Gender neutral parenting is a trend in raising children that aims to allow children the freedom to explore their world without gender based restrictions. While there are many extremes to this parenting philosophy, the basic premise is to avoid stereotypes, offer children a variety of choices in their life, and to let their personality emerge without regard for social gender limitations.
Today we’re taking a look at the very basic form of gender neutral parenting from birth. Of course this starts with your baby’s name. The trend of gender-neutral names may be the most popular path to gender neutral parenting and has gained traction in the past two decades. Even a reversal of gender names is now common. Many parents select a name before knowing the sex of their baby, which ensures no gender bias. After all, one’s name is their very first expression of identity.
Colors are another huge gender stereotype in our society, which many parents try to quash. Most of us associate pink with girls and blue with boys, but gender neutral parenting advocates the use of all colors. To reinforce gender neutrality, families often select yellows and greens for their nurseries, as these colors are not typically associated with either sex. Gender neutral nurseries frequently use patterns, a mixture of solid colors or nature themes. Decorative blocks, alphabet lettering and framed artwork can add age-appropriate style and detail to gender neutral nurseries.
Colors also come into play when selecting baby gear, such as blankets, bath towels, bouncy chair covers and car seats. Many manufacturers offer a variety of gender specific and gender neutral options for families to make their own choices. Many patterns avoid the typical pinks and blues to appeal to a range of parents.
Baby toys are often gender neutral by nature, but as children grow, toys tend to be more gender specific. Gender neutral parenting suggests offering a variety of toys – those that may seem stereotypically “boy” toys like trucks and tools, and those that are stereotypical “girl” toys like dolls and princess dress-up clothes. By introducing choices, children can explore without boundaries and discover their own creative expression.
When children grow to the age when they can pick their own hobbies and interests, freedom from gender stereotypes is important too. Luckily, modern society embraces female athletes in most sports so girls who want to play soccer or take karate are accepted. Alternatively, boys may gravitate towards art and cooking, which should be encouraged as well.
Gender neutral parenting attempts to defy stereotypes in the home with parental role models. Parents try to avoid discussions that align moms with cooking and raising kids and dads to working outside the home and doing yard work. Rather, these families show that men and women can do anything and no one should be restricted by their sex. Parents that employ gender neutrality are quick to point out female doctors and male nurses, female firefighters and male receptionists, and female religious leaders and male teachers.
Parents and psychologists often question the social aspects involved in gender neutrality. Within the confines of the home, children are loved and accepted for who they are. But in social environments, children can be ridiculed for gender-defying choices. Boys wearing skirts or nail polish and girls playing rough and tumble with action figures may not be understood by their peers exhibiting more stereotypical behavior.
Gender neutral parenting is a personal choice that may or may not be a good fit for your family. However, broadening your horizons to explore a variety of parenting styles can open your eyes to the perfect way to raise your kids.