue it as they grow old enough. Don’t rely on school. And definitely don’t wait too long. Just because you are not telling them anything doesn’t mean they don’t know it from other sources.
5) Normalize Menstruation
Don’t let menstruation be a taboo at your home. Don’t hide tampons or sanitary pads from children. It is important to teach both boys and girls that menstruation is a regular bodily function and not something to be ashamed of. Let there be talks and discussions in open instead of hushing the topic.
Sexism has already ruined many lives. Don't let it ruin your children. Start early and save them.