Tiny Humans, Gender Roles


From the moment we, as parents, learn of an upcoming pregnancy, one question comes to mind, consuming every waking moment. Will the new child be a boy, or a girl? And then, sooner than we expect, an ultrasound tells us everything we want to know, making our dream into a reality. It’s then that the fun begins, and choices are made.

Should the room be blue, pink, or green? What theme will dominate the living space of the newborn infant? Jungle, sports, polka dots, princesses, frogs, bunnies, the list goes on!

Not only does the baby’s room need a strong decision, the toys and clothing help define our roles as parents in the baby’s life. Let’s wrap our brains around that one! Is the infant’s room, toys, and garb going to be gender specific, or gender neutral? What is our tiny human going to grow up to see on a daily basis?

How will we unwittingly define our tiny person’s gender role in society?

Now, now. Don’t get huffy. This is not a “pro” gender role, or “con” gender role blog today. I’m not here to twist panties, or even get into sexual orientation as influential causes.

Honestly, I don’t care that much.

It is my son, and his quirkiness, that makes me think about the roles we play as parents, and how we respond when confronted with facing gender defining moments. Take today, for example. There I am, putting on my makeup for work, when my son pops up beside me, and chirps, “Hey, I want some, too!”

Reaching out, I grab my compact, and hand it to him. He dutifully begins swiping his face with powder, and asks to see his reflection in the mirror.

This is the same son who, later in the day, beat up Spinosaurus with T-Rex by chewing off the poor Spinosaurus’s neck. Both of which I encourage. Well, I take that back. I do remember saying, “Hey! Be nice to that Spinosaurus!”

My son’s room is adorned in dinosaurs–Tiny Tot’s choice. He owns several Power Rangers, the entire collection of The Avengers, every dinosaur known to man, and a tee-ball set. His clothing is typically sports-themed, or covered in slogans such as, “Certified Hunk.”

Tiny has always drawn toward dinosaurs, super heroes, and baseball. I do not force him to lean toward the creepier, boy toys, and honestly cannot tell you how he came to love Iron Man, Spider Man, and Power Rangers. Maybe partly from his father, or possibly from his brother.

Or from the sheer fact that he’s a rough-and-tumble boy.

Who knows.

All I really know is, I didn’t push it. In fact, when he was an infant, he owned a purple glow worm, and a brightly-colored butterfly. I even wanted to go out and buy him his very own baby doll. Unfortunately, that idea was negated by everyone I know.

My tiny human’s first true “boy” toys were bought by friends and grandparents, not by his momma.

This mom is of the opinion that her son will make his choice in life. Though, some of my family members–and friends included–tell me not to push him toward the “girlie things.” My only response, and theory, is this: he’s a toddler. He has his entire life to be nitpicked over choices. And, at some point, the gender specifics are going to take over.

Somewhat by me, but mostly from peers.

So far, Tiny is surrounded by mostly female friends. His little girlfriends own Barbies, dollies, baby dolls, and dress up clothes. Seeing as our dinosaur-run home lacks all things dainty–due to my tiny human’s love of all things loud, robotic, or creepy–he seems enthralled when given the chance to play with a Barbie, or pink car. When my son finds the need to put on a tutu, or cart a baby doll around, I don’t balk at the notion. I laugh and take pictures.

I mean, I need something to hold over his six foot head when he’s older. He’ll already be taller than me!

My son pretends to put on my makeup occasionally, he likes playing with the dollhouse at his cousin’s house, and he has worn nail polish for all of forty-five minutes (until he asked me to take it off so he could beat up The Joker. I mean, you can’t wear nail polish while elbow-dropping a criminal.)

Even with the novelties of all things girlie, and my acceptance to let him explore the world of neutrality, my son is all boy. He will come to understand gender specific aspects as he gets older, but I’m not pushing for that knowledge anytime soon. And, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to tell him, ever, that certain toys are for girls, and certain toys are for boys. He will figure that out soon enough. For now, I let him choose what he wants to play with, inside a certain price range. Everything must stay in budget.

My only theory in life is to let children be themselves. Let them be loud. Let them be crazy. Let them explore both the girl toys, and the boy toys. And remember to take pictures, because it will be worth it one day!

Children have their whole lives to be defined by the various roles thrust upon them. As long as my tiny human finds happiness in playing with toys, I’m okay with it. Besides, he doesn’t know it yet, but I already know my son’s role in life.

He’s going to be a left-handed pitcher for the LSU Tigers.

No comments posted on December 5, 2012 in Parenting, Winging It, Mom Style

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