Counsellor urges parents to help dismantle gender inequality

Parents are being advised to start conversations early on about gender roles (Photo courtesy PopSugar)
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By Makeida Antonio

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A mental health professional has recommended a shift in parenting as one of the avenues to help mitigate against gender-based violence (GBV) in Antigua and Barbuda.

Counselling Psychologist Terese Millet-Joseph says it is critical for parents to honour their role in their child’s life by educating them about gender and how to respect differences among people.

“One of my very important, central areas of research and something that I am personally passionate about is parenting. We need to teach the next generation, we need to set examples for the next generation, we need to start shaping them and the way that they think about gender and respect for humanity in general,” Millet-Joseph told Observer AM yesterday.

She said it would be a good idea for parents to consider teaching children about concepts surrounding gender due to exposure to influences outside of the home such as social media.

“We need to start conversations very early on about gender roles. These days, you need to start conversations much earlier than we would ordinarily start them, because our children are so much more exposed than they were a couple of years ago,” Millet-Joseph explained.

This advice comes during the 16 Days of Activism, aimed at ending gender-based violence, but which has arguably been overshadowed by tragedy for some families who have lost female relatives as a result of acts of violence.

Millet-Joseph encouraged parents to initiate dialogue with their children on issues such as consent, autonomy over their bodies and outdated norms and beliefs surrounding gender. She said setting an example by challenging stereotypes is key.

“It behoves us as parents, as educators, to start conversations about gender roles and the challenges that goes along with it. We need to point out stereotypes to our children and to challenge stereotypes no matter where they are, whether or not they see it on social media.

“We need to talk to them about consent, about autonomy over their bodies, accountability, and all of these things,” she noted.

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