Let’s introduce gender-neutral toilets – but we need to keep separate men’s and women’s loos too
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We understand that sex and gender are two different things, and that your children may choose to identify as something other than their assigned sex, but for the sake of simplicity and consistency, those are the terms we will be using. If you would like to learn more about gender identity, visit our article Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. In recent times, it has become much more common and socially acceptable for parents to raise their children in gender neutral ways.
Raising your kids without expecting them to conform to gender norms may allow them to develop a broad potential in many areas, rather than only gender binary pros and cons them to explore activities that are appropriate for their traditional gender roles.
For example, if you are raising a girl, she may have the potential to become both a great mechanic and a talented dancer if you do not narrow her choices down to only those that are gender conforming. If you decide to gender binary pros and cons your children gender neutrally, it is important to keep in mind that you will not be able to completely shelter your child from the gender norms of society. In addition, children often have a tendency to imitate their same-sex parent. From birth, many parents tend to lead boys and girls on different tracks, fostering dependence in girls and independence in boys.
In other words, refrain from having social expectations for your children based on their sex. This tip might sound very obvious considering you have already decided that you do not want to abide by gender binaries when raising your children. However, it is often a lot trickier than gender binary pros and cons people think; this is especially true when considering the minute unconscious actions, biases, or inclinations we tend to adopt when approaching others.
For example, because females are generally viewed as the more delicate and sensitive gender, when a little girl comes home from school crying, her parents may be inclined to comfort her, ask her what is wrong, and encourage her to talk about her feelings. Although scientific observations show no behavioral differences in baby boys and girls, most parents tend read into gender scripts and shelter girls more.
On the other hand, males are generally expected to be tougher and covert about their feelings. If a young boy comes home from school crying, his parents gender binary pros and cons comfort him and ask him what is wrong, but they might be less inclined to give him as much attention as they would if he was a girl. Instead, they might expect him to stop crying sooner and reward him for doing so. A key point when parenting gender neutrally is to ask yourself gender binary pros and cons you are choosing to treat your child a certain way before you approach them.
Are you giving your daughter special attention and comfort when she comes home crying because you believe that children should be comforted when they are sad, or are you doing this because you feel inclined to nurture her more due to the fact that she is a girl?
Would you comfort your child this same way if they were the opposite sex? Once you can gender binary pros and cons these questions, it will be easier to figure out whether you are treating your children in certain ways because it is gender conforming, or because you truly feel this is how all children should be treated regardless of sex.
Remember, many of these behaviors are unconscious and involuntary, because they are so engrained in our society. As a parent who aims to raise gender nonconforming children, you have to pay extra attention to these minute biases you may have. If you would comfort your daughter and encourage her to talk about her feelings when she is crying, make sure you treat you son in the same way next time you see him cry.
If you would distract your son from crying instead of comforting him when he falls and scrapes his knee, make sure you do the same for your daughter. It may be hard to differentiate between the two at first, but if you keep reminding yourself of the reasons why you wish to raise gender neutral children, it can help motivate you to strive to keep actions unbiased. Enforcing the same rules and providing the same opportunities to all children is essential if gender binary pros and cons do not want your children to think they grew up disadvantaged in certain areas because of their sex.
Here are several examples of ways you gender binary pros and cons break the gender binary:. Aside from not having different expectations of your children based on their sex, it is a good idea to expose your kids to as many different options in life as possible, including ones that oppose gender stereotypes. You should provide equal amounts of exposure to various activities, career options, toys, color choices, and other forms of expression that are stereotypically expected of either females or males.
Doing so will allow your children to develop a wide range of interests and potential career opportunities gender binary pros and cons they will not feel constricted to certain options in the future because of their gender. For instance, you can let your daughters play with action figures, building blocks such as LEGOsor toy cars when they are young, instead of limiting them to dolls, doll houses, or mini baking kits.
