I've written about gender stereotyping before and while I'm open to S playing with every toy out there, I got to be honest, S is a total "boys boy"! He loves running, mud, cars, diggers, fire engines and wrestling. And the fact is he doesn't like those things because that's all I encouraged, he naturally gravitates towards those things on his own accord.
I've been reading a lot recently about gender neutral parenting and I have to be totally honest, I just don't understand it. There's a family in Canada who have a 3 year old named Storm and they haven't "announced" whether Storm is a girl or boy yet. And in Sweden last year, they added the word "hen" to their vocabulary which essentially means "it", rather than refer to a child as "him" or "her".
When I think of gender neutral parenting, I think of raising our children to believe that they can be anything they want. That a boy can go on to work as a carer/nurse and a girl can go on to work as a construction manager. Both typically dominated by either men or women. I don't think of raising my child so he doesn't associate with being a boy. Because the fact is, he is! And that wasn't a choice I made or one that he made. That is a God/Universe given choice. So to deny him his gender, in the name of social change would be wrong, in my humble opinion.
The fact is, boys and girls ARE different. But boys and other boys are different and girls and other girls are different. And let's be honest, unless you're willing to keep your child cocooned at home or only surrounded by people living the same ethos as you, your child is going to be subjected to everyone else's idea of gender. And that's just the way the world is. S often comes home from nursery and tells me "Mama, boys don't do that!" or "Only girls do that!" and I can tell you, he's not getting it from me. It's just what's out there!
Oh and it get's worse. Have you noticed the emoji's on Whatsapp? A friend pointed it out today! All the male ones are detectives, cops, construction workers and the female ones are dancers, brides or princesses! Even our emoji's are sexist!
Do I believe that toys should be split into boys toys and girls toys? No.
Do I believe that girls should be pushed to sit down and play nicely while boys get away with running around like hooligans? No.
Do I think all girls should be in pink and all boys should be in blue? Definitely not.
But I think children should be allowed to choose. S, who loves cars, diggers and trucks, also calls me his "Fairy Princess Mama" and is a fan of Elsa & Anna. He can belt out most of "Let it go" while also owning no less than forty variations of cars. It's all about balance and allowing our children to find their feet. Not disassociating them with who they really are.
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