Think about when you were pregnant; what was the one question that everyone asked you? Everyone excitedly wanted to know if you were having a boy or a girl. After taking your pregnancy test, you went to your OB-GYN's office, and one of the first things you learned was the sex of your child. You celebrated your child's sex with balloons, cupcakes, and clothes that were a specific color. Every choice you make, from the clothing your child wears, the toys they play with, the afterschool classes they attend, and even your wishes for their professions, all play a part in this. From there, the unconscious gender biases innocently add up. It's beneficial for us, as parents (and for our children too), to be aware of how we might consciously and unconsciously be feeding into these ideas and how we can deliberately broaden our expectations for our children. In doing so, we might even give them the space to know that it's okay for them to be who they indeed are. We can teach them that it is acceptable to like things that, according to society, might not be the norm. Some parents might not want their son to be playing in the imaginary kitchen, but keep in mind while your boy tells you he is "cooking that omelet," he might be on his way to becoming another successful male chef! Perhaps you might squirm every time your daughter picks up the hammer and starts banging on a nail. Still, it's incredibly beneficial for women to know how to hang a shelf and even build a table!!
Here are several children's books that might begin some fruitful family conversations around gender norms:
Don't be overwhelmed or afraid about reading these books with your children. Typically children are very accepting of these topics and don't have that many questions. As adults, we often bring our emotional baggage to the subject and feel like we might say the wrong thing. You can always muster up your inner Montessori educator when your child asks you a tricky question and say, "I wonder, what do you think?" Reading books around these topics won't change your child's gender identity or sexuality. Instead, these books help your children to understand and experience different than their own. Reading these books helps raise awareness and helps to foster compassion for lgbtqia+ children and families.
If you have any questions, please feel free to check out https://proteamontessoriconsultants.com and email Sara for support.
Sara Bloomberg (them/they) MA Ed is the head of Protea Montessori Consultants, Orange Tree Montessori Play Group, and is a Teacher Trainer at Duhovkha Montessori Teacher Education Program. Sara is the Chair of the AMS LGBTQIA+ Affinity group. Sara is on the Board of Directors at the American Montessori Society. Sara was the founding Director at Battery Park Montessori in New York. Sara is an LGBTQIA+ presenter, author, and activist. They are incredibly passionate about collaborating with educators and parents to support and guide LGBTQIA+ children and teachers in the Early Childhood and Lower Elementary years.