Stop putting my baby in a gender box! - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-09-2005, 08:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just can't take it anymore...

Ds is 5 months old. He doesn't know that he's a boy. He doesn't know what boys are, or that there are boys and girls period. He has a gender-neutral nursery and a fairly gender-neutral wardrobe, not that it was easy to come by in this fanatically pink and blue world.

I am sick and tired of people approvingly telling me that he looks like a boy (he looks like a BABY!) and shaking his little foot roughly. I think I'm going to start saying "gentle touch" to all the old ladies at the grocery store! But I'm most bothered by sexual jokes--today at playgroup one of the other moms brought her 8 month old dd over to look at ds. Their feet were kicking each other and her mom accused her of playing "footsie" and being easy! I just think that is SO GROSS and inappropriate, not to mention heterosexist! It seems like all around me are people teaching their little boys to shelve their emotions, and their little girls to stifle their rambunctious activity. Yesterday at our mother's day breakfast out the 2 year old at the table next to us whacked his head hard on the table, and his dad told him to buck up and stop crying, because he was a boy.

Boys and girls may well be inherently different, I'm not saying that they aren't. But I believe that we are all people first, and that we all have a mix of "masculine" and "feminine" traits. I will let ds tell me who he is, thank you. I don't need help from strangers.

Somebody please tell me it isn't this bad everywhere! And if you live in a progressive community in Canada... what are real estate prices like? We were planning to move before ds was born but every time this happens I mentally move the date up!
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Old 05-09-2005, 10:09 PM
 
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boys and girls may well be inherently different, but with all the subtle stuff you point out going on, there's really just no way to tell. even if you left out all the really overt things ("buck up and stop crying, you're a boy") there is so much subtle implications being given to kids, babies, about how they are supposed to act and why.

it makes me sad, too. and as far as i can tell, it happens everywhere.

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and DD2, 11/2004
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Old 05-10-2005, 12:12 AM
 
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I got the 'he looks like a boy!' comment for the first time last week. I was rendered speechless - he's six weeks old! I totally agree with what you're saying and it's horribly, horribly frustrating. I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle, even to find relatively gender-neutral clothing. And that's the easiest part of it! No advice, just lots of empathy.

Kash, homeschooling mommy to Gillian (8/5/00) and Jacob (3/23/05)
and Brigid Eleanor (11/20/08)
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:05 AM
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We are due in a couple of weeks with a girl and I wanted to tell you I sympathize with your post A LOT. I am a feminist who has studied Sociology in great depth, and I just know it is things like you describe that will send me into a practical homicidal rage (even if just inside) ....

I feel for you, as I said, it is something that I KNOW is going to be an issue with us...it already somewhat has been when I look at the closet of frilly, pink, floral, ruffled, completely impractical "girls" clothes (gifts of course) that she will ONLY really wear long enough to snap one picture in the interest of the person who bought it, then on to E-bay they go...

Good luck mama, you are not alone!
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:17 AM
 
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i'm only an amateur sociologist but sexism drives me crazy as well. we told the family we weren't into "pink and frilly" so at the baby shower we got a lot of yellow, green and lavender clothes, even if they were still feminine at least we didn't get anything with lace or ruffles. i'm always looking for clothes on sale and it's actually easier to find non-pink/unisex on the sale racks, because others have bought out the pink-poofy section already. but on a red outfit with a monkey on it, even the price tag said "BOYS" and i really resented that. i also resent that all the "boy" clothing that's in pleasant, unisex colors such as sage green has to have trucks and tools and "Daddy's Little Helper" all over it. Willow looks fantastic in sage green, it really makes her complexion glow, but it is SO hard to find it without overt sexist messages on it. girls get flowers, boys get tools? girls get bunnies, boys get firetrucks? what is up with that?!

what i really want to do is buy a lot of white clothing, from both sides of the aisle, and tie-dye it!! just waiting to be able to afford to do it.

all this being said, Willow needs a hat for sun protection and we just bought her a "girl" hat today. the "boy" hats were all stiff, uncomfortable baseball caps, and i wanted something soft and 100% cotton. so at least we found a fluorescent green hat, even though it still has some flowers on it :P

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Old 05-10-2005, 01:25 AM
 
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I know what you mean. I absolutly hate when people comment on my dc gender. "oh you are so beautiful" to my dd and "wow you look like a strong little guy" huh???

drives me crazy

Kim- Simple livin' mama to 4 great kiddos.
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:29 AM
 
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Some of it bothers me (buck up and don't cry) and some of it doesn't (wearing pink; wearing blue....although Angelo wears pink dipes quite often)

I am sorry that you are offended People should be more concerned with others feelings.

