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#1 of 22 Old 09-11-2011, 06:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Is anyone else frustrated by what I am coming to see as an obvious bias against boys and their natural inclinations? I have three sons, ages 6, 4 and 2. My older two are sweet, intelligent, thoughtful guys who also like to wrestle, play battles, trap bugs, dig holes, climb trees and roam in a little pack. Our neighborhood is great for many reasons - kids play outside with each without most parents hovering, the houses are close together and the kids have plenty of friends, etc. But there are a few moms who are really difficult because they seem to think the boys in the neighborhood need to be scolded and supervised for what I see as normal, healthy play. And I they are all moms of girls, with no sons (I'm not saying ALL moms of girls are this way, but the moms in our neighborhood who have issues with the boys do not have sons of their own). 

 

They are mostly well behaved out there - keeping to their friends, playing their games among those who are willing participants (picture 4 boys wearing capes and chasing each other/tackling each other in the front yard). They (and I'm talking about my sons and their 2 or 3 friends) sometimes do something they shouldn't, of course - like they were apparently playing spies and decided to creep around an elderly neighbors house looking in her windows eyesroll.gif. I heard about it and they were talked to and told not to do it and they haven't done that again. But there are a couple of neighbors, who have decided to ban their daughters from playing with my sons and other boys because their play is too violent (which seriously, it's not. They rarely if ever get hurt and the daughters in question have always wanted to play with them when they've played together) or the themes are bad, etc. Our front lawns all connect in the front because we have an alley for cars (so no driveways or natural barriers). Of course all the neighbor kids use the street as one big front lawn (there are about 12-14 kids on the street). My two sons were wrestling one day in front of a neighbors house and she came screaming out, yelling "I do not allow violent play on my property! Get off and do that somewhere else!" They were literally wrestling - not fighting - my oldest was on his stomach and my 4 year old was sitting on his back and they were BOTH laughing. There were no smaller kids around who could have gotten hurt or whatever. It was just normal play. I happened to be outside and heard the whole thing, and was so shocked by her anger that I just stood there. And this isn't the first time. There are two women who just openly say they don't let their daughters play with boys. Like they're going to damage their sweet angels.

 

I feel so angry, sad, protective of my sons - they are good, sweet kids who are polite (mostly) and thoughtful and all those good traits. They aren't little beasts who destroy and ravage everything in sight. And yet I feel like whenever they break into what appears to be normal, healthy boy play they get judgements and sometimes disciplined by other people. I should've said something to the neighbor, I know....and I feel guilty for not, but I hate conflict and well, she scared me a little bit. 

 

I'm not so worried about the immediate situation - I know which neighbors appear to dislike boys and my sons have been told to stay out of their front yards. I'm more worried about the realization that there are a lot of people like that and I don't want my sons growing up in a world where they are made to feel bad for doing things they enjoy, that come naturally. I know there are some books on the subject and I'm going to read those...but I wanted to hear from other moms of sons who have dealt with this or know what i'm talking about.

 

Thanks!


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#2 of 22 Old 09-11-2011, 07:39 AM
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No, I have two school-aged boys (and a baby girl) and haven't encountered anything like that. That seems like a really hostile environment. 

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#3 of 22 Old 09-11-2011, 08:28 AM
 
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That is terrible, though I am not terribly surprised.  Most adults know nothing about healthy child development and expect children to be little adults.  If those same curmudgeons saw two adult males in their yard rolling around it would almost definitely be actual fighting, and that is what she is projecting onto them.  Terrible for boys, terrible for her. terrible for society.  But no, not everyone is like that, our neighbors would not be.  I am a firm believer that kids (not just boys, but especially boys) NEED this kind of play.  I was reading a dog training book recently and it talked about how important it is for puppies to roughhouse so that they learn how to treat other animals/people.  Learn what TO do through learning what NOT to do.  Puppies that are not allowed to wrestle, play bite, etc will never learn how to do these things gently and under control and someday may be provoked and react way too aggressively.  Well, it's a little different with humans, we have different natures, but I think when you squash any creature's natural inclination, or in this case 'boy-ness' you are not going to like what happens!  

 

I am not sure you are going to be able to educate these people, though.  Such a shame! We are so lucky that our good friend that we see weekly has two girls (only) who are growing up to be strong empowered females and her mom has no problem with rough play, as long as everyone is happy.  It's funny, too, when the girls talk to my son about superheros and he (being media free) has no clue what they are talking about!  As a matter of fact, there are very few gender lines in our little playgroup, and as homeschoolers, they don't even understand the whole "boys only!" thing, nor the "6 year olds only!" thing. 

