Pregnancy & Birth Clubs <
22/12/2013 at 09:43
Hello, I'm guessing I might not get any replies, this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but just throwing it out there.
Any members interested in or employing/planning to employ GNP? I did my best with my son, but at quite a low level; had no books or online articles back then and didn't have any real knowledge, was just a hunch I didn't want to subscribe to all the stereotyping. This time around, 17 years and a lot of life experiences in between, plus in a great marriage with little gender definition, I find myself feeling very passionate about it and would love to hear from others with a view.
It came to the forefront again yesterday when we went shopping and picked up things for the house/us and wanted to get a few outfits for baby but in all but one shop (Sainsburys) the outfits for young babies were ridiculously gender-specific. Debenhams being the worst culprit with a huge blue corner and a huge pink corner (what's happened to red, green, yellow, purple?!). :)
22/12/2013 at 10:08
Hi Counter, I'm nowhere near that stage yet, but yes, this is my intention. I really dislike stereotyping in clothes or toys, and certainly don't intend to do the pink or blue thing. My parents never stereotyped with me. I had all colour clothes and don't remember anything pink. I hated dolls and had a model garage, a train set etc. I used to "help" Dad with DIY and help Mum bake. I have grown up to have a non-traditional-female job (paramedic) but still like getting glammed up and girly for nights out and am perfectly competent at DIY and blokey things! My parents pretty much let me grow up into the person I wanted to be rather than label me from the outset, and I'd like to do the same for any child I have.
22/12/2013 at 10:23
Fab! Glad you replied. So nice to hear from someone with similar thoughts, and childhood experiences, to me! I was ridiculed by my parents for the toys I got for Harry (he loved the ladybird pram, toy kitchen with running water, and cleaning set as well as trains and cars and toolkits) yet my favourite toy was a garage my grandad built me and I had over 200 matchbox cars and they were my pride and joy! I found attending an all-girl school hard at times because of the gender conditioning.
I've never understood why any life choices should be predicated on my gender (I'm used to being the only woman in the meetings etc) and want my son to view the whole world as his horizon, not just the 'male' professions, pastimes and opinions.
It doesn't feel like a difficult or different or negative path, to me. More like I'm celebrating the fact we're all just people, but different people who can bring different things to the table :)
22/12/2013 at 10:29
Ha ha are we the same person? My garage was also made for me by my granddad! And I went to a girls school :-)
Anyway, I agree with pretty much everything you're saying. Stereotyping seems to limit choices, whereas I want my child to have the world at their feet and not have their ambition limited.
22/12/2013 at 10:34
I can't say I specifically try to parent in any way like you have mentioned but my daughter also helps with DIY and my son will tag along in the kitchen. This happens in nursery as well.
As I don't know the sex of this baby everything I've bought is neutral. Can't see how you will have a problem buying neutral clothes. There are loads out there - I love the Hungry Caterpillar stuff, Next have bright coloured animal print, H&M loads. I have a red pram, black and white buggysnuggle, red and white Starsuit. All our crib/cot bedding is yellow, green and purple.
Even for toddlers there are loads of jeans which would suit boys or girls, I hate tops with slogans so have loads of tshirts and tops which are reds/greens/blues. Gap hoodies I tend to buy red, grey or navy for my daughter so that my son can use them afterwards.
I've never had a problem. Not saying I dress them like this all the time - my daughter loves her sparkles and my son loves Teenage Mutant Turtles just now so has pjs, tops etc.
At 5 and nearly 4 they are both expected to put their dirty washing away, I get them to help load the washing machine and they both love washing dishes, making sandwiches and simple things in the kitchen. My son made soup in nursery recently!
And at the same time they both "helped" change the car tyre, put water and oil in
22/12/2013 at 10:36
I don't think this is a particularly unusual approach, even though shops would like to make you think otherwise! A's clothes are pretty much all what I would call gender neutral, although some people would probably not choose to dress a girl in them if they were that way inclined - if I had had a girl I would also dress her in bright colours and dinosaurs and robots but these patterns seem to be mostly found in the boys' clothing sections. I don't give a stuff what toys he wants to play with as he gets bigger (apart from not being a fan of guns and violent computer games but that's not gender-related) or what he wants to be when we grows up (as long as it's not a mass murderer) as long as he's happy. This element of gender stereotyping and identity is a complete non-issue for me as these are just not distinctions that I make, or have ever made.
However that is all very low-level gender neutral stuff and I'm wary of approaches that look at raising children without reference to their gender at all - gender is a huge part of our identity and ensuring that children know and understand what it is to be a boy or a girl is a massively crucial part of parenting. Gender is important and does make a difference so for me it is not about neutralising all those differences, but ensuring that gender identities are positive ones rather than negative.
22/12/2013 at 10:38
Totally what TT said, but she put it much better than I could!
22/12/2013 at 10:39
Lavender Rose has made me think too - although I have started A off in gender-neutral clothes, and would with a girl too, that's down to my personal preference and I wouldn't continue to do this as they got older with no regard for their own preferences and personalities. If I had a girl who adored pink and sparkles and princesses, it wouldn't be my own personal cup of tea but I would go with it because it's her own choice, and for me encouraging my children to develop their own choices and express themselves is more important than me imposing my own personal gender politics on them!
