In the world around us, many biases prevail, but the biggest bias that we encounter in our day to day life is the one of gender bias. A line has been drawn dividing us, not merely into male and female but into competent and incompetent, into stronger and weaker, and into privileged and unprivileged. And this isn’t a line drawn today but one existing since centuries.
But in today’s world where the ideologies of sexism and feminism collide, it is of vital importance to educate your children about how and why such bias exists and why it’s baseless and unproductive to have such prejudices.
Other biases also exist in our society alongside gender. These are on the basis of skin color, caste, wealth and physical disabilities.
Here are a few tips to help you educate your child on biases:
It all starts from here. And this is the step where it can all go wrong. This gender bias in India has seeped into our culture and we treat boys and girls differently. Where the boys are the pride of the house, the girls are not allowed to shine.
Here are a few things you can follow at home:
i. There is nothing such as boy toys and girl toys, toys are meant for everyone and your child can play with anything they want.
ii. While parenting set a clear set of rules applicable to both your sons and daughters. Divide the chores amongst them equally and change the chores after a while so that they both get the chance to do everything.
iii. Encourage them both equally and if they commit a mistake then take appropriate measure based on their mistake, not on the basis of their gender.
It all starts very subtly of course but over time this difference between a boy and a girl increases greatly and not only that, by this time we have already accepted that the fate of women and men are quite different from each other.
So when you treat both your sons and daughters equally, they find the gender bias unfair and rightly so. They will also learn that there is no such thing as a ‘superior gender’. Their personalities reject the concept of this bias and they see all humans as equal.
Kids learn from seeing and observing their parents. As parents when you treat your spouse with respect they will see and learn the importance of respecting the other gender. When you divide the chores amongst yourselves, they will see that no job is a ‘man’s job’ or a ‘woman’s job’. When you are considerate towards each other, they will learn to be polite and understanding as well. This is how you can eliminate gender bias in everyday life.
Always be polite to everyone, including your household helpers and underlings, because everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Also, it is important that you be careful when talking to kids. Do not say things which will contradict your behavior. This may be in the form of jokes or sarcasm because this how biases grow.
When you’ve treated your children equally, they become acutely aware of the situation in our society, which claims to be moving forward, but still has areas where biases hold it back. This holds true, especially for women. Such biases are often seen in sports, schools, offices etc, where one group overpowers the other for no justifiable reason. Other biases also are in play like skin color and caste.
People who recognize this bias are aware that it works both ways. There are areas in our society where women are given privileges that men are not, which is still wrong. It is important that you teach your child to be aware of such biases and recognize them right away.
It is important to teach your child that the key to success lies in hard work and perseverance and not in gender, color or social status. Just because you are a girl, it doesn’t make you eligible for top marks and just because you are a boy, it doesn’t qualify you for a job. All these positions should be handed out only on the basis of merit and not on the basis of any bias.
When you give them examples of such people, it reinforces the fact that everyone is equal and that everyone has the potential to be successful if they work hard. It encourages them to be more tolerant towards others and respect them irrespective of their age, sex, social status or wealth. It also inspires them to break the glass ceiling and move towards success.
Handling biases is a hard job but a necessary one because children are highly impressionable, especially when they are young. When you teach them that biases, in general, are baseless and have no purpose, they will accept it, follow it and propagate it. They will learn to value and respect all human beings and treat everyone with respect.