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? 

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Perhaps this link will work? I'm sure you could google or youtube transgender kids and either Hailey or Jazz to find two fascinating stories. I have to commend these parents.

thanks Jewelz, was at work before so I didn't want to spend too much time searching... I appreciate the effort :) both those links worked,

I love this vide.

My wife and I, as we raised our five kids, made it a point to get them both "types" of toys (i.e. girl-oriented and boy-oriented), or to get gender-neutral toys. I was dead set on not forcing a particular type of toy on my kids simply because of their gender.

The weird thing is, the boys definitely gravitated towards the "boy toys" - i.e. cars, trains, etc. (we don't believe in giving "realistic" toy guns to kids - weird looking squirt guns are ok, but that's about it), and the girls gravitated towards the "girl" toys, like dolls, dressup stuff, etc.

The one thing that was a bit of "gender-bending", if you will, was painting nails - the girls loved to paint the boys' nails and vice-verse. It was very funny, and very cute.

As they were growing up we also allowed them to express themselves through their clothes, hair, etc. My youngest one, who is a boy, is a "wild child" who doesn't give a crap what others think. He loves the color pink, and wears it fairly often. He has had a HUGE mowhawk (not one of these "fauxhawks" guys wear now), about 5" tall. With his platinum blonde hair, it really stood out. I had to "glue" it up for him every morning before school. Luckily our kids go to a relatively small school, and the faculty and administration know us and our kids, so they just laughed and let him wear it to school. He also have both ears pierced. Incidentally, he's very athletic - he's one of the leaders (and studs) on his football team, runs track, etc. He's a beast on the field - he is a CB/Safety, gunner on kickoffs, WR, and backup RB. He also has girls flirting with him all the time, and has a steady girlfriend (still puppy-love stage, but he has kept the same GF for a couple of months - a record for him ;) ).

So, like I said - even when we raised our kids with "gender-neutral" toys, etc. they still gravitated towards the toys traditionally associated with each gender. It definitely shocked me and my wife, and I'm not sure what it means. All I care about is my kids growing up respectfully, responsibly, and with their priorities in order. So far, so good (cross my fingers).

One final note - my kids know that I don't care whether their gay, straight, bi, transgender, etc. All we (my wife and I) care about is that they are happy, and that they know they our support.

@Holland you remind me of one of my best friends who has been like a big brother to me and trained me in the arts of old school punk. You wouldn't believe the crap I used to listen to before I met him.

The whole color thing is silly. Until the late 19th century or so pink used to be a boy's color and blue was the girl's color. Blue was considered calm, while pink was more red and thus aggressive

I agree re: color associated with gender. In fact, that's what we have taught our kids, and that's why my son chooses to wear pink, have 2 earrings, etc. He's always swam against the tide, and I think he is trying to cause others to rethink their own beliefs in gender, etc. Knowing him he's also trying to get them to challenge him on it so he can show them the silliness of these preconceived notions.

The funny thing is that he's one of the more popular kids in school - and when he had the Mohawk, others had them a few weeks later (but not as tall ;) ). When he started wearing pink on a regular basis many other guys did, too.

So, maybe he's onto something. Maybe, subconsciously, he realizes that challenging these stereotypes causes them to be diminished or dismissed, at least in his "world" (i.e. school, sports, friends, etc.). I know he doesn't think about it consciously, but he's also said that he does this stuff "because [he] likes it", and "to show them how stupid it is that only girls wear pink", etc.

Man, I have kewl kids :) I'm very proud of them.

Well, duh, it's because gender is real. Even though gender is a continuum, testosterone and estrogen do the job Nature has given them. While it can be dysfunctional and disastrous to try to force standard gender roles on kids, interfering with who the kid is can be equally harmful. This is one area where things will most likely go the way they will go with or without parental help.

From my experience in childcare work, and some formal education on early childhood development, I know that young boys around 2-3 years old LOVE to play dress up.  Kids learn social skills and other important things from playing, and of course, most of childrens play is make believe.  At the last center I worked at, a bunch of the boys went through a phase of wanting their hair done up in ponytails!  It was really cute.  But most boys will grow out of that, as it tends to be a phase, by 4 or 5 years old, and go to more gender "normal" behaviors and activities.  But not all do.

There really is no harm at ALL in letting boys play with "girl" toys or girls playing with "boy" toys.  In fact, there is evidence that it can be quite harmful if you don't allow them to do that.  Most people do eventually gravitate back to activities and behaviors on their own.  But if you force children to only do gender specific activities, then if it's something they really aren't interested in, they may quite possibly become ashamed. How many little girls are forced to wear dresses, play dolls and watch Cinderella, when really they just want to play sports?

