Challenging Gender Based Parenting

In parenting advice, so much of what I have heard come out of the evangelical wing tends to fall in line with ‘traditional’ models. By that, I mean that mom and dad have clearly defined roles based on gender. Exhibit A comes from a challenge to that model out of the evangelical wing. Caryn Rivadeneira, guest blogger at Christianity Today‘s Her.meneutics blog, reviews a parenting guide by Glen Stanton. Her opening paragraph is classic:

I have never once second-guessed my gender, my sexuality, or my femininity. But a new book has tempted me to. Even though I recently spent eight years either growing babies in my womb or feeding them from my breasts, according to Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity (Multnomah), I am in fact a man — and a good one at that.

She lists Stanton’s characteristics of each gender and admits to having nearly all of the characteristics of both (but, not as good a woman as a man)! April and I hardly measure up to either list perfectly, either. April is far more competitive (a Stanton characteristic for a male) than I am. April soothes and nurtures, but I’m the one able to calm Caedmon down when he is angriest. April explains to Savannah when she does something (when I am more likely to tell her to stop it), but I often know the kids habits. We simply do not parent according to gender, either. This will have an affect on how we bring them up, and I agree with Rivadeneira when she writes:

Even as male and female reflect God, our gender doesn’t matter more than our God-given gifts or the gospel itself when it comes to playing our part in the kingdom. The Holy Spirit certainly doesn’t impart gifts according to gender. Many of us debate whether God outlines different gender-based roles in marriage and church life, but certain spiritual gifts do not require a certain biological makeup. And Jesus didn’t offer gender-tailored rules when he told us to love our neighbors as ourselves and go and make disciples of all nations.

Amen! My only disagreement with her is I think she puts too much emphasis on nature in what makes kids feminine or masculine (e.g., playing with dolls or fighting over the remote). We treat girls and boys different from birth. I have been surprised how much different we do different with Caedmon automatically (dress him in colours other than pink, etc.). Even if the parents try not to, others will try to fit them in a box.

Still, that doesn’t take away from what she says – our gifts, not our gender, leads us how we will be disciples. Good to see there are alternative voices to journey with me in the evangelical sphere.


One thought on “Challenging Gender Based Parenting

  1. Pingback: An evangelical looks at gender roles | connexions

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