Positive teenage males and girls relaxing with mobile phones outdoor

Kaipātiki Parent Pack

Gender role: the expectations of the different ways males and females should behave.

Stereotype: standardised image or idea about a particular type of person.

Gender identity and roles in the family are central to adult experience.

As children observe their families they begin to interpret what it means to be a male or female.

By their third year, boys and girls tend to identify with the same-sex parent and want to be like them. This begins to set the patterns for how they might behave in adulthood. Even in one-parent families or where children have same-sex parents they observe gender roles from other sources (other family members, school, TV) and they take on characteristics of same-sex identification.

It is not surprising that boys may grow up feeling the need to be powerful and in control and girls grow up feeling dependent and submissive.

Some common concepts which convey ideas of gender role stereotyping are:

for boys . . .

  • big boys don’t cry
  • act like a man
  • boys will be boys
  • what a fine, big boy
  • he’s a tough little dude

and for girls . . .

  • let me make it better
  • behave like a lady
  • nice girls don’t do that
  • she needs to lose that
  • puppy fat
  • she’s so pretty and gentle


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