What’s the deal with gender-neutral parenting?

Guest post by TheTruthfulJ
What's the dill onesie from Etsy seller EmeeJoCo
Gender neutral “what’s the dill” onesie from Etsy seller EmeeJoCo

Many of us were raised in an age where being a boy meant one thing and being a girl meant something totally different. But does this mean our children need to grow up in the same environment?

In recent years, we’ve seen a trend come about: parents are now choosing to raise their kids in “gender neutral” ways, eliminating in varying degrees a lot of preconceptions about what a child should like or not like based on the sex they’re assigned at birth.

What is the gender-neutral parenting movement about?

Gender-neutral parenting (GNP) can be quite hard to define. Paige Lucas-Standard of Everyday Feminism does her best to describe what it is by describing what it is not:

It’s not about imposing androgyny; rather, it’s about not imposing anything at all, and allowing children to create their own identities, freed from the constraints of conventional gendered parenting. It’s a difficult concept to grasp for many people, especially those who grew up with these notions of what a girl likes or should be like, as opposed to what a boy likes and should be like. And often, people have said that GNP is nothing more than a social experiment — a strategy used by parents to use their children for whatever political or social commentary they want to make.

This was how many people reacted to the case of Storm — a child born into a genderless family, whose gender was never disclosed to relatives.

Storm’s parents have chosen to live off the grid, where they raise their three kids to be more explorative and open. However, they’ve received some backlash that this was too extreme a form of gender-neutral parenting. The appeal was there: without preconceived notions of what either gender meant, the children could theoretically better develop their own identities. However, to be raised without ever broaching the topic of gender was thought to present problems in the future.

Less extreme gender-neutral parenting is more common

Some parents choose simply to avoid imposing their own gender choices on their kids — for example, not making purchases based on what they feel their child should like based on the sex they were assigned at birth.

Kate Pietrasik, founder of unisex childrenswear line Tootsa, told Wales Online:

I don’t believe in hiding a child’s gender, and what I do isn’t about rendering children genderless — nor is it about forbidding girls to wear dresses or outlawing pink. It’s about not wishing our children to be defined or restricted by their gender… We should be providing our children with a childhood void of limitation, free from restrictions and full of opportunity.

This seems to be the prevalent idea in most families that practice gender neutral parenting: it’s all about letting children choose their own genders and create their identities for themselves.

Perhaps the most popular example is John Jolie-Pitt, the oldest biological child of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Although assigned female at birth and named Shiloh, they’ve been exploring their identity since they were three years old, and their parents have chosen to support their motions, allowing them to cut their hair and dress in whatever way they like, as well as be referred to as “John.”

Many years ago, Jolie told Reuters that “…I would never be the kind of parent to force somebody to be something they are not. I think that is just bad parenting… children should be allowed to express themselves in whatever way they wish without anybody judging them because it is an important part of their growth.” The world saw the results of this decision when John appeared the premier of Unbroken in a suit and tie, much like their brothers.

Is genderless or gender-neutral parenting for you?

It’s a decision that you might want to take up with your family. Its differences from more conventional parenting styles may put you at odds with those unfamiliar with the concept. There are many pros, including allowing children their own paths to self-discovery and self-identity. But engaging in gender-neutral parenting takes research and commitment, as well as the support of a family or a partner willing to understand what gender-neutral parenting is.

Now that Offbeat Families’ posts have been merged into Offbeat Home & Life, we have a whole gender-neutral archive!

Comments on What’s the deal with gender-neutral parenting?

  1. I think the term “gender-neutral” gives a false impression, it makes people think that instead of pink or blue, everything has to be green and yellow. I like the term “gender-inclusive” more. We’re making the conscious effort to expose our children to the full range of possibilities.

    When we chose not to share our baby’s sex with anyone before the birth, my mother automatically assumed she couldn’t get anything pink or blue. We love pink, all shades! We love blue. We love tutus and overalls! A friend of mine made us this amazing layette consisting of a dress, booties, bonnet, and ruffled bloomers, all out of Batman fabric. All of our children will wear it. We brought our baby girl home in a blue TARDIS onesie, and her future siblings are going to get all of her hand-me-downs, whether it’s her favorite Hulk tshirt or her rainbow hearts leggings. Our baby’s gender is “awesome”. Robots? Awesome. Unicorns? Awesome. Dolls? Hell yeah! Trucks? For sure.

  2. Thanks for this post! I’m having my first baby in November and we aren’t planning to find out the baby’s sex. While I have to admit that I’m uncomfortable with the thought of putting a baby boy in a tutu before he can express interest in such things, I fully plan on letting our kids express themselves regardless of gender stereotypes!

  3. I’d just like to note, it’s probably more appropriate to say that John was Designated Female At Birth (DFAB) rather than “born female”. I believe that John has also expressed a preference for he/his pronouns rather than ‘they’ pronouns, though I could be incorrect.

    If we are going to talk a out transgender kids, let’s do it right. And also let’s recognize that trans kids are NOT the result of gender neutral parenting–it’s more that recognizing the potential for your child to BE trans LEADS to gender neutral parenting, with the idea that if the child turns out to not identify as they were assigned at birth, they’ll feel more accepted and free if they have not had binary gender expectations forced on them their whole life.

    • Yeah… it is pretty clear that John wants to be a “he.”

      I honestly thought that with the excessive use of the plural “they” this article is trying SO for gender neutrality that it discounts a person’s choice gender! The author kept referring to John as “they,” so I confusedly thought that ALL the Jolie-Pitt kids, plural, had chosen new genders. Besides being grammatically unclear, the ethical connotations are questionable: Just because someone was raised gender-neutral and chose HIS own gender does NOT discount the male gender–also labeling John with a plural pronoun implies that he is two people…he does NOT have two identities just because he once identified as female.

      • “They” is a perfectly acceptable word to use in the context of singular people of unknown gender identity, actually! I have had to deal with this a lot lately because I’m pregnant and refer to our unborn baby as “they”
        because we don’t know the sex. People freak out all the time thinking I am having twins! But really people use the singular “they” quite frequently when referring to a driver of another car or other situations where they can’t see the person to whom they are referring.

  4. Thank you for this post! I’m not a parent, but I want to be as supportive a gender-inclusive auntie as I can be to my friends’ and relatives’ kids. I recently picked up two adorable, gender-neutral onesies for some friends who are having babies soon–I know that’s not a huge deal, but when new parents are being showered with all-blue or all-pink baby gifts, it does feel significant. My extended family in particular tends to draw really hard and fast GIRL/BOY lines (by the way, when did “gender reveal parties” become such a thing???), so I’m trying to avoid that as much as possible.

  5. Great article, and I love what another commenter said about “gender inclusiveness”.

    With my first baby I was really pushing the gender neutrality, and even refused to tell the sex to my family until the middle of the baby shower (after they had already bought the gifts, sneaky, right?). I loved the experience of being able to dress my daughter in a wide arrange of colors, and we especially got into spaceships and robots. I feel like not limiting what I could expose her to has helped her become a more varied human being. She likes what she likes.

    At 5 she loves fancy dresses, rock climbing, dolls, and some of her best friends at school are boys. She only had one bad experience at school when she wore a spiderman shirt and a girl asked her why she dressed like a boy. It hurt her feelings, because of the tone of the question, I think (she’s a sensitive kid). But overall I’m happy with this parenting choice, and continue to show her things that I think she’d like whether or not they are “girl” things.

    BUT now that I’ve just recently given birth to a little boy I’m finding this same parenting method a little more difficult. It’s aqful, but while I never minded dressing my daughter in cool boy’s clothes, I can’t say I would feel comfortable dressing my son in cool girl’s clothes.

    This truly bums me out, because I know that it’s a social thing deeply ingrained in my head. I know I’ll be cool with letting my son play with any toys that he likes or doing activities that he likes, but the clothes thing is hard for me to introduce. I guess I’ll just be waiting for him to be a little older so his sister can dress him up in all of her different costumes!

    But does anyone else have that horrible hesistation?

    • Being gender inclusive with boys can definitely be more of a struggle. Because while it can be considered “cool” for girls to be into traditionally masculine things, it’s still decidedly uncool for boys to be into traditionally feminine things (one of the reasons we still need feminism, but that’s another topic). My 3-year-old boy in many ways acts much like a typical boy. He loves superheroes, dinosaurs, and trucks. But he also likes to play tea party and get his toenails painted. And that’s awesome.

      Until they’re old enough to express their own opinions, it makes sense to dress your kids in a way that makes you comfortable, whether that means conforming to gender norms or not. I think the important thing, though, is just to honor their preferences once they begin to show them and to let them know that both masculinity and femininity are valid and to be respected.

