By Jessica Del Llano
I read a blog post recently that really hit home with me. In fact, that post links to other very interesting reads on the topic, too. I may never be able to discuss it as eloquently as they do, but here’s my take.
One of the things that bugs me most as a mom is seeing things labeled as “boy” and “girl,” whether they be toys, or clothes and whatnot. My 3-year-old daughter Sara has such diverse interests that I often find myself looking in the “boys” section, and I see nothing wrong with this. I celebrate that she doesn’t see things as “for boys only” or “for girls only.” If she likes it, she likes it, whether it be The Little Mermaid, or The Incredible Hulk. I would never tell her, “that is just for boys.” Sure, she loves to dress up as a princess, but she then grabs her (superhero) Thor hammer to finish the outfit. I watched in awe at her recent birthday party (a party which had a pirate theme, by the way) as she talked to my friend’s son in detail about their favorite superheroes. I loved seeing her have interests that make her able to relate to boys, too. She knows her Disney princesses AND her Marvel superheroes. I consider it diversity, and it makes her a more interesting kid.
The blog post linked to above delves deeper into the topic of gender fluidity, and yes, some parents you may have read about in the news have taken it to a whole new level by keeping their child’s gender a secret. That’s not what I’m referring to. I believe children should have a sense of self, something to identify with. You start somewhere, like “you’re a girl,” but be willing to let those society-imposed lines blur as their interests develop. I believe we should let kids gravitate to what they like, and stop judging them or pushing them in a certain, predetermined gender direction. They will be judged enough in their adult lives – an inevitability of the human condition.
Childhood should be judgment-free.
Sara talks about wanting to be a firefighter when she grows up. Is that more of a little boy’s dream job? Some might say that. I’m fascinated to know who she’s going to become, rather than trying to mold her into a certain path. All I want is for her to be kind, thoughtful, fair and happy.
If she wants to be a firefighter, let her be one of the bravest. If she wants to be a mother, let her be one of the most compassionate. If she wants to be a comic book fanatic, let her be a well-versed “Penny” to “The Big Bang Theory” guys.
If she wants to be a princess, well, she may have to ask Kate Middleton about that. I have yet to achieve my own become-a-princess dreams.
How have you seen your own kids cross the gender lines? How have you encouraged or supported this? Or have you discouraged it (consciously or subconsciously) by steering your child towards more conventional interests for their gender? Do you think girls have it easier, being able to like “boy” things, than boys do liking “girl” things? I’m fascinated by this entire topic and how other moms feel about it and deal with it.