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Raising kids and dealing with gender roles… what do you do?

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I absolutely love my son to pieces. But when I found out we were having a girl the second time around, my heart was bursting with excitement. Someone to play babies, and Barbies, and have tea parties with! I love playing cars, zombies, and superheroes but my inner girly girl was jumping for joy when I knew I was going to get to do everything on the other side of the spectrum too. Of course my son was/is welcome to have tea parties with us and he does. We don’t like to assign gender roles and feel like kids should be just that, kids. No teaching them to be or act a certain way but rather just be.

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But it amazes me how much my kids gravitate towards things on their own. We have “boy toys” and “girl toys” and they both have their favorites; my son could play with monster trucks all day while my daughter loves her babies. She will spend hours dressing them, feeding them, putting them to bed, pushing them around and caring for them. I’m not here to debate nature vs. nurture but I’ve literally done nothing but give them the toys and watched their imaginations go wild. Sometimes they play house or restaurant together and sometimes they play on their own. But I love that. I want them to learn to be well-rounded people and I never want them to feel like they can’t play with a certain toy or do a certain thing because of their sex and what society says is “right.”

I’m going to throw my own husband under the bus for a minute. My kids got into a fight over Shopkins one day and he told my son “those are for girls! You don’t need them! Go play with something else!” My blood started to boil and I told him they weren’t for girls and that he could play with whatever he wanted. I had a discussion with him later and asked if he would be upset if P was playing with cars and he said no. And I said it’s the same thing. They’re kids and there are no “these are for girls and these are for boys” yet. If he wants to dress up as Queen Elsa when they’re playing costumes, so be it! He’s a kid. If anything, we’re teaching him to be who he is and express himself.

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Would I be upset if my daughter didn’t want to do “girl” things like play Barbies or do makeovers? I’d be sad but I wouldn’t be upset. I would play zombies (and I do) or do whatever she wanted to do. I have fun doing all of those things too. Paintball, boating, fishing, sign me up! I may be a girly girl but I can get down and get messy too. I wasn’t raised being told I couldn’t do something or couldn’t have something. And I want to raise my kids the same way.

I know this may sound silly but while watching The Real Housewives of Orange County last night, Tamara said something that resonated with me. She said something along the lines of children are taught to hate, it’s not something they know to do on their own. And I feel it’s the same way with gender roles. Society has taught us there are certain toys and things that are for girls and boys but I think if we teach our children they are just things for people, they will become much more open minded, loving, and accepting. We’re all different but we’re all people, so why not teach our kids that from the start? Let them explore! Let them play! They’re only kids for so long and as long as we’re giving them the tools and guiding them with love in our hearts, I think they’ll turn out just fine 🙂

raising kids and dealing with gender roles

As a parent, how do you handle gender roles? Do you encourage your children to play with whatever they want or act a certain way?

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