Do you discourage your girls from girly stuff? And your boys from boyish stuff? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 07-18-2013, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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I have girls, but this applies to boys as well.

I want them to not be dawn in only to girly stuff. I don't want to be too big of a force in keeping them from it, but OTOH I don't think not doing anything is neutral as there are huge marketing forces at work pushing them to pink.

So I do gently encourage them to broaden their range of choices or views, and consider t-ball rather than assume ballet, or to choose trombone rather than going with flute like all the other girls.

I don't expect them to have nothing pink or do nothing girly, but I feel like if I don't encourage a bit larger view, they will be pushed by marketing toward all girly choices.

What are your views on this? (Like I said, replace blue/boyish/boys if you have boys.)
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#2 of 15 Old 07-18-2013, 02:29 PM
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With 3 girls and 2 boys in my house, the children have access to all types of toys and dress up clothes. My two year old girl had a dinosaur themed birthday party because she was very much into dinosaurs and I don't mean Dinosaur Train. She likes realistic looking dinosaurs that look like the ones in the Discovery Channel documentary Walking with Dinosaurs. So I bought her party supplies from the boy section at Party City. I don't really influence or discourage, I just provide options. When my oldest DD turned 3 she wanted a Power Puffs Girl party (she will be 16 this August) and I let her have her pink girly party. My 13 year old DS has pink braces on his teeth. He wanted pink and he got pink. I care less about girly stuff/ boyish stuff and more about what are boy roles/ jobs and girl roles/ jobs. I am a geologist (male dominated field) and work full time. My DH is a SAHD who does most of the childcare, cleaning and cooking . . . ok ALL the cooking. So by example we break stereotypes.

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#3 of 15 Old 07-18-2013, 07:43 PM
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I never discouraged my DD from wearing girly clothes. I did make sure she was wearing weather appropriate attire such as leggings or thick tights with a dress in winter. She picked her clothes and wore them from an early age and until last year she mostly wore dresses or skirts, now she rarely does but still chooses more frilly attire.

Clothing choices have never prevented my DD from messy play, running, climbing, etc... so I see no reason to restrict choice or force boy stuff on a child who wants frilly beautiful clothing. I don't need to pressure or force my child to embrace neutral clothes or clothes geared towards the opposite gender in order to feel like I am doing my part in the feminist/anti-commercialism/embracing non-conformism/ etc... causes, I know I am doing my part when my child speaks up for others, points out sexism, and defends her classmates who don't conform to societies norms.
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#4 of 15 Old 07-18-2013, 07:56 PM
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With our DD I was at first really against all the girlie stuff. It makes me uncomfortable and I can;t relate. But then she hit 18 months and was really drawn to pink and purple, flowers, etc. Now she soes have a lot of pink and purple clothing. But also bright green, orange, red, etc.

She used to say her favourite colours were pink and purple and that she didn't like any other colours. I told her she can have favourites and still like others as well. So now when asked she says "My favourites are pink and purple, but I like blue, green, orange, red and black too. I don;t like yellow"

She is four.


What I limit is the branding, and princesses, and disney, etc.

I do hate all the princesses.

However she does like to dress up as a fairy. And she likes Princess Poppy and Fancy Nancy books.

However, I just introduced her to Ramona books, and she is loving and relating to Ramona.


Our DD is a spunky kid who likes to play in the mud pit and stuff.

I am hoping that she will be a well-rounded, strong and independent girl/woman as she ages.


We have two sons. But they are only 7 months old. So only time will tell how they will be. Hopefully have more interests than cars, balls and dinosaurs.

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#5 of 15 Old 07-18-2013, 08:57 PM
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This is a great question, and something I often think about!

We don't have a lot of toys for our 21 month old boy. Mostly wooden blocks that he loves building with. He does have a couple of toy trucks that my parents got him; he's really into trucks at the moment. He also likes playing with balls, and throwing rocks and sticks into the river. This last activity causes people to exclaim: "oh, he's such a little boy!" I have a secret hope that the baby we're having in October will be a girl, who will also love to throw rocks and sticks into the river.

I think I'd like to encourage my son (and future child) to play with whatever interests them and sparks their imagination. I'd like to avoid overly-commercialized toys that are clearly marketed to one gender or the other. I've been thinking of getting my son a Waldorf-type doll, just to balance things out a little, but he doesn't show much interest in the stuffed animals he's got now, so it might be a waste. Like PattiMomma, I think it's important to focus on breaking gender stereotypes in terms of what is considered to be a "boy" job and what is considered to be a "girl" job, but I guess part of that comes through play (like not discouraging boys from nurturing dolls, or girls from playing in the dirt).

