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Parenting Beyond Pink & Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes Paperback – April 8, 2014
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"Wading through and interpreting gender studies, Brown concludes that the way boys and girls learn, play, verbalize, and think is far more similar than dissimilar, though some differences do exist. Brown urges parents to place greater focus on the individual child. As Brown also explores her own feelings as a mother, she is not without humor, and though her anecdotes and observations can be amusing, Brown's message is simultaneously a somber and far-reaching commentary on the ways that gender stereotyping needlessly limits and labels children."-Publisher's Weekly
About the Author
CHRISTIA SPEARS BROWN, PhD, is an associate professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky. Her work on the impact of gender stereotypes on children and adolescents has been published widely in scientific journals and featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, local radio shows, NPR, and the CBS Evening News. She blogs regularly for Psychology Today in her column "Beyond Pink and Blue." She is also an expert panelist for the ACLU.
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One important point I thought about while reading Brown’s book, was how parents play a critical role and shape their child’s views on the world (i.e. Stereotypes, gender labeling…). Looking at Bronfenbrenner’s ecological system model, the parents are the microsystem playing a crucial role in the child’s life. In the microsystem, the parent is providing support, knowledge, care, and their thoughts and stereotypes on the world. The child looks up to the parent learning the types of gender labels that are presented in the household or school. According to Brown, gender labeling is present before the child is born, welcoming a child into a specific type of clothing, toys and name. Throughout this book, Brown acknowledges the gender stereotypes that exist in a child’s life. Tips for parents and caregivers are provided at the end of the chapter letting you reflect on your parenting style and how you discuss gender with your child. This was a fast read filled with useful information that I was not all aware of. I would like to see a sequel to this book to look at the neurological differences if any.
I would strongly recommend this book for educators in Pre-K-12th grade as well as parents. Educators will be able to use tips that are provided from evidence based research in the classroom that is focused on gender labeling. After reading this book I have been working on reducing the use of gender stereotypes in my daily life.
There are two important points what left a really deep impression to me. First, parents and schools and society shape our children in ways that fit with gender stereotype even when it is unintentional, and kids then get the information and begin to think about it and also stereotype themselves even when parents start to fight it. It sounds like ridiculous. But depending on the Ecological Theory, particularly earlier in childhood, the family microsystem impact the parent and child, which means what parents think about important issue, children will notice what parents make meaningful and then kids try to understand this important and then develop their own explanations for gender groups. On the other hand, when parents noticed the limitation which brought from gender stereotype, they are also very hard to change it, because kids also living in a exosystem and macrosystem which offers the stressors more distal to the family microsystem impact the parents and child. This is why fight for gender stereotype still has a long way to go.
Second, whenever a negative stereotype about a group exists, the people in that group are worried about living up to that stereotype, which is really painful. The worst part of stereotype threat is that it affects the people who care most about their performance. And also maybe you have not noticed that, but a situation triggers this concern, such as a girl never thought that the performance of girls’ math academic ability is not high, but once she felt unsatisfied with her math, then this will trigger the concern and reduce her math performance even she would never know that. It was too horrible!
In conclusion, this book is a start to pay more attention to gender stereotype and to think how to give our children more space and choice to grow free and what they really want to be, which also a process to explore and get closer to our true selves.