Feb 16, 2010

Teaching Children That Women and Men are Equal

Uh oh…oh no…did he really say that? What did he mean? Should I be concerned? Just a few days ago, my 4 year old son, Ethan, said (as he was pretending to fly his rocket to the moon), “there are no women on my mission to the moon”.

Playing "Mission to the Moon" in his recycled cardboard rocket:

So I asked, “why not Ethan?” “Because there can’t be any women in the rocket, mom, only men.” Hmmmm…”why is that Ethan?” I, of course, was hoping for some insight, some explanation, some window into his thoughts…and he replied “just because Mom”. So, this prompted some discussion. Ethan loves astronauts and anything and everything Space…the NASA missions, Apollo 11, the moon. He is fascinated. Loves to read books about Space and the moon…loves to watch “From the Earth to the Moon” documentary.

I was concerned that all of the Space and the moon stories we read perhaps influenced his perspective of the roles of women since they were stories from the 1960s-70s. So I explained to Ethan that women were astronauts too and they went on Space missions. And then we talked about one of the best skiers in the world, Lindsey Vonn, was a woman (Ethan skis so I thought this would be a good example). And then we read the book, “Grandma Elephant’s in Charge”, which is a lovely story about elephant herds. The leader of the elephant pack is Grandma Elephant! All the other elephants listen to and appreciate her wisdom.

Grandma Elephant’s in Charge" Gift Set:

I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting, but I do want to make sure that Ethan has an accurate view of the world and appreciates men and women as equals.

Any advice? Similar experiences?



Melitsa said...

Personally, we do a little and often when it comes to challenging thoughts like this. I try not to teach all the time but would if I had know used a book in certain situations. Sometimes just another questions or prompt would have been enough. We take the you have to be intentional route with things like this. Makes for good conversation and later, hopefully, discussion.

I have 3 boys and it's easy I feel for them to see stereotypes and me to be one myself in the home.

Since play is my thing I try and show them the rough and tumble play/tag because I like that and my dh likes the fiddly activities so will craft some with them. We don't do it very often but make a point of remembering to do it.

Sara Lubkin said...

No boys allowed in our rocket ship.
I think it's the age. Arielle is very anti-boy at the moment. She says, "when I grow up I'll like them and I'll marry one, but right now I think boys are icky" and Linnea copies, of course. I think at her age she is recognizing that there is a difference and being proud of what she is. That doesn't mean that I don't need to point out that boys can do almost everything that girls can. You are doing the right thing, keep showing him strong women characters. And women do go to space - maybe he needs to see real woman astronauts.

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