DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Gender and Chores

Written by: on March 6, 2020

It’s helpful to start this blog with some identifiers. I am a cisgender, white, middle-aged, female. I identify as heterosexual and I am married to a cisgender, white, middle-aged man. We have two little boys who are aware of their whiteness, but not yet aware of the privilege it affords them. These two little boys are not yet able to identify (to the best of my knowledge) their gender, but their sex is male.[1] My husband and I do not currently observe anything in our children that points to gender dysmorphic disorder, nor gender identity confusion.

In our journey of parenting, my husband and I have been intentional about allowing our children to play with all sorts of things. We allow our sons to play with dolls or footballs, whatever they each feel drawn to. We’ve not restricted any toys, with the exception of guns in any form, in our home. We’ve done this as a form of gender nonconformity for our children, as we don’t want them to feel like “boys only do ____ (fill in the blank)”. In fact, when we’ve heard them say this (or even said this ourselves), we’ve instantly asked the question of them, “What makes you say that? Why do you think that’s a boy/girl toy?” Usually, the answer is “I don’t know. I guess it just is.” Or “I see the girls playing more with it than the boys at school.”

We decided a long time ago that we were going to pursue an egalitarian marriage, and pursue an egalitarian form of parenting. CBE states, “In the Christian home, husband and wife are to defer to each other in seeking to fulfill each other’s preferences, desires and aspirations. Neither spouse is to seek to dominate the other but each is to act as servant of the other, in humility considering the other as better than oneself…Husband and wife will help the Christian home stand against improper use of power and authority by spouses and will protect the home from wife and child abuse that sometimes tragically follows a hierarchical interpretation of the husband’s, ‘headship’.”[2] This is important to us because it’s how we model for our children wholeness. In our family, we recognize the need for both genders to understand completeness in Christ. This is exemplified in allowing our children to practice and play at both genders. We expect our sons to wash dishes and do laundry, which is commonly considered women’s work, in the same way that I, as the mother, work and play outside, which is commonly considered men’s work. When everyone in our family participates in all the work, the family, in our perspective, is considered wholly engaged.

In our quest to engage our children in participation in family activities, we have realized that there are certain chores that are outside of their bounds of their knowledge or ability. For instance, my younger son loves to do laundry. He loves to load the washer, put soap in, push the buttons, transfer it to the dryer and take it out. However, he continually tries to fold, but his fine motor skills are just not developed enough for him to fold his clothes well enough to fit in his drawers. It won’t be this way forever, but it is now, until he continues to develop.

After this week’s reading, I wonder if understanding gender identity is also something that is beyond the bounds of experience for my own children. I cannot presume to know or understand others children, just the two I’ve been given the blessing of stewarding. I struggle to articulate how a child who cannot fold his own shirt properly has a well-developed identity formation to understand gender and sexual identity constructs? “But a four-year-old can only know themselves as a four-year-old…” says Davies-Arai. And as a parent of one, I have to agree. If I cannot expect my children to understand the ins and outs of washing dishes or yardwork, even when presented with both options on a regular basis, how can they know the intricacies of masculinity or femininity?

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[1] Stephanie Davies-Arai, “The Transgender Experiment on Children”, Transgender Children and Young People: Born in Your Own Body, Heather Brunskell-Evans and Michele Moore, eds. (Cambridge Scholars Publisher, 2018), 17.

[2] “Men, Women, and Biblical Equality”, CBE International. CBEinternational.com, 1989.

About the Author

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Karen Rouggly

Karen Rouggly is the Director for Mobilization in the Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific University. She develops transformational experiences for students serving locally, nationally, and internationally. She completed an MA in Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and is passionate about community development, transformational service and helping students understand vocation and service. Karen is also an active member at the Vineyard Church Glendora where she is a small group leader and serves on the teaching team. She is also a mom to two sweet boys, wife to an amazing guy, and loves being a friend to many.

5 responses to “Gender and Chores”

  1. mm Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent connection to your own family, Karen. I appreciate the approach you and your family are taking. You are pointing out something very important: freedom, guidance and shaping in an atmosphere of discovery and grace. So good!

  2. Mario Hood says:

    Great thoughts and blog post. I’m still wondering the same things about my 10 and 12 year olds 🙂

  3. Thank you Karen for sharing about your real life experience with your children, this is what makes our cohort, the Unique Nines special, we learn and so much from each other, as we grow in our leadership. My biological and adopted children are 23, 20, 20, 13 and 12 and I have not experienced any problems with gender issues but I have had to deal with one intersex case turned transgender student out of our 26 Christian schools’ population of 21,700 plus students. This was a rare case and we are still navigating on ways to help her through her high school and beyond. This weeks reading provided me an opportunity to learn more but also questions that I need to find answers for.

  4. mm Mary Mims says:

    Karen, I love what you are doing with your family by just being sensitive about a variety of issues. I can tell that all you are doing is out of love for them. I think that’s the thing we have to remember, are we showing the love of Jesus Christ.

  5. Digby Wilkinson says:

    My lot have mostly grown now. The eldest is 27 and still can’t fold clothes – I failed. Despite my age, we live a mutual life mostly driven by pragmatics and circumstance. In retrospect we are only one component of their lives and our voice diminished rapidly as time went on. Richard Rohr has some good material of adult development and individuation that makes more observable sense than much of the latest material that I’ve read. I do have some concern over the experimentation with identity diagnosis that kids are receiving in some quarters of the world – it looks to me a little like child abuse for adult political ends.

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