Children need to know about gender inequality. The earlier, the better.
In a March 25 YouTube video posted on Jimmy Kimmel’s channel, a group of children between the ages of six and 12 were asked why women are paid less than men. Many said the same thing. “Girls don’t work as hard as the boys.”
Children absorb information from lessons picked up from their social environment and entertainment media. It’s possible the children in the video were just regurgitating information they’ve learned from social cues or conversations with friends and family. But those friends and family need to have an open conversation with those kids about gender roles and inequality. It’s the only way to ensure they are raised with a grounded, generous and smart mindset.
One boy knew the score. “I believe [women] are very underrated. They do more but people expect them to do less,” he said. He didn’t learn that on his own. An adult taught him that. That’s the power of open conversation.
How to Talk to Kids:
Keep it simple:
While it’s important to cover the important issue of gender inequality and stereotypes, it’s unnecessary and can be confusing to the child to give him or her a “textbook lesson” on the subject. Cater your discussion to the age of your child and so the information is attainable and easier to grasp.
Be Open To Questions:
If your child asks a tough question about the subject that maybe you’re unsure of how to go about answering, a great way to handle that is to say “Well, why do you ask?” This should be said lightly because the point isn’t to make your child feel guilty for asking the question. However, it could be helpful to know where their question is coming from or why it was asked. This information will give you insight; to answer their question to your fullest knowledge.
When Is the Right Time?
There is never really one perfect time to talk about gender, gender inequality and gender stereotypes with your child. It’s important to keep a close eye on your child to get an understanding of what he or she may or may not understand. If you witness a stereotype while you’re with your child, that is the perfect opportunity to open a discussion. For example, if you’re watching a movie or a television show and you notice maybe a sexist remark from one of the charters, you could turn that into a lesson.
Another way to know a conversation is needed is when your child is coming to you with questions about gender roles or gender stereotype. For example, it’s common for children to be excluded from a game or an activity because it is catered to the opposite gender. If your child opens up about the situation, that would be a perfect window of opportunity to discuss gender.
It’s important. After all, every parent’s goal is to raise caring, thoughtful and socially aware human beings.