Why Gender-Neutral Parenting is Taking Off in Urban India

“It’s time we broke these ideas of what kids can and cannot do,” say many urban parents, not to mention that reducing kids to just two colors is ridiculous because even a rainbow has more options than them. While gender-neutral upbringing has always been talked about in the Western world, today more Indian parents in urban areas are following suit to deal with the subliminal gender stereotypes their children are forced under. From household chores to kids fashion, parents are reinventing what girls and boys should wear and what they can and cannot do.

Parents want to challenge gender stereotypes in India

After seeing his dad work the grill like an expert on weekends, Ashima found that her son has found a passion for cooking and wants a kitchen set, saying, “My daughter and I play basketball after I come back from work. As for my son, he would play with his kitchen set all the time. There have been a few adults in the family who felt it would make him ‘sissy’ but it’s something he finds happiness in.” They are among a small number of parents in India who want to buck gendered upbringing and their core aim is to challenge traditional stereotypes in India within the binary of two dominant genders, male and female. New Delhi Mom, Amita Malhotra studied feminist theory while she studied English literature at University and when she became a mom, she knew that she would raise her kids far from the shackles of gendered roles. Similarly, Reema Ahmad took it many notches higher when she co-founded Candidly, a platform that discusses issues like gender, sexuality, and media among children and young adults. 

Children pick up on stereotypes at a very young age

Several Indian parents are coming to the knowledge that they need to raise their kids differently, and for their kids to become well-adjusted adults, they need to start them young. Whether it’s through toys, clothes, books, activities, etc, the most important aspect that parents need to focus on is the language that they use. Dr. Pragya Agarwal, a behavioral scientist and diversity consultant says, “I make sure they have diverse books that encourage the notion of equality rather than any stereotypes because children pick up on these clues early on. We focus on what the child needs in terms of development rather than what their sex is and that is the way it should be.” However, the key here is to not take an extreme approach since raising children completely genderless can cause some confusion, but to each their own because every child is different as they grow up and interact with their peers. The simple rule to follow is, “equality begins at home.”

Image credit: Medium

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