Curious to see what others have to say!
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#6 of 15 Old 07-18-2013, 09:09 PM
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Due to poor planning a lot of my daughter's wardrobe between ages 1-2 years was pink. irked.gif And I think that encouraged her to get more into that color than others. She just turned 2, though, so we have time. Her 2T wardrobe is more varied and she's adjusted to not having so much pink all the time. I have tried to limit her media exposure. She has no exposure to princesses and her favorite TV characters are Elmo and Curious George. I am trying to put off the notion of "this is what girls are supposed to like" for as long as I can, to give her more time to develop different interests and me more time to critique different things. If I were going to introduce Disney princesses it would be as one choice among a variety of things. But I think she's too young for a full-length movie now so I see absolutely no point to Disney princesses at this time. 

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#7 of 15 Old 07-19-2013, 08:49 AM
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With ElderSon, now in his 30's, I actively encouraged gender-crossing toys and clothing. He sometimes chose pinks, sometimes blues. He had baby dolls as well as toy dinosaurs, learned to fish as well as cook along with me before he was 6. We lived a very isolated life: on a sailboat in the Caribbean, we had no TV, and only occasionally were around other kids. He had nearly zero exposure to any commercialism for the first 5 years. As he grew older, I strongly encouraged his artistic side (gender neutral in my eyes). Although he was on a Little League team for a while, he was not too much interested in sports or other typical boy-stuff through his later childhood and teen years. We never had toy guns. He was mainly homeschooled (unschooled), although he went to high school for a couple years. I supported nearly any interest of his, but especially celebrated his gentle, sensitive aspects.


Well, this is all a prelude to my conclusion that "It doesn't really matter". He grew up to join the Army, and is just now retiring from this career. There is nothing in his upbringing to predict just how macho and traditionally male this boy of mine became. After 4 overseas combat deployments, he spent several years as a drill sargent. This is not what I had in mind! I think he spends his free time at NASCAR races and tractor pulls with his son (I am making this up, but it wouldn't surprise me!) I really believe (for this and other reasons) that our children grow up to be who ever they are. We have very little say in the whole matter.


BigGirl, now 18, never ever chose pink frilly clothing. Even as a preschooler, she chose demure, conservative colors and styles. Seriously, grays, beige, and like that. And has maintained that all through life (so far!). But always androgynous, leaning toward feminine. Like a mini-banker, she would have loved a business suit with a skirt to her knees, in conservative gray! Again, we had no TV for her first 5 years or so, living in a small village in Central America. This was truly her own style. Mainly unschooled also (we tried public school in the US for a few months), her interests always turned to childcare and baby-raising. She had a job as a mother's helper from the time she was 7, and now nannys for a special needs kid. Plans to adopt special needs kids. She is in charge of decorating our home, and chooses the most traditional styles you can imagine. She has taken over most of the cooking and cleaning that happens around here. So domestic! As traditionally feminine as all this sounds, she is also an ardent feminist, considering a career in international women's rights. Or possibly as a politician.


I am a traditional hippie - rainbow tie-dye and Birkenstocks. Grateful Dead and Bob Marley. Unschooled myself, I naturally raised my kids crunchy/AP/child-led. I work as an activist/social worker. My kids have been raised at Gay Pride events, political protests, out of the mainstream in so many ways. There is nothing in their upbringing that would have predicted these paths for my children, unless this is their individualized form of rebellion. Like I said above, we have very little influence in who our children become.

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#8 of 15 Old 07-23-2013, 04:50 PM
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We don't buy much because of $$ issues but I will say this...L has just as many trucks and little cars as she does fake dishes and foods... thumb.gif

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#9 of 15 Old 07-23-2013, 10:34 PM
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No, we don't discourage them away from girly/boyish stuff. If dd wants to paint her nails and then push her baby brother around in a stroller with the other girls on our street while the boys run around playing with toy cars and wrestling, it's all fine with me. They're having fun.

