Talking to Kids About Gender Identity - Part 5

 

Our new title I Am A Girl by Catherine Connors launched on October 11th! I Am A Girl is a book that banishes labels and stereotypes and helps girls understand and express who they truly are. 

Twigtale thinks this conversation is an important one – it is about about personal identity and gender equality. It includes a discourse on how labels and stereotypes can impact everyone. 

We're asking people whose insight and expertise we admire to add their voice to this discussion. We're featuring their responses to one question:  

How do you talk to your kids about what it means to be a girl, a boy, or any other identity on the gender spectrum?

Pheobe Hayman, Co-Founder & CEO of Seedling
 

We talk about a lot of issues as they come up in a peer-to-peer manner. The first thing we look for is an understanding of what our kids are thinking, so we know where they have context and where they may have assumptions, lack the direct experience, or have heard the opinions of friends. We ask a lot of questions and try to give them information when there are knowledge gaps.

With two boys in our house, one of our most common discussions around gender is about the number of TV shows that have male lead characters who are seemingly incapable of making good decisions and everything is a joke. The popularity of cartoons such as Uncle Grandpa and Clarence are always a great opportunity for a discussion around gender role models. As a parent, I believe digesting content that perpetuates negative stereotypes isn't good for a growing mind. We explain to them that just because you’re being entertained, it doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to watch or poor messaging should be consumed.  

We’re trying to teach them to value themselves and who they are, no matter the stereotypical societal concepts or what others tell them. With a CEO mom, they don’t understand why the United States hasn’t had a woman president. With strong women coaches, they are surprised to find out that there are so few women coaches of professional men’s sports. Being 9 and 11, our kids are at an age where they love these types of discussions, sharing their philosophies, and having an opinion about things. Our aim in these discussions is for them to have as much information as possible on issues, so they can form their own opinion and have some perspective. They will always come up against new ideas and foreign concepts, but I’m happy if they have a strong sense of self with an understanding around how they want be treated and how they want to treat others, both personally and in society. After all, this is what we all have to do every day as adults — and it won’t be long until they are!