Parenting is hard. Trying to balance all the things in life, from work to family to trying to find time for that self-care that everyone seems to be talking about these days … trying to do it all while raising beautiful children with good values is NOT easy. As mothers, we often find ourselves in a situation that involves trying to get your child to listen or cooperate. Out of frustration, you may pull the “Wait until your father gets home…” or “I’m going to tell Daddy you’re being bad…” card.
This is something I’ve heard so many times, and long before I had kids, I promised myself to do everything I can to avoid painting my husband as ‘the’ disciplinarian to be obeyed. I can honestly say that the result of abstaining from those threats is evident in how my children interact with and respond to both of us; they don’t respect any parent any less than the other.
Oftentimes, after threatening to tell daddy and getting the cooperation we sought, we tend to move on to the next thing, right? The problem is, there is a detrimental message that this may send to your children. By bringing the parent who is not present into the situation, in this case a male figure, you’re teaching your child that dad has power over mom. You’re perpetuating the gender stereotype that men are better leaders than women, which begins to shape their opinion on gender roles, as well as the way the world operates. They’ll take these messages with them for years to come.
You see, children start to understand stereotypes as young as two years old, and at age 7 they start to attribute characteristics to different genders. So, while you think what you’re saying won’t have an impact – it will. It’s very easy to come up with alternative responses that shine a more positive light.
Reframe Your Messages
The next time your children are driving you mad and you’re about to let those words slip, take a deep breath. Calmly let them know they are not behaving appropriately. If necessary, follow up with the same discipline that daddy would if he were present or come up with (and follow through on) your own disciplinary measures. Show that you are powerful, you are confident, you are in control, and you don’t need Daddy to tell you or your children what to do.
You’re the matriarch of your family. Exercise that power to raise children that see men and women as equals, both powerful in their own right. Remember, everything you do in front of your child is setting an example. You want to set an example of being a strong, secure, loving, caring mother, so your children will grow up to respect that and strive to be like you.
It's Time to Educate Against Gender Stereotypes
If you’ve threatened your kids with “reporting to daddy,” you’re not alone but it’s not too late to abandon such tactic. It is important that we start eliminating gender stereotypes in our conversations with our children. We must be cognizant of our words and teach them that girls can do anything boys can. That way, we will raise a stronger, more accepting generation!