      • Because while it can be considered “cool” for girls to be into traditionally masculine things, it’s still decidedly uncool for boys to be into traditionally feminine things

        This is why I’m thankful for Bronies for making My Little Pony cool for boys. My 5 year old son rocks the fuck out of his Rainbow Dash tank top (which he picked out from the Girl’s section at Target), because we went to a My Little Pony convention and he saw lots of older boys (and men! lots of really nerdy men!) who like ponies too. Here he is rocking his tank at the Seattle Pride parade this past weekend:

        We are rocking the fuck out of pride today. #lovewins

        In fact I was just joking that the way my son gets me to buy anything he wants is to pick something out from the Girl’s section and say please. I’m powerless to say no! ANYTHING NON GENDER BINARY YOU WANT, HONEY. Anything at all!

    • I’m so glad I’m not the only person who struggled with this! When our son was born I was totally on the gender neutral bandwagon, but with clothing in particular found myself holding back on cute things that gave me a “girly” gut feeling. In retrospect I’m embarrassed to admit my initial professions of gender neutrality had more to do with fears of the Princess Industrial Complex before we knew the sex and knowing how well-meaning but traditional family and co-workers would go full-on saccharine pink on us. Now that we know our second is female I have the happy excuse of brother’s hand me downs to restrain them ;).

  6. Here’s a thing I don’t quite get: say you raise a kid in a truly “genderless” environment (like, say, Storm) where boys and girls are totally allowed to like the same things and have the same roles and they’re insulated from outside societal forces who might clue them into what those roles are in the wider world. How, or why, would that kid ever pick a gender? As far as they’re concerned, gender is totally meaningless. (Obviously they don’t HAVE to pick a gender at all, but the linked article about Storm mentioned letting them choose their own identity when they get older.) I’ve wondered this about society at large, too – if the genders could ever get to a point where they were truly equal, had equal opportunities and roles, were permitted to look however they liked and wear whatever they wanted… would “transgender” even be a thing? Transexual, sure- some people might still prefer a different body than the one they were born with. But if gender is a societal construct, will it completely disappear with true equality?

    (In case it’s not clear I’m totally okay with people identifying however they like, and I think letting kids choose for themselves what colors/toys/roles they like is absolutely a good thing. But it got me thinking about hypotheticals.)

    • From my own chair, I think that some of the idea is that these constricting social constructs should be done away with. Have a penis, but are a girl. AWESOME! identify as a man, but really freaking love the feeling of your shaved legs? ROCK ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF!

      In making a conscious effort to break down gender roles, it first makes the world more just and then makes the world more equal. It also changes the conceptions of things like sexual orientation (if there is no woman or man, butch or femme, then there is no orientation), gender fluidity (if there are no gender expectations, then there is no gender norm to transgress) and social expectations (a woman can’t be expected to just be in the home because the concept of woman is antiquated and silly. be in the home if you find it’s where you want to be, or if it makes the most sense for your family).

      It’s the next step in the increasingly critical look many younger X’ers and older Millenials are taking to the systems and structures of identity politics, at least here in the states. With the most diverse generation ever (and our older brothers and sisters), we tend to look at these dividing lines differently. We don’t stop having girls’ nights, but if Hank is a really great friend and likes what we’re doing, well dammit, Hank should be invited.

      I think, and hope, we’re at the beginning of some really exciting, and tectonic, changes in how our society functions — looking to community support (the “sharing economy”), and freedom of expression.

      Folks often forget, those of us coming to age now are the grandchildren, and sometimes children, of the hippies. That influence — the latch key kid did spend a lot of time with Grandma and/or Grandpa — is starting to come forward, but also evolve with the changes since the cultural shifts in the 1960s and 1970s (again, from a US-centric perspective).

      Sorry to go a bit off-topic, but the tl;dr is that, yes, it does totally change things, but I agree that it’s a great change. What’s more powerful than someone looking you dead in the eye and saying “and I need to follow this because…?”

  7. While I think that children should be free to pick what they like, I’m not crazy about the idea of raising a child in a void of anything. If you don’t present options to your child (or anyone), how can they know what they like or don’t like?

    I think society, in general, has become really okay with school-age children having “unusual” preferences. To see a five-year-old girl in karate classes or a seven-year-old boy in piano classes isn’t strange at all. People only tend to balk at babies because at that age, children don’t seem to have preferences. Yet every parent I’ve talked to can tell me about their infant’s favorite toy or activity, which clothes they like and which they can’t stand. “Gender neutral” just seems to be the label for “I let my child pick what they like and dislike and I actually listen to them regardless of what other people think.” Seems like a pretty kickass way to raise kids.

