Parenting & Education

“Boys Don’t Cry!”

Nurturing Children in a

“Gender- Neutral” Environment

We have heard gender based statements a lot or even said it to someone we know. Boys hear it, and sometimes girls are told the opposite “Stop behaving like a boy”. The concept of “gender-neutral,” has never been understood till today. Around the world man and woman are assigned certain status as per the norms of the society you live in. Being gender bias, discrimination, stereotyping, etc. everything points at one direction i.e. a restricted human mindset.  Gender sensitization is a concept that children in today’s era need to be informed about. With advanced technology that is rapidly growing, woman are also blessed with a purpose of living life their way. Today women and men can take up responsibilities and grow together on equal footing, we are given a choice and yet the society we live in underlines the steps we take towards our goals and dreams, until we end up stereotyping the opposite sex. It’s a harsh reality, although in time we are slowly adapting to new norms, the change should begin from the roots, which is at every home.

Understanding Gender Sensitization

Gender Sensitization is changing an individual’s behavior, by building empathy into our opinions we have about oneself and the opposite genders. Gender sensitization is a teaching that applies for both genders. To understand this concept, let’s talk about the difference between gender and sex.

Gender is the sexual identity you develop as you grow and Sex is one’s biological nature.

Gender is a “People’s Cause. It’s a socially learnt behavior and the undesirable burden, forced on boys and girls to follow the subjected traits of masculinity and femininity.

Girls face unnecessary social control and domination and boys are discouraged to be emotionally open, gentle, and fearful, then thrown into the world of being protectors, providers, breadwinners, man of the house, etc. This brings us to stereotyping a gender and not paying attention to facts.

Stereotypes are roles assigned to male and female genders. It is a cause of struggle for one gender but a greater problem for the other. There is a certain criteria created for both genders. So, if a man or a woman, do not fall in those norms, they are mocked by the society. Example; “Boys are stronger than girls,”or “Girls play with dolls.”

Fact is something that cannot be changed and remains constant, it is the nature’s way of working its ways. Example; Woman are capable of reproduction.

Children endure gender based statements in their daily lives, starting from home to school with their friends and peers or family and relatives, etc.

Children who are not exposed to the teachings of gender sensitization, show insensitivity to the opposite gender, they are not able to explore the creativity on the other side and has a restricted choice on career based on what the society has laid down for them.

What can we do as parents?

It’s important for us as an individual to understand if we are nurturing our children in this manner, once the realization has happened it’s time we are aware of that when we raise our children.

Start with their play, the toys you provide them or the games you introduce them to, the activities they learn all should fall under gender-neutral category.

Set an example as parents, household errands need to be shared between mother and father. This way your children are set with a good example. Share experiences,stories and also support your child’s dreams. Teach your child to respect both genders despite their differences.

Presenting the culture of gender sensitization in parenting and education can reveal missed opportunities to be explored for both genders. Teach your kids to think before they speak about the opposite gender, and to look at each other as human beings that deserve respect and care. Understanding gender sensitization and molding children behavior, can help play a larger role in reducing gender based crimes in our country.

Women were brought up to have only one set of manners. A woman was either a lady or she wasn’t, and we all know what the latter meant. Not even momentary lapses were allowed; there is no female equivalent of the boys-will-be-boys concept.

Judith Martin, Common Courtesy: In Which Miss Manners Solves the Problem That Baffled Mr. Jefferson

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