Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Struggling with Stereotypes

I don't believe in stereotypes. I want my boys to know how to cook and sew, my girl to change tires and wield a hammer. So I'm teaching them all to do laundry at 10, how to cook in 8th grade, how to change tires at 15 with driver's ed. I was happy to see my boys wanting to work on cars, use tools, and do other tasks that allow them to work with their dad. But now my daughter is interested in cooking and prefers doing indoor chores to outdoor ones, and I have a struggle. I don't want her to be stereotypically female, focused on running a house - but if that is what she is interested in, why is it any different than the boys being interested in fixing cars? That is just as stereotypically male. Why is it ok for the boys to take on tasks their father does but not ok for my daughter to take on tasks I do? Why is using a stove or sewing machine less worthy than using a hammer or wrench? After all, I enjoy both cooking and sewing, and see them as creative outlets.

I guess it isn't the being interested in running a house that bother me, it's the idea that she might stop there, never push herself to try other things, follow other interests. But now that I think of it that way, she's not likely to do that; after all, this is the child who is teaching herself Japanese so she can read manga in the original. Maybe I just need to trust her a little more...

1 comment:

Valli said...

I have been thinking about this since I read it a few days ago. I understand that there can be so many subtle ways that kids are influenced, ie: even when exposed to certain things, if the 'exposer' is not interested in it, that sends the subtle message that it is not fun, interesing, or worth the trouble. Thus, steering them towards other things. Why do certain careers run in families? The exposure or the genetics, or a lot of both?
In Virginia's case, I trust her ability to know what she wants and giving her the chance to do anything, given her personality, I am not surprised she gravitates toward certain tasks. The McAtee household has always been an excellent place to explore and try out everything! You have done a great job of letting every one figure out what they like to do the best.