Recently in one of the mom’s group that I am a part of, I came across a post from a concerned mom. She and her husband were worried about their son as he likes to play with dolls. She was looking for a therapist for her son and just like other moms in the group, it was shocking for me too. I tried to make sense of why she could be so concerned, it’s just a doll. Upon closer introspection, I felt that the roots of this mindset are much deeper. It is how people are conditioned to think. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys. The kitchen set is for girls and toy cars are for boys and even in 2020, the thought process is pretty much the same. What are your thoughts about raising gender neutral kids?
As for me, I have always believed that your gender doesn’t define what you can or cannot do. I aspire to raise a kid who is independent and self-sufficient. Also, someone who is not restricted by social norms defining responsibilities based on gender. Home is a child’s first school and parents are the first teachers. They will learn from what they see happening in the house. If they see a gender-neutral environment in their house, they will grow up believing it to be normal.
Here are some things that I try to do to promote a more gender-neutral environment in the house.
Toys are for everyone
My daughter has a fire engine and her barbie doll is her firefighter who rescues people. Similarly, there is nothing wrong if a boy wants to play with a kitchen set. Their imagination is limitless so expose them to all kinds of toys. Let them pick the ones they enjoy without gender limitations.
They watch and learn from you
Household chores are one way the child picks gender stereotypes. Mums and Dads can show the child that they both can do the same stuff. Mum cooks and so does Dad. Dad works on the computer and so does mom. So, it is important to represent that gender doesn’t define roles and responsibilities in the household.
Watch the media exposure
If your kids spend time watching cartoons or show, it is a good idea to monitor what they are watching. I have seen shows where Dad is cooking supper and mom is working on the computer, and vice versa. Such shows are what I am fine with for my kid to watch. Media does influence our kids’ thoughts, so it is important to make sure they are watching the right things.
Expose them to sports and adventure
I love the fact that more and more people are open to teaching their girls sports that are perceived to be for boys – be it football or cricket. Similarly, I have seen a few boys in ballet and gymnastic classes. I appreciate the parents who are bringing such a positive change.
Are you trying to raise a kid without gender stereotypes? Are you raising gender neutral kids? Do let me know what you think in the comments.