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“Not this t-shirt Mumma. Its pink”, my three year old mourned.
Whats wrong with pink , I ask ?
It’s a girl colour Mumma. Now irritated that how clueless his mother can be.
We mutually agree on a GREEN roaring dinosaur t- shirt and head out the door to play.I itch inside who decides what are boys colour and girls colours. Growing up in India I had already learned division of colour based on your skin tone. And now this? Anyways, I rush to my toddler on the slide and forget about it.
Few days later on my visit to a common toy store I was overwhelmed to see clear and well accepted colour discrimination of toys. Silly, that you don't notice these things until you have kids of your own.Where in a sea of pink and purple toys MEANT for girls and I stop at front of pretty pink toaster with a purple bow. It appalls me to see why the toaster is meant for girls only. Cant a boy help himself to a toast ? We all want our kids to grow up to be independent adults. Don’t we? And again many people (including my dear husband) feel uncomfortable buying a boy a pink toy or a girlie toy.
Our children are taking in these messages about what girls and boys are ‘supposed to like’ They are looking for patterns and social rules – they understand the gender rule as early as 3 years. I wonder if my son knows where his parents are from in India. But we have managed to give him a taste of gender rule.Our everyday conversations like, “ Don’t cry like a girl”. “Girls do ballet , boys do soccer” ,"Mums stay at home, Dads go to office" and it goes on and on. Though unconsciously, we are making strong gender specific statements.
Science based research shows how over dependence on gender differentiation can make it harder for kids to grow up to be unique individuals.
Experts say "If we designate a particular colour to a gender, it leads us to designate all manner of other things by gender too".The result is girls and boys read different kinds of books, play with different kinds of toys, study different subjects, consider different occupations, have different roles within the workplace and family and are ultimately valued differently by society. Whats worse is all this occurs even before a child is born. Our choices reflect in superhero nursery for a boy or a princess nursery for a girl.
We as parents have a big responsibility to help our kids break out of these narrow boxes to become their authentic selves. Let our sons cry when they need to, and let us praise them for their caring or helping behavior. Let our daughters be rough, and let them be assertive and believe in themselves. Lets reduce the gap between the two colours who sit at two ends of a spectrum.
Let kids be kids.
I for one am thrilled when my son invites all his superheroes to a tea party. When he dishes out pretend pasta for me , I smile thinking with his passion he could grow to be a Michelin star Chef and not necessarily an investment banker.