“Mom, is this a boy magazine?” my daughter asked me, picking up Car & Driver, her dad’s magazine of choice. “No, sweetie it can be a girl’s or a boy’s magazine,” I responded. Upon saying that, she proceeded to page through the magazine. (Side note: I WILL sometimes page through car magazines, though I did much more when I worked for an automotive company.)
In another instance, my husband was not too pleased with big sister’s dinnertime antics, so he told her, “Act like a lady.” I added in, “No, please act like a kid with good mealtime manners.”
My daughter also reported that her female teacher at school had boy hair (it’s cut short) to which I replied, “Girls can have short hair or long hair.”
Having both a son and a daughter, we are constantly confronted with gender bias. I want to raise both of my children with the idea that they can do whatever they want, regardless of what may be considered a girl or boy magazine, haircut, or acting like a lady or crazy little boy.
We try to avoid girl- or boy-only labels (something I’ve written about before), so our kids both play with trains, cars, animals, and dolls – or whatever strikes their fancy. My daughter is a big animal lover, which includes checking out bugs or digging for worms while wearing a tutu (as she does below).
I have to admit that I worry more about raising my daughter in the midst of the princess-obsessed age group. Sure, she does enjoy her princess domino game and loved watching Pocahontas, but she’s never requested to dress-up like a princess. I mean, what do princesses really DO besides meet their prince and get married? Don’t they have interests and things to do besides plan another ball? Since her chances of being a real-life princess are non-existent, I’ll keep rooting for better heroines for my daughter, while trying to set a good example for her myself.
As I mentioned in Do I Really Sound like That, my words too easily become her words. I hope I watch what I say to put the right words in her head, so she can become a strong, confident girl, ready to conquer the world in whatever way she desires. First off on her agenda: pre-school.
How do parents of boys and girls consciously (or unconsciously) raise their children? Can you recommend any good girl characters role models?