 

Are ANY of the girls (like ones with brothers) allowed to play with your boys? If so, I'd just play up those relationships as best you can, and talk as honestly but gently as you can to your boys about why some of the parents/girls/neighbors seem so upset.  Make sure they know it is BECAUSE of them, but not at all their fault.  Grrr... how frustrating!! I am sorry you have to deal with this, such a waste really!

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#4 of 22 Old 09-11-2011, 09:09 AM
 
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I'm not 100% sure it's a boy thing so much as people wanting ALL children to be polite, docile & at all times. Unfortunately these are harder things for a lot of boys to do than for girls, but girls most certainly cannot always meet those expectations either. It's one of biggest misgivings about sending ds to school - as a young child (especially boy) the expectation of sitting still & at attention for so long each day just seems unrealistic to me & I worry he will not be able to comply & be considered a "problem" by his teachers.

 

I do think that by their own parents being aware that they are developing normally & healthily is a big step towards them being happy.

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#5 of 22 Old 09-11-2011, 08:40 PM
 
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What an interesting thread--though I am sorry this is so frustrating and difficult for you, OP.  I haven't experienced anything quite as extreme as what you describe, but in a similar issue, DH and I did recently decide to discontinue our new friendship with a family in the neighborhood because of their reactions to our DS, now 6.  He's not even THAT much of a rough-and-tumble kid, but the way they reacted to him and the way they "handled" him around their daughter was unproductive for all three of us (and, in my opinion, for their daughter--but for various reasons we weren't really able to communicate freely with them). 

 

Just wanted to assert that I think parents should make an effort to learn about what to expect from boys AND girls, not just the gender of their own kiddos.

 

Good luck to you!

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#6 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 06:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for the responses. I just want to clarify that this is an issue with a couple of families on our street, but we do have plenty of supportive and boy-friendly friends and neighbors. I have been surprised, though, by some peoples obvious bias against boys and how they feel it's okay to verbalize it. I guess it probably goes both ways (I know there was a thread about a little boy whose parents wouldn't let him play with "girl" stuff) but either way, the bias seems to often be directed directly AT boys - like there is a "right" way to be all the time. Not too girly apparently, but not too physical either. 

 

I appreciate the comments. I was really, really upset yesterday because we had an incident on Saturday with one of these moms and after she yelled at my sons, she walked away laughing and told her mother, who is visiting, "I think I scared them!" Like it was funny that she'd just screamed at my sons for normal behavior and scared them. And because they were on her property she felt she had every right. So, of course, no more going on her property. But, ugh, it broke my heart to see someone get pleasure out of that.

 

Pepe - it sounds like you've dealt with something similar. The need to "protect" a daughter from boys of the same age (especially 4 and 6 year olds) just seems so damaging. Probably mostly to the girl, who will grow up thinking boys are something to be feared. Ugh.


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#7 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 06:47 AM
 
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Oh wow, reading your last post especially (she was proud or amused by scaring them?!?!) I have to think that you are just plain unlucky with those couple of neighbours.  I have 1 girl and 1 boy, and yes, my boy likes to roughhouse with his friends (as does dd sometimes).  So far I've never run into any bias against normal boy behaviour, but my ds is only almost-4 and not in school yet, so maybe that's why.  Also, in our group of family friends, there happen to be way more boys than girls, so I guess everyone we see on a reg basis is pretty used to how little boys play!


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#8 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 06:54 AM
 
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Sorry to be a downer, but I think that your boys should not be roaming about and wrestling on other peoples' property unless they have been invited to be there.  It's just rude!  I would be angry to find boys wrestling in my yard too and I have 2 boys that I let act like boys.  

 

In case I just totally misunderstand, you can only do one thing, ignore the parents that complain unless their complaints are legitimate.  Have your kids play with the other kids instead.  Or, move to a place with different cultural values.  Even a move out to the country would be different.  


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#9 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry to be a downer, but I think that your boys should not be roaming about and wrestling on other peoples' property unless they have been invited to be there.  It's just rude!  I would be angry to find boys wrestling in my yard too and I have 2 boys that I let act like boys.  

