Blending Gender Roles

Since I’m a very young mother, only twenty-seven, you would think I would be a little bit more laid back about certain things. You would think I’d be the “cool” mom and be right on their level all the time. Well, try not to think so hard, because it’s just simply not true about me at all. I’m uptight where my kids are concerned sometimes, and have been told I should lighten up a bit here and there. I agree. I probably should. However, the world is a very frightening place for me and I absolutely hate the idea that one day my kids are going to be right there in it, without me to guide them.

Cause by then I’ll be sipping from a straw that’s stuck deep within a coconut, digging my heels in the sandy beaches of Jamaica and tuning everyone else out while reading a book. Maybe.

Nonetheless, there are some things that I absolutely refuse to lighten up about, and my nine year old daughter having a “boyfriend” is one of them. It’s adorable that she wants to “go out with” this kid, but this terrifies me. He’s older. A whole whopping ten yeas old! I walked out on my front porch today and a kid that sometimes hangs out at a house below ours (I live in West Virginia, deep in the mountains. Houses are not next to each other. Either you’re above your neighbor, below them, across from them, or under them.) was in my yard with his little sister and the kids were all swinging together. Cute, right?

Wrong.

This particular little boy is mean. He’s a bully. He says that my daughter can marry him one day and make his dinner every day when he comes home from work. He also says he needs someone to do his laundry and wash the dishes. And this is where I get out of sorts! There is no way on the face of this planet that I’ll let my daughters (either one of them!) be in any way affiliated with people who feel like traditional (eighteenth century) gender roles cannot be reversed or even fade into each other a little bit.

This is why I hate the area I live in sometimes. The old fashioned charm is charming until it involves the way my child is forming her thoughts and beliefs about things. Society is teaching her one thing while I’m teaching her another.

Don’t get what I’m saying wrong. If a woman wants to be a traditional housewife and do all of those things, that is absolutely fine and dandy as long as she’s happy with it. I’m not happy with the fact that, years ago, this wasn’t an option. It was expected. I don’t want my kids thinking that that’s the way it is all over the place and that women can’t go to work and make a living and then come home and mow the grass while their husbands/partners cook a gigantic five-star culinary masterpiece for them to enjoy afterward while doing the laundry at the same time. I don’t want my children to believe that there are limits to the things that they can do, and that goes for my sons as well as my daughters.

Relationships should be fifty-fifty, unless both partners decide for some reason that it shouldn’t be (and I’m not sure why on earth you would do that, but to each his own). I’m trying my best to teach all four of my kids that people are together because they love each other or are fond of each other. For right now, I leave the sex stuff out of it unless they have a question or I feel like it’s necessary to bring it up. My kids are young, so it’s rare that that happens.

I’ve taught my boys (who are ages six and four) how to assist me with laundry and dishes. They both like to help me paint my nails sometimes, and my four year old has expressed an interest in helping me with my hair (which normally ends with me ripping a hairbrush out of my hair because he’s gotten it stuck). My girls used to help their dad and my cousins work on old trucks when they were little. Much to my protests for safety reasons, the girls would crawl under the trucks with the men and take their plastic wrenches and hammers with them. Other than having a fear that a truck would fall and crush them, even though I was reassured that it wouldn’t happen, I was happy as a clam that the girls found something to do other than try to sneak and color on my walls.

I’ve worked tirelessly for the last nine years to make sure that my kids are not confused at all about what gender roles are. Boys can do girl things and girls can do boy things and that’s absolutely wonderful. Who am I to stifle their creativity if my daughter grows up to be a mechanic and my son grows up to be a hairdresser? It’s going to be harder than I thought to raise daughters in Southern Appalachia. I’m proud of them thus far, and I always will be no matter what they do. That being said, the little boy from below is unknowingly trying to take everything I’ve taught her and turning it into mush in her brains…

As an afterthought, I asked a woman I’m very good friends with how on earth you’re supposed to teach your daughters that it’s okay to do masculine things when our society teaches them differently. Shockingly, her reply was, “Well, what would you do if she comes home one day from a Christmas break in college and introduces you to her girlfriend?”

I blinked at her for a moment, and realized she used the term “girlfriend” meaning a romantic partner rather than a friend, and when I finally understood the gravity and full weight of what she meant, I told her that I’d tell them to come in the house and grab something to eat with the rest of us before the snow blows in the front door with them. My dear friend was not amused and hasn’t spoke to me since. Not even through my favorite social networking site.

As far as the little boy goes, my daughter has been informed that they can be friends, but she is way too young to have a real boyfriend. They still hold hands, though, and that’s okay for now. If any of you have anything at all to add, all advice is very much welcome on this subject. I’m sorta new at this.

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