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Kids and Language

As a mother of 2 small children I am continually astounded by their language development- the words they pick up and the way they manage to play with multiple languages already. As we're currently living in Vienna they are having to master German on top of English… so here are some of my ponderings on the linguistic theme.

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Gender

It’s about more than just languages

multi-ethnic

Bringing up children is a challenge. No it’s not: it’s a heart- wrenching, tear- filled, laughter- inducing journey of a challenge. Sometimes I feel that I’m not up to it (like it’s a choice!), and then I’m nudged back into life by a comment made by a friend, or something I hear on the news. Today it was:¬†“Why is it so bloody difficult to find little non-pink baby dolls. It’s ridiculous in this day and age. ūüė° It actually freaks me out a bit.”

Whether part of a monolingual or multilingual family, we have certain¬†ideals that we want to fulfil, and beliefs that we want our children to grow up with. These may well differ depending on where we are from in the world but the majority of us now believe in an equal society, one in which girls and boys, black and white, straight and gay are treated with the same respect and compassion. As parents, we have the responsibility to our children to bring them up with open and accepting minds. And it’s not always as easy as we hope.¬†Raising children who see beyond the colour of a person’s skin takes a conscious effort on the parents’ part. We must deliberately teach respect and cooperation. We must destroy the “us versus them” mentality that has slowly permeated our culture.

Continue reading “It’s about more than just languages”

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What is it with males and dresses?

boy in a dressI have a beef about men and dresses. Either they love them or they hate them. No middle ground- it’s a polarising topic. Many men would run as fast as they could in the opposite direction when even the merest whiff of dresses comes up, while for other guys the chance¬†to play dress-up¬†is irresistible, and they will never say no when the opportunity arises…

I’m half Scottish. Need I say¬†more?! I was brought up in a kilt- wearing environment, where at a party every single person there, male and female, would be wearing a skirt or dress (OK, OK- not a skirt, a kilt ;-)). I love the things, from the way they look and the colours they have to the way they make men behave- they bring out the gentleman in most men, and they obviously love the feeling and the comments they get from wearing one. Continue reading “What is it with males and dresses?”

Do bicycles have a gender?

mCnhW2KwC_uPIYC3mWLXt7wMy daughter is ready for her first bicycle. My son is ready for his first ‘laufrad’ (Does this have an English name? Wheel-less bike? Push bike? Google translated it¬†as ‘impeller’??!!). Sadly, he is getting a hand-me-down, while she is getting a new one. I have a feeling this will be repeated in a few years, when he is also ready for a bicycle.

So, I went online, as we always do, to find out more about the perfect bike. The first site (and the second, and the third…) I visited¬†had two pages: ‘boys bikes’ and ‘girls bikes’. No overlap; no mutual, unisex bikes… just two separate pages.

I can feel this blog becoming a bit of a rant. How is it that something as genderless as a bicycle has to be classified like this? It’s not even, as with adult bikes, that the cross bar is in a different place (unnecessarily in my opinion- unless you are still living in the Victorian age and wearing long, billowy skirts). It is solely colour. All the boys bikes are blue/ black/ orange/ red, and the girls bikes are pink/ purple/ more pink. Girls get pink Hello Kitty¬†bikes and boys get blue Captain Sharkey. Girls get a pink rabbit design, and boys get a green crocodile. Why? WHY??

Continue reading “Do bicycles have a gender?”

No Gender December… for more than just toys.

pink_vs_blueLarissa Waters has written a very interesting article about gender-related toys, and how strong gender stereotypes that are imposed upon children at an early age can have long-term impacts, including influencing self-perception and career aspirations.

Gender inequality is perpetuated with more than toys: even when you look along bookshelves or try to buy neutral clothes for boys and girls there is a definite bias of colour and language, and with Christmas around the corner more and more of these items are being bought and taken home. Out-dated stereotypes about girls and boys perpetuate gender inequality, which can lead to very serious problems later on in life. Issues such as the gender pay gap are very contentious at the moment, and more serious areas such as domestic violence or workplace abuse are based on this original inequality.

Continue reading “No Gender December… for more than just toys.”

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