- What do we expect of girls compared to what do we expect of boys?
- What do girls and boys expect of each other based upon our expectations?
- What do girls and boys expect of themselves based upon our expectations?
- Actions speak louder than words.
I think many people, if asked what they expect of boys, would say things like responsible, independent, self-sufficient, active. I think that many would say that they expect girls to be nice, nurturing, caring, compassionate.
There is nothing wrong with any of these things. They are all good things to be. So why wouldn’t we want to encourage all children to be all these things? And yet do we do this? Or are our expectations driven by stereotypes?
We may state in words that we think girls should be independent and self-sufficient. However, if we continue to do things for her rather than letting her do them for herself, our actions are stating that we want her to be dependent. Have you ever found that you step in to help a girl with something sooner than you would a boy? Why? To take this a bit further, do you reward independence the same way you reward obedience? Do you expect girls to be more obedient than boys? Do you expect boys to be assertive when in the same situation you expect girls to be passive?
It is important that we stop to think about what our expectations of boys and girls really are. Then we need to think about what our actions are really communicating. Are we sending mixed messages? Actions do speak louder than words.
Perhaps the most important reason that we need to be aware of our expectations is that children so easily adopt our expectations as to what other people should be and what they, themselves, should be.
(Notice the picture. What expectations does that set? That boys can be doctors but girls can only be nurses? I don’t mean any disrespect to nurses. I just want to point out that this is a subtle way that expectations are set and stereotypes are continued.)