Unconsciously or not, many parents promote gender stereotyping among their children, and have certain expectations of them which meet these stereotypes. While many might find this nurturing for a child’s development, they are actually extremely damaging, increasing violence, depression, and suicide rates among them.
Gender stereotyping is the same across many cultural backgrounds
Researchers were interested in how gender stereotyping affects children, so they took interviews of 450 children and their parents. These children came from 15 countries, spread all over five continents. Although there are some cultural differences among these countries, the stereotypes remain quite the same. Boys have to be the strong ones, and girls the vulnerable ones.
Gender stereotyping is everywhere, but it starts from an early age, in the familial environment. Then, as children grow up, they find it in class, at their workplace, in church, and basically everywhere on the street.
Since boys were taught to be tough, and girls got used to be the weaker ones, the latter let themselves become victims, and faced more problems. This led to an increase in the number of girls who dropped out of school, got infected with HIV during unhappy sexual incidents, or became pregnant at an early age.
Stereotypes affect equally boys and girls
However, gender stereotyping cuts both ways. Those boys who don’t manage to meet the standards are also likely to experience a downfall. If they feel they don’t fit the expectations, boys can easily get addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, and a violent behavior.
The problem seems more prevalent among teens, but it actually starts during early childhood. Young boys are taught to be more aggressive at an early age, while girls are made to think they are not fit to be tougher, or to occupy a leading position later in life. Also, many girls find boys smarter precisely because of this.
Although gender stereotyping is everywhere, we often get to ask too much of our children. They shouldn’t grow up to some standards, but follow their own path and do whatever makes them happy. Also, they shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if they are a bit different. All the details of this study have been published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons