Defy Those Rigid Gender Roles

Our marriage is stronger because we confessed and released our unfair expectations.

It's not necessarily expectations in and of themselves that are problematic. What often causes both distress and confusion is the disapproval that children (and adults) receive when their personalities or strengths don't fit inside rigid constructs.

Hitting the Wall

In grade school, rather than play domination games on the playground, Christopher quoted Monty Python. In high school, he chose drama club over soccer. And yes, he was called derogatory names. To complicate matters, he found few allies within his large Italian family. Years ago, we took our sons to the Blessing of St. Anthony in Boston's North End. Nearly all the men wore their shirts unbuttoned, displaying their hairy, medallion-decorated chests; cigars dangled from their lips; and they all had swag. At the end of the night, my husband, who neither smokes nor enjoys displaying his chest in public, leaned into me and said, "Is it any wonder that I felt like such an alien growing up?"

I was spared the shame of failing larger cultural expectations but clearly deviated from normal "girl activities." I preferred fishing or creating elaborate roadways for my Matchbox cars to writing in dairies and dressing Barbies. During my teen years, it took only one year on the drill team to confirm what I already knew to be true: I was much happier playing sports than cheering on the boys. And yes, I was called names as well.

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Dorothy Littell  Greco

Dorothy Littell Greco is a TCW regular contributor as well as a photographer, writer, speaker and pastor. Follow her on Twitter at @DorothyGreco or at

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May 25

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