Life skills for all, not boys OR girls.

life skills, gender, gender equality, women, men,

I’d be delighted if my daughters knew as much about the internal combustion engine as this individual. Pic credit below.

 

What life skills do you want your children to learn? Put a different way, what skills do you think they need to be taught by you, as their mother / father?

I’ve long held some uncompromising opinions about this. I’ve always gone out of my way to nurture an interest in DIY among my daughters. If I’m doing some work in the garden or home improvements and I can safely get them involved, I’ll always try.

I want them to know the difference between a pozi drive and a flat head screwdriver. I also want them to know how to change a plug, change a flat tyre and understand the basics of the internal combustion engine.

I could continue with this list, but I’m not going to. I think you can see where I am coming from.

There are various reasons I want my daughters to know these things. I regard them as essential life skills that could prove useful at any time. As you may have noticed, they are also stereotypically male tasks. They shouldn’t be, but that, unfortunately, is the way of the world.

I recently alluded to this in an article I wrote for my Huffington Post blog. I mentioned that, as a stay at home dad, I believe I have taken on more responsibilities than a stay at home mum.

You’re probably wondering why. Surely it was a straight swap of gender roles; my wife became provider and I became homemaker?

Alas, it’s not that simple. In addition to running the household and looking after the kids, I retained all the stereotypically male responsibilities. Home maintenance, DIY, car maintenance, you know, the activities that men are supposed to do at weekends? Well, they remain on my to do list. This is because my wife doesn’t have the knowledge or skills to do them. I don’t want my kids to be in this position, I want them to know how to undertake these male activities, for want of a better phrase.

This is a two way street. Some years ago, before I had children, I was at a family picnic. I was deep in conversation with a family member and close family friend. I said that if I had a son, I would expect him to know how to cook, clean, wash, iron and sew.

I didn’t think I’d said anything particularly radical. Their response suggested otherwise. The conversation came to an abrupt end and they both looked at me like I was insane.

In summary, I think we all need to know how to cook a roast, sew a hem, wire a plug, change a fuse and install a broadband router. I don’t see these as male or female tasks, simply life skills that children should be taught regardless of gender.

Are there skills you want your children to be taught? Shouldn’t boys and girls know how to sew and jump start a car? Maybe you consider my thoughts dangerous and radical? Please do leave a comment below.

Pic credit: National Archives and Records Administration. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

13 Comments

  1. October 20, 2015 / 5:35 am

    I don’t consider this radical only sensible. Many women (myself included) marry later and live alone so need these life skills. I have 2 boys I am teaching now to clean plates away make their beds, vacuum etc (they are still young, 6&9) but I will show them how to cook, use the washing machine and iron. I hate it that my hubby doesn’t iron but he does cool loads and washes. I definitely think it comes from having positive role models. You certainly are but your picnic buddies are not. #twinklytuesday

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 21, 2015 / 8:25 pm

      Delighted to hear my thoughts on this occasion were not dangerously radical! Keep teaching your kids how to clean etc. It’s a skill many kids aren’t shown, be they boys or girls.

  2. October 20, 2015 / 6:43 am

    I’m a father of two daughters and I completely agree with the sentiment in your article.

    The “pink” / “blue” debate has gone on some time now – do girls really prefer pink, or is that what they are forced into choosing because that’s the only colour available for girls? And I think it’s the same with girls performing these traditionally male tasks. Whilst I try to provide my daughters with a balanced view, I’m finding it increasingly difficult as they grow older because they’re in more contact with friends who haven’t been brought up the same way or with cretinous narrow minded adults (sorry, non PC. Of course I mean “adults who think differently than I do”).

    Sadly I’m including my daughter’s school teachers here. Shocking. My eldest is only 5. She loves playing football with me, but won’t play it in the school playground because “…none of the other girls do.”

    Still. I guess education always starts at home, and hopefully our girls will continue that into their later lives. And of course, it’s equally important that boys have the opportunity to do the traditionally female tasks too. There are some traditions that shouldn’t continue.

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 21, 2015 / 8:28 pm

      Oh Paul, no need to be PC! I find myself utterly flabbergasted at the way some parents raise their kids. I can see what you mean about your kids coming into contact with other children who have been raised a certain way. It is depressing isn’t it? You’re quite right, some traditions need to change.

  3. Alina
    October 20, 2015 / 2:43 pm

    John, fabulous article. As parents of a daughter, we want her to be able to flourish in the skills she needs to be self sufficient. That is a given and not radical. However your article made me take a good long look at myself… your comment that despite being the home carer “I retained all the stereotypically male responsibilities” made me realise how very much I rely on my wonderful husband and how lazy I have become in finding out how to do things for myself. Thank you for the much needed kick up the butt.

    • John Adams
      Author
      October 21, 2015 / 8:32 pm

      Yes, it’s all about being self-sufficient. That’s all I ask for. Although I have daughters and have spoken about my own experiences, I can think of many guys I know who lack many life skills. It seems sons miss out on informal education as much as daughters.

      I hope the “butt kicking” was a positive experience!

  4. October 20, 2015 / 8:37 pm

    I’m with you on this. There are basic skills that everyone should be able to do. My mum brought my brother and I up as a widow, and she did DIY herself, and could do a lot of stuff that men would stereotypically do because she had no choice. Some things she taught us both, others we weren’t interested in. But we were both given the same choices and chances.

    I will also be bringing up N to expect to cook for himself, do washing, put up a hem or do a button. Just basic things really.

  5. John Adams
    Author
    October 21, 2015 / 8:35 pm

    Glad you agree Emma. You’re quite right to teach N those things. Also fascinating to hear of your background. It clearly had a lasting impact.

  6. October 22, 2015 / 8:20 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I like to know how to fix and do things, it makes me feel more independent. I decorate, build furniture, put up pictures, sand and do all sorts of typically ‘male’ jobs. Boys and girls should be taught to do all household tasks regardless of sex, it serves to make them very capable adults x

  7. October 23, 2015 / 11:06 am

    I absolutely agree with you on this John and feel quite passionately about it. I have absolutely no typical male skills – cannot change a tyre or even fill it up with air! I wouldn’t want that for my girls. Not so long ago, I taught my sauce how to make a roux sauce and bake a cake. I think all of these are very important whatever sex you are.

  8. October 26, 2015 / 3:34 pm

    Aah this is all SO true. WHY are they gender specific — it’s ridiculous!! All of the things you’ve mentioned are so important just to make you a well rounded person; regardless of gender. My mum and dad taught my sister and I to change the oil and water in our cars, blow up the tyres etc… and in our house, my husband does most of the cooking and ALL of the ironing!! Thanks so much for linking up to #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again tomorrow!

  9. November 1, 2015 / 8:17 am

    Not radical at all! On the odd Sunday that our car gets a wash I often get told by my neighbour that my other half should be doing it. Thing is he’s usually inside doing the cleaning or making tea (oh and sometimes just watching the rugby). I think we should all know how to do basic tasks – but I’m afraid I don’t know what a pozi drive is!! (Off to look it up).

    • John Adams
      Author
      November 2, 2015 / 5:49 am

      Basic tasks are for everyone….not just men or women. That’s my line and I’m sticking to it. Hope you discovered what a pozi drive screwdriver is!