 

In case I just totally misunderstand, you can only do one thing, ignore the parents that complain unless their complaints are legitimate.  Have your kids play with the other kids instead.  Or, move to a place with different cultural values.  Even a move out to the country would be different.  

Um, I think a move out of the country would be a little much. I think you don't quite get the picture of our neighborhood - we have straight front lawns running down the street, no driveways and anywhere from 4-15 kids run around together at a time. From lawn to lawn, including the girls of the moms I mentioned above. So there are a bunch of kids playing together and if the boys (not just my boys, but any of the boys in the neighborhood) start doing anything remotely "boyish" out front there are two moms who find it unacceptable. So it's not like my sons are wandering the street alone, into other peoples backyards, wrestling. Would you seriously have a problem with boys wrestling in your yard if they are allowed to play there when they aren't wrestling?
 

 

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#10 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 08:57 AM
 
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There are normal, age appropriate behaviors that are more "boyish" than others.  And boys should not be punished for doing them.  I don't allow my boys to roam all over the neighborhood and explore other people's property.  Just because they're boys or children or whatever, doesn't give them free reign.

 

Just because I let my boys go outside and do what they want on my property, does not mean I want the 2 neighbor boys out there doing it too. 

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#11 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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There are normal, age appropriate behaviors that are more "boyish" than others.  And boys should not be punished for doing them.  I don't allow my boys to roam all over the neighborhood and explore other people's property.  Just because they're boys or children or whatever, doesn't give them free reign.

 

Just because I let my boys go outside and do what they want on my property, does not mean I want the 2 neighbor boys out there doing it too. 



Well, jeez, how about if the girls in these families are "roaming" all over my property too? It's called a neighborhood, where kids play together and run around. And since there are no physical boundaries between yards it's pretty hard for 4-6 year old children to know when they are encroaching on someone else's property. I guess the MINE attitude is pretty prevalent everywhere.

 

Besides, being in their front yard is not the issue - it's being there and doing anything apparently "boyish" that's the problem. My 4yo sitting on my 6yo's back while they both laughed was too violent apparently. Wearing a cape and chasing another boy is inappropriate. But picking up a smaller child and twirling her like a ballerina like all the girls were doing yesterday is fine ... THAT is what I am talking about.


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#12 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 10:31 AM
 
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I think what the OP is saying is that the culture of her particular neighbourhood is that it *is* ok for all the kids to play on any/all of the front yards on the block.  None of the neighbours has any problem with any of the neighbourhood kids playing on their front lawn, BUT they do have a problem with just-for-fun-everyone-having-a-good-time wrestling.

 

OP - is that right?


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#13 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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A few of your neighbors sound nuts, imo. Or passive-agressive. I am going with the other PP who said some people do not know what is appropriate for any child, boy or girl, expecting a docile mini-adult. Play wrestling is a NORMAL, NATURAL state. Kids who wrestle this way learn how to control their bodies, how to respect each others bodies and space, learn how to hold back and how to push forward. I've seen it with my own, a 4 yo and 6 yo DS and DD. MY 6 yo DS is way bigger and stronger than my 4 yo dd, but his play wrestling with her is a true mastery of body and space. I think adults reaction to it is very unhealthy, but also unfortunately very ingrained. I even had to stop my DH from interfering once, explaining how good it was. He stopped and realized it, but it really is engrained. 

 

I don't know what I would do in your situation though. If the girls are allowed to twirl in your yard, since there is no bushes or cut-off marker, then your boys should be allowed to play wrestle in their yard. Since you cant put bushes up between each house, maybe you need to confront this more head on?

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#14 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 11:08 AM
 
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Well, jeez, how about if the girls in these families are "roaming" all over my property too? It's called a neighborhood, where kids play together and run around. And since there are no physical boundaries between yards it's pretty hard for 4-6 year old children to know when they are encroaching on someone else's property. I guess the MINE attitude is pretty prevalent everywhere.

 

Besides, being in their front yard is not the issue - it's being there and doing anything apparently "boyish" that's the problem. My 4yo sitting on my 6yo's back while they both laughed was too violent apparently. Wearing a cape and chasing another boy is inappropriate. But picking up a smaller child and twirling her like a ballerina like all the girls were doing yesterday is fine ... THAT is what I am talking about.


Ok and I am supposed to know how the girls behave and how certain parents react to every situation how?

