Page on Parents as Teachers Website Reinforces Gender Stereotypes
The Parents as Teachers website includes a list of tips on involving fathers in their children’s lives, and it also gives several reasons why fathers should be involved. Most of them look fine to me, but I take issue with this one:
Dads often have a special interest in analytical skills such as math and problem-solving, which can support a child’s intellectual development and promote school readiness.
The page also states that fathers “are usually more rough-and-tumble in their play with children than moms.”
Mothers can also focus on problem solving and their children’s cognitive growth, and I see no reason to highlight those characteristics as the special domain of men. There are plenty of couples that don’t fit these generalizations; it’s unfair to them to imply that an analytical father paired with a docile mother is the norm, or that this is what men and women are “usually” like.
Now, the wording on this one page should not be a deciding factor in funding Parents as Teachers. I’ve set out my arguments for limiting Parents as Teachers in previous posts, and my reasoning doesn’t depend on what a small section of the program’s website says. However, because Parents as Teachers receives state funds, taxpayers should be aware of what it tells participants. Public programs that give parenting advice can acquaint parents with information, but they can also provide a platform for the promulgation of opinions, biases, and stereotypes.