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Parents are bombarded with expectations for their children from the point of conception, most of it based around the sex of the child.

A pregnant woman is used to being asked a dozen times a day ‘do you know what you’re having?’, or ‘is it a boy or a girl?’ To the extent that it appears the focus on being pregnant is often perceived as either having a boy or a girl, not having a child in the general sense.

There is an expectation based on a babies sex, that if you have a boy you will be in for a rowdy old time with a boisterous child who will no doubt love soccer, monster trucks and dirt, and that if you have a girl you will have a placid, polite child, with delicate features who loves drawing, dancing, dolls and cooking.

Many of us unknowingly uphold these stereotypes too, telling a mother to be that her son is going to be a handful, or that her daughter will be the prettiest little thing ever.

Why do we say these things? 

I often think it’s almost a bit of foot in mouth or knee-jerk reaction, we feel we need to say something, to fill the conversation with little bits of sage advice. Just like we never seem to tire of asking other pregnant women when they are due, or commenting that they are carrying big or small, high or low, or my favourite, “are you sure it’s not twins”.



So what can we do?

As parents we need to let go of any preconceived ideas of who or what our children will be.

Our children have years and years to figure themselves out, don’t rush them!

Let’s embrace our little ones and celebrate their interests and passions (which means first paying attention to what they are!) and advocate for them with family and friends.

Don’t be afraid to tell your friends that your son likes My Little Pony and not Ninja Turtles so they don’t buy gifts for his birthday that will upset him or be abandoned the minute they are opened (which can be just as disappointing for the gift giver as the receiver).

Remind your parents that your daughter prefers shorts over dresses or rocket gumboots instead of princess ones so that she has the chance to wear something lovingly chosen by grandma, instead of hiding it away in the cupboard.

If your daughter loves barbies and butterflies, great, no problems there at all. Just don’t let others assume that she wants those just because she’s a girl.  Boys too have varied interests, and if they like noisy trucks and trains, monsters and robots then great, but if they like playing with dolls or doing craft then remember to suggest those as gift ideas to family and friends. Most will be glad of specific suggestions and delight at the subsequent squeals of delight.

We also need to share own interests, hobbies and pursuits with our children. A shared love of something is a wonderful way to bond.

So reassure your husband that just because he has three daughters, that he can still take them fishing, to see the monster trucks or to ride motorbikes – I bet they’ll love it and cherish the time together.

Be proud of your son who embraces your love of sewing and encourage it, just like you would if it was your daughter.

Gender and sex are not prescriptive, nor are they even related.

We need to be open to our little ones and support and love them for the child they are – not the child we assumed they’d be or want them to be.

Let’s celebrate our children for what they bring us – not what society says they should be based on their biological sex or a simplistic definition of gender.

Society is evolving toward true acceptance – let’s help it along and enjoy the ride the our children take us on.

Can you relate to this? Please share your experiences below in the comments.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Yes acceptance is very important, cheers.

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  • What I find most interesting is that pink actually used to be a colour for boys because it was seen as a stronger colour and blue was seen as more dainty for girls :)

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  • so true. I hated pink, love helping my gramps with his holden, but i still can be a girly girl when i feel like it. my daughter is only 2 but she loves star wars, monster trucks and crashing cars, yet likes cooking too. one day the stereotype will be gone but it’ll be a while.

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  • With six children 4 boys and 2 girls, I know what is expected is not what you get. My youngest boy loves his cooking and cleaning while his twin sister at 3 loves helping her dad with the car. No dolls for her or pretty clothes, she wants things that help her have fun with dad. My teen daughter is pretty much a girly girl, loving all things girls want plus she can cook better then me. The older 3 boys are a mixture when younger they helped in the house and I encouraged it, even buying a mop/broom set for one, so he had ones his size better then using normal size ones. Another one from2 until he was about 7 loved washing up, so we ate mainly off plastic plates. The other one from 3 or so needed his bed made before eating breakfast. It was not the neatest but he made it and was happy. I have learnt let them do what they want and with lucky they will carry on with it. Not that it works all the time that washer upper will not wash dishes at 32 yrs old, soak them wash no way.


    • yeah as long as you raise good kids, who minds

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  • a good read here! children should be able to play whatever they want and dress up as whoever they want.

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  • bombarded

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  • Agree with this 100%. Our son love to play tea parties and with baby dolls. He is 3 he doesn’t understand gender rolls.. or any nonsense like that. He just wants to have fun. My partner is great and will set up tea parties with him or play mummies and daddies with him. We encourage our children to express themselves and be who they are our house is a safe place where you never have to pretend to be something youre not.

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  • agree – love this post… It doesn’t matter

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  • How did we get to this? Who made it that these colours are for boys and these toys are for girls? It’s stupid

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  • Does not matter pink or blue let kids be kids.

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  • 100% my girls like boys toys and i dont mind

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  • I am one of those people who always asks what are you having?? Can’t help it!! Though with both my kids I never found out what I was having as it didn’t matter to me :) my girl loves playing in the mud, watching Thomas the tank and trucks. But at the same time loves her dolls and pink is her favourite colour!! Whatever she likes I am happy as long as she is happy!!

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  • My 3yo loves her girly dresses for town but then wants her brothers shirts and shorts to go and get grubby in the garden or play cars with him outside. Of course my boys won’t admit it to their friends, but they are also happy to play dolls and dressups with their sister too (although she is sometimes convinced to play dolls in amongst the lego and block towers). The big thing is letting the kids be happy.

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  • Kids will like what they like, not what someone wants them to like

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  • No I don’t think it matters too much at all!

    Reply

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