By the time I started my own family, I had a much deeper awareness of just how detrimental these gender norms can be — not just to women and girls, but to society as a whole. Bill and I had always known that, like our own parents, we would raise our children to believe they could do anything without their gender limiting their options. We also decided over time that, for the sake of our son as well as our daughters, we were
going to be a family that readily talks about gender equality at the dinner table.
Of course, anyone who’s tried parenting won’t be surprised to hear that the realities in our household didn’t always live up to our ideals. I will never forget the moment a few years ago when I realized that I had been asking Rory to take the garbage out and not his sisters — a task that studies
say usually goes to boys more often than girls. I was also disappointed to notice that I often held our daughters to a much higher standard than our son when it came to keeping their rooms clean. These are little things, but they’re also exactly the kinds of unconscious behaviors that, over time, contribute to societal expectations that men should do the heavy lifting, and women should handle the housework. To me, the fact that we haven’t always managed to keep these biases out of even our own household underscores how important it is to teach kids to recognize them and call them out when they see them.
Rory, for his part, does. Across 18 years of conversations, sharp observations and everyday actions, he’s demonstrated his belief that gender equality is something worth standing up for. When we talk about these issues at the dinner table, he (and his friends!) have a lot to say.