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 05-10-2005, 03:34 AM
 
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Before our DD was born we had decided not to tell anyone the gender...
which drove our families NUTS! We only bought gender nuetral clothes.. decorated for either boy or girl in her room... and wouldn't tell anyone our name choices! LOL
I've taken womens studies classes and human development classes in college and really wanted to avoid pink and frilly things...
From the moment poeople know the gender they talk to your stomach differantly... buy different clothes.. talk to the baby different once they are born...
DH and I even considered not telling people what it was AFTER she was born... but then realized we couldn't tell anyone her name then... LOL..
We finally told everyone the day of the baby shower (2 weeks before she was born)
everyone screamed with joy... my grandma ran out of the house with 2 pink little dresses... (she'd been saving them just in case! LOL )

We've ended up with some pink outfits... and I guess thats just going to happen... she needs clothes...
It is kinda funny though when people don't know if she's a he or a she... it seems to be a big deal to people.. like they can't interact with her unless they know... which is pretty wierd when you think about it...

My MIL was actually concernd that if she didn't have pink clothes she would be confused about who she was... I dont' think so.... LOL
I just want her (DD) to know that she can do anything she wants and sets her mind to no matter what...
People are always going to have thier comments... but I think they way we plan on raising her is really going to make the difference...
I want her to have a toy tool set... some trucks.. some dolls... a kitchen set...
My mom did that with me, I remember getting my first dump truck.. I thought it was great! LOL I was a pretty big "Tom boy" though....

Anyways... sorry about my babble...
I'd be happy just to live in Canada!!

Take care!
Andrea
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:42 AM
 
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it 's funny that i found this post today! just today, i watched so proudly as my ds went from playing tough boy tool man fixing his race car to getting his baby "up from night night" to pretend to nurse it then put it in the stroller and took it for a walk around the house! oh my gosh my ds plays with dolls, what am i going to do!!!!!
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:30 AM
 
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I have gotten some of that, but not tons...so far anyway.

And...I live in Canada. In Campbell River BC to be exact...lemme tell ya, it's nice. I have seen many slings of all different kinds, no one else who uses cloth, but I don't know alot of moms here. I have never had anyone look at me sideways and I tell ya, I nurse in public ALOT!! I have had lots of great comments and have seen many other moms NIP. We have 2 great midwives in this small town (We just became a town, it was considered a district before!), and my mw in particualr is excellent. The hospital was great, VERY pro bf, rooming in, I was a homebirth transfer and no one came near me with drugs or any pressure until it was determined I needed a c-sec (totally nessecary!) I get tons of great comments about the sling, NIP, cloth, etc...and I even know a few moms here who co-sleep!!

I love it here, it is a beautiful ocean town with lots of nature around and nice people, and big towns pretty darn close!! Normally I wouldn't brag so much, but you asked!! :LOL
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:39 AM
 
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I can't tell you enough how I share your pain

My daughter will be 3 soon and I am constantly trying to shield her from moronic gender stereotypes.. at university the other day I was told that she was a lovely boy (which is fine). I said thanks, and she is a girl. They then prceeded to tell me that she laughed too loud to be a boy.... yes thats right... was too happy to be a girl.... :

Sometimes I am at a total loss with it all....
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Old 05-10-2005, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the support, mamas. It's very depressing to realize what a strong and pervasive facet of our society this is.

I'm starting to think about playing with people... like taking a less socially accepted bias and interposing it on their sexist comments. "He smiles just like a boy? Thanks! We think he smiles just like a white baby, too." It'll be street theatre of the absurd, except for those dismaying few who will actually agree.

RosieTook--I'm looking at a couple jobs in BC! One is in Comox, how far is that from you? Dh and I are hoping like crazy it works out.
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:06 PM
 
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You may be suprised to hear this but I have not really encountered this problem here. People have commented that Cole looks like a boy, and he does to me as wel. He's never been one of those babies that you can't really tell. He looks like a little boy. There is nothing wrong with that to me. My girls didn't really look like either.

