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Advice about my children

(30 Posts)
Rosesandpears Fri 10-Nov-17 06:32:51

Hello, I enjoy reading Feminism chat, but never posted before. I am mum to two young boys and have recently gone back to work part-time to a professional job. My husband works full time. We share household chores evenly, but I am obviously at home with the children more and do the majority of the 'wife work'. I have no plans to return to work full time until they are much older. I want my sons to be feminists, and my husband is a great role model, but we are not planning any more children so they will be growing up in a male dominated household with parents in traditional roles. Any thoughts/advice how I can encourage feminism? Thank you.

BertrandRussell Fri 10-Nov-17 06:47:16

I think one of the most important things is for you and your dp to model an equal and respectful relationship. Make sure he acknowledges and appreciates the work you do both inside and outside the home. And vice versa.

Rosesandpears Fri 10-Nov-17 07:02:42

Thank you. Very important point. We do try and do that already but will make sure it's a priority.

overmydeadbody Fri 10-Nov-17 07:08:15

Try not to say things like"you're a big strong boy" or " this is a man's job" or " I need a man to do this" or other gender stereotypes.

Generally gender stereotypes make it men to be better than women.

Don't tell them to"man up" out not cry like s baby or like a girl, don't try to make them supress their feelings.

Rosesandpears Fri 10-Nov-17 07:27:48

Thank you, will do. We are trying to keep things gender neutral as much as possible and letting them decide their likes/interests as they get older.

BertrandRussell Fri 10-Nov-17 08:04:24

And do all this while making sure they know that it's OK to be a boy! And that it's OK to like traditional "boyish" things. And when you've
Worked out how to do all this, come back and tell me how. grin

pipistrell Fri 10-Nov-17 08:09:00

Who does what jobs around the house?

Do you:

Use the tools?
Put pictures up?
Mow the lawn?

Does your husband:


I think it's important that you are seen doing traditionally "men's" heavy type of jobs. Use a drill, get involved in outdoorsy activities. Seeing mum inside getting the dinner ready when the three men are outside clearing the woods etc reinforces the idea that you aren't capable of doing "men's work"

BertrandRussell Fri 10-Nov-17 08:13:44

"Seeing mum inside getting the dinner ready when the three men are outside clearing the woods etc reinforces the idea that you aren't capable of doing "men's work""
I agree-but also it's important to reinforce the message that traditional "men's" work can't happen without traditional "women's" work. It's like "hunter/gatherer" communities. The hunters get all the credit for bringing in a tiny %age of the food. The gatherers get none of the credit for bringing in most of it.
Can you see this is a bit of a hobby horse of mine?

midsummabreak Fri 10-Nov-17 08:17:51

Teach your boys to clean the shower, bathroom, toilets, vac, mop , make their bed use washing machine... It can only be taught in stages shen little but at least they listen. It gets harder to get them to listen when they are older teens!!
Teach them to be nuturing. E. G. Only if possible, Get them a pet and teachthem to keep water bowl full, care for, spend adaquate time play ing with it.
Teach cooking, baking
Good luck. Its never perfect but great you are trying!

Rosesandpears Fri 10-Nov-17 08:31:50

Thanks everyone. Such great advice. Much appreciated.

DonkeySkin Fri 10-Nov-17 10:27:51

Read them books with female protagonists, show them movies and TV shows with female leads. Don't default to 'he' for stuffed toys, figurines and animals - make sure you call some of them 'she'. Otherwise they will grow up thinking males are the default for everything and girls and women are these peculiar outliers who don't have thoughts and feelings like they do.

I do this with my little girl, which often entails changing the wording of books particularly; it's amazing how many kids' books just go he, he, he for all the animal characters.

BertrandRussell Fri 10-Nov-17 14:18:25

Have you read "How to be a Boy"? It's very interesting on how boys and men are expected to deal with their emotions, and how damaging it is for them and for girls and women.

dustinclockwatcher Fri 10-Nov-17 14:33:00

I'm in the same position OP, with two boys and I'm a SAHM. I make a point of talking about other families we know where the mum works and dad stays at home so they know all families are different. We try to split chores so we're not too gender stereotypical. And books as a pp said are key. Books and tv with female protagonists. Zog, melody, Rosie's hat, etc etc. My oldest DS (3) has just started using gender specific pronouns - before everyone was a 'he' but now he corrects himself. So it's never too late to start. They're taking it all in. He loves my little pony and going to ballet as well as Thomas and football class, which is great. He's not trying to conform to any societal gender role at present. I'm hoping that all this early neutral experience will help head off the inevitable gender stereotypes he'll encounter when he gets older and help him see them for what they are.

