We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters. ~Gloria Steinem
Tyler came home from school yesterday with painted nails. Each hand and foot was a different colour, one blue, one red, one orange and one purple – one for each ninja turtle of course! I thought it was super cute and hysterical the way he was picking up his bags with that “just painted my nails and they’re still wet” hand gesture, haha, who said you can’t have girly time with boys!
Jeff however, made him take it off this morning. And to be honest, I thought he was a bit more open minded than that. When Tyler asked for the nail polish remover I knew that it couldn’t have come from him alone. He wanted to wear it until his birthday, because he’s having a ninja turtle party so he thought it would be part of his costume! What’s wrong with that?! So what if the other kids tease him? He’s MY child, he is strong willed and very confident with who he is, always has been, and he will be fine. He’s going through a phase, figuring out what makes boys and girls different. He actually told me yesterday that he wants to be a girl, after I explained to him that he may have to sacrifice his willy to become a girl he very quickly changed his mind. Not that I was trying to change his mind, I just wanted to give him all the information. He would make a beautiful girl, those eyelashes are to die for. And if that’s what he wants who am I to object? My job as a mother is not to control him. All I have to do is love him, encourage and support him in all that he wants – except of course if it involves the rape, abuse and / or murder of animals or humans. But he just wanted to know why girls have such pretty stuff and boys don’t? And it’s true, why DO girls get to play dress up and “mommy”, “teacher” and “princess”? Boys get to dress up, sure, as super heroes and cops and robbers. All very gender biased roles.
The other day I was telling him that our doctor had told us that he was getting a little brother. I mentioned “she said that…” and Tyler promptly said “She? So that means she is a nurse not a doctor”. I very nearly slapped him. After explaining to him that men and women could be nurses or doctors, that it didn’t matter, I realised that it’s not really his fault. Look at all the books and posters aimed at teaching young children about occupations, women are portrayed in roles like “secretary”, “nurse”, “teacher” but all the “doctors”, “engineers” and “scientists” are men. Hmmmm. I am no bra burning feminist, but I do believe that we shouldn’t teach our children to put men and women in the same boxes that we were taught to put them in. They shouldn’t think that just because they’re male or female that they can only do certain things and pursue certain activities.
If your daughter wanted to play action cricket or touch rugby, you’d encourage her because it makes her “tougher” and it’s ok if your little girl is a bit of a tomboy because it will help her relate to her male counterparts better in later life. But why can’t a little boy paint his nails or play with dolls? Wouldn’t you prefer, especially as a mother, that he learns compassion for others and acquires an appreciation for beautiful things? Teaching boys, or allowing them, to participate in more “girly” activities is not something you should shy away from or teach them to be ashamed of. If you think it’s weird, that’s your problem and you need to deal with your insecurities. But don’t, please don’t, force your small minded opinions on your children. It’s just as bad, if not worse, than forcing your racist views on them.
It’s your job as a parent to let them explore this beautiful world, encourage them to try new things, give them new experiences that open their gorgeous little eyes to the possibilities that are out there. And if my son wants to paint his nails, by god I’ll paint them for him!