How to raise a gender-neutral child?
Created by Alisha Updated on Aug 13, 2020
This is an incident that left a deep mark on my conscious and I was forced to think that why we are still stuck to the adage that this is for boys and this is for girls. As parents, my husband and I wanted to give our daughter everything that she wanted or deserved be it a car or a doll. But this one incident forced me to acknowledge that unless we as parents change our thinking our children will continue the same old gender discriminating thoughts. So what was the incident you may ask? Well here it is.
Few days back some of our family friends visited us. The family comprised of a beautiful couple and an adorable 5 year old boy. It's always so pleasing to see family members or friends dropping by. More than me or my husband, it's my daughter's excitement to see people and children around that makes us happier to welcome our loved ones into our home. I guess it is same for all of us. Children were happy too to see each other. Ok so far so good. Everything was happy-happy so then what was it that disturbed me?
It was not the incident that disturbed me, it was the reaction to the incident that disturbed me and left me thinking for a long time. It so happened that both the children the son of the family friend and my daughter were engrossed in playing when suddenly my daughter fascinated by the bright yellow colour of the toy car the boy was carrying took it from him and started playing with it. The boy naturally got upset and went to his father. And this is how his father consoled him that irked me like anything, “she is a girl and you are a boy remember that. Girls don't play with cars, only boys do. So do not worry she will return it to you.”
I was sitting just next to my daughter and hearing the father’s consolation, I was taken aback and was forced to think that who knew that the toys/games that are a child's very first friends can also create gender discrimination? But then I realise, if we look around everything is about gender discrimination – from the day the baby is born – blue for boys and pink for girls, dolls for girls and cars for boys, In house chores girls, earning bread and butter boys (though the line is shifting these days but it is still a long way to go).
Post this incident, I became quite restless and though I was smiling and talking (being the ever-gracious hostess) I was seething inside and decided that for my daughter there will be no gender specific toys, clothes or anything that is considered manly by this patriarch society. Yes, my child is a girl and if she loves to play with cars or any vehicles toys, then definitely she will play. Because she is a girl, it won't limit her in having her own choices. A child's psychology and behavior start developing from a very small age through our style of parenting. If you feed into a child's mind these gender discrimination then definitely they will have the same mind set forever. Not only in the world of toys but in real life too boys can cook and girls can drive car.
Gone are the old days when there was a huge gender discrimination and I think today's educated parents should nurture their children appropriately from an early age because our children are our nation's future and we can build a stronger nation only by teaching the correct things in fair way to our little ones.
Parents are the first teachers and they should always try to teach equality first. In school, kids can up skill the curriculum but the basics of life are always learnt at home from parents. In my situation here I can say that I do not have control on others' minds but definitely I have control on creating the right and better environment for my daughter to grow and shine. If she is discouraged anyway then she does not deserve that person or that surrounding by any chance then it's my duty to see to it that she is at the right place.
If any girl from such a tender age starts hearing such things then she slowly moulds herself accordingly and limit herself in many things. Whatever we feed into their mind they become the same. This time I could not correct the boy's father thinking a big issue may get created out of a small thing that might create a glitch in our friendship but I was wrong. I cannot accept anything wrong. Because I would not want my daughter to hear such things further so next time if this happens I will definitely confront and correct the other person especially when my daughter is around so that she can learn never to live with anything wrong and always be open to keep her own views.
I will teach her equality and how to face different situations that are not always in favour. I will teach her always to have a positive outlook and raise a voice for any wrong if happens. But at this stage when she is so small to act on anything, I have made a promise to myself that I will never let my daughter be in wrong surroundings and with wrong people be at any cost. I have decided to make her emotionally strong and encourage her to live a positive life.
Have you too?
Now my hubby has bought a similar car and many other vehicle toys for our daughter and I am so delighted to see her enjoying. I am blessed to have a supportive hubby who is a wonderful father too. His positive outlook towards life inspires us a lot. Giving a child the right surrounding to grow is the best that we can do for them. So let's begin this from home first!
Did you like the blog? Please leave your views and feedback in the comments section below.
| Jun 13, 2017
thank you very much,, but yes, as u say, we need a lot of support at home first.. I have a boy, 5 nephews , but have 2 niece, who don't get equal treatment along with boys.. sad part is that, I'm the only one fighting for equality.. but the best part is , at least I'm there for them..
| Jun 13, 2017
I agree with this and that's why after birth of my daughter I already told to my complete family that I don't want any discrimination in any terms neither color, taste, choices and toys and I m really thankfull that my family also agreed with this. however, I got surprised when in her school teachers are specially learning to the kids with sentence" I am a girl". I am really surprised that why it is required and not able to understand the reason as well.
| Jun 16, 2017
I really liked this blog... even I faced the same situation... as i am a mother of two girls,i feel proud... there is gender discrimination in many families... so many people around us should change their mind set regarding this.. I feel lucky to have a great family with me who never supports gender discrimination...
| Jun 27, 2017
Thank you guys for showing your interest in this topic. It's very important to impart the right moral values in our children. Any wrong statement in front of your child can be a suffering in the future. I agree that most of us do have supportive family members and friends who do not believe in gender biasness but definitely there comes a situation or a moment some day when you get a sense of this biasness someway. It can be for you being a lady or for your sister or for your daughter. But it is for sure there. So it's up to us whether we live with it or take a stand to change it. Hope we make a better society seeded with equality and respect.
| Jun 28, 2017
Very well written. Whatever the world thinks, as mothers it is our duty and in fact more than a father, to make our daughters strong enough to face any challenges in life. It is the home environment which will be the base for strong personalities of our daughters and not let any bias impact them !!
| Jul 28, 2017
This is true and happened to me. I have a son who once got interested in playing with Kitchen set and wanted it but my husband refused saying he is a boy and should play only with the toys meant for boys. I asked him why not? if girls can play with a toy gun why can't boys play with the Kitchen set. My husband finally agreed and my son became very Happy to have his new toy and play cooking for all of us like he drives us around in his toy cars!!
| Jul 29, 2017
my daughter had this crew hair cut as she was fibding it difficult to manage her hairs also it was summer time all the kids plus some teachers were teasing her you are a boy .....first day i told her to ask them if they have a pony tail will they becone a girl? was not happy with teachers rather than discouraging this thing were participating in it... she/ poor child got so teased up after giving random explanations by herself... see i am wearing a skirt... my name is same.. my ears are pierced.. at home i can take care what abt other places... society has to change a lot i find some ppl are stuck 20 yrs back .
| Jul 31, 2017
your absolutely correct even i have faced it.. i have two daughters and my sis has two sons.. my sis will always say them that when you grow up you both should take care of your sisters as they don't have their own brother. i'll say no need of taking care of my angles u just love them.. they can take care of themselves.. even my husband dont like gender discrimination..
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