Sara Petersen describes her struggle in finding children’s books to read to her own kids that present positive gender roles for parents. Although pointing to examples of gender non-conforming children characters, the parental figures in books often paint the mother as the boring caregiver and the father as the breadwinner or even the fun alternative to the mother. Petersen notes that these roles even feed into reality, with her son commenting that she is “not as fun as Daddy” while she’s doing housework. The importance of breaking down these gendered stereotypes is vital to the health of both families and wider communities. Children growing up with such images will likely replicate them; in providing the alternative, it is possible to break the cycle through gender positive parenting.
How influential is representation in literature or other media forms in shaping our realities?
Think over a childhood story you remember being told. Do the character representations seem gender conforming? Do they perpetuate unhealthy stereotypes? Try and reshape a story to be more inclusive, particularly with regard to parental roles, so that you can help influence a future generation for the better.