All kinds of people these days are trying to tell us that we should stop forcing gender stereotypes on our children. We need to just let them grow up in a world free of pressure to act in a certain way simply because of the fact that they were born male or female. Buy gender-neutral toys, dress them in gender neutral clothing, even remove gender pronouns in some extreme cases. Then they will be liberated from forced expectations and can make their own choices as to what gender identity they will embrace.
As a mom of six, with boys and girls, I can say with authority and confidence that these gender-neutral ideas are complete and utter nonsense.
I’m only 3 1/2 years into the journey of having boys in the plural along with girls in the plural, but let me tell you–that is enough. I noticed pretty quickly after Samuel was born, the first boy after three girls, that there were some noticeable differences. But now that he has a brother old enough to be his best friend, the boy-ness has blossomed in my house like never before.
Allow me to share some examples:
Girls love to throw tea parties, throw pajama parties, throw spa parties, etc. Boys, on the other hand, love to throw. Period. Balls, yes. But also books, shoes, baby dolls, couch cushions, you name it. If they can lift it, they will throw it.
To my girls, the pen truly is mightier than the sword. They churn out stories and letters and poems at an astonishing rate. To my boys, however, the pen is a sword. Anything is a potential weapon. If they have access to pens, forks, or paper towel rolls, look out.
My girls ride in the van surrounded by books and baby dolls and notebooks–or nothing but their imaginations and they can be perfectly content for hours. My boys, though, ride surrounded by none of the above, because they’ve thrown them all in the floor or into another seat within the first ten minutes. Then they spend the rest of the ride leaning across the empty space between them to smack each other or pull their brother’s seat over, making wild and crazy noises, or groaning, “Are we almost there?!? This is killing me!”
My girls have always obeyed–for the most part–our standards for what terms we use or don’t use regarding bodily functions or body parts, and only rarely had to be called down for laughing at rudeness. Those standards, however, have fallen considerably since my boys discovered how easy it is to make their brother dissolve into giggles over such subject matter. All those jokes you’ve heard about middle school or high school boys getting together and acting like, well, boys? Either my boys are advanced or it starts waaay earlier than middle school. I think the only prerequisite to such humor is to have more than one boy in the same room.
For my girls, our steps are rows of desks to line up their stuffed animals and play school. For my boys, the steps are training ground for their futures careers in Mixed Martial Arts.
When we gave our first daughter some cars to play with, she lined them up and said, “This one is the mommy, this one’s the daddy, and this one’s the baby.” When our boys pick up their sister’s toy curling iron, it becomes an alligator chomping its teeth.
Boys will be boys. It’s not just a cliche. You can teach them to obey, you can train them to act reasonably polite and be respectful and kind. But you cannot keep a boy from acting like a boy.
And little girls are little girls. Some will be “girlier” than others, it’s true. But girls they are, and girls they will remain.
And honestly, why would anyone want it any other way? God created us male and female, and each gender uniquely bears His image. He created man and woman and proclaimed them very good.
Boys and girls are different. We cannot force them to be the same. And I would never want to. Because I love watching my girls get excited over nail polish and thrill when their daddy calls them beautiful, and I love watching them nurture their baby dolls and their baby sister, and I love seeing glimpses of the mommies I hope they become. And I also love watching my boys swell with pride as they help Mom out while Dad’s not home, and watching them enter their own world of fighting bad guys and saving the day.
And let’s just be honest–a stuffed tiger soaring through the air and landing on my lunch plate simply helps keep life interesting!