  8. Wow, A, your comment, “How, or why, would that kid ever pick a gender? As far as they’re concerned, gender is totally meaningless… they don’t HAVE to pick a gender at all” is mind-blowing! I never thought of that, but you are so right.

    [THIS is why I love Offbeat’s comments sections.]

  9. My parents raised me in a gender-inclusive household. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to terms with the fact that what I grew up with was not “the norm,” and that a lot of my peers are somewhat uncomfortable with my childhood. (Which seems really, really weird to me because I think it was pretty rad.)
    I’m in my mid-twenties now, and I can honestly say that I think my parents made the best possible choice for me and for my younger sibling, who now identifies as genderqueer.
    Blues and greens have always been my favorite colors, and my mom decked out our shared room with some bad-ass yellow, pink, and green bears when I was a baby. Apparently a lot of people asked if I was a boy or a girl when I was younger, although I don’t recall it. (I was asked it a lot in middle school… that was… fun.)
    Being raised the way that I was made me who I am today, and I think who I am is pretty great. As long as the parenting is about allowing kids to make choices (while still enforcing boundaries regarding social appropriateness and safety– I still had to wear pants or a skirt to go to the store, despite REALLY not wanting to) it has the potential to be really wonderful.

  10. My husband and I are expecting our first child any day now. Whenever someone asks if I know the gender, I kinda want to say, “No, and I probably won’t for a couple more years yet.” I guess that means we fall into this category too. When asked if I know what we’re having, I respond, “we’re pretty sure it’s human.”

    The baby things we’ve acquired are all more-or-less gender neutral, partly out of principle but mostly because I just find the cultural drive to separate babies by sex to be weird and unpleasant. I think ridiculously frilly pink baby dresses are ugly, not cute. I just don’t get it. I don’t want to dress my baby in something I find ugly.

    When you are a baby is one of the very few times in your life that what sex or gender you are really doesn’t matter, so why do we obsess with what sex a baby is? Why do we feel the need to put them in clothes far more gender-segregated than those of any other age group? If my baby is a girl she’ll probably end up in some baby dresses, and if a boy probably not, but if we go to the store with our baby and people can’t tell whether it’s a boy or a girl, tough titties. We’ll do our best to dress our baby in ways that we like until he or she can start expressing a preference. I might end up with a daughter (or son, for that matter) who loves frilly pink dresses. I’ll learn to deal with it. Until then, why invest in baby clothes (or furniture and accessories, for that matter) that I wouldn’t be able to use again for another baby of a different sex?

    • I knew a couple who, when asked whether they were expecting a boy or girl, would say, “We think she’s a girl, but we won’t know for sure until she tells us.” I always loved that!

      • That’s awesome! I want to raise my potential future children in a gender neutral way, but I haven’t been able to think of how best to deal with people inevitably asking if my kid is a boy or a girl. I think I may end up using that response 🙂

        • I’ve been thinking about the inevitable, “It it a boy or a girl?” stranger questions about infants a lot lately.

          The question bugs me a ton, but I don’t think most people are trying to be obnoxious or anything. I think they want a conversation-starter slash introduction to the baby, we’ve decided we’re going to try responding with a friendly, “This is [baby name].” It isn’t confrontational, but it doesn’t play into perpetuating “adults foisting their gender baggage on babies” thing too much.
          Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, but we’re going to try it.

  11. Interesting topic, and great discussion going on in the comments, too.

    Both my wife and I agreed when we had our kids – our son is now five, our daughter three – that we wouldn’t make them play with gender-specific toys, or read so-called gender-specific books, etc. Instead, if our son wants to play with our daughter’s toys, or play dress up in her princess dresses, he can. Same with our daughter, and my son’s stuff.

    Is it right? Who knows – but as many have shared elsewhere, it’s about allowing them to discover who they are, versus forcing them to be someone they’re not.

    Glad to have discovered your blog!

  12. Gender neutral parenting sound great! I’m not a parent, but when I am, I’d like to try it. I have one question though. I don’t understand how it can be done in today’s society. Children are still segregated by gender in so many ways. Girls have to play softball, they aren’t allowed to play baseball and are put on separate teams from the boys. Schools put them in separate locker rooms, sex ed classes, and bathrooms. How are parents supposed to combat that?

