I will admit I was hesitant to even post on this topic. Especially as our first Parenting piece. However, our purpose in posting parenting pieces is to share our experiences and hope it’s slightly relatable to some of you out there. So here, we go….
Let me get straight to it. How is it that we are still strongly labeling our children as boys vs. girls? Toys. Clothes. Style. Colors. Games. Books. Shows. Friends. Sports. The list goes on.
I recently went to type into a search engine (no need to name the specific one since what I am about to share happens in all of them), “5 year old puzzles.” Before I could even type in the last word, do you know what popped up? “5 year old girl gift” and “5 year old boy gift.” I clicked in to each, out of sheer curiosity, and upon opening to the result page a tinge of rage flowed through me. The girls section was full of pink items, princess dolls and accessories, a jewelry set and gardening kits. The boys section had rockets, drones, boxing gloves and dinosaurs. There was no overlap. There was even a STEM set for girls which was flowers, and one for boys which was a truck. Seriously? Why in the world would this distinction need to be made?
Let’s make this clear right now. Colors and toys are not human. There is in fact no such thing as boy colors or girl clothes, for instance. They are in fact made of materials such as wood, plastic, and/or cotton. These materials do not have a gender type, so can we please stop adding one?
Behaviors are also labeled as boys vs. girls. One time I was at a park, and my oldest who was 2 and a half years old at the time, jumped off a tall rock structure. This was a big moment for my typically fearful-of-heights child. He ran to me after his big jump, and we embraced in a victorious hug. Another mom quickly approached me and proceeded to share that she listened to a podcast on how to raise a boy and it suggested that boys respond better to high fives than hugs in this type of scenario. I thought to myself, if my child wants a hug after a big “accomplishment” than a hug is what he will get.
Gender does not play a role in my parenting decisions. It doesn’t play a role in how I choose to support my child. It doesn’t play a role in how they choose to dress themselves, or decorate their room, or select what activities they participate in. What matters to me is that we have a strong connection. That they feel deeply loved and supported. With this empowerment, I believe and hope they will grow into kind, empathetic, resilient, independent and confident humans.