Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Work and Gender Roles

During the week we had cause to need to move firewood from one storage area within the house to  a different fireplace. As everyone else was involved in another task I asked Moran, Myffwyn and Corbyn to take some to the new area. As this was the beginning of the day I asked the girls to put on their aprons to keep their clothes relatively clean. Arwen wanted hers on even though she was still in her pajamas.

Now I know that little children want to be involved in every aspect of home life. They want to do significant jobs, to be important within the structure of the family and yet I am still amazed each time the youngest, in this case Arwen, is so keen to be involved in the activity.
This is not a new aspect for Arwen and I guess I focus more on her as she is our littlest able bodied person. Arwen is not required to do any particular chores within our family. However she is ALWAYS wanting to help and this little wood moving episode reminded me of a similar one last year when she was only one.

As wood chopping and gathering tends to be a very male orientated chore and has been in our home our boys are generally the ones who are assigned to it. They chainsaw, chop, stack and deliver. This is usually Saxon's very special job now with the older boys doing other things, one he really loves, well not exactly.

However our older girls ~ Autumn, Eden and Vellvin are all capable of doing the wood (except for the chainsawing) and have done on quite a few occasions. In fact they actually really like it. And I imagine them as Milly from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at the beginning of the movie.
I cannot see anything that our girls would not be able to handle in a more pioneer type setting and while  we do encourage the traditional roles of male and female and the type of work that they do we by no means not accept the excuse that because of gender the person cannot do the work.

Our boys are part of our household routine and have been from a young age. They can clean and cook (some more ably than others) and do basic sewing. Rogan even can do more accomplished sewing and craft, but this is a choice of his own.

We do tend to do lots of the family chores together and even have a buddy system at times of older and younger child, regardless of gender. There is no reason in my estimation for a young man to stand around loafing in the kitchen and watching his sisters, mother, or any female wash up and clean up the mess simply because it is supposedly 'womens work'. This does not cut the mustard with me and I will never accept the excuse "I don't know how to do it from anyone- this is answered with a quick 'well now is the perfect opportunity to learn' or the other favourite excuse for non participation in a job is 'I don't know how to do it' the come back to this one is 'Well now you have a chance to learn how to.......'
Also realising that neither the work a man is generally capable of and the work a women generally has to do does not make one more important or dominant in the relationship or
The role of men and women is different. We have different 'hard-wiring.' We have different 'heart-wiring' that gives the women a different perspective on situations than men.

We have always encouraged our young boys to be young gentlemen. Many is the time I asked our older boys to carry out the washing to the line for me, not because I was unable to carry the load but to allow them the opportunity to learn the value of being a strong man, a provider and nurturer. Opening and closing doors and walking on the curb side of the street are a few of the basics we have taught our boys. This I think helps them to relish the role of strong worker and provider that young men need to have today in society. This helps them to realise that a man is a servant to those he loves.....as Christ was a servant to his followers.

Our girls are encouraged to be feminine in all things, which does not necessarily require frills and lace, it is a femininity of the heart. Our girls can look after themselves quite well but they allow the men and boys in their lives to nurture them as is their role. They have great homemaking skills but they can do many of the outdoor work typically done by the males in our home. Our girls have done their share of building work when we were building, not because they felt the need to prove themselves equal to the men folk, BUT because we  are family and we all chip in where needed to get the job done.
The heart issue of gender roles is the important aspect to concentrate on.
Men should love, nurture,  protect and provide for the women, and girls in their lives. However they should know how to provide for themselves if this situation should occur for them ever.
Women and girls need to nurture the men and children in their lives and realistically this usually happens within the home environment for which they need to be prepared too.

In our society we need to encourage our children in the roles and responsibilities that they will be needing as they grow to maturity and give them the skills to help them achieve this. They will receive little encouragement from mainstream society on this one. So it is up to us to really continually uplift and uphold these ideals ourselves.

I think that it is vitally important to state for the record that although God created men and women different and with different roles to fulfill.......God created them equal in value and importance. However it also needs to be said that  both men and women have a unique and important  role that when worked together is the backbone of the family, and the family is the backbone of our society.

So lets embrace our roles as men and women, rejoice in the differences and encourage one another in the strengths so we can all do to the best of our ability the work we have been blessed to do.

Blessings to you and your homes,


Marqueta (Mar-keet-a) said...

Dear Gae,

A very well-said post! You are doing such a wonderful job teaching your children to cherish their separate roles. May others learn from your example, and do the same!



Sarah Harkins said...

Great post! I like how you respect the children's preferences, but don't limit them. It's so good for males to learn how to cook and clean- as good as it is for girls to learn that! Here in America, many boys and girls are simply not taught these life skills. My SIL did not know ANYTHING when she went off the college, except how to order pizza. Same for my husband. In my home, there was too much separation of genders and my brothers did not learn how to cook or clean. One of them is still a bachelor and I am sure he is finding it hard to learn now!

Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website said...

I LOVE this post! I especially liked how you said that you ask your boys' to carry the washing to the line; not because you are incapable but to allow them the opportunity of being called upon as a strong young man....I LOVE THIS. We are VERY like-minded in our family ways.
My boys are taught from knee-high, up that the special job God gives them (as far as females are concerned) is to "honor, help, and protect" them. Yet...all of my boys can clean, do laundry, wash dishes...and...yes....change a diaper, too!
I always feel so uplifted and invigorated when I look at the wonderful photos and slideshows of your family. Yours is a truly blessed life:)

Gae said...

I love it when kindred spirits re-ffirm the things we share in common.
Thank you for being you and I enjoy knowing we are not alone in this endeavour


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