Discussing equality with a curious six year old

Equality, gender equality, family life

I’ve noticed a very interesting change with Helen, my six year old daughter. Over recent weeks she seems to have become much more aware of gender issues, in particular gender equality.

It came up last night while reading a bedtime story. Unfortunately the book repeated some very hackneyed gender stereotypes and Helen wasn’t overly impressed when it made reference to “mums” at the school gates. She was even less impressed when the accompanying picture featured no men (well, actually there was one but you had to look very closely to find him).

There was also quite a lengthy discussion about a well-known retailer that happens to feature the word mother in the title. Helen stated this wasn’t fair and that there should be a rival store with father in the name (not the first time this has come up in discussion as it happens).

I won’t go on and on, but there have been a few other similar instances. I find it fascinating that Helen’s developed to a point that she’s beginning to notice these things and wants to talk about them.

In some respects I’m surprised it didn’t happen some time ago. I am, after all, my kids’ main carer and it’s me that does the school run. Helen’s never once asked why she’s the only kid to get picked up from school by her father at the end of each day.

Several times I’ve tried to have conversations with her about the family she comes from and that mummy goes out to work while daddy looks after the house and her little sister. Until now the response has always been “meh”.

I get the feeling this is going to change. Comments have been made and questions asked that show she’s clearly thinking about her home life and how it differs from many of her peers. I’ll be interested to see what discussions we have in the weeks and months to come.

This is, nonetheless, an issue that has to be handled sensitively. Thanks to this blog, my thoughts on equality are public knowledge. I don’t want to force my opinions on my kids. I want to be a positive example but they’ve got to figure out the world for themselves and come up with their own views and ideas.

On a related note, a very good friend of mine is an English teacher. He recently used my blog to inspire discussion among some of his students about language and gender equality.

Apparently the lesson went very well. There was, however, one individual in the class who remarked that I have a “doss life”. Needless to say, this is exactly what I was thinking while unblocking the lavatory this morning and cleaning the bin in the bathroom. Oh the ignorance of youth!

Pic credit; Carrot Lord. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement. For further information about Creative COmmons, see my Disclosure page.

 

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6 Comments

  1. June 14, 2015 / 9:44 am

    I must be honest and say I’d never thought twice about dad discrimination until I came across a few dad blogs in linkys. You’re right, and your daughter is right. It’s setting a horrible example for our children too. I hope my son knows more will be expected of him if he chooses to be a father, than some of his picture books depict.

    • John Adams
      Author
      June 16, 2015 / 7:55 pm

      I’m afraid dad discrimination is all too common. I’ll be honest, rarely is it in your face, it mostly latent and quiet, simply because people have such rigid views on what men and women should do and the roles they should fulfill. Best of luck educating your son.

  2. June 16, 2015 / 10:30 pm

    Interesting. Isaac also started making similar observations at about the same age. Kids can be very perceptive sometimes.

    I think you’re right that much of the discrimination is latent or even just the product of a bygone age that has never been rectified. It is a real shame that more children’s books and TV programmes don’t do more to provide a less hackneyed and more positive depiction of dads, rather than the standard male buffoon.

  3. June 17, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    Glad you’ve written this. It’s happened a few time with me and even will picked up on it. These currently a large shop that has parent bays with a mum and toddler and I’ve been asked not to park there because it’s for mums. Something Will picked up on too. I really want to tackle it and see if they’d change it to the duel parent and child sign.
    On a plus side we do have time to blog and combat these problems living the doss life 😉 thanks as always for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there this week

    • John Adams
      Author
      June 19, 2015 / 5:21 am

      Wow…you’ve actually been asked not park in parent and child bays because you’re not a mum? Unreal, just unreal. It just shows we have to keep on blogging about this stuff.

  4. June 19, 2015 / 10:19 am

    Okay so if I’m honest I didn’t think dad discrimination could exist. The press (and many of my friends) are always going on about how the world is less ‘equal’ for women. It’s all about us women. But actually I think you’re right. A parent who stays at home is the main carer whether they’re male or female, it doesn’t make a difference. I can’t say I’d ever treat someone differently just because they’re a stay-at-home dad. And anyway, staying at home is no walk in the park!