When my daughter started elementary school, it amazed me to meet parents of kindergarten boys who weren't even interested in chatting because I have girls. To them, there was no use getting to know each other because our kids wouldn't be making playdates or sharing the same activities. I guess my daughters didn't read the gender role manual: they like basketball, Star Wars, Hex Bugs and other stereotypical boy pastimes.
What is a gender role? It's amazing how our children pick up on the unspoken messages about what boys do and what girls do. Suddenly, the girls are dressing in pink and talking about princesses, and the boys are acting out superhero scenes. Sure, there are biological differences, but we exaggerate them when we assume what and whom our children are interested in.
I never thought -- growing up in the "Free to Be, You and Me" era when girls were told we could be anything -- that we'd still be fighting this battle 30 years later. I want my girls to be unafraid of studying math and science (like I did), to pursue their interests regardless of stereotype and to end up succeeding in a career that fulfills their true potential as human beings. I guess we'll just have to be aware of the gender role signals in the society around us, so we can counter the pernicious messages.
What is a gender role to you? How do you explain it to your kids?
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