Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Two Cents: Genderless Parenting

A Toronto couple made headlines this week by refusing to tell anyone the gender of of their 4 month old baby.  The couple believes raising their children "genderless" (they also have two older boys) will allow each child the freedom to explore and learn about themselves without society imposing its preconceived gender-specific stereotypes.

I can't deny that I find the idea of genderless parenting both intriguing and contradictory.  But I have some questions.

First, are we not, at our most animalistic level, identified by our gender?

Couldn't this type of parenting lead to a child feeling ashamed of their sex?

Lastly, isn't it the most basic job of parents to prepare our children for the world we live in, not the world we wish we lived in?

Now don't get me wrong, I have strong feelings about gender stereotypes.  Having girls, I particularly fear over/early sexualization and gender limitations.  In fact, I don't watch "adult" TV with Miss Chatterbox around or keep any magazines with images of "sexy" women in the house.  I go out of my way to make sure my toddler dresses like a child - no booty shorts or bikinis.  For all my joking, there are no "princesses" in our house.  I support any interest she expresses be it playing in the mud, or playing with dolls.

However, I think it would be foolish - nay even dangerous - to not acknowledge that she is a girl.  It is nothing to be ashamed of and she MUST learn to be strong and self assured before she learns how society wants her to be.  To that extent, the Firefighter and I are careful about our interactions in front of her.  We want to her to see and learn how it is to be respected and loved for who she is - not what she looks like.  I want her to see us cooperate and share chores.  I want her to understand that how we divided the "housework" was not by gender, but by ability, likes and dislikes.  I want her to understand, that being a woman isn't all she is, just a part.

While I respect these parents' right to raise their children as they see fit, I know their choices would never be my choices.

What are your thoughts?  Comments?

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