Can parents change our gender identity?

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One finding I thought particularly interesting in chapter 10, was how authority figures (such as parents and teachers) reinforce gender stereotyped behaviors in children. Parents typically encourage boys to participate in rough and tumble, independent behaviors while they urge girls to play with dolls and exhibit more dependent behaviors (Lytton & Romney, 1991).
It surprised me that teachers also pay more attention to boys when they show assertive or aggressive behaviors (such as telling someone what to do, play fighting) and attend to girls when they are needy or ask for help (Serbin & O'Leary, 1975).
If this is the case, our teachers and parents have been conditioning us to fit gender stereotypes of the "sweet" little girl or the "brave" little boy our whole lives! This made me think about if the opposite were true - if our parents encouraged us to act more like a boy if we're a girl or more like a girl if we're a boy. How much would it impact us?
There are no specific answers yet, but it makes me very curious.

My question is: To what extent do our parent's encouraging words impact our levels of femininity or masculinity?

My 1st favorite blog was "A man walks into a bar... No wait.. Let me start again" because there was a funny, often self-deprecating tone to it and the author made an entertaining (and unlikely) connection from memory to telling jokes.

My 2nd favorite blog was "The Memory of Smells" because of the clear, concise writing style and it explained what I've always been confused by - why do we say foods taste like something else?

My 3rd favorite blog was "Spanking: How Does the 'Rod' Translate?" because of some very compelling, and potentially controversial questions about how culture affects children's behavior and the impact of culture on discipline. I liked how Marina dared to question those differences.

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Well, if you believe that operant conditioning has an affect on learning behaviors, then indeed, the encouraging words of parents, especially if frequently heard and experienced as pleasant by the child, will guide gender appropriate behavior.

Yet children also learn how to behave like a boy or a girl from their peers, especially at school and at play. So even if your parents encouraged your more tomboy like behaviors as a child, like playing sports and being aggressive, you might not get the same response when behaving that way among other girls your age.

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This page contains a single entry by L. Pipkin published on November 6, 2011 6:04 PM.

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