Gender Socialization at Home
Unconscious distinctions that parents make between boys and girls help children be socialized and behave in accordance with defined gender roles. Parents may teach children to adopt gender roles, which are not always fair to both sexes. Therefore, residing in a gendered environment prepares boys and girls differently for adulthood (Peters, 1994; Crespi, 2003). The strongest impact on gender role development occurs within the family environment. Cultivated at home gender stereotypes instill different expectations for boys’ and girls’ behavior in children that may affect children’s future choices in regards to education, occupation, and role in the family and society. Thus, grown-ups may chose tasks and activities on the basis of adopted attitudes about gender roles that lead to differentiation between male and female (Witt, 1997; Crespi, 2003). This is how family values might lead to social arrangements that many would consider unjust.
Author’s observations allow concluding that whether children adopt their parents’ views on gender roles depends on parents’ sample and effects of their attitudes on family life. If parents’ beliefs contribute to a positive family environment, children are more likely to adopt parents’ attitudes. However, if parents’ attitudes resulted in abusive treatment of family members, children can tend to reject parents’ beliefs about gender roles. However, as they grow up children might subconsciously manifest parents’ gender related attitudes that they grew up with regardless of these attitudes’ negative impact on them.
On the other hand, gender construction of the family can weaken gender discrimination in school or workplace. Parents can teach their children to counter discrimination by being flexible in changing role orientation when the situation warrants it, or when it is beneficial for an individual or his family (Witt, 1997). Another way to counter discrimination is to show children benefits of engagement in tasks related to the opposite gender and sharing responsibilities at home regardless of a gender role (Marks, Chun Bun, & McHale, 2009).
Crespi, I. (2003). Socialization and gender roles within the family: A study on adolescents and
their parents in Great Britain [PDF document]. Retrieved from http://mariecurie.org/annals/volume3/crespi.pdf
Marks, J., Chun Bun, L., & McHale, M. S. (2009). Family patterns of gender role attitudes. Sex
Roles, 61(3-4), 221-234.
Peters, F. J. (1994). Gender socialization of adolescents in the home: Research and discussion.
Adolescence, 29(116), 913-934.
Witt, D. S. (1997). Parental influence on children’s socialization to gender roles. Adolescence.
Retrieved from http://gozips.uakron.edu/~susan8/parinf.htm