My Son Loves Nail Polish - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-04-2014, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My Son Loves Nail Polish

My preschool-aged son is a sweet, handsome, athletic boy. He loves soccer and swimming and riding his bike. He LOVES motorcycles and all kinds of stunts (stunts on motorcycles, bicycle tricks, dance tricks, martial arts "tricks"). And he has a very "masculine" haircut too, which he loves.

He also loves nail polish. And dresses and hair accessories. And dolls. And pink. It's probably his favorite color. My son doesn't want to BE a girl, he just likes "girly things." Sometimes he dresses up in a pretty dress and wears a bow on his head and he puts a cape on and calls himself "Princess Man!" He's a heroic MAN who dresses like a princess.

We are very flexible about gender and we tell him he can wear or be anything he wants. The rules about gender are "stupid and wrong" (our words). Whenever someone says "pink is for girls" we've taught him to say things like, "no, anyone can wear pink" or "pink is for girls AND boys." We remind him that kids who say stuff like that are WRONG and don't know any better.

But he understands that there are social rules about gender and thus will not wear dresses outside the home, or tiaras or bows. But nail polish... well he's flexible about that.

Usually adults compliment him on his nail polish. They might show a surprised reaction and some will make disapproving faces but no adult has ever said anything mean about it. Kids are another story.

Recently, a boy in my son's martial arts class has decided my son is a girl. He pesters him and calls him a "she". This bothers my son but my son's reaction is to simply be mean back.

Does anyone else deal with this? How do you empower your kids to challenge harmful social norms without encouraging them to get into fights or trouble? How do you deal with the bullies and "normal" parents who foster gender myths?

Related: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/ma...pagewanted=all
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:36 PM
 
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Princess Man! OMG what an awesome kid! He sounds so rad. Be proud!

I've known tons of guys who like nail polish - usually goth guys who like black, but not all - and several rock/punk musicians are into it. Lipstick too. Been a thing since the 80's. I Googled and found some cool resources for you:

http://men-can-wear-nail-polish.blogspot.com

https://www.facebook.com/GuysWearingNailPolish

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/13/fa...-in-color.html
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Old 08-04-2014, 08:54 PM
 
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I don't know about nail polish, but my 3 1/2 year old son has long hair, almost halfway down his back, and sometimes he wears it in a pony tail to keep it out of his eyes. Or a braid. Or a half ponytail. He really hasn't had any problems with other kids- usually it goes like, "Are you a boy or a girl?", "A boy.", "Why do you have a ponytail?", "So it doesn't get in my eyes." and that's the end of it, but we have had some run-ins with adults, telling him he looks like a girl, some have argued that he MUST be a girl, some even threatening to "cut his hair for him". I've asked my son a couple times if he wants to cut his hair, he says no, he likes it long, so at first, I taught him just to tell people he's a boy (which he edited to his own liking- "I'm a BOY! I have a PENIS! My PENIS makes me a boy, not my hair."). When really pushy people question me, I just ask them why they're so concerned about my son's looks if my son's happy with the way he looks.

I pray for the day Family Court recognizes that CHILDREN have rights, parents only have PRIVILEGES.  Only then, will I know my child is safe.
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Old 08-05-2014, 01:33 PM
 
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I don't really have any advice, but I couldn't read without posting. I think you are an awesome mom for letting him be himself! My DS is 7 and has hair down past his waist. He gets called a girl a lot. It doesn't bother him, but no one has actually been too mean about it. He gets questions like are you a boy or girl, is that real hair, why do you have long hair? He just answers and goes on playing.

As for dealing with parents, I have to be choosey about who we hang out with. We homeschool, so it is easier to "pick our friends". Honestly, grandparents are the worst. They will say what is on their mind in hopes of changing him. We just tell them that he is happy with who he is and when he wants a haircut he will get it.

There are enough people in the world with open minds that if DS finds someone who doesn't appreciate him for who he is then he goes on to find more friends.

Just keep supporting your DS and allowing him to be himself. He will most likely find a way to deal with the comments. Let him know that different people have different thoughts about what is "normal" even though they may be based on false ideas and that ignorance is not worth getting into a fight over. May be kind of hard for a preschooler to grasp, but worth a try.

Married to DH 18 years when DS was born 9/06! : : : SAHM, Meow
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Old 08-05-2014, 02:49 PM
 
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LOL! Princess Man is awesome! I love it! The saying in our house is 'Colors are for everybody!' Anytime something is called 'for girls' or 'for boys' they are swiftly corrected (be it our child or not).

I don't wear make up at all but I love painting my nails, especially my toe nails. They are all fascinated by it and ask to have their nails painted. I usually only do one at a time because that is all they can sit for. We haven't heard anything from the school but one of our kids is special needs so I have been up for meetings regularly and they know our family personality.

Ours boys love to wear necklaces too and have many. There is a boy at the UU church we attended that wore a dress every Sunday and no one ever said a thing. I think it all boils down to who you surround yourself with.

3 boys '06,'08,&'11
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Old 08-05-2014, 03:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kblackstone444 View Post
(which he edited to his own liking- "I'm a BOY! I have a PENIS! My PENIS makes me a boy, not my hair.")
Your son sounds totally awesome but as a friend to transfolk, I feel obligated to point out that there are girls with penises and boys without them, too.
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Old 08-05-2014, 07:17 PM
 
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"This bothers my son but my son's reaction is to simply be mean back."

