Every parent has their own system and beliefs on how to raise their kids, and for the past couple of years, more parents have started to run a gender neutral household, which can be quite an adjustment especially for new family members. There are certain myths that surround the idea of this parenting style, and it’s important that you dispel any preconceived notions that could potentially make life with your new family difficult.
Non-conformity to gender is a complicated subject to explore for some. The best way to understand it is a way to express individuality without being confined to the stereotypes derived from culture and media. Yet, Gender Neutral Parenting (GNP) is often misinterpreted as a way to promote androgyny or encourage homosexuality in bringing up a child. The term “gender-bending” can cause a stir among the uninformed, leading people to believe that GNP is all about eradicating the concept of males and females being separate entities, while others view it as a method of “inducing homosexuality” that requires interventions for kids to go back to “gender proper behaviors.” As described by Everyday Feminism, the reality is that GNP does not enforce androgyny as much as it doesn’t enforce nor insult traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity. And in regards to the myth of homosexuality, GNP has no influence on sexual orientation, but rather it gives children the freedom to find themselves on the gender spectrum instead of conforming to specific roles dictated by their sex.
As more media publications like the Telegraph began reporting accounts of GNP, some started insinuating that parents adopting this style were using their children as a social experiment for political gains or something else just as outrageous. People are often critical of things they fear or do not understand. Most people limit what a child can be, dictating what he or she can or can’t do. All GNP is doing is breaking down that narrow definition.
Having been born in a different age and time, we were brought up with conflicting ideas of what it’s like to be a man or be a woman, and we’re so caught up in separating the two instead of letting kids be who they want to be. It’s much easier said than done, considering the distinctions between toys for boys and girls and the different sections in the children’s department. Kate Pietrasik, founder of Tootsa said, “clothes for children should be built for sturdier purposes than the changing vagaries of style – to be passed from sibling to sibling, or friend to friend regardless of gender.” But families continue to toss their gender prejudices into the trash in hopes that their kids can find acceptance in themselves without adults swaying them towards one end of the continuum or the other. There are more to kids and people in general beyond the sex they were born as, and when families start blending or start welcoming new members, the key is for everyone to keep an open mind and to accept each other for who they are rather than mold them into something that you are used to.
Kayli majored in Women’s Studies in college, and when her friend introduced her to the idea of gender neutral parenting, she was all for it. A firm believer in breaking stereotypes, she hopes that more parents become more accepting of their children’s individuality rather than forcing them into specific gender roles.