The women who end up in more reputable science and engineering fields usually cannot dedicate as much time to their families as they would like, because these professions do not value domestic matters as much and require more time spent at the work place. So women in those fields tend to not stay very long. By letting girls play with toys like building blocks, you are allowing them to develop the creative spatial skills and problem solving skills they need to excel and remain interested in STEM fields later on to break this gender cycle.
Exposing your children to atypical toys and activities for their gender unlocks their potential in a gender binary pros and cons spectrum of interests and gives them more freedom to blossom in areas that would not have otherwise been an option.
Below is a list of suggestions that can help guide your parenting decisions in terms of choosing which activities or forms of expression to direct your children towards:. So far, we have discussed gender binary pros and cons ways that you can break the gender binary and create new opportunities for your children. Oftentimes, young children do not have a concrete idea of what their favorite hobbies, interests, or activities are because they have not had time to explore their different options.
When parents enroll their children in piano, swimming, or karate classes at a young age, they are helping their children gain a better sense of what their passions or expertise are, since they have not yet formed this foundation. By encouraging your children to choose and explore non-stereotypical activities, you are also guiding them to discover their passions and interests but in a gender nonconforming manner—which means the children have more options to choose from and may have a harder time choosing.
To give your children more autonomy in their decisions, you can let them choose from their options instead of making the choices for them. If your son refuses to gender binary pros and cons with Barbie dolls and would prefer to play with toy cars instead, let him.
You cannot force your children to like something that they have no interest in. Instead, try kindly telling him that he does not have to play with Barbie gender binary pros and cons if he does not want to, but if he ever wants to play with toys that he sees girls playing with, that is gender binary pros and cons okay. Make sure your children understand that this concept is the same with clothes, hobbies, gender binary pros and cons, activities, and so on. Compassionate communication is a crucial factor in parenting gender neutral children.
If your kids are not taught that there is nothing wrong with behaving or dressing differently from other kids who look like them, they may end up conforming to gender scripts out of fear of being mocked or singled out, or, they may end up resenting themselves for being different from everyone else. Which leads us to our next guideline:. At a certain point in their lives, your children will realize that the toys they play with, the movies they watch, or the hobbies gender binary pros and cons are interested in are different from those of other children of their same gender.
This realization may affect them negatively if they are not educated about this topic in advance. An important aspect of raising androgynous children is to communicate effectively and compassionately with them, since many of the actions you are encouraging them gender binary pros and cons take part in deviate from the norms they will see in society.
As parents, try to use your best judgment on when the appropriate time is to speak to them about certain topics pertaining to gender roles and gender identity. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, it would be a good idea to speak to your children about deviating from gender roles once they are old enough to make their own choices. At an early age, inform them that being involved with toys, activities, or sports that typically associate with the opposite sex does not make them less gender binary pros and cons a boy or a girl, regardless of what their peers might think.
Keep the conversation open, non-judgmental, and gender binary pros and cons them to ask questions and form their own opinions.
Once they grow to be a little more mature, such as around their preteen ages, you can speak to them about the topics of masculinity and femininity and how it may affect their identities. Many boys grow up thinking that because they are male, gender binary pros and cons have to adopt masculine traits and be better than females at certain tasks.
A lot of males feel ashamed if they lose to females in sports, or if they are less competent with handling electronics.
It is encouraged to educate your children about feminism, and that being a woman does not mean they have to adopt traits of delicacy or prettiness. Girls do not always have to wear dresses, braid their hair, paint nails, or talk about boys—they have so much more to offer to the world aside from their looks and associations with males!
Instead, teach them that they can grow up to be great leaders who can excel at the same things males can excel at, whether it involves teaching, being an astronaut, or competing in the Olympics. By raising your daughters to be gender neutral and encouraging them to pursue gender binary pros and cons and dreams that are not typically expected of females, you are restructuring societal scripts by empowering young women to have confidence in themselves and their worth.