I've not had anyone say anything sexist. Nothing about boys being rough and tough. I guess that's because people know how I feel about it. That and I am not a very inviting face to strangers. People mostly tend to read the body language that says "stay away from my baby" pretty well. Those who don't just get bitched out. The first time someone grabs his anything, they're likely to get knocked out.
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:28 PM
 
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They then prceeded to tell me that she laughed too loud to be a boy
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Old 05-10-2005, 01:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by uuelisabeth
Ds is 5 months old. He doesn't know that he's a boy. He doesn't know what boys are, or that there are boys and girls period. He has a gender-neutral nursery and a fairly gender-neutral wardrobe, not that it was easy to come by in this fanatically pink and blue world.
I hope this doesn't sound dismissive (really truly) but I laughed out loud when I read this. I am a mama to three year-old boy/girl twins, and man if they aren't just a living breathing experiment in gender identity and behaviors. After bending over backwards to be gender neutral and treating them the same (gender wise) and giving dd trucks and ds dollies, I can tell you that there ARE differences... BIG differences :LOL ... between boys and girls. My son plays differently than my daughter, in, yes dare I say it, very boy ways (rougher, more interested in how things work, more exploration) and my daughter is in the middle of a very motherly phase which I find at once surprising - as I did NOTHING to bring it on - and terrific - since the arrival of our new baby allows me to nurture her baby-lust and pass on that long-lost mama wisdom about breastfeeding, holding babies, etc.

Anyway, I think you're doing everything right and it used to piss the heck out of me too when strangers treated dd like a "girl" or ds like a "boy" but I think you may be amused in a couple of years that there are only so many things we well-meaning mamas can control.
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Old 05-10-2005, 02:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not trying to control anything, Periwinkle. But I certainly am trying to keep people who believe they are authorities on gender differences because of their experiences with a couple kids from telling me "how it is". I find it obnoxious and unwarranted.

And please watch your language. It is my understanding that swearing is not allowed on MDC.
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Old 05-10-2005, 02:51 PM
 
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Not dismissing anything you have said, and sexism aside~~~~~~boys and girls are different.They develop differently in the womb, require different kinds of nuturing, usually play differently, think differently, etc. Nothing wrong with that. I do also have a problem with people being overtly sexist. I grew up in the South.

Due with number 5 in August. We do all that crunchy stuff.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by spacedog
Before our DD was born we had decided not to tell anyone the gender...
which drove our families NUTS! We only bought gender nuetral clothes.. decorated for either boy or girl in her room... and wouldn't tell anyone our name choices! LOL
can I just continue this until DC is old enough to pick out own wardrobe? :LOL

we haven't told anyone else yet either (we actually don't know ourselves, baby wasn't cooperating day of our one and only us, but even if we did know we wouldn't tell!) There is so much gender crap in my DHs family. His sister just had a girl after two boys-she pretty much admitted that she would just keep having babies until she had a girl-thank god it has stopped at three. when DH told her we were pregnant her response was "great...you'll probably get the girl" she's rather unpleasant.

my favorite response when asked "do you know what you're having?" is "well I've always wanted a pony, but we're pretty sure it's a baby" :LOL
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:47 PM
 
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We haven't gotten much of this silliness, and I've been surprised by how often people ask the baby's sex when he's wearing blue! We do occasionally hear, "He's too pretty to be a boy!" though.

I'm a Brownie leader, and I bring my baby to every meeting. We had this conversation at one meeting:
GIRL: He's the only boy in the room.
ME: Hmm, I guess he is! I don't think he's noticed, do you?
GIRL: No, he's too little to know what kind he is. I bet he doesn't even know yet that there are only two kinds.
ME: I think you're right.
GIRL: Just by looking around at people, you'd think there are a lot more than two kinds!
ME: Yes, there are lots of different ways to be a girl and lots of different ways to be a boy.
I did not bring up the cashier at our neighborhood grocery store who used to be a man and is now a woman! :LOL

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Old 05-10-2005, 03:55 PM
 
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ack. I'm sorry but I'm so confused by these "stop telling me my boy is a boy" threads!!?? Okay, he IS a boy! lol. I get waaaaaaaaaaaay more annoyed when people think my ds is a girl! for gods' sake he LOOKS like a BOY--- and that's the truth. He was born looking like a boy. His daddy. His grandpa. and a bit of me... but really- all boy! Why think this wrong? Isn't that a problem too? (to not want your boy to BE A BOY... do folks want there kids to REALLY just be gender-neutral?). I love my little man. He's a my doll-face. My sweet-pea. And as HE says it... "... mommy's baby and daddy's big boy...".
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:18 PM
 