    • I think the answer is “one situation at a time”. I remember in high school, one of the boys wanted to play volleyball. Volleyball is not a “girls” sport inherently, but in most high schools, it totally is. At first the school said no. He was too strong, and it wouldn’t be fair to the other teams. His parents and the coach both fought the decision; it’s not his fault that other school districts didn’t have boys on the team. Maybe more teams would have male players if they saw it as something other than a “girl’s” sport. Lots of colleges have male volleyball teams, the school was holding him back from college opportunities by not letting him play varsity (dude was a good player, totally made varsity by his merit). Eventually, the school relented, and dude played volleyball all four years of high school, and later got a scholarship to play on a men’s team at college. Our school district lead the charge, now boys are allowed on all volleyball teams in the conference. It’s small steps like this that are handled as they come up that will eventually add up to be a change at the society level.

  13. Gender roles/stereotypes is something that I think about a lot as I raise my son, especially as an American living in Japan where the gender roles/stereotypes are particularly strong/defined. I think a lot of conversations around gender neutral parenting talk about clothing choices, but I worry less about what he wears – I am fine with him wearing clothes with trucks and dinosaur on them (which he enjoys wearing) as long as we also support buying him that purple pajama set with the poodles wearing heart shaped glasses that he wants. What I find to be the more challenging part of it are the other gender roles definitions that our children hear/feel on a daily basis that can be out of our control as parents. Like when my son asks me if girls can play chess because every time he attends chess club only boys attend. Or when the pink female power ranger character in the live power ranger show we brought him to acted weaker and more scared than the other power ranger characters. I think there are many ways that boys and girls are socially geared towards activities that then shapes their perceptions of how boys and girls should be and act that I really didn’t actively think about until I had my son. I want him to realize that not only can he (as a boy) wear and do whatever he is passionate about – be it soccer, chess, ballet, art, etc but also that girls are strong and powerful as well and have the same array of choices as boys. It has meant more conscious efforts on my part (such as sitting down and playing chess with my son, versus letting it be a son/father thing) and it is something I am constantly learning and challenging myself on as a parent.

  14. I just have to chime in and say how much I love this Offbeat community for the respect, consideration, and intelligence that typically prevails in conversations around sometimes controversial issues on this site. I just clicked through the link in the post regarding Storm, and the comments are a nightmare over there. Kudos to the Empire for creating this space and to the members of this community who uphold and appreciate it. Y’all are wonderful.

  15. Do you need genitals to operate this toy? Yes — THIS IS NOT A CHILD’S TOY; No — It’s for boys AND girls! <– Pretty much how I was told one should differentiate if an item is for boys or girls. :/

  16. It is funny I don’t even think about it that often when we are just home with our son, but I become aware of it when we are out around other people with kids. My husband loves to cook and I like baking so naturally my son likes to mimic us. We bought him a play kitchen for his birthday. When we were out getting his hair cut one day there was a family waiting to be next and when their son tried to play with the toy kitchen there, they told him that he shouldn’t play with it since it was a girl’s toy. I find it bizarre that despite the amount of famous male chefs that a kitchen set would be a “girl’s toy.” I do feel frustrated that it does seem that typically “male” things are now becoming more acceptable for girls, but “female” things are not ok for boys. It makes me uncomfortable when people complain about ruffly, pink girly things. I dislike pink as a color, but it feels like sometimes when gendered toys come up it is the particularly “feminine” things that are criticized whereas now the more “masculine” ones are considered what are neutral.

    • This! My middle brother wanted to wear mom’s heels and makeup when he was little. She let him (although my dad was convinced this would make him gay). To no intelligent person’s surprise, this exploration didn’t influence my brother’s gender identity or sexual orientation at all. Even today men, especially teenage boys, have told me their favorite color is purple but “I’m not gay or anything”. I’ve heard this EIGHT times. Why is it not ok for men to express any interest that overlaps with marketed-as-feminine interests, without sacrificing some of the elusive maleness? Ridiculous.

    • It’s definitely more “okay” for girls to like “boy” things than for boys to like “girl” things, which is obviously rooted in sexism, but I think it’s also partially reflective of how restrictive “girl” things are vs “boy” things. Like, girls get pink and purple clothes, and boys get grey, blue, orange, red, green, black. Girls get toys like dolls, and things that reflect domestic duties, like cleaning, cooking, shopping, and boys get trucks, guns, dinosaurs, building toys, tools. There’s more generally more range in the boy’s sections. One of the reasons I hesitate to dress my son in girl’s clothes, aside from the ingrained gender roles I’m trying to fight, is that they feel so much less practical. Like, I don’t even buy two-piece outfits for him yet because the shirt always rides up and I hate pulling it down all the time, so I’m not about to buy a dress for the same reason, and I just can’t get behind why any baby needs so many ruffles. Once he’s old enough to choose, it’ll be a different matter, but until then, he gets a range of what I find cool.