Children tend to look up to and imitate superheroes and TV characters from their favorite films and shows. With such an influential effect on their thoughts and behaviors, the movies and shows you let your children watch can affect how they form perceptions of gender roles.
One study compared kids who were heavy TV viewers with kids who were light TV viewers and discovered that children who spent more time watching TV had more stereotyped views of female and male behaviors.
Thus, it is important to pay attention to what you are letting your children watch as well as how much TV they are watching. If you let your daughters watch only gender conforming movies and shows, such as princess movies, or shows where females take on submissive, stereotypical roles, this is very likely to influence her to be more gender conforming to stereotyped views of females.
Consider letting girls watch action movies, gender neutral TV shows, and shows that generally tend to appeal to boys as well as films, TV shows geared towards girls. Let all children watch all kinds of media. This way, their interests and perceptions can develop in more diverse ways and they can grow up to understand a wider variety of issues and topics.
As for boys, you should also consider letting them watch gender non-stereotypical films and shows, so that they do not grow up conforming to gender scripts and stereotyped views. Instead, consider letting your children engage in activities that will stimulate their mind and increase their social exploration and play, with activities exercising, reading books, solving puzzles, playing board games, or exploring the outdoors.
If you do let your children watch TV with very defined gender roles, make sure you talk to them about these gender roles that are portrayed and discuss why they might be misleading and harmful. This also includes boys watching princess movies because they tend to display only heterosexual couples where the prince saves the helpless, beautiful princess.
Be prepared for harsh, negative criticism. Family members and other parents may judge you and say that what you are doing is immoral and gender binary pros and cons, that you are raising your kids backwards, that there is no point in raising gender binary pros and cons kids genderless, and so on.
As someone has decided to do something that is against the norm, you should be prepared to receive varying reactions from people. How you handle these negative reactions is up to you, but perhaps sharing some of the reasons why you chose to raise your children androgynously or informing them of gender binary pros and cons benefits research shows raising gender neutral children provide can help educate them and change their perceptions.
However, it is also very likely that you will receive positive comments and compliments from parents or families as well. Choosing to raise gender binary pros and cons neutral kids is starting to become a more popular and admired decision, and it likely that many people will respect you for making this decision. Whether you receive praise or negative judgment, it is good to be ready for both of these potential reactions. In addition to varying reactions from family members and friends, your children may also receive criticism from their peers as well.
To help your children move past these remarks, reach out to them about these topics before they have the chance to occur and make your kids emotionally distraught. This is why compassionate and effective communication plays an important role in raising androgynous children refer to guideline number 4 for details. Without a strong relationship and a supportive foundation for effective communication with your kids, raising children to grow up not following typical gender standards can be a very difficult and stressful thing to do.
Even though you may have already decided that raising androgynous children is something you want to do, it is still beneficial to know the pros and the cons that accompany your decision. Some of the benefits and disadvantages have already been mentioned, but below is a compiled list of the positive and negative aspects of raising gender neutral children.
Something else to keep in mind is that children who are gender neutral or androgynous may not want to be labeled as female or male. Instead, they may want to be labeled as gender fluidgender queertransgenderor third gender. As long as the child is comfortable with their gender label, having a nontraditional gender identity is not a bad thing. To learn more about gender identities, check out our article: Overview of Gender Identities.
On the other hand, if the child grows up feeling conflicted about their identity and does not know what they identity with, this could lead to future problems like identity frustration, self-hatred, confusion, or gender dysphoria.
Some other articles that may help you with issues related to gender identity include: Another issue to consider is that children, regardless of their gender identity, may also grow up to have queer sexual orientations.
Again, it is okay to not identify as being heterosexual being attracted to people of the opposite sexas long as the child is comfortable with their gender binary pros and cons orientation. As your parent, try your best to avoid heteronormativity the world view that promotes heterosexuality as the normal sexual orientation and do not assume that your child with be attracted to their opposite gender.
Instead, be open to the possibility that your children may be sexually queer. There are also many support groups that can help people within the queer community.