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#10 of 15 Old 07-24-2013, 10:30 AM
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I don't discourage them from any interests. We try to expose them to as many things as we can, and let their own interests take off. DS1 got more exposure to cultural gender norms than my other kids, because he was in school, and they're homeschooling, but his interests were pretty varied. He was never a "real boy" (gag), in terms of liking sports, trucks, etc. But, his interests were all over the map, in terms of what our culture considers "gender appropriateness". His interests have included (off the top of my head): trapeze, gymnastics, blacksmithing, leathercrafting, art (he sketches extensively, and plays around with clay a bit), Tae Kwon Do, acting (his intended career), videogames, superheroes (esp. Spider-Man) and woodworking. He wants to learn to blow glass one day. He also loves swords and knives, and plans to collect them - and to take lessons at a local swordfighting academy.


My family contains a lot of movers (not as many as it used to, as my dh doesn't move furniture, my BIL changed jobs, and my dad retired, but they're still around), so my kids have certainly had a lot of exposure to the "macho" mindset, but dh and I both just kind of do our own thing, with no regard to whether it's gender "appropriate". We do have an old-fashioned breadwinner/homemaker dynamic, except that dh does a lot around the house. I'm also the only driver in the family, which shakes that dynamic a lot.


Anyway - I basically just support their interests, whatever they may be. DS2 is a screen junkie, with very limited interest in doing much of anything else (although he's now bulding his second Lego model of the day - yay!!). He does like some very typical "boy" interests, such as dinosaurs and space travel...but so does dd1. DD1 is interested in everything...she's the girl who'll go do nail polish at her friend's place, then go digging for bugs, or whatever. I don't care what they like to do, or what their interests are - as long as they like to do something, and have interests.

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#11 of 15 Old 07-26-2013, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

I don't discourage them from any interests. We try to expose them to as many things as we can, and let their own interests take off.

Same here. Discouraging something just because it's traditionly associated with their gender is just as bad, to me, as discouraging something just because it's traditionally associated with the opposite gender.

I have a girl and a boy, and there's no way, for example, that I'd let my son paint his nails and then tell my daughter she couldn't because it's too girly. (FTR, I let both of my kids paint their nails.)
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#12 of 15 Old 07-26-2013, 09:58 PM
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The toys we picked were more practical, because we had so many little kids (3 under 2, 2 boys, 1 girl) and they shared a lot of stuff.  So...blocks, books, dolls, animals, games, dressup, ect).  But I never censored gifts.


My older kids are 11 (girl) and 10 (boys).  My daughter does dress "girly" I suppose, but she also enjoys archery, fencing, hiking, building.  My boys still like to play dressup, and one in particular is extremely nurturing, and they are both quieter than my daughter, prefering less active pursuits.  They all enjoy video games, but that's genetic, poor things.


All of my kids, regardless of gender, were encouraged to do sports, martial arts, dance, music, riding, ect. until each individual found their niche, but I did have them all try all sorts of things.


Like some other posters have said, I believe that fixation on this on either side does more harm than good.  I didn't, and my kids are thus far fine.  And I didn't have to get into a ton of fights with family members and stress myself out about it either, and lose energy/happiness out of my life.

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#13 of 15 Old 07-26-2013, 11:38 PM
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We have a good deal of pink here for my toddler but I wear pinks too. The majority of her pink toys and clothes have been gifts. I try to make a point of buying non-pink clothes for her and do the same if I'm gift shopping for a little girl, even if its just tourquous or yellow.

We try to buy gender neutral or traditionally boy toys to help balance out the girly stuff. MegaBlocks in primary colors instead of the pastel version, a dinosaur play mat, a wooden train, cars, a Mickey Mouse farmer puzzle instead of the Minnie hairbow puzzle, a red Elmo backpack over the Dora the Explorer one. She has Little People princesses, a toy kitchen, necklaces and a baby doll too.

My husband & I both want to expose her to a variety of interests that aren't always as strongly encouraged in girls as they are for boys (nature, science, sports). We take her hiking & hope to start camping with her soon. I make my husband rough-house with her the same way fathers would do with toddler boys. We also cook & bake with her.
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#14 of 15 Old 07-28-2013, 07:23 PM
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An interesting book on the subject is The Gender Trap by Emily W. Kane.

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#15 of 15 Old 07-28-2013, 09:50 PM
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We did a lot of blocks, Legos, trains and dinosaurs here. For clothing, I stuck to jeans and colorful t-shirts and overalls so they could share even though they are of both genders. And, lots and lots and lots of books. The dh and I are bibliophiles to the nth degree.
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