Gender-Neutral Parenting is quite a complex topic and am still not very clear or sure about my own stand. I’m going to write what is my impression about it which might change in future. Lets leave it open for further discussion.
What is Gender-Neutral Parenting?
Simply putting, Raising kids without the confines of gender stereotypes is Gender-Neutral Parenting. Gender-Neutral parenting is aimed at granting kids access to a variety of experiences and it avoids labeling things as ‘this is only for boys’ and ‘girls only do this’ based on the biological gender of the kid.
Girls means Pink and Boys means Blue, girls means cooking and boys means the main breadwinner. I have been raised in this environment and the society around me always emphasized / is emphasizing this. Do I agree with this? No and Yes!
Well, I am not a Girly-girl since childhood. Never followed conventional routines or didn’t bother much about my girl status ever. Fortunately, my parents never said anything like – Oh, you are a girl. Do this and don’t do this etc. By the way, am sure this term of Gender-Neutral Parenting was not coined in those days. My grandparents used to say once in a while but again never really enforced any girls-special rules.
Now that am a mom with one girl child and another is boy – this subject of Gender-Neutral Parenting is thought provoking for me.
1. My take on this as of now stands MODERATE. I can’t be an extreme case like some parents where they don’t even reveal the gender of the kid to the kid and others and let the kid explore through experiences and choose what would be his or her gender. I find this slightly confusing. So, my girl knows she’s a girl and boy knows he’s a boy. Though I don’t make it overly explicit. I keep reminding them that boys and girls are equal.
2. I don’t stereotype colors – My daughter never liked pink and always chooses shades of blue / green / purple since a baby. I didn’t overloaded her with the pink dresses, pink headbands, pink jewelery and pink everything. On the other hand, my son loves using shades of pink along with his favorite red and I find it perfectly ok. No sharp remarks like – why are you using pink? It’s for girls…
3. Outfits they wear and hairstyle – hmmm, like mentioned above I don’t care much about pink n blue but skirts and dresses? No, I haven’t tried them on my son and would not try too. Nah, not my cup of tea…
What if he decides to have long hair when he grows up? May be I will be okay since I like man-buns. Girl cuts her hair short? Can also if she likes.
4. Boys can cry – this is what is the typical term that I keep listening to from so many parents. When the by starts crying, parents immediately snap – Are you a girl to cry? Stop crying like a girl. This at our home definitely doesn’t happen. When the boy cries when he falls down etc., it’s ok for us.
Boys can cry, they should cry to vent out their emotions. Not to suppress their expressions please.
5. Be in sync with the nature – okay, I m a firm believer of nature’s power. Whoever created this world has created genders. He has given some unique qualities to both. Physically most men are powerful than women and women have the great ability to give birth. By default, there’s some difference in the genders which I don’t want to deny. As a parent, I would like to play along, to respect nature and accept the basic gender differences.
6. Say No to gender biases – Gender-Neutral Parenting also means allowing kids to express themselves freely without any societal pressure. I agree with that part totally. We should not BOX the kids. They can play with any toys they want – girls can play with cars and boys can have kitchen set.
Equality in terms of opportunities, freedom of choice is what I would love to offer to my kids.
7. Boys need to do chores too, girls need to support homes financially too – oh, you are a boy so no need to clean the dishes and fold the clothes. Mama or Sis will do everything for you. Sorry! I don’t want to make it work like this. We ensure our boy helps us in small little ways. At the same time, girls need not only contribute at home. They should earn, financially be independent and support their families – just like boys.
So, if my boy says that he wants to peel potatoes, I welcome him and when my girl says she can fix or repair the toy, it’s a go-ahead from me.
That’s it, these are my views about Gender-Neutral Parenting. What’s your take on it? Do share in comments. I would love to read.
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