Should girls be gifted only dolls and boys be gifted only toys cars and stuff like that? If yes, why? This question does seem confusing! Isn’t it?
One day while we were buying some toys, our son asked us to buy a kitchen set for him. For a second I went blank and stared at my husband. But soon my conscience spoke- ‘Aren’t all the chefs male?’ , ‘Don’t my father, brother and husband cook when required?’, Even I myself had told myself that I’ll certainly teach my son to cook when he grows up. Then why this shock when he asked for a kitchen set as a little five year old boy? Although I didn’t buy the kitchen set he wanted, but on reaching home I gave him a set of cutlery and some bowls and watched him secretly. After sometime when I asked what was he doing? “I am running a restaurant” – he replied happily.
The world has changed and so has the traditional roles of men and women. Both have to multitask to survive in this competitive world. So while the natural girlish and boyish inclinations are certainly their, we as parents need not fuss over it much.
Kids have gender specific tendencies even as an infant of few months. Baby girls are mostly more warm and affectionate. They easily give a sweet smile to everyone. While the boys are a bit aloof, inquisitive, not cozying up to strangers easily. While baby girls are more attracted to soft toys, baby boys are more attracted to fast moving objects. By the age of one the difference in liking is quite clear. If you observe two year old kids in a playground you will surely find a group of girls sitting and chatting and the boys running around, chasing each other and fighting. Girls and boys play all sports till the age of three, but after that boys take to games like cricket and football, while girls take to softer sports like badminton and table tennis. Exceptions are certainly always there.
Father is the idol for boys and mothers the idol for girls.
Such natural tendencies cannot be denied or suppressed. It in fact is a way of nature, evolving into a natural division of labor between men and women based on their natural physical and mental capabilities.
Needs of the modern world-
Gender equality is the norm today. The educational and career needs of both men and women are the same. The gender equality that began from equal right to education progressed to jobs outside home and further to household, family responsibilities. So now the mother and father both are working and both take up equal amount of household responsibilities too. Whether boys or girls, both have to stay away from home, for higher education or jobs, looking after all aspects of life like cleaning, cooking, managing finances, traveling etc.
In such a scenario it is wise not to demean any type of activity. Children must develop a healthy respect for all jobs. This respect develops from home when they see their mothers helping their father in managing the finances and the father helping mother in the kitchen. If a girl wants to know about the car engine, her queries should be readily answered. Similarly, if a boy wants to learn cooking, he should be readily taught.
While the loving, nurturing tendency develops in girls with playing with dolls, gifting them mechanical type of games too is not a bad idea. Games which involve building, engineering etc. help develop these faculties too. Women engineers, architects, pilots, drivers are normal now. Adventure sports and martial arts, on the other hand, enable girls to prepare themselves to confidently face the rough and tough outside world. Such preparedness helps to calmly handle emergency situations where one has to deal with everything without any male support.
Same is with boys. Along with the natural technical bent of bind of the boys, we also need to develop their softer side that is necessary in family life. Not only cooking and cleaning, boys should also be encouraged to take care of old grandparents and any invalid member of the family. This develops a caring, sympathetic attitude in the boys. While knowing how to cook and maintain a house comes handy when one has to stay alone, the nursing abilities help them to take care of sick parents, spouse or kids.
When we know and do all jobs, we are not only prepared for any situation turning up in life, but it also strengthens our relationship. We can understand our spouse better as we know what kind of stress and strain a particular job entails. The more jobs we share the more better we can converse and easily share our feelings with each other. Parents should explain the household finances, about banks, investments etc. to their son and daughter equally. So also jobs like laying the table for dinner or making the bed should be done equally by both sons and daughters.
So it certainly makes sense not to differentiate activities based on gender. Let the kids explore and learn all activities they want to. Let them respect each other equally and truly. Our job as parents is to develop a positive, respectful, healthy outlook of the kids, towards the opposite sex and towards the world. Our duty is to encourage them and show them the right ethical path in whatever they do.
(For gifts for your child’s friends, try more to go for items that are not gender specific. For example- books, puzzles, utility items etc.)