I got into a heated discussion with two of my Christian friends about the proper way to raise a boy. I explain to them that if my future son were to ask me for a doll, I would gladly buy it for him.
They immediately told me I would ruin his life and by allowing him to play with dolls how would he know that he was a boy and act like a boy?
I try to prove my point by asking who says it isn't right but they would not listen and told me I was "closed-minded" and my son was going to end up wanting to be a girl and wear dresses.
My question to you all is do you believe in teaching gender roles on to your children or will you let them become whoever they desire?
I had a cabbage patch doll when I was a boy and I turned out as strait as an arrow. I am a tough as nails, sports loving, car fixing, ball scratching man. My dad was not too happy that I wanted a doll but he loves me and he felt I deserved the best christmas present he could get me. People are going to be who they are and I think that they might even figure it out sooner if they explore the things that interest them early. As it turned out I played with that doll for like two months and sort of let my sister take it over.(I would claim it only when I was mad at her or when I wanted to piss her off) I think if I was going to turn out to be a cross dresser or a gay man it wouldn't matter what I played with. And if I did turn out to lean more toward traditional feminine role I know that although my parents wouldn't understand they would still love me. Shit now that I think about it they don't understand me anyways. My dad still messes with me because I haven't given him grand children and my mother thinks I'm only pretending to be an atheist and I will someday go back to church.
kids learn more about gender roles from their parents and how they act than from their toys.
I don't know that "gender roles" have to be taught...it's true that males and females will (usually) naturally act differently, and an individual person will end up being who they are no matter what sort of toys they play with as a kid. But regardless, there's really no need to overthink this sort of thing. I mean, kids will just play with whatever they want. I'm female and I played with Transformers when I was a kid, and I'm not a lesbian. I doubt there's much connection between little kids' toys and their sexual orientation.
I always find this amusing; how can fully grown adults actually believe that a young child playing with a non-gender directed toy is going to effect their sexuality/behaviour? Personally I would have told your friends that if your future child grows up wanting to wear women's clothes that would be his decision and that would be ok.
Gender doesn't need teaching, it's natural, we develop the way we do due to genetics and psychology, not because of the type of toys we liked as young children...hell I can't remember half the toys I had as a kid...except scalextric 'cause that was bitchin! :)
Gender is somewhat built in, and no I'm not referring to penises and vaginas. How to respond to this apparently is the question. Does one "go with the flow" and nurture it, or decide that Mother Nature made a big mistake and try to thwart it. I think which way to go is the more mentally healthy is obvious.
Of course, it's often been pointed out that gender is a continuum, not a strict dichotomy. Even so, we as a species do end up mostly bunching at one end or the other, and the row to hoe for someone in the middle can be harder than for someone whose gender identity is at one pole or the other, so it might be tempting for a parent to guide the child back to the pole most associated with his or her gender. Who's to say that's wrong if it isn't overbearing and as long as the parent will ultimately accept the child's nature?
I do sense in many of the responses a minimizing of gender that threatens to drift away from the actual facts, though.This article might be a splash of cold water about what's normal and typical (which isn't to say that what's not normal or typical needs to be "fixed"). Here is a brief excerpt:
Even though I'm a psychologist who specializes in early education, it took having kids to make me realize that sex differences aren't just the stuff of Brady Bunch reruns. In fact, one study found that when 18-month-old boys and girls were shown pictures of a doll and a vehicle, for example, most of the girls opted for the doll, while the majority of the boys chose the vehicle. And while 18 months is old enough to have been influenced by stereotyped gifts, research suggests that many of the differences we see are evident from birth, and may even be hardwired. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gender research. To see what else I unearthed, read on. Do you recognize your little XY or XX babe in what the science says?
It's a Boy!
If you've got a James or Brian at home, you've probably already learned that boys love action -- watching it and being a part of it (hint: stock up on Band-Aids!). But they're also more emotional than the stereotypes give them credit for. Here, some of the milestones and traits you can look forward to as your little man grows:
They like motion. According to psychologists at the University of Cambridge in England, boys prefer to watch mechanical motion over human motion. When they gave 12-month-old boys the choice of looking at people talking or windshield wipers moving, you can guess which the tots picked. And it turns out that baby boys are more adept at keeping track of moving objects; recent research shows that boys are about two months ahead of girls when it comes to figuring out the laws of motion (that if you roll a ball under a couch, say, it will take a few seconds to pop out on the other side).
They've got the moves. You know that old saying, "Girls are talkers, boys are walkers"? Well, it's only half true. Girls do talk first, but boys are likely to start walking -- and hit all the major motor milestones -- around the same time as girls. It's easy to see how this misconception arose: Boys squirm, kick, and wiggle more than their female counterparts. To wit, according to new research, infant boys are more likely to end up in the ER for injuries. But all that activity does not pay off in meeting early-childhood milestones any sooner. (Boys' gross motor skills do take off, however, during the preschool years, at which point they outpace their female peers in most measures of physical ability.)
And aren't you kind pretending that testosterone and estrogen really have little or no influence? Children at 18 months could care less what you want. They are at the center of the universe until they are about 3 and only care about what pleases them. They have no interest at all in pleasing others. It's clear you have no experience in this area to think that an 18 month old is "influenced" by gifts. Anyone who has given a gift to a child of that age only to have the kid ignore the gift and play with the box can see the fallacy of your argument.
And anyone who has raised a child, as I said, knows that kids by 18 months have preferences independent of what anyone would like them to have.
All behavior is specific behavior. Name an instance of general behavior if you doubt me.
Specific behavior is actual behavior. General behavior, as you portray it, is statistics.
I never said the kind of conditioning we were talking about was intentional, just that at 18 months it's irrelevant.
Kids will be and do who they wish if unmolested and unindoctrinated by adults. Teach them compassion, empathy, kindness and humor. Let the rest sort itself out.
Some boys like dolls. Some girls like guns. So what?
And, speaking for myself, I like feminine girls. They can still be gun freaks or rocket scientists if they so wish. Anyone ever watch that science program called The Universe? Half the physicists on there are female and some of them are really femininely attractive. Take NASA physicist Amy Mainzer, for example.
Erm, yes. I see what you mean ;-)