Last week I posted this picture on Facebook of my son, my husband and myself celebrating New Years. I received a comment, not saying how happy my son looks or how much fun we are having, instead asking why my son is wearing nail polish? That sent me into defensive mama bear mode! WTF?!?! Why is it such a problem that my son is wearing nail polish? Are we still living in the 1900′s? No we are not!
Why do we have to raise our boy children to play with cars and our girls to play with dolls? Why should we associate blue with boys and pink with girls? Why not teach our children to develop both sides of their brain equally and let them explore playing with dolls, or with cars if they choose to.
A good friend of mine left me this comment after I posted that my son had asked for 3 Princesses for Christmas: “I love how you are raising your son without the usual gender barriers put up in this world! Who doesn’t love a princess?!”
Exactly, who doesn’t love a Princess? I think the appeal to my son is that they are pretty and that they are different from whatever he already has. Their dresses are sparkly and colourful and DVD’s are fun and musical. Why not like Princesses?
Children go through various phases where they play with one item for a few months and then move on. This may or may not be a phase and even if it isn’t, I don’t care.
On Facebook about 6 months ago, a mom had posted a comment about painting her son’s nails and asked other moms what their experiences were. It was so nice to see other moms having positive reactions and responses. I know that at first when my son asked me to paint his nails, I was worried that he would be teased. If you know my son, if there is any little boy that can pull off nail polish it’s him! So far, except for the one ignorant comment, we have been fortunate. Most kids and parents think it’s cool, and honestly no one really cares.
This begs the question why do we raise our children with gender barriers?
I’ll be perfectly honest, when we had our son, I never thought in a million years that he would be registered in dance class or wanted his nails painted and to play with princesses! As parents we have tried to foster in him is his own interests, not ours. We’ve tried to support whatever he wants to explore. Take dancing for example, he fell in love with the PBS show Angelina Ballerina. This didn’t come from me, it came from him. He would dance around the house and then one day I asked him “Would you like to take dance classes?” He answered with an enthusiastic “YES! “. This is his second year in dance and he absolutely loves it. He is thriving in this environment and again it had nothing to do with my husband or I. We just went with what our son wanted.
The person who I’m proud of the most is my husband. He absolutely doesn’t care one way or the other about my son’s fascination with princesses. He applauds it and has said many times “well, they are pretty 🙂 !” Too many men let their own fears and insecurities prevent them for seeing their child for who they are, which is just that, a child. It’s their job to explore different themes and toys. My son sees me paint my nails and wants his painted as well, monkey see, monkey do.
So the next time you see a little boy with his nails painted, or playing with dolls, or wearing pink shoes, smile and give the mom a wink. Congratulate her for being brave enough not to care about society norms and pressures. Our jobs as parents is to foster our children’s interests and love them for who they are, not to set our preconceived notions about what type of toys boys and girls should play with. So let’s do away with gender barriers and just let kids be kids!
May this post inspire you to evaluate your own gender barriers. Do you have any? Do you care?
Written by: Agnes Mayer