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.