Sunday, January 20, 2013

Neither Princess nor Pawn... Thoughts on Gender Neutral Parenting

The spouse and I practice gender neutral parenting to a certain degree. That's not to say that Squid doesn't have cute, girlie dresses and toys. It's just that she also has stuff that's labeled "boys".

Trying to avoid shoving your child into one of two categories set up by our society's gender dichotomy is difficult. Everything seems to be pink or blue. Toy stores divide their aisles into boys and girls. And the assignment of gender to a toy or article of clothing is often completely arbitrary. Most character shirts end up in the boy's section, whereas girls get cupcakes and kitties silk-screened onto their shirts. I even saw a stack of shirts at Old Navy in the boy's section featuring Blue from Blue's Clues. Blue is a girl, but apparently since she is blue and concerns herself with problem-solving, she must be for boys.

Over the last 18 months, we have been teased for trying to raise a tomboy and chided for "confusing" our daughter. I'm not sure how she can be confused by the idea that she can wear whatever she wants, regardless of what section of the store it came from. And I'm pretty sure that she will understand that she is genetically female, since we do bathe her and change her clothes on occasion.

What really amazes me is that people think we would do otherwise. I am a paramedic, which is traditionally viewed as a man's job. Our friends include a number of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered folk. Gender or sexuality is not a top priority in choosing friends for us. Neither was it a top priority for us when we decided to have children. We chose to wait and be surprised when she was born, rather than learn the sex half-way through.

Recently, someone posted a far more eloquent article about gender neutral parenting. But what it mainly boils down to its that I don't want to constrain my daughter in that manner. I have brought this amazing creature into the world. Why would I want to limit the scope of her passion and enthusiasm? I am already charged with setting rules and teaching her proper day-to-day etiquette. There's precious little time to concern myself with what color toys she plays with.


  1. For our family, you and the spouse are quite the inspiration to other parents who also seek to raise children without imprinting traditional gender roles onto them. It is also nice that Bree has a friend to play with who also likes things like baby Cthulhu and Spiderman. Although, who doesn't love Spidey?

  2. :blushes: Thanks. I wouldn't follow any of my other parenting advice, though. Squid may be lucky to be alive. Lol

  3. "And we shall call it....This Land..."