I seem to keep seeing this topic coming up on various blogs and parenting sites and I wondered what the general consensus was amongst my readers?
For those of you that aren’t aware, gender neutral lifestyles basically entail parents allowing their children to make choices that are not stuck to ‘social gender expectations’. A classic example? Dolls are for girls, cars are for boys. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. The list could go on forever… The choice of how to be ‘gender neutral’ can go from disagreeing with gender categorising toys and colour of clothing or, in some ‘extreme’ gender neutral lifestyles (*eye roll here, what on earth is extreme about this?!*), people have been known to have no issue with their male children wearing dresses or even refusing to tell their friends/family the gender of their baby, preferring not to ‘label’ them (you can read about one particular instance of totally gender-neutral parenting here).
So how do you live your life?
Personally, I don’t agree with gender bias toys (there is a fantastic charity I follow called Let toys be toys, a concept I couldn’t agree with more), or stopping boys wearing pink/purple etc.
Seriously though, as a mother of boys I do find it so frustrating when I come up against stereotypes like pink kitchens, or dolls in a ‘girls’ section of toys. What are we afraid we are going to teach our boys by allowing them to play with kitchens? To be… what, a chef?! Or dolls for that matter? Are they going to grow into a… what?? A Daddy?? I hate to break it to you, chances are they ARE going to grow into a Daddy, and then they are going to have a whole lot of experience with a very noisy, very real and important baby, which is all a doll really embodies isn’t it?!
Its not just me either, as it happens, there seemed to be a bit of a baby boom when I had Reuben (must have been a power cut 9 months prior eh?!) and a lot of the babas in his groups were little girls. The more I talked to their Mamas about this topic, the more I discovered it swings both ways and is just as frustrating if you have girls! A friend of mine (who we met at a baby massage course when Roo was just 8 weeks old) has a beautiful daughter who loves cars and tractors, and she has often said how frustrating she finds it that her child is limited to pink (something she’s not into herself) and how any tools, cars, tractors etc are all marketed to boys… I’m pretty sure that, despite being a stunning little lady who will no doubt have boys falling over themselves to date her when she’s grown, this girl will at one point in her life need to do some simple DIY like put up a curtain rail, or maybe even change a tyre!
I would really love to know where you stand on this, I think it is really interesting and every parent has a totally different take on the subject. What have your experiences been with your own kids, do you let boys play with dolls and someone has said something to you? Let me know!