Gender Roles

I’ve found myself being at that classic place in motherhood of a toddler where I am giving myself away too much and not setting strong enough boundaries.

It took me a little while to realize this was what was happening. But after hitting the point of inner exhaustion, struggling with why I felt so exhausted, and then talking through what I was experiencing, with my husband and a few close friends, I got it.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever lose sight of your boundaries and give away too much of yourself because you want to make others happy?

If so, you are not alone.

While I am still in the process of figuring this out, I do know that setting clearer boundaries within myself for what I need and valuing myself as a top priority is helping me feel stronger inside and is making things a little smoother with Bodhi, now two-and-a-half years old. Most importantly, I am starting to feel my energy come back, and this makes every life experience much better. I have more to give to myself and therefore more to share with others.


In an op-ed today in the New York Times, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Adam Grant, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote: “When children see their mothers pursuing careers and their fathers doing housework, they’re more likely to carry gender equality forward to the next generation. And when we make headway toward gender equality, entire societies prosper.”

This reminded me of how much the personal is political.

My boundary setting (or lack thereof) is intrinsically connected to how women are showing up in the world, and the larger social patterns of gender inequality. By putting motherhood as first priority and career as second, and at the same time, accepting by default my husband putting his career as first priority, we have fallen into the stereotypical gender roles.

Are there instances where you, by default, have fallen into a stereotypical gender role, but aren’t exactly comfortable or happy being in that role?

At work, at home, at school, in your local community?

I believe the more we “out” these things, the more we are liberated within ourselves and respectively, in the world. I invite you to use your voice and share your experience below in the comments section. With your voice, a new conversation is started.

This matters.


Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a women’s leadership mentor and coach, specializing in helping women find their voice. She is the author of the bestselling book, Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action. Learn more at