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I used to cross dress my babies. Or put them in uni-sex clothing. I got so tired of folks whispering to my dd and shouting to my ds. I wanted them to have both kinds of interaction with others. My dd is strong. My ds was little and cute. What is the matter with folks? Big sigh.
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:20 PM
 
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I am so glad to see that there are other people who are concerned with gender stereotypes being pushed on their children. I was pretty shocked when I recently made a post about how my stepmom completely ignored what I said about not giving us overly boyish things...and a lot of the people who replied acted like I was overreacting. That was not what I expected on this board.

But anyways...ugh...my baby isn't even born yet and people are trying to encourage me to treat him differently because he's a boy. It really makes me sick. He's going to be who he's going to be. And if he likes sports and dump trunks that's fine. But it's also fine if he likes flowers and dolls. I just don't want everyone pushing their gender stereotypes on my child. I'm going to sheild him from that the best I can.
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Old 05-10-2005, 04:22 PM
 
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:

and ditto what Periwinkle said, too.

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Old 05-10-2005, 04:30 PM
 
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I completely hear you. I have the same issues only with my dd.

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Old 05-10-2005, 04:41 PM
 
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Why think this wrong? Isn't that a problem too? (to not want your boy to BE A BOY... do folks want there kids to REALLY just be gender-neutral?).
For me it's less about wanting my kid to be gender-neutral than not wanting negative aspects of gender stereotypes to be pushed on my kid. Not wanting my daughter to grow up thinking that because she's a girl she has to be quiet and demure, or if I have a son for him to think that he has to be macho, stoic, or bullyish...

For instance, several people called my nephew a "bruiser" when he was little. She and I hated that because, well, who'd want their kid to get the message that they're destined to hurt someone because they're male and a bit big for their age?

And my mother in law said something to my 3-day-old baby girl, when I was putting an undershirt on her because it was cold, that i certainly wouldn't be doing that if she was a boy, because a boy is big and tough (and I guess boys don't get cold???) - it was such a weird thing to say because it implied that she thought I was coddling my baby by making sure she was warm enough and that I'd only "coddle" a girl - and these are only a couple of examples that come to mind.

not that I think kids take those kinds of things literally or that my baby could understand yet, but people say things like that without thinking ALL the time which reinforce negative stereotypes about gender, and it is sort of frustrating. (but it's also not limited to little kids - my husband went out to see a band last night and people made comments to him about how I must've "let him out of the house" for once, assuming that we have a sort of stereotypical nagging wife/desperate-to-escape husband relationship, yuck)

I don't want to repress my daughter's girlishness - lord knows I went through a phase of insisting on wearing skirts and socks with ruffles when I was three - and I played with BARBIES - and I turned out to be a well-balanced person and a feminist to boot. But I don't want to cut off their options either. My nephew very naturally gravitated toward playing with trucks and legos and things like that, no one ever pushed him NOT to behave like a boy, but because he had the option of playing with dolls too he sometimes likes to stroll them around in the carriage and play house.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:14 PM
 
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RosieTook--I'm looking at a couple jobs in BC! One is in Comox, how far is that from you? Dh and I are hoping like crazy it works out.
Comox is about half an hour from here. We are just up Island (north) a little from the Comox Valley! If it works out you'll have to LMK...I love it up here.

I had one person ask me if I had a boy or a girl because she was wearimng pink pants and a blue coat. I said she's a girl and he replied "The way you people dress kids these days, you just can't tell." to which I replied "And?" Sorry fella, I don't pick my dd's clothes out just so complete strangers can tell at a glance if she is a boy or girl.

