Haven’t we all, at least once in our lives, heard of phrases like ‘Fighting like a man’ and ‘crying like a girl’, ‘Doll houses for her’ and ‘the toy cars for him’, or, perhaps, even used them ourselves! They sound quite harmless, and honestly, come to us almost naturally, after experiencing them being used by our parents and grand parents for all these years.
But, should they REALLY be this normalized? Just one magnifying glass and a broader outlook later, one can notice how it has fit us all in boxes, basically since birth. And here’s why that’s problematic - because the initial growing years promarily build and hardwire a child’s core, and if they’re constantly being told to conform to the gender they were born with - it leads to emotional, individualistic and personality confusions and complications as adults.
So how do YOU as a parent break this labelling-conforming cycle? The answer lies with Gender Neutral Parenting.
Gender neutral, literally, means ‘suitable for, applicable to, or common to both male and female genders’. Isn’t that basically the space we, as parents, are trying to create for our little ones? Being a gender neutral parent can mean different things to different people, and in our opinion, there really is no right or wrong way to it. Which is why we thought of sharing some easy ways, with which you can ease into the concept, picking and choosing what works best for you!
1. First of all, TREAT THEM ALL EQUALLY! Yup, everyone! Louder for the people at the back!
2. Informing and exposing them to different gender types. Give examples of real people. Incorporate knowledgeable reading. So that they can make choices that they align with.
3. Moving away from the HEAVILY generalized ‘pink and blue’ concept. Oh, there’s so many pretty colours out there they’re missing out on! face palm
4. Letting kids (and even adults!) be their real, vulnerable, emotional selves. Honestly, isn’t that what makes us HUMAN?
4. Creating a safe space away from societal judgement and restrictions. Because home is where we’re all our realest versions, right?
5. Pointing out and understanding sexism in the world. Unfortunately, the real world is not as inclusive as a child’s home. Problems like bullying and sexism still exist and it’s important to be aware of them.
6. Using Pronouns like they/them to not fit individuals into a he or she. The goal is not to ERASE gender, but to create a more inclusive and unique world.
Lastly, and basically a given, be gender sensitive yourself!! We’ve all grown up differently, but it’s a never too late to unlearn, and learn, and re-learn! :)