After becoming a parent, I started reading mom/parenting blogs and forums, where every child-related topic under the sun gets discussed and dissected. I sort of expected discussions about staying at home or not but I was honestly surprised by the depth of discussion on giving birth itself, breastfeeding, making food, sleeping, and so forth. Maybe that’s because when I was pregnant, I attended only one childcaring class and read one book. (Note: Above I linked to Grumpy Rumblings which is more than a parenting blog but they had a good post about push presents, another parenting hot topic)
The strangest topic of discussion for me was the idea of creating a birth plan where everything from medication to music is written out for your doctor and nurses. I hadn’t even thought of it. I just thought they would wheel me in and help me deliver. My doctor did play music during the procedure, which I honestly don’t remember well except it might have been a sort of upbeat pop/rock. As long as it wasn’t vulgar, that was good enough for me.
Anyway, since I didn’t think that much about the nitty-gritty of childrearing, it’s not surprising that I didn’t even think about deeper issues like gender / equality. Over at Blue Milk, there was a discussion about raising a daughter in a sexist culture. This is a big concern among parents/moms of daughters and rightly so. While the U.S. makes strong claims about equality, there is still a “mainstream” attitude/culture that puts too much value on a women’s looks/sexuality and frowns upon girls who stray too far from the accepted norms. There’s more to it than that but I really haven’t thought too much about it.
Truthfully, it makes me a bit sad/angry that it’s even an issue. I guess parents of boys don’t have to worry (as much) about the obstacles placed before them by mainstream culture. No one will assume that boys are bad at math or science. No one will assume that they can’t be both CEO and a parent. At the same time, cultural expectations swing the other way, too. I think that boys can easily feel stifled just because of their gender. I do give my boys the option of playing with cuddly plush toys; it’s not my doing that they ignore it in favor of trucks, cars or noisier toys!
I think I may worry more about this issue if I stay home when they’re older and if I fall into more typical female roles within a household. I have a feeling that I’ll always be working one way or another though! Note: I’m not saying that you can’t stay home and be feminist but I just think it’s easier to set an example if I’m a working for money with fairly equal distribution of household work at home. I would be a role model that is far more important than toys or stupid sexist t-shirts (see JCPenney controversy).
On a personal note, since I’m working on making this blog more honest, I’m enjoying my weekend down time as much as possible. I like sitting on the floor watching my boys play. They do a million funny things — some destructive –and periodically come up to me for cuddling. So cute.
Does anyone raising boys have good tips on teaching them respect toward women and gender equality? Even more interesting, do you think that staying at home or working has a huge impact on your child’s gender perceptions?