Gender identity and gender roles in families

Gender is a central concept in our beliefs about families and intimate relationships. This week’s learning resources look at the ways the reality of gender identity and gender roles in family life may differ from some idealized notion of the perfect family, or the perfect life partner.
As a response to this post,

1.  Briefly describe what you think Americans today believe gender roles should be within a family, including both parents and children, and why you think that (for example: from the television, film, other media, parents, school, religion, etc.).
2.  Briefly discuss how well you think gender roles in American families in reality match up with that ideal, and why any differences between the real and the ideal exist (this is a good place to bring in the reading).
3.  At greater length, and with direct references to the learning resources, discuss ONE of the following topics:

Choice A: How can the differences between ideal gender roles and real gender roles be explained? How can these differences between the ideal and real lead to conflict within the family (relationships between adults, and/or relationships between parents and children)? How do ideas about gender roles make conflicts more or less likely? How can families navigate these conflicts successfully?  How is intimate partner violence or child abuse, or the outcome of this abuse, connected to gender issues? Consider intersectional identities in your response, including families of different races, classes, gender identities, and sexual orientations.

Choice B: Consider this week’s topics from the perspective of children in families. How does the relationship between ideal and real gender roles and gender identity affect children? How is the relationship of the child to the family different from the relationship of the parent to the family? How do different marital relationships affect children (heterosexual marriage, homosexual marriage, blended families, single-parent households, cohabiting households)? How might ideas about gender identity or gender roles affect a child’s experience in a family, for good or for bad? How might a transgender child or parent affect those relationships? Consider intersectional identities in your response, including families of different races, classes, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
If you are interested in more data and discussion about how gender roles are changing in American families, browse The Pew Research Center’s list of articles analyzing contemporary families: Pew Research Center Social & Demographic Trends: Family and Relationships. Feel free to use any information you find here in your response, or to post a particularly interesting article to the Student Lounge for all of us to discuss. Be sure to tell us what you found so interesting if you do so!

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