Rosesandpears Fri 10-Nov-17 14:59:26

Thank you so much for the suggestions. Eldest DS is still only 2 so I can start doing all these things early on.

SheilaFromDerby Fri 10-Nov-17 15:14:20

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Knusper Fri 10-Nov-17 16:45:20

You're off to a good start by thinking about this now and not in ten years' time.

YY about modelling respect for each other's contributions to the household.

Be picky about the kind of media that your young kids are exposed to. Much pickier than feels strictly necessary. Watch TV with them. Avoid adverts and letting the TV run in the background. Same with books. Flag up stereotypes.

Be aware that they notice insignificant details of what is going on around them. DS never thought that pink was for girls because he noticed DH's pink tie in our wedding photos. I found it shocking that this was the small detail that challenged the stereotypes all around him.

Buy them lifeskill toys - aka 'girls' toys - a baby doll, play kitchen, mini broom etc.

Let them know that they can do whatever hobbies or jobs that interest them. We watched male ballet dancers on YouTube for ages because my son thought that ballet was for girls. Casually draw attention to men in caring roles (nurses, teachers etc).

Teach them how to talk about emotions and praise them when they do so. Let them know that it's good to be a boy.

Later on, you're only as strong as the weakest parent in the class. But it is possible to challenge some stereotypes right from the start.

Mishappening Fri 10-Nov-17 16:51:32

And forgive yourself if you don't get it perfect all the time!!!

dustinclockwatcher Fri 10-Nov-17 16:54:41

The point a pp made is a very good one. Always call out stereotypes. Don't let them go. Kids notice. Even benign things. So for instance at a recent trip to the dentist the dentist offered my son the choice between a car and a dinosaur sticker and covered up the flower and butterfly stickers with her other hand. He looked confused. He wanted the butterfly. So I asked her to move her hand and told him he could choose from those as well. These little things are so important.

CaptainWarbeck Fri 10-Nov-17 23:58:07

Good thread. Teach them about feelings. Explain how other people might be feeling. Ask them how they are feeling.

We've started doing this fairly intensively with 2yo DS. He can talk about how he's feeling happy/sad/shy/cross etc, and what makes him feel this way. How he can make himself feel better (a cuddle, doing something he enjoys, taking his mind off it). And he is learning to recognise how his baby sister is feeling and how he can help her (talking to her, giving her a toy, asking if she wants a cuddle).

It may sound basic but without it he defaulted to anger and frustration every time.

Teach them about consent too. Teach them it's okay to say no if someone asks them for a hug or a kiss. And we're teaching DS to always ask before he tickles/blows raspberries on his sister for example.

Rosesandpears Sat 11-Nov-17 07:17:01

Lots of brilliant advice. Thank you!

Rosesandpears Sat 11-Nov-17 08:20:42

I feel a lot of responsibility parenting sons.

NoLoveofMine Sat 11-Nov-17 08:22:53

Roseandpears I think it's fantastic you're thinking about these things and are parenting your sons brilliantly. I have no doubt with you and your husband bringing them up your sons will be wonderful people (and already are of course). Reading threads like this is very reassuring as it's heartening to know parents are thinking about these things, which will be great for your sons and girls and women they'll know in future.

Rosesandpears Sat 11-Nov-17 10:21:45

I hope so. Thank you. We have taken everything on board.

April229 Sat 11-Nov-17 10:44:05

You do work and have a professional job, that’s some great role modelling and they see you being respected and listened too.

Is there a hobby you could all do together - climbing, mountain biking, swimming. Stuff that doesn’t divide you in to categorise but shows that male or female you can all enjoy the same things. And allows the, to see you in different lights - not just cooking but being awesome at climbing a wall or something.

I don’t think it needs to be that your sons see you doing wood work to be feminists - I don’t do wood work or use power tools, but I would absolutely not stand to be disrespected by a partner. Decisions are made equally and we both make a contribution that is valued with the different jobs we do. Sounds like that’s what you have going on, which is great. Many people share jobs like you do, but I guess you don’t want you sons to feel that a woman has to be more than what you show currently to be valuable- you sound like you’re doing brilliantly.

April229 Sat 11-Nov-17 10:50:31

I also wanted to add a very contentious suggestion. When they are older, and before they start to see stuff online, talk to them about porn. Explain that the general depiction of sex between couples in porn situation is not ok and it’s not how sex should be. Focus being on concent respect and consideration for both parties.

I don’t know if anyone saw that documentary on channel four with the Swedish lady who roll out an alternate sex education class in Birmingham - it was unbelievable and the misapprehension amongst the 12-14 was incredible. The extent of porn they had seen and the expections the girls and boys had about what they should expect / accept from sex was saddening.

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