I am not aiming for her to be "neutral" what I want is for her to have her own ideas about who she is and what she wants to be. Whether she's a girlie girl or a tomboy, I don't care.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:21 PM
 
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heh.. i get the opposite.. I carry around my beautiful daughter and people say oh ANOTHER girl!!!.. (she is my fifth baby)..people assume i have all girls.. which I don't.. I have alwasy had two of each .. now three girls.. but still two boys.. all my kids look like kids..they don't care either way.. in fact my eldest son once asked me to stop correcting people about the fact that he is not a girl.. he said.. I don't care if they think I am a girl.. it doesn't affect who they are in the least..
here are my kids before the newest addition...
http://www.hawkfeather.ca/cgi-bin/ga...e=030_kidz.jpg

people are way too hung up on it..
and for the record.. we live in a very progressive Canadian community...and the more the merrier!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
there is a town in the heart of this community called Roberts creek.. we have a restaurant, a midwives office, a waldorf natural toy store, a health food store, general store, library post office, a hemp store, a hiking store.. and that is about it in the main town...give or take the local healers and artists and such.. there is a waldorf school now...i have to say.. please forgive my bias.. i live in paradise!
hmmm what else can i say?.. email me is you wanna chat about Canada and such..heh
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:34 PM
 
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I took a "socialization of families" summer course at Brandeis and I think I've decided the bottom line is it really isn't going to influence your child *too* much that MIL or teacher or neighbor says "buck up and be a man" to your son or "that's not ladylike" to your daughter- as long as they're allowed to express themselves naturally and healthily at home they won't suppress any emotions.
But no matter what, unless you keep the child in a bubble, there will always be some societal pressure to act and look a certain way for each gender. And not all of it is outside forces- there are definite differences (in general) between males and females.
It is very annoying, though, how people constantly push the gender issues with babies and toddlers- like if a little boy knocks over a tower of blocks, invariably someone will say "Oh, he's SUCH a boy" but if a girl had done the same thing she would be reprimanded.
We didn't find out the sex and it drives people NUTS! lol woohoo for green, yellow, and white baby clothes!

DD1 7/13/05 DD2 9/20/10
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Old 05-10-2005, 08:50 PM
 
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Lots of interesting comments here... I'll try to bring more of a fresh perspective than a "me too" .

I understand that there do seem to be some developmental and psychological differences between boys and girls (eg, hit their milestones at slightly different times). However, there's a whole lot that's cultural, too, and not all of it is positive. *That* is the stuff that concerns *me* that I'd like for my kids to avoid.

I feel like my parents' generation especially has been stymied by this. Eg, my dad was strongly discouraged from expressing his emotions when growing up, and I see him now as being kind of stunted in that area. My mom is incapable of even changing a lightbulb. I don't see how either of these examples could be construed as positive gender "boxing".

I would like my sons (and any future daughters) to be allowed to be full, well-rounded people who are allowed to pursue their interests and strengths, who are emotionally sensitive and complete.

My older son is very "boy" (likes machines and tools, likes a lot of physical play), *but* he also "nurses" his teddy bear (and carries him in a sling), loves to help me with cooking and gardening, and is very sensitive to others' feelings. He also likes pink and glittery things (I think girls' dress-up clothes at this age are "exciting" and boys' are "boring"). I think all of this is great. I'm just letting him be himself.

As for my younger son... I really don't think that gender matters for babies except for how you wipe with poopy diapers. Really. It seems to matter to adults, but that's so silly. I like the neutral baby clothes--it seems so wasteful (if you have more than 1 and they are different genders) to have to have totally different clothes, toys, roooms...

We are finally getting around to "decorating" a room for the boys. And we're either going to go "jungle" or "ocean", both of which are gender-neutral and interesting to young kids of all stripes.

As far as MILs and little babies being cold--I think it's their *job* to overdress *all* babies, not just girls.
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Old 05-10-2005, 09:31 PM
 
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I did not want to find out the sex of DD because I didn't want everybody buying me pink and blue. I want to be as gender neutral as possible when it comes to toys and interacting. But I do admit that I will dress DD in dresses. I just love little girl dresses and I can show off her diapers. Although most of the time DD is in overalls (something else I think is cute) and onesies. Most of her clothes are hand me downs and are gender neutral.
Her playroom is lavender because I love the color and decorated in unicorns. This will be the playroom for the next child as well. Its gender neutral.
I don't find that people say anything about her attributes and personality being gender specfic. They tell me that she is strong, beautiful, cute, smart...etc but I haven't heard she's just like a girl or she is a tomboy.
As for toys she does have dolls that my MIL gave her, but I plan to let my other children play with the dolls as well. I just ask that if ppl buy her dolls that they buy dolls that represent all cultures.
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