Friday, May 27, 2011

Kids Just Wanna Have Fun

So there’s this story out there about this couple who are keeping the gender of their baby a secret. They don’t want any of their kids to feel pressured to behave a certain way, like certain toys or identify with a particular gender because of societal pressures. These folks have created quite the buzz on an international scale. I couldn’t turn on the TV or click onto my favorite online news sites yesterday without hearing about them.

My first thought was … wacky, wacky, wackiness! I marveled at all the strangeness this world holds but the more I heard about this couple and the polarizing opinions on their child rearing philosophies the more I gave serious thought to their argument.

I get the parental urge to protect your kid from outside pressures and influences but I also often see parents in a panic to make sure their child identifies with the gender they were born with, like this will somehow save them from having a cross-dressing show girl as a son or a brush cut sporting tomboy as a daughter in the future. I have to tell you, how they play and what they are interested in when they are four rarely indicates what their sexual preference or gender identity will be when they are older.

I have no hang ups with boys playing with dolls or girls playing with trucks. I don’t care if your little guy’s favorite TV show is Angelina Ballerina or if your daughter’s room is decorated with Star Wars and race cars … kids will explore and play without thought or feeling of what belongs to boys and what belongs to girls. They all, boys and girls alike, are drawn to whatever is loud, sparkly, shiny and fun.

My cousin's daughter loved trucks when she was a toddler, now as an eleven year old she could not be more girly. Mischief spent most of his preschool days in a princess dress and playing Barbies with Crafty and he is as rough and tumble as any boy I know. I have a friend whose son BMX raced, played hockey from the age of five and excelled in shop at school. When he was 21 years old he told his mom that he’s gay. What toys your kid plays with, how long they wear their hair or what clothes they want to wear will not predict or influence their future sexuality. Kids are just kids, doing what kids do. They play, explore and learn about their world. That's it, they just want to have fun.

I think it matters less what gender your kid identifies with when they are older, or what sexual preference they have, than the kind of person they turn out to be. This is just me, and my soapbox rant for the day, but seriously … gender pressure in a toddler? Let’s focus on things that really matter, let’s concentrate on raising good, kind and compassionate people, let's teach them how to be accepting, inclusive and empathetic now … all the rest will sort itself out, no matter how we fret and plan.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

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