Gender neutral parenting

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.

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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6 thoughts on “Gender neutral parenting

  1. Brilliant as ever Natasha. I don’t get this either. The OH had a complaint at work from a customer in his (her?!) late teens saying that he (she?!) shouldn’t be expected to choose ‘Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms’ in order to sign up to their service. Apparently by making him (her!?) choose, it was discriminating against him (her!?)…

  2. Beautiful. The gender neutral train has really gone overboard in my opinion… I remember reading a blog of a mom who was going to teach her daughter to not like princesses anymore…I have a barrel full of boy and girl costumes and my daughter will hands down pick the princess each time. I am not a girly girl…but if that is who she is than I am proud of her and I won’t cripple her by forcing her to change.

    • That’s what it comes down to…not forcing them to change, whatever their choices. It sounds like this mum is just trying to prove a point. I don’t understand it. Thanks for reading šŸ™‚

  3. You have missed the point of gender neutral parenting, it isn’t that the child doesn’t know if they are a boy or a girl (that’s sex not gender anyway) it is that the world doesn’t know so that the stereotypes are not enforced upon them, opinions of what boys and girls can/should do are out in the world, you said that yourself in the article, but of the world doesn’t know if someone identifies as male or female or something in between then those stereotypes can’t be pushed quite so hard, boys ‘can’t’ be princesses, girls aren’t supposed to play with cars and there are people who will say that to a child but if a small child of unclear gender is playing with princesses people will assume it’s a girl and leave him/her alone.

    • I agree with what you’re trying to say but I think you missed my point. At the end of the day, unless you’re keeping your child in the confines of your home, they will be exposed to it. Through marketing and sales, not just what people tell them. And we can raise our children to not have stereotypes about gender but not letting them “be” their gender is a totally different thing.

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