The Effect Of Gender-Stereotyping Our Kids

The Effect Of Gender-Stereotyping Our KidsA few years ago at my son’s preschool camp award ceremony, I sat silently as well-meaning counselors called each child forward. Girls: best hair, best clothes, best friend, best helper and best artist. Boys: best runner, best climber, best builder and best thrower. My son won best soccer player. In general, girls received awards for their personalities and appearance and boys for their actions and physical attributes.

‘Shape their interactions’

The gender disparity was subtle but present. And then my daughter got her certificate, showing her in a funky orange sweater, tight pants, and holding a bowling ball. Her award — best dressed.

Sometimes, I find the prospect of raising a girl to be terrifying. The forces of patriarchy conspire to render girls weak, subordinate and sexually objectified. When we respond to infants by gendering our speech, strong for boys and lilting for girls, we immediately start to shape their interactions with the world.

‘Closeted and coddled’

The teenage years with the new dangers of sex, alcohol, eating disorders and more will arrive before we know it. I can’t save her from all of this, and anyway we buy into purity culture (the notion that only a father’s constant surveillance can save our daughters) at our peril and the peril of our daughters. Our daughters need to be strong, not closeted and coddled. We have to arm them with the tools to question, resist and change our patriarchal culture.

Our culture constantly projects the message that only appearances matter, and this message is aimed squarely at our children. We can fight this only by working against the grain, resisting gendered language and emphasizing the internal over the external.

Are you also guilty of gender-stereotyping your kids? Do you agree or disagree with this write-up?

Source: David M. Perry, CNN

Image: NY Metro Parents

Do Moms Of Boys Have Shorter Lives?

Do Moms Of Boys Have Shorter LivesParents often quip that their kids—especially their rambunctious little boys—are “going to be the death of me,” and new research shows that they may be right: Having sons can shave an average of eight and a half months off of a mom’s life. (The affect on dads? None, apparently.)

‘Reduced post-reproductive survival’

The study, by evolutionary ecologist Dr. Samuli Helle of the University of Turku in Finland and Dr. Virpi Lummaa of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, was published this week in the journal Biology Letters. He and his team looked at the post-childbirth survival rates of 11,166 mothers and 6,360 fathers in pre-industrial Finland, using records kept by the Lutheran Church there.

“Irrespective of access to resources, mothers, but not fathers, with many sons suffered from reduced post-reproductive survival,” they wrote in the study.

After crunching the numbers, the researchers found that a mother who bore six sons would live on average another 32.4 years after the youngest son’s birth, while a mother who gave birth to girls would live approximately 33.1 years after her youngest daughter came along. The shorter life expectancy was the same regardless of the mom’s social or financial status, though Helle said that “societal and cultural reasons could also play a factor.”

‘Correlation, not cause’

Still, Helle said in a statement: “The research shows the more sons you have the lower post-reproductive survival was. Biologically, there is a bigger cost associated with having a boy than a girl, so that is one explanation for the shorter lifespan.”

Male babies are usually bigger than female babies, which may have meant that they required more nutrients from the mother’s body during gestation, researchers suggest. But modern moms with boys shouldn’t worry too much: The study shows correlation, not cause (that is, it shows a link between having sons and dying earlier, but doesn’t prove that one causes the other).

Do you think having a boy can really shorten a mother’s lifespan compared to having a girl? Tell us about your most prominent parental woes!

Source: Lylah M. Alphonse, Yahoo Shine

Image: Giggle Gab