 

You're making this a boy thing.  I'm giving these people the benefit of the doubt and assuming that wrestling (where a child could be hurt, believe me) of any kind on their property is not wanted.  You must live in a much different place than I do, because I give my 5 year old boundaries of where he can go.  So he'll be safe and not bother other people who may not want a small child on their property.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Yeah, your neighbors sound a little crazy, but they still have every right to not have 2 kids wrestling in their front yard.  I don't see what's so hard to understand about that? 

 

Perhaps next time you want opinions, you should stick with asking people who will tell you what you want to hear. 

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#15 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok and I am supposed to know how the girls behave and how certain parents react to every situation how?

 

You're making this a boy thing.  I'm giving these people the benefit of the doubt and assuming that wrestling (where a child could be hurt, believe me) of any kind on their property is not wanted.  You must live in a much different place than I do, because I give my 5 year old boundaries of where he can go.  So he'll be safe and not bother other people who may not want a small child on their property.  There's nothing wrong with that.  Yeah, your neighbors sound a little crazy, but they still have every right to not have 2 kids wrestling in their front yard.  I don't see what's so hard to understand about that? 

 

Perhaps next time you want opinions, you should stick with asking people who will tell you what you want to hear. 


Wow, harsh. Well you kind of jumped the gun assuming my sons are marauding through the neighborhood, rolling around wrestling in peoples bushes or something. Not sure why you have such an issue with my post, but I have no problem hearing various opinions, as long as they are actually addressing the issue of concern, not picking on the other details. This is most definitely a "boy" issue, since the moms I'm talking about specifically target boys and what they are doing. I didn't say there was anything wrong with teaching a child boundaries - we have those too - it's just that those OK areas in the past have been the neighbor kids' yards while they are playing with those kids (I think I've said multiple times that they are playing with the daughters of these moms, plus other kids from our street. Kids play outside here together, lots of them). But I've noticed that their play (which seems totally appropriate to anyone with boys) is restricted and criticized when they are playing in front of a couple particular moms.

 

And in my defense, I didn't ask for "opinions" - I asked for advice from moms who have dealt with this or know what I'm talking about. 

 

 

 


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#16 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 02:00 PM
 
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Wow, harsh. Well you kind of jumped the gun assuming my sons are marauding through the neighborhood, rolling around wrestling in peoples bushes or something. Not sure why you have such an issue with my post, but I have no problem hearing various opinions, as long as they are actually addressing the issue of concern, not picking on the other details. This is most definitely a "boy" issue, since the moms I'm talking about specifically target boys and what they are doing. I didn't say there was anything wrong with teaching a child boundaries - we have those too - it's just that those OK areas in the past have been the neighbor kids' yards while they are playing with those kids (I think I've said multiple times that they are playing with the daughters of these moms, plus other kids from our street. Kids play outside here together, lots of them). But I've noticed that their play (which seems totally appropriate to anyone with boys) is restricted and criticized when they are playing in front of a couple particular moms.

 

And in my defense, I didn't ask for "opinions" - I asked for advice from moms who have dealt with this or know what I'm talking about. 

 

 

 



You said yourself that they were wrestling on someone else's lawn and the person didn't like it.  That's what I'm commenting on.  I have 2 boys, I know the rep boys can get, believe me.  But you also have to understand that other parents have different ideas and not everyone wants a kid or two roaming in their yard. 

 

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#17 of 22 Old 09-12-2011, 02:50 PM
 
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I, too have encountered this--most recently on a family vacation with my siblings and their kids.  My 3 yo son is the oldest of his eight cousins, big for his age and the only boy besides a newborn.  For example: the older girls (3 between the ages of 2 to 3 yo) were hitting him, running into him (he gets very focused on his cars!) and the moment he grabbed one by the sleeve to stop her from taking a car from his hand I was summoned to "deal with this."  Because she screamed. He is the only one who asks if another kid or adult wants to be tackled before doing so.  And when one of the girls started braining him with dominoes thrown from across the table, I had to tell her it wasn't ok (and there was a comment about her good aim).  These are all kids who play just beautifully together at my house, meaning they play, squabble, fall over and into each other, and generally enjoy being kids together.  My son is no angel (there is a reason he learned to ask before tackling!) but neither is he a bully.  It does seem that aggressive (normal) boy/kid behavior is deemed unacceptable, except maybe when the aggressor is (smaller?) girl.  At least I can still take him to the local elementary when it lets out for the afternoon.  The "big" boys there love playing with him, and I don't have to be concerned about other mother's reactions to his play!

