CHECK OUT G&STC DIRECTOR, JESSE KAHN TALKING WITH KELLY GONSALVES AT MIND BODY GREEN ABOUT HOW TO RAISE CHILDREN, AND SPECIFICALLY BOYS, WITHOUT ENFORCING HARMFUL GENDERED NARRATIVES AND ASSUMPTIONS
AND HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS:
Remember that "boy" doesn't really tell us anything specific about someone's interests or habits.
"Listen to and stay curious about your child's interests; if they deviate from your gendered expectations, challenge yourself to both allow your child to engage in that activity as well as be supportive (as supportive as you would be of something you deem more acceptable)," Kahn says. "If a parent is non-responsive, appears uncomfortable, less interested, or less excited about something their child is doing that is considered nonconforming, the parent is reinforcing their beliefs regarding gendered expectations. Kids pick up on that information."
Watch your gendered language.
"When speaking to children, parents unconsciously use feminine adjectives to describe their daughters and masculine adjectives with their sons," Kahn adds. "Don't use language that boosts gendered expectations about how people of specific binary genders are 'supposed' to act."
Introduce your sons to people who are gender-nonconforming.
Kahn also recommends introducing your kids to gender-nonconforming and trans people, whether in their lives, in history, or in the media or TV shows. That exposure can help kids start to understand gender for what it really is—not something set in stone based on body parts but rather something that's just about what behaviors and traits feel comfortable and authentic to any individual.
"Teach [your] children that gendered constructs are not facts, and successfully communicate that their interests, identities, [and] presentations don't have to be confined to an assigned gender or role," Kahn explains.
Keep educating yourself.
If you have no idea where to start, pick up a book about gender to read in your downtime. Kahn adds that seeing a gender-affirmative therapist can also be a really helpful way for parents to educate themselves and figure out how to best support their child, especially if their child is queer or trans.
Be an advocate in your community.
"I believe in focusing on changing the environments we live in so that a gender-nonconforming child doesn't have to fear being teased, bullied, or have to change as a means of protection from judgment," Kahn says. "That change starts at home."