4 Ways to Raise a Gender Neutral Child
Mighty Mommy addresses a listener's email about raising gender neutral kids. Here are 4 suggestions to help you avoid the blue and pink traps while parenting.
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Tip #2: Offer a Large Selection of Non-Gender Toys
Our first child was a girl and the second a boy. Yes, we offered them some typical toys that were gender-based, such as baby dolls and construction trucks (respectively), but we also had a wide assortment of gender neutral toys such as a puppet theater, a play-kitchen set with baking gear, farm animals, Legos, building blocks, as well as tea-party fare (let the record show - my boys always loved tea parties while my daughters were ambivalent). We also supplied them with plenty of books that didn’t just focus on policemen and princesses.
By having a selection of non-gender toys and activities readily available, you’ll be sending a message early on that it’s wonderful for little girls to build police stations with their blocks while the boys fill a pretend classroom with Barbie’s and stuffed animals as they play school for the afternoon.
Tip #3: Don't Teach Stereotypes
If you really want to avoid gender bias in your home, avoid referring to your kids based on those common sayings or cliches that have been around forever. You know the ones I'm talking about - little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice” and “boys will be boys” just because they get rambunctious after being pent up inside during a rainy day.
The same goes for discouraging your boys from seeing a movie filled with prince charmings and fairy princesses or girls from heading to the latest superhero film. If you want to instill gender neutrality early on, be an equal-opportunity role model and don't succumb to stereotypes.
Tip #4: Expose Your Child to a Variety of Settings
Although teaching your child to grow and learn through gender neutral scenarios at home is a great place to start, exposing them to real-life situations is equally valuable and allows them to see firsthand the benefits of not being tied down to careers and hobbies based solely on gender.
For example, if you’re visiting a sick grandparent in the hospital and have the opportunity to interact with a male nurse, this is a wonderful chance to explain that men and women can choose their careers based on their interests, not what society used to think was an appropriate career choice.
The same goes for hobbies. Look at all the men who now dominate the fashion industry. If your son gravitates towards patterns and creating things from fabric, take him to a fashion show and introduce him to fashion labels that are the genius of both male and female designers.
If your child has a fellow student who has chosen to play on a team or join a group that is predominantly the opposite sex—use this as a conversation starter between you and your children to demonstrate how exciting it is that we now have these varied opportunities today.
How do you feel about raising a gender-neutral child? Share your thoughts in the comment section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy or post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT where I continually update my selections.
Thank you again to Thor for candidly sharing his view about the Mighty Mommy podcast needing a gender neutral tune-up. We all want what’s best for our kids and certainly being open-minded is a large part of the equation. Until next time everyone—Happy Parenting!