I want my son to understand that he can wear, do, or play with anything he wants #Families#gender#gender-neutral#kids#parenting dilemmas June 2 2017 | Megan Finley Horowitz meggyfin Robot gender roles onsie – CC BY 2.0 I have a four-year-old son, and his father is very "that's for boys and this is for girls," and "you can't wear/do/play with that because you're a BOY." I have always been anti-gender roles, and I am engaged to a wonderful woman who has the exact views that I do. My hope is that this beautiful community of families can help me by suggesting books, movies, or other resources that might help us get the point across to our son. I have looked high and low and I've nabbed the materials that I feel express my feelings, but I want as many tools as I can to help my son understand that he can wear, do, or play with anything he wants. Thank you for your time and help, love to you all!! -K I recently wrote a post about how gender roles negatively affected my childhood, and those issues linger to this day — affecting me in adulthood! So I'm 100% happy to to help you find as many tools as possible to educate both children and adults about how damaging constrictive gender roles can be. Starting early… How do I ask the person hosting my baby shower to make the party gender-neutral? My fiance and I aren't having a baby yet, but we're trying to conceive and have already decided that we don't want to find out the sex of the child… Read More It's never too early to start confronting your and others' gender biases when it comes to your kiddos. Ask your friends to throw you a gender-neutral baby shower. Or ask to not be told the sex of your child so that you can also start thinking about them sans-gender biases. Books… Seeking gender-neutral kids books Despite knowing the importance of diversity in our kids' lives, we live in a mostly white, hetero-normative neighbourhood. So we have to use books to introduce them to a wide… Read More The comments on this post are FULL of great suggestions for gender-neutral kids books. For example… Meet Polkadot! Polkadot is a gender nonconforming child with positive, healthy relationships. Polkadot teaches their friends about gender identity with the support of their family. The art is awesome, too! On a slightly different note, there's Red: A Crayons Story. It's about a blue crayon in a red wrapper — everyone thinks there's something wrong with Red because everything he colors (strawberries, for example) comes out wrong… But when a new friend asks him to draw an ocean, he realizes he's been a BLUE crayon stuck in a red wrapper. Everyone embraces him and his new Blue identity. It's a very fun book and a great way to introduce the idea of being trans to kids who developmentally are still black-and-white thinkers The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin is nice because it's exactly as you describe – sometimes boys are doing traditionally "girl" things and vice versa, and it's not even commented on as a "thing." Read these posts about confronting gender biases… How my pink-loving son made me confront my weird gender biases In our household, the lines of the past that steadfastly identified what was considered "man" and "woman" responsibilities were more opaque. It's not the easiest job in the world, but… Read More "Do you want him to be gay?" Musings on gender roles, assumptions, and raising self-aware kids We spend a lot of time talking about empowering girls to break gender barriers. Which is important -- we should. And there is plenty more work to do in that… Read More Painting your son's toenails and other crimes against society Thanks to Meg for emailing us about the media debate currently raging over a J. Crew ad showing a designer painting her five-year-old son's toenails pink. Read More My son has a firetruck: gender-neutral doesn't mean genderless I was recently interviewed for an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about gender-neutral parenting. The response to the article included a lot of people fretting about how gender-neutral parenting supposedly… Read More So guys, what sources do you or have you gone to to help show kids that they can play/do/feel anything they want regardless of culture ideas of gender? Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Megan Finley Horowitz When Megan's not writing, traveling, and sleeping, she's eating like the fate of the world depends on it. (You're welcome, world!) You can snoop into her personal life over on her website The Dash and Dine! @meggyfin @thedashanddine @meggyfin PREVIOUS The future of marriage is SO GAY: Eavesdropping on a human sexuality professor, Part 3 NEXT What Master of None shows about how far we've come with comedy Show/Hide comments [ 6 ] My friend makes these: https://www.etsy.com/listing/461207928/toddler-t-shirt-for-the-gender-conscious I think that sums up what most kid under 3 think about gender. 2 agree Reply My son is younger, but I made sure to get his a doll. He also has a play kitchen, but more importantly he sees daddy cook. Also as part of the "narrating the world" I do, I sure to point out men AND women doing stuff when we're out and about. "Do you see the lady mowing the lawn?" "The man is feeding the baby." Having a father who actively insists on old school gender norms makes things tough, but keeping an open dialogue with your son will be helpful in letting him form his own opinions. 2 agree Reply My biggest advice is to openly question these issues every time you hear/see them together. What I mean by this is that it will always be easier to let sexist/misogynistic rhetoric go unchallenged in the moment, in favor of waiting until you can discuss them privately later. But that loses all of its impact and makes your views seem weird or shameful. Instead, SAY THE THING. Example: You're in a toy store and another adult tells their child, in hearing of yours, "that toy is for girls." Social awkwardness (disguised as politeness) tells us not to say anything "offensive" until you're out of ear shot. Overcome this impulse. Instead, say to your child immediately and at a normal volume, "That's not true. Toys are for everyone who likes to play." It was the other adult who broke the social contract– not you. You're merely correcting their mistake. This can be most difficult with family members, whom you really don't want to offend, but I've found that doing it clearly and kindly usually works. They soon learn not to speak that way in front of your child. Your child's father may never totally cease, but then again… he might surprise you. The important thing is that your child sees that you aren't ashamed of these "gender-non-conforming" behaviors, and that you will vocally support his choices (whatever they are). Good for you. 2 agree Reply My 2 year old and I just checked out a great book from the library: Clive and His Hats by Jessica Spaynol. Clive has a firetruck hat, a yellow sun hat, a floppy purple hat, etc. He plays with all kinds of kids and just gets to be a kid without any of the traditional 'boy' labels. Highly recommend. 2 agree Reply Step parent here where the other household is very in gender stereo types. So instead of question them or saying their wrong I ask the child to explore the logic in gender roles. Explain why I boy can't have a doll? Don't boys raise babies too etc. or show all the different ways someone can be tough. Introduce her to women football players, etc. just staying positive and showing them everything that's out there. Good luck! Reply Clothes Without Limits is a great group of small kids’ clothing brands offering options that break gender stereotypes. http://www.clotheswithoutlimits.com Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.