When "boys will be boys!"
I often hear gender differences described in permissible ways. The question that always comes to mind when this occurs is –what are the assumptions that are behind any cliché statements such as ‘boys will be boys’. When we become aware that we are using shortcuts we need to look at the ideas the words convey and challenge the assumptions behind them. So be aware when you short cut conversations and revert to using simplistic stereotypes.
There are four simple tools to help you on your way in freeing your thinking and help you maximize the potential of those around you including your children.
1. Understand cultural context that the stereotype has evolved from - Move away from pointing the finger and blaming ‘boys for being boys’- and understand that they are just doing what the culture rewards them for- they are mirroring societal expectations.
2. Don’t use stereotypes at home – the best way to resolve this is not to define tasks/chores at home by gender.
3. Awareness coaching and empathy- Help your child recognise invalid descriptors that stereotypes utilise and teach both sexes to empathise.
4. Empower your children to teach others - Teach your kids to be confident and assertive. Once they understand that, they develop confidence in being able to discern correct descriptors to both themselves and others, they can protect themselves from being incorrectly defined.
As their confidence grows they then begin to help dispel cultural myths and are empowered to believe in themselves. They feel stronger as this new truth, the one known as self expression is born. When we allow others to define ourselves we are limited to playing out to a stereotype. The child that is in touch and knows themselves is strong in knowing they can make their own path. This in itself is very rewarding and allows your children to define themselves according to values that are beneficial to themselves and their community. How have you coped with these issues at home and work?