  17. There’s a HUGE range of gender-neutral parenting techniques. Even the term can be misleading. My parents raised us “gender-neutral” in the 1970’s and 1980’s- when gender-specific marketing for children’s toys, clothing, TV shows, and food was really taking off. My brothers played with dolls and makeup and I played with action figures and Transformers, as we wished. However, as free-flow as our home time was, the majority of our lives were spent in school, surrounded by inescapable pressures of gender conformity via our classmates, teachers, curriculum, marketing, (we got to watch 1 hour of TV per day, everybody together, so the majority of our marketing came in the form of magazines in offices, billboards, radio commercials, etc), even the children’s lit we read. I appreciate my parents’ attempts, but I think you’d HAVE to be off-grid to truly give your child the freedom to shape their own definition of self. Otherwise, there’s always going to be a pressure to be one representative (especially if your kid is a natural “pleaser” like I was). And then they’re at a disadvantage when entering the adult world, as these preconceived gender notions still affect job hiring decisions, romantic pursuits, and many other factors of life. 🙁

  18. We are expecting our first child, a girl, in a month. I am not a girly-girl and I hate pink so we are trying to keep the pink to a minimum. Growing up I wore hand me downs from my brother and I followed my brother around all the time – catching bugs and small animals, getting dirty, playing with Lego, etc. I also loved science and math in school (and thought it was weird that people didn’t think girls were good at it – since I was always top of my class), and now I work in a math field.

    We have already had two showers. Some people at the first shower didn’t know that we are having a girl so we got some gender neutral stuff. We also got lots of non-pink stuff since my friends know I don’t like pink. At our second shower we got a lot more pink stuff because my husband’s family doesn’t know that I don’t like pink. One of his aunts bought something off our registry and she said she was confused that it wasn’t pink so she wasn’t sure if it was actually what we wanted. As she said that me and a friend started laughing since I really detest pink. Also at that shower I mentioned that I heard on the radio that morning that “math is a boy thing” which really upset me since I work in a math field and I am a Brownie leader and fight these stereotypes on a regular basis. My nine year old niece said that math isn’t a boy thing and that she loves math (and that made me so proud).

    We hope to let our daughter decide what she likes on her own, and not what society thinks she should like. We already have started her off with a collection of super hero and gaming gear.

  19. love this discussion! My parents, particularly my Mum, raised my sisters and I in a gender neutral way. As in, didn’t let people call us “tom-boys” and let us like what we wanted. I think it has created us to be very balanced.

    Just wanted to add to the article, though, that Storm’s parents didn’t reveal the SEX of their baby, distinct from the gender. Gender can not be inferred from genitals.

  20. This is such an interesting topic for me… because of my son. He loves all things girly and all things boy-ish. He always has… and it’s only becoming an issue now that he’s entering grade two. Socially, he knows he shouldn’t be wearing hair clips, pink, etc. but he still wants to. What is even more interesting… is that my son wasn’t really even able to properly identify gender in others until he was about 5. I now have a two year old who is very interested in being a girl and is very good at recognizing outward displays of gender in others.

    It’s pretty obvious in my house, that gender isn’t binary… and where you fall in that spectrum isn’t based on parenting.

  21. This concept makes me feel a lot of things but mostly that this style of patenting doesn’t need a label. O guess we are fixated on labels in general, no, hence the gender neutral idea in the first place.

    Growing up I was a serious tomboy. I didn’t want to be a boy and I wasn’t ‘confused’ I just really liked what was traditionally boy clothing way more. My mother and really all my family were great about allowing me to do what I wanted in that respect. I was also completely obsessed with dinosaurs and Native Americans. The only time I was coerced into wearing a dress was for pictures and other special events. Peer pressure got me once I was in middle school and more than once I was asked if I was a boy or a girl, typically leading me to cry as a very sensitive kid.

    I have two boys now, five and four months old. Their father and I have very fluid gender roles in our house because that’s just what works for us. It was never something we sat down to talk about or something we think of conciously. We only realized it through other’s perceptions and observations of us. In this vein I believe we already practice gender neutral parenting, in that we haven’t forced either child into liking a certain set of activities or colors etc. It’s not a conscious choice again but just going along with a basic belief that our children are people with their own identities that should be respected. I think by far the biggest challenge to us has been warding off outside influences from peers and teachers who insist on labeling things as gender specific.

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