I’m the main breadwinner in our family. My husband, E, takes care of our boys, and is also on our local council (which is a part-time, mainly evening, role).
I’ve been wondering what impact that has on our boys’ understanding of the role of gender in our society. Neither of them seem to have particularly strong understanding of gender. C, who is four, still occasionally says he instead of she, about both strangers and people he knows (eg his grandmother). D, two, told me his favourite part of a recent Bananas in Pyjamas concert was Angelina Ballerina. His four year old friend said “but that’s for girls”, which shocked me, as I didn’t expect her to be so definitive so young. And C’s favourite colour is pink, which I don’t think anyone has ever told him is supposed to be a “girl’s colour”.
They know that E is better at fixing things than I am. But they also know that E is the only one who cooks. Given that the other families they know have a mother who cooks, and a father who fixes things, they don’t particularly think of cooking or fixing things as the role of either mothers or fathers.
Mostly, I’m totally happy that they have no pre-conceived ideas about boys doing one thing, or girls doing another. But occasionally I wonder whether that’s going to lead them into trouble when they get into the real world of more rigidly defined gender roles.