Growing up in a big family, it was sometimes difficult to cope up with my sibling and cousins. But as a daughter of parents who supported me no matter what, I knew since the beginning of time what kind of parent am I going to be. My parents never differentiated between me and my younger brother. Both of us were presented with the same opportunities and the use of gender cliches in our house was discouraged.

I hope when my daughter grows up she believes, practices, and advocates equality for both sexes. I hope, I can create an environment for her where she feels free to play and behave in a way where she can be her true self without the fear of judgment and feel supported no matter the situation. I hope she can empower others and look through our patriarchal society.

I hope she can freely speak up for the issues that feel close to her heart and not feel dominated by the Alpha male notion in our society. I want to raise her to be confident, content, and resilient.

It’s a never-ending challenge for millennial parents, as they have grown up listening to gender-based cliches and have parents that still believe in them. Young boys are often teased at school for not liking the traditional sport or colour that is particularly manly. Girls are often mocked for wearing jeans or blazers. Women are not taken seriously for having an entrepreneurial spirit.

I’ve jotted down a few tips on how you can support and encourage your children whilst keeping in mind the egalitarian values.

Start Early

Try to have some generic and non-gender-based clothes and toys for your little ones. Just because you have a girl doesn’t mean everything they need should be pink or purple. Read the books with strong female-led characters. Teach them to be independent and that their gender doesn’t pose limitations on their dreams, ambition, and strength.

Don’t Be Overprotective

It’s hard not to coddle your kids, especially when they’re little. The world can be unpredictable and scary. But you should teach your child to be fearless and be able to take calculated risks. Don’t force your boys to be adventure-hungry or your girls to be domestic. Try to follow their lead and help them discover their passion and hobbies.

Watch Your Words

Kids idolise their adults and tend to pick up their language, words, and tone very fast. Avoid using labels such as, Don’t cry like a girl or boys will be boys. Support and build your kid’s EQ as well as IQ. Before you use such phrases question your belief system and inherited biased views.

Don’t Underestimate Your Children

Parents play the most important role in shaping a child’s future and their world views. They tend to mimic their parent’s views so you must be mindful and careful of what you say and do.

Share equal responsibilities with your partner and explain to your kids the importance of being financially independent. When they see you working on your laptop, tell them you’re working and that gives you money to buy food. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, talk to your kids about your partner’s job and how you support them by taking care of your children at home while they’re at work, earning for your family. Raising empathetic children will help equality. Be honest with them and you will see a difference.

Arrange Mixed Gender Meet-Ups

Since the beginning, make a conscious effort to introduce your children to kids of the same and the opposite gender. Little boys and girls learn more about their counterparts by playing and engaging with them. Normalise mixed-gender friendships.

Introduce your kids to your friends and show them that mommy has male and female friends, likewise for daddy.

Having children gives us to often realise and re-evaluate our own inherited values and preconceived notions so we can do better for ourselves, our kids, and the future generations.

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