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I’m one of those people who doesn’t find out the gender of her babies ahead of time. Partly because it’s fun to be able to keep other people in suspense. But mainly because I don’t want everything to be buying gender specific colors or toys for the baby-to-be.
My first born was a girl. Surprisingly, people bought her all sorts of colors–breaking outside the realms of pinks and purples. People also didn’t have problems with her playing with matchbox cars, blocks or Legos. Great! I was pleasantly surprised at how easily people adapted to the non-gender specific parenting choices I made with raising my daughter. Sure, she played with dolls and took dance (well, she still does). But she also played sports and had a bug themed birthday party when she turned 4!
Then I had my son. What a difference a gender makes. As soon as he was born, the gender specific comments started!
To quote some:
- Little man
- Mama’s boy
- Man of the house
- A boy is just another word for dirt.
- Oh you’re in for it now!
- Let him be-he’s just being a boy
All these comments made me realize just how different people perceive raising boys than raising girls. Whereas it’s alright for girls to get dirty, play sports and play with blocks, cars, and Legos, to much of society, boys are expected to immediately be men, get dirty and to get away with what they want.
I’m determined to raise my son bending those gender stereotypes, just as I did for my daughter. So, along with his cars, blocks and Legos, he also loves the movie Frozen and got an Elsa doll (and it’s not his only doll!). When someone gives me a weird or comment look about him playing with dolls, I ask, “Are you afraid he’s going to grow up to be a father?”
When he wanted to grow his hair long when in Spring 2013, I let him:
When he wanted to start taking dance classes, he started taking tap and tumbling. Because, even though he’s the only boy in all of his dance classes this year, boys dance, too! He’s learning important skills outside of typical dance skills. He is learning patience from taking turns, listening and taking directions from adults from the teacher, and self control. Who wouldn’t want these skills for their child?
Boys and girls have plenty of time to grow up with the pressure of society weighing down on them–making them feel like they should play with certain toys, dress certain ways or like certain things. In the early years, it’s important to let our kids be kids! Let them experience the best of the world. There’s no such thing as a “girl” toy or a “boy” toy, just like there is no such thing as a “boy” sport or a “girl” sport. So, YES! Boys dance, too!