A lot of moms are looking at Sheryl Sandberg right now -- she's the COO of Facebook who stands to make a boatload of dough after Facebook completes its IPO. Even without that IPO, her career is one loud feminist roar: Executive positions at two tech giants, Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Treasury. How did she do it, and what does this say about the way we raise our kids?
A writer for Forbes picked up on this quote from a talk Sheryl gave: "We need our boys to be as ambitious to contribute in the home and we need our girls to be as ambitious to achieve in the workforce." In other words, equality at home supports equality in the workforce. So what about teaching your son to contribute in the home? What does that look like?
We gave our son "girl" toys -- dolls and a toy stroller. The stroller he loved because it has wheels so it was kind of like a car. Go to any playground in my neighborhood and you'll see kids of both genders racing toy strollers around, mostly likely with a pile of rocks sitting inside. The doll was another story -- my son always wanted me to do the nurturing. He couldn't get enough of watching me "change" baby's diaper. Again! Again!
We even had a little baby violin. In one of his wackiest toddler moments, my son adopted a miniature violin Christmas tree ornament -- yeah, it didn't make sense to me, either, but I went with it. Baby violin? Sure, why not! Let's take care of it. We put it down for naps, we pretended to give it baths. It took a lot of encouragement to get my son to do some of that care-taking himself.
Toys are tricky. That's why I'm hoping my son also learns from his parents' example. Over the years, my husband and I have done a lot of trading off with parenting and working. We've taken turns being the primary breadwinner and the primary caretaker. Our son has heard me say "I'm working right now" countless times. And it was his dad who taught him how to clean up his room every day.
I'm hoping this daily experience is teaching him to be flexible in the roles he takes as an adult. I'm lucky to have a partner who cooks, cleans, and picks up our son from school every day. I have to believe our son actually will be ambitious to contribute at home when he grows up.
Do you think about how to raise a son to contribute equally in the home? What are you doing to make that happen?
Image via Adriana Velez