I also think it's really good to expose kids to opposite gender activities and toys.  I think it's great for a little boy to have a doll, because it helps him develop nurturing skills, and little girls should be exposed to blocks and legos because it gives them confidence in creating and logistics.

The problem is that a lot of religious families have such a fear of their children being gay, that they can actually harm their child's development.  I've seen this happen first hand, with kids at a Baptist daycare I worked at in Tennessee.  Boys play with boy things, and girls play with girl things.  I tried my best to allow children their freedom in my classroom, but they often put pressure on themselves and other kids in that area, because of what they were getting at home.  It was really sad.

You make some great points, Cristyn. As Hitchens said, "religion poisons everything".

Lol, well I don't really think that all religion is all bad  (I know that opinion wont win me many friends around here).  But I do obviously think that there is a lot of bad in religion.  One of my biggest problems with it is gender roles, not just in children, but also in church hierarchy, marriages, etc...I think its very harmful, and it makes some people feel very ashamed or oppressed, and it can make other people feel superior.  But that's kind of another topic, I guess.  The point is, I don't know if these ideas necessarily stem from religion, because many cultures have similar gender specific roles that aren't based on a faith system.  However, it seems that in our society, most of the gender roles do stem from one faith or another.

I can speak from personal experience that not being allowed to play with the opposite gender's toys can be harmful.  When I grew up I was a major tomboy, hated wearing dresses, and I envied all the boys in every way.  My hair was one of the big issues.  Every haircut day, I insisted on getting it cut as short as they would let me.  My mom always encouraged me to let it grow but i refused to budge, so they always gave in and gave me that short bowl cut.  For the most part my mother let me be, and I was allowed to play however I wanted.  Even my sister was more into action than dolls etc, but she didn't take it to the extremes I did.  We spent most of our childhood running around outside and wrestling and such.  We had loads of all kinds of toys all around, but out of the ones I actually played with and remember calling 'mine' there was never a doll.  I had hot-wheels, legos, a toy guitar, and my birthday party themes were toy-story (buzz lightyear was my all-time fave), dinosaurs, harry potter and the like.  All the girls in my class had parties revolving around fairies, barbies, and pink.  

The only time my mom and I butted heads about it all was when I had to dress up for whatever reason...school christmas concert, sunday mornings, a wedding, etc.  I would fight until the end, refusing to wear my dresses and pouting around when my mom would curl the ends of my beloved 'boy' hair, stealing it from me and turning it instantly into a shameful girly style.  I always quickly forgot my appearance once we were wherever we were going, but dresses always kept me from being able to run around with the other kids as was always my number one desire.  Instead I was forced to sit around and be polite and shy.  Sunday mornings my mom and I would often strike a compromise, where I would wear a 'nice' outfit, usually something girly that I usually would refuse to wear, instead of the dress.  I remember my favorite compromise was these cute yellow overall shorts.  They had flowers on them, so I would never wear them on a normal day, but they were millions of times better than a dress!

As soon as I was old enough, I played sports, and that was always my greatest passion growing up.  The youth soccer (YMCA) was organized so that it was all co-ed for the youngest kids, but at a certain age, the girls would split off to all-girls teams, but the other teams were still co-ed as opposed to all-boys, so after trying the girls and realizing it was way too easy, I was right back on the co-ed teams all through middle school.

 By highschool, I just wore t-shirts and jeans every day and played 5 different sports. My sister asked me a few time if I was gay, but the answer was always no.  At the time I knew I was straight, but in reality, I didn't have any real feelings to confirm either way.  Sure enough, by the time I got to college i bloomed and started having real sexual thoughts, and sure enough, I was completely straight.  Yet I still think more like a guy; for example, women are more verbal and emotional, but I, like many guys, am more visual (I am horrible at talking...) and, as they say, I have the emotional capacity of a teaspoon.  I remember these characteristics making it really hard for me in school.  Boys wouldn't play with me simply because I was a girl, and gender roles said I wasn't to be played with.  I didn't play with girls because I didn't have much in common with them, or they saw me as weird or different.  In highschool, there were plenty of guys who didn't talk much and seemed emotionally aloof, but the other guys understood and accepted them while the girls saw it as attractive.  As a girl, when I did the same thing, I was thought of as weird and cold.

I wasn't badly harmed from my experiences, but now I am a very independent person, and I've never really had many friends.  Wanting so badly to be one of the boys as a child has definitely shaped who I am, so I can easily see where kids with more strict parents could be very badly harmed.


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