We are in an age of change, transitioning toward a better society where accountability, responsibility, and respect are emerging stronger than ever. All values to uphold and encourage. As women express their voices and demand to be heard, the world is listening and moves are being made to create a more inclusive and equitable society. Those who inhibit the male gender are opening their ears and receiving these messages. However, the challenge remains when navigating the deeply embedded traditions and messages that have been the norm for as long as we can perceive.
As our boys grow up and develop in the midst of this new wave of consciousness, how do we keep them confident and healthy-minded while in support of this movement? What messages do we send them, how do we ensure they are aware of their actions and the implications, and how do we empower them to defend against negative influences?
Here are three easy ways from you can integrate healthy parenting practices in your daily life. These methods are simple, effective, and keep awareness and respect in the forefront of your boy’s consciousness.
Promote chivalry – for Everyone (not just women)
Chivalry doesn’t have to be dead, but our perception of it must change. Holding the door open, giving up a seat, and picking up a tab are all courteous and kind acts to do for another human being. However, choosing to only do them for women due to their gender, is actually detrimental to the changes we are hoping to achieve.
…the idea that women should be cherished and put on pedestals fosters what’s known as benevolent sexism, which subtly demeans women as fragile and less competent. It reinforces a sexual script in which a man takes charge while a woman remains passive.” – Peter Glick, Stereotype Expert
If all humans are equal, regardless of gender, doesn’t it make sense to treat all humans with kindness and chivalry? Singling out women for acts of chivalry is perpetuating the idea they are “weaker” than men, as well as the idea that man “must protect” women. This way of thinking creates a power dynamic, and a power obligation that does not serve anyone.
Leverage Entertainment as a Learning Tool
Movies, video games, and music are a significant part of our lives. We certainly wouldn’t want to deprive our kids of the fun and joy of entertainment. While we don’t want to shelter our kids relentlessly, we do want to keep them conscious of the messages they receive from their favorite movies, heroes, and celebrities. Is it possible they can love the concepts of Transformers, while being aware of the over-sexualized and severe lack of strong female characters? Talk to them about lyrics, gender roles, etc. Subtle points here and there could plant seeds of questioning and critical thinking.
“If male characters greatly outnumber women, or if the men are dominant, a parent can encourage a son to consider how a woman in such a situation might feel.” -Dr. Campbell Leaper
Don’t take the fun out of entertainment, but don’t let it govern and manipulate your child’s thinking either.
Swap Chores (and conventional roles)
A simple way to keep balance in your child’s perspective on gender roles is to give them tasks and chores of a wide variety. Instead of assigning activities that are conventionally gender-based, allow boys to assist with chores typically given to girls, and vice versa. Challenge gender boundaries by allowing them to express themselves through dance or art, and to be vulnerable or sad. Detach from the grid of categories, delegations, and definitions that dominate our culture. Give him the freedom to become a well-rounded, emotionally aware, and perceptive individual.
promoting emotional expression; the freedom to be vulnerable and sad, rather than just angry and strong; as well as celebrating creativity and quiet introspection are also key to countering patterns of gender inequality.
The ability to express his voice, will allow him to find healthy outlets. He can develop a healthy perception toward the world around him, and a mutual respect for others.
All three of these methods can be integrated immediately and consistently. Keep in mind that this need not be a militant process. Keep it positive, and keep it light. Kids are impressionable, and with all the messages they receive on a daily basis. Your messages can be the most powerful. Even if the messages are subtle, with just a bit of awareness and effort you can help your son develop a positive and balanced mindset.
Source: The New York Times
Thank you for visiting my site. Let’s connect. I’d love to hear your story. Want more? Check out my latest book. Busting the Boys Will Be Boys Myth: A Guide to Raising Conscious and Confident Men in Today’s World