My parents raised me to know that I could do anything and be anything that I wanted to be. They encouraged me to play sports, get dirty and have fun. I was the kid who always came home from daycare and later school with cuts and bruises (and I still have some of the scars on my legs to prove it) and the one who wanted to be first to try everything. I had no fears and I felt safe to be myself, even through some of my crazier phases! My parents never stopped supporting me to be the best me.
It wasn’t until I was older that I started to realize that some people have different expectations for girls and young women. I loved the sciences and wanted to be a surgeon when I was in high school, which my parents fully encouraged me to follow. They reminded me that I could do anything that I wanted and that I should never let common gender stereotypes guide my decisions. While that wasn’t the field I found myself in, my parents supported me and encouraged me throughout my years at McMaster and when I became a parent myself.
When I had my boys, I wanted them to know the exact same security and confidence my parents gave me as a child and young adult. I wanted them to feel free to cry, to show emotion, run, play and dress however they wanted without fear. It was important to me that they see that Dads cook, clean and do laundry and Moms can cut the grass, go to work and can play just as hard on the soccer field as Dad can. That is what I grew up with and it is so important for children to see that there are no rules for boys and rules for girls. We are all strong individuals who need to be pushed to be the best version of us.
An important part of supporting our children is to monitor what they see on TV. While sometimes the content can be okay, other times the content can actually push the typical gender stereotypes we are trying to push away from. It has even been show that girls as young as six can be effected by the gender stereotypes they see on television and it can have lasting affects.
We want both boys and girls to see girls in strong leadership roles – this is not a role reserved solely for boys and girls should be encouraged to be a strong leader. More often than not, films and series aren’t showing enough of this. But if you look hard enough you can definitely find some pretty great content that will help your child understand they can be and do anything they want. If you are looking for great content for your children, check out these top three picks currently featured on Netflix:
- A Series of Unfortunate Events
- One Day at a Time
- Home: Adventures with Tip and Oh
Spending quality time with your children teaching them that they can be and do whatever they put their mind to is one of the most important things you can for your child, whether you have a daughter or a son. They need to understand that there are no restrictions on what they can achieve if they put their mind to it. You can do it every day by sharing roles as parents, supporting your child in their decisions and ensuring they are watching content with you that inspires and encourages them to be their best.
How do you help break down gender stereotypes for your children?
Disclosure: I am a Netflix #StreamTeam member and receive perks with this affiliation. All opinions expressed are my own.