Exploring Gender Roles & Labels: A Guide for Navigating Family Dynamics (Episode 289)
How do you navigate gender roles in marriage? How do you explore this with your children, on how they view themselves in this life, beyond the label they may choose for who they are or what they do? How do you view yourself? Do you know your sweet spot of contribution in your home?
In the podcast episode below, we hit the surface on so much - exploring gender roles and identity, both in a marriage and as a child growing up. We discuss the importance of a family vision as a guiding compass that promotes a family team. And we talk about the confidence that's critical to back your actions as a parent at home.
What Do You Do?
So often the first question people ask when they meet someone is:
"What do you do?"
But, how do you identify yourself when your work does not bring in a paycheck? Is there an antagonist in your life that is creating pain - or that define what your social expectations are?
What if we flipped this question, and instead of asking "what do you do," we ask "what drives you?"
I love having it phrased in this way. Instead of simply stating a j-o-b that we do in exchange for money, we focus on what drive us - what we're passionate about. What is the story we want to create?
On the podcast above, we share a story about a man who fixed bikes in his backyard on the side just for fun. Instead of asking us "what do you do?", he asked us, "what's your story?"
This is such a great opener to really find out more about who someone is - to learn more about their life, and their personality style. How do they answer this questions - what's your story?
Can you say with confidence what you "do" without justifying or defending it?
The Masculine and Feminine
Can you step proudly into what you do, even if it's wiping a toddler's butt? Can you see the merit and the purpose? The beauty in the mundane?
Our daughter Clara insightfully pointed out that she doesn't worry about doing a "boy" thing or a "girl" thing - she doesn't assign a gender to something like washing dishes. We can be so quick to label everything - even basic tasks of running a household seem to have a gender identity to it.
The masculine and the feminine are in all of us. I don't see a strict line, and this era is experiencing a muddying of these waters like never before. It's not just about the stereotype of what we want to do, it's about what - and who- we want to be.
You can be a feminist and be entirely feminine. The essence of feminism is not becoming a man; it's rising in your strength as a powerful woman. It's having an equal voice and stepping into your strengths - on both sides.
Feminine and masculine energies are on a spectrum. It's not black and white separation, but a spectrum of both that we all have. So it's not about "weakness" - it's different strengths that are powerful for all of us to have, regardless of gender.
A while back, we got this question in.
My husband is struggling with being "just" a stay-at-home dad, and I'm feeling guilty for being in the provider role. How do we rectify this?
Gender identity is a spectrum
We all have the capability of the feminine and the masculine energy. Both energies are powerful, and both resonate different strengths.
Sometimes men will reserve their feminine energy - the intuitive, nurturing side - for the bedroom. It's not that they don't have it; it's simply a reserved part of their identity they may not bring out beyond the sanctuary of a bedroom.
Our kids are facing a world of "what's your pronoun" as they grapple with what label they want to call themselves.
Look at all elements of who you are and what you like and want to do - regardless of masculine and feminine. Think of what lights you up. It may be dressing up fancy. Or organizing a spot in your home.
Maybe it doesn't have to be tied to sexuality or gender and is simply a part of who you are in this world. Does it resonate with you? Now, the key...is building your confidence that's it's okay that this is who you are.
It's okay to have grace in the gray. You don't always need to take a stance and make a statement. Start living and acting before you stating anything.
Recognize Your Strengths
Maybe you thrive with cooking, cleaning, or working the finances. Maybe you love creative play with your kids. What are things you are good at that benefit your family?
We are shown one way - we grow up with our parents doing specific roles - maybe only Mom cooks, and Dad is "Mr Fix-it." We have these preconceived notions that this is exactly the way we will be. But it it really something that fits you, or just what you think you should do because it's what you saw modeled?
There's nothing like children to shake the norm. And, while we try to support our kids to explore who they are in this world, let's be careful when there is a need to find connection in a label, and when it's okay to simply explore. Like Clara has stated, folding the laundry, or styling my hair doesn't make me any more "girl" than "boy".
What are basic things in the family that you can do together? It's a team effort for a family - it is a small community where everyone has a part. We pitch in together as a group effort to make our family thrive.
What does being a "Provider" really mean?
If you provide your partner with just a paycheck, you have an empty relationship. It is so much more than just work. It's the emotional load - being a support to one another. Accountability, challenging, loving, encouraging - being a provider in the emotional social sense is more important than simply being the monetary provider.
Support each other in your journey to become who you want to be...and be okay with this season as you grow to your next.
What role you choose to provide for your family - it is not a lifelong sentence. It doesn't mean this becomes your identity forever. It means you have chosen this role for a season, and it's always open for discussion to morph as your family grows.
Get confident in the feminine and masculine sides - recognizing that both are needed and important in our lives.
The more we grow in our understanding of humankind and connection, the more we see the need of both elements, and the more capable we are to step up in that.
On your deathbed...
What would you wish you had done more of? Do you think you'll just look back with regret that you didn't make more money? Or will it be about the things you passed by, didn't do, and the people you didn't connect with? What is most important to you? Does your life reflect this importance?
- I wish I had done more.
- I wish I had been more genuine to who I was.
- I wish I had been more radical.
- I wish I had spoken up when the time was appropriate.
- I wish I had stood up for what I believed in more.
- I wish I had loved more, cared more, been more genuine.
- I wish I would have seen the love and light in others more instead of the outside shell.
Your Weekly Challenge:
What does family look like to you? What is your safe place - your sanctuary?
Is it about the money, all home-cooked meals, fun and laughter, peace and serenity?
Create an area of sanctuary together - as a community - a team - a family. What you do to support this may change throughout your life, but the common theme is your family vision.
This gives you a focus point to go back to - is this reflecting my desire? Create your family vision today.
The more you know, the more opportunity you have to learn more. Focus in on what you are in control of. What are your strengths right now? What is your vision for your family?
Go up to someone this week and ask, "what's your story?"
Go beyond a paycheck. Go beyond your "shoulds" and look at what strengths you bring to your family right now. Explore. Play. Have fun with your family. Identify the strengths of all your family.
Questions or comments?
Personality styles, marriage/intimacy, parenting, education, minimalism or travel - what is pressing on your mind?
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