Am I right that this is the biggest concern? Not so much that your son is expressing himself, but how he's responding to bullying? The gender issue, in that case, is pretty much irrelevant- if your son were being teased for being short or a different race or having a disability or liking math or otherwise being different, the problem would be the same.

That's really something to keep in mind- why someone's being bullied doesn't necessarily impact how to help them handle the bullying. General advice on addressing bullying and addressing parents with different worldviews (especially worldviews that either allow bullying or cause denial of their child's bullying- which certainly happens) will suffice.

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Old 08-05-2014, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysapling View Post
"This bothers my son but my son's reaction is to simply be mean back."

Am I right that this is the biggest concern? Not so much that your son is expressing himself, but how he's responding to bullying? The gender issue, in that case, is pretty much irrelevant- if your son were being teased for being short or a different race or having a disability or liking math or otherwise being different, the problem would be the same.

That's really something to keep in mind- why someone's being bullied doesn't necessarily impact how to help them handle the bullying. General advice on addressing bullying and addressing parents with different worldviews (especially worldviews that either allow bullying or cause denial of their child's bullying- which certainly happens) will suffice.
Yes, that's the biggest concern. Thank you for pointing this out.

However, it IS different than if he were getting teased for being short, etc. Firstly, I can simply remove the nail polish. I can tell him he's not allowed to wear it out of the house. I'm not sure how well that would go over and I doubt it would be in his best interests long term to completely suppress his desires to "be pretty," but his expression of gender can be changed. And that makes it different from things like height, race, disability.

Next, I do think it's helpful to come up with specific possible advice rather than "general advice about bullying." For example, when black kids get teased about being black (for instance, I have heard kids say "your skin is like poop") it can be helpful to address the specific issue and tell the black kids that their skin is beautiful and to point out all the wonderful things that are similarly colored (sweet chocolate, big strong mountains, juicy berries) and all the beautiful people with dark skin. General advice about bullying might be helpful too, but it's good to be specific.
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Old 08-06-2014, 10:34 PM
 
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Subscribing as I'm sure I will be dealing with this also.

Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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Old 08-07-2014, 05:37 PM
 
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I'm not sure I have any advice that you would find useful, as you consider gender expression to be a mere choice and that the acceptable answer to bigotry is to simply demand the victim conform. I hope you find solutions that work for your family.

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Old 08-09-2014, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure I have any advice that you would find useful, as you consider gender expression to be a mere choice and that the acceptable answer to bigotry is to simply demand the victim conform. I hope you find solutions that work for your family.
That is NOT what I said. You have completely mischaracterized my posts. I NEVER suggested that the right way to respond would be to forbid him from using nail polish. In fact, I said
  • We are very flexible about gender and we tell him he can wear or be anything he wants.
  • I doubt it would be in his best interests long term to completely suppress his desires to "be pretty,"

But the FACT is that this is mutable, unlike height, race, or ability means that kids and parents will react differently. Gender identity and sexual identity are not choices but the expression of gender, STYLE, is a choice. And letting him express his style however he wants to is my choice too. Parents of children who are non-gender-conforming need actual, useful strategies for dealing with THIS issue because it's NOT THE SAME as other types of bullying. Your saying " The gender issue, in that case, is pretty much irrelevant" is NOT helpful.

I've also pointed out that my son does not have a "gender issue." He has an issue with how society responds to his expression of gender. He likes nail polish and pretty things; he is not trans.

Last edited by marsupial-mom; 08-09-2014 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 08-11-2014, 03:19 PM
 
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I think its awesome that you let him express himself like that! And I love his answer about being a boy! (sorry no helpful advice)
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Old 09-11-2014, 09:05 AM
 
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I think you are fine. Nothing wrong with your child expressing his or her self. My DS loves wearing pink has long hair he loves braided or in ponytails and yes is mistaken for a girl often.

But he is happy and healthy and that is all that matters.
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Old 09-11-2014, 04:54 PM
 
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Thank you for this post and I found a lot of the discussion very helpful. I'm currently dealing with "similar" situations with my son so I joined this forum with the hope of getting feedback or suggestions on how to deal with them. I've been hesitant to post until I've read as many other posting as possible to try not be redundant on subjects.

I'll try to put my post together shortly.
All the best with your uniquely wonderful child.
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Old 09-11-2014, 08:18 PM
 
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I have a preschool aged child and I can add that I think a lot of kids this age are still working out what makes someone a girl and a boy. In fact, many of us adults have trouble with that, especially as we become more aware and sensitive as a society about how fluid these things are.

I don't think anyone should be teased for how they dress (or teased for anything) but in the pre-school set confusion about these things is common. My 3.5 year old thinks long hair are girls and short hair are boys. We've talked about this, she knows people who do not conform to these things but she still doesn't understand. She insists that our long-haired cat is a boy and the short haired cat is a girl. She's wrong and confused and has it stuck in her head the opposite way. We have modeled that there is nothing wrong with being mixed up about that because there is nothing wrong with being a girl or a boy or neither (or somewhere in between if that's how a person feels).

So, I join the folks who focus on teasing because there really isn't anything wrong with being mistaken about someone's gender. In adulthood I suppose it can be a bit more complicated but it shouldn't be in preschool. I may be an outlier in that I would probably not call teasing at the pre-school age bullying. This seems like an age where there is still too much to learn about the world for behavior to be labeled in this way. I would address the behavior, for sure, but I would do so in a way that gives this other child the benefit of the doubt. At this age, the way we respond to stuff like this can be some of the best feedback.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 09-23-2014, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:39 PM
 
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Thank you for providing that article. Great to read about how others handle and also the comments associated with it.
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