Practicing gender equality starts at home. Children are exposed to gender stereotypes right from a very young age, when they can be very easily influenced. The biases that children pick up in their childhood continue to remain with them throughout their adulthood and form the basis of their interaction with other genders.
It is essential for parents to inculcate a sense of equality among their kids. Since gender inequality practices are rampant in our country, we need to ensure that kids are taught to be aware of the stereotypes and avoid them at any cost.
Gender sensitization needs to be handled carefully. We have to unlearn a few things ourselves before we teach our children about equality. Here are a few tips on how you can practice gender sensitization with your kids.
1. Make Your Language Free Of Gender Bias
The way we speak is heavily influenced by the way we think. Our languages are full of references to specific genders and specific characteristics. Avoid using the pronoun ‘he’ when you’re trying to make general statements about humans and use ‘he/she’ or ‘ne’ instead. Also, refrain from making statements that are gender-specific, like “boys will be boys”, or “don’t fight like a girl”, or “be a man”.
2. Avoid Having Gender-Specific Roles
What we have been taught for centuries is that certain jobs are meant for certain genders only - for example, cooking is considered to be feminine, whereas driving a tractor is considered manly. Teach your children that these roles are not specific to a gender, and encourage them to do one task that is typically not associated with their gender.
3. Encourage Them To Break Gender Barriers
Teach your kids that it is okay for boys to cry, for girls to ride motor bikes, that women don’t need to be protected all the time and men also might need to be protected sometimes. Teach them that there is no such thing as, “It’s a guy thing”. Tell them that both women and men can be strong, independent and career-oriented, and that both can also be homely and willing to be stay-at-home parents.
4. Teach Them To Be Independent
Irrespective of which gender they may identify with, teach your kids to be independent. Your boy should not depend on someone else to cook for him, and your girl should not depend on a male to deal with transactions. Teach them to cook, clean up and look after themselves.
5. Listen And Speak To Your Kids
While teaching your kids is important, having a conversation with them is equally important. Encourage your kids to ask questions and develop their own answers. If something is bothering them about any issue, especially regarding gender, tell them that it needs to be asked. Treat them like they are human beings capable of comprehension and empathy.