 

I am coming to view it as another parenting challenge; I examine the situation, my reaction, and how best to proceed in a way that will allow my son to develop into a healthy, humane person.  There is certainly a double-standard, as cliched as that is.  How one deals with it, and how your kids witness it, is important.  I would have probably done the same thing--setting the boundary (don't play where you/your play is not wanted) while confirming that the actual play itself is ok.  Too bad your neighbor appears so self-satisfied.  Although I am jealous that your boys have so many other neighborhood kids around!

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#18 of 22 Old 09-13-2011, 09:11 AM
 
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My perspective: our neighborhood is delineated by driveways, fences and hedge rows, and I've got a girl and a boy.

 

 

Quote:
I was really, really upset yesterday because we had an incident on Saturday with one of these moms and after she yelled at my sons, she walked away laughing and told her mother, who is visiting, "I think I scared them!" Like it was funny that she'd just screamed at my sons for normal behavior and scared them. And because they were on her property she felt she had every right.

 

I know the kinds of neighborhood you're describing, with basically a great big shared front yard. Sounds fun.   You did not say what the mom yelled at your sons.  Was it 'stop!' or 'quit doing that' or 'get off my property' or something like that?  They were on her property, she absolutely does have the right to do that.  It might have been nicer if she didn't yell at them, but is that the only way to get their attention?  Obviously I have no idea. 

 

I would not want other people's kids wrestling in my yard.  When a group of boys from a couple streets over took their ball game through the neighborhood and ended up in the ivy in my front yard I politely and firmly, with a big smile, told them to take it else where. 

 

Yes, my son's play is more physical and aggressive than my daughter's.  When he bugs other people he needs to stop and as his mom I do what I can to adjust that behavior.

 

And I'd be hurt to overhear a mom say that about my kids. 


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#19 of 22 Old 09-13-2011, 10:06 AM
 
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There are some really good books about boys, society expectations, education, etc out there.  I'm thinking of Boys  Adrift, Raising Cain, and The Mind of Boys as three examples. A subject search at the library will probably yield other results.  You're certainly not alone in this observation.  This issue is one (of the many) reasons I decided to homeschool my twins, at least for the time being.


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#20 of 22 Old 09-14-2011, 09:19 PM
 
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I'm not seeing the problem. Just grumpy stick in the mud people. I have family members that would act like your crappy neighbors. I don't like being around them with my boys for the same reason. AND she didn't have boys she had a daughter that wasn't aloud to be a kid growing up. sad isn't it? let it roll off your back (but stand up for your kids) Neighbor is NOT to talk to your kids. If she has a problem with your kids she talks to you. It's no BIG DEAL if a kid plays on your grass or anyone else for that matter.

Kids are just that KIDS. They can't act like an adult because they are not! Sounds like you might just have to talk to your boys and help them understand how people are ( the best you can)

I feel sorry for her girls. Poor kids.

Just let it roll off your back.

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#21 of 22 Old 09-19-2011, 08:56 PM
 
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I have certainly experienced this a lot! I have three boys - two of whom are SUPER MELLOW and one who is really active.  The way that people rack my active child's activeness up to "being a boy" or "having brothers" makes me bonkers.  He is perfect in his active nature, but COME ON he is less like his brothers than lots of girls...people notice info that confirms stereotypes (not just about gender, but about race, ethnicity, what country/region of our country, etc.) more than info that conflicts with it....

 

No advice, but just wow - yuck & sorry :(  

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#22 of 22 Old 09-20-2011, 09:30 AM
 
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I have a boy and a girl, and they both liked wrestling on the front lawn at our old place with the rest of the kids from the neighbourhood. It was probably one of the more organized games they played, actually... they made up their own rules (they have to stop as soon as someone says stop, ouch,etc (any pain sound they immediately stopped) there was no hitting or kicking, only taking each other down, and they stayed on the grass, away from the sidewalk. They figured out pretty quickly which kids were about the same strengths and paired off with their close-to-equals. Someone occasionally got hurt, but no more so than when they were playing tag or riding bikes. None of the parents (4 families involved) seemed to have a problem with this game at all. 

 

One complaint I DID have about the neighbourhood was that DD was the only girl who regularly spent time outside. Some of the boys she played with had sisters, but they didn't get sent out. Girls need exercise and fresh air and freedom just as much as boys do, outside is the best place for them to play.


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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