22/12/2013 at 10:54
When we found out E was a girl, everyone went absolutely mental buying her pink EVERYTHING! Clothes, vests, toys (which actually had a unisex / bright version, her bouncer and playmat..). So much so that we've tired to do the opposite. I wouldn't say we are gender neutral as such, I mean, E at 11 months wears a dress and pink probably 5/7 days when she isn't at nursery but, especially with Xmas coming, i've been more aware I don't want her having so much pink / girly..
She's got for Xmas, a pink pram and dolly, and a train set. For her birthday coming, we've got a garage and car set, so I guess, we're just trying to expose her to everything, before she choses what she likes IYSWIM. I've two nieces who, aged 6/7 are so different, one is a girly girl, you won't catch her out of a dress, even her PJs are nighties, and loves all things pink/glitter.. The other, total opposite, hates dresses, hates pinks, hates girly stuff.. Ironic as the girly girl has a not-very-typically girly mommy and vice versa! I guess I like that they've both been able to lead their own paths, and so i guess, it's what we'll plan to do with E too. I'm not sure if that makes us Gender neutral or not?
22/12/2013 at 10:57
Exactly. A now asks to wear skirts/dresses whereas I prefer her in jeans but I pretty much let her pick her own clothes now (she was 5 in August) I like her hair in a ponytail but she likes it down or plaited so that's mostly what she has now.
She is quite crafty, has access to dolls, barbies, car garage, tonka trucks etc but can mostly be found drawing, cutting and sticking at the dining table. Or raiding the recycling bin for boxes and tubes to make mouse houses ot similar lol
L likes to use the Barbie castle to park his cars in or the Weebles castle complete with princess, knight and dragon.
22/12/2013 at 11:02
I've just thought of my 11 yr old niece. She plays in the girls football team, pretty much always wears football strips and track suits. But at the same time has knee length hair which is always done beautifully and she has her first boyfriend! She has 4 brothers and a sister and her mum wanted a girlie girl but she has been allowed to decide for herself.
I think what will be will be really and any good parent will let their child find their own personality as they grow.
22/12/2013 at 11:06
LR - we don't live in a big town and there's loads of white and cream up to 6m, blue and pink, but very, very little in the way of bright or coloured clothes that aren't clearly defined as boy/girl.
TT - I wouldn't/don't think of it as gender politics, I'm certainly not one who would seek to eliminate any gender identification my child *does* have/find. It's definitely all about choices for me. My son has thanked me for being so open to anything/everything. He remembers me saying 'or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend' when he talked (when young) about being in a couple with a wife when older. I barely remember because it's the norm for me. He's drawn to the sciences but grew up considering child care, nursing, teaching equally alongside train driving, and all the other typical 'male' stuff. I found it hard with (my) grandparents who just weren't open to those concepts. But we won't have those issues second time around, our kids will barely see their grandparents.
I understand that for most of us a different reaction to behaviours is natural between sexes. Subconsciously the average person expects boys to be strong, fast, not to cry. Girls to be better communicators, more expressive and more likely to compromise. I completely understand why that is, doubtless I do it too, I just love to try and encourage all positive characteristics regardless of gender. To be honest, 17 years in, I actually find it quite difficult at times, with my son. Not with him per se, we do very well here at home, but until he got older I didn't realise how much gender conditioning there was in social groups, school and in the media. I think I would have found it harder with a girl, and the early sexualisation of toys and clothes that I find genuinely quite upsetting, if I give it thought. For me a lot of the challenge is simply undoing what happens in the outside world, counteracting generalisations (including from his dad) with another view so that Harry has the full complement of ideas to pick from, it's up to him then!
I just wrote a big reply and lost it. But agree pretty much with what LR has said, they choose their own gender roles. At nursery M has access to garages, cars etc She was à train set at home but they dont get played with, she prefers dolls, crafts, dressing up, dancing. And when Shes with her friends the girls will sit and do jigsaw, colour in, play with kitchens etc, the boys grab hammers and bang things
The gender roles exist because that's how we differ naturally.
That's not to say boys shouldn't be taught to cook and bake, or to clean up after themselves and girls shouldnt know how to fix things or can command high salaries in boardroom type jobs. My plan is to bring up my children to be independent self sufficient individuals who fulfil their potential whatever that may be regardless of sex and whether they wore pink or blue as a baby
22/12/2013 at 11:13
Counter, have a look online. I'm sure you will find loads of lovely outfits. Actually have a look on the DW/MD selling page, I'm sure someone was selling nice bright ones there.
22/12/2013 at 11:17
That's just a few I seem quickly x
22/12/2013 at 11:22
No sorry, maybe I wasn't clear. I wasn't suggesting that you are imposing gender politics on your children. I think that what you have described is all just part of raising well rounded human beings and bringing out positive personalities and characteristics rather than restricting choices due to gender.
What I meant was that I have an aversion to pink sparkly girly girl-ness, because to me it implies acceptance of the female role as passive object, there mainly to look pretty and only concern herself with glitter and other such fripperies. However this view is based on my own gender politics / if I had a daughter who loved all of that she wouldn't be thinking of the wider social context, she'd just like frilly stuff. So I wouldn't try to discourage her purely because of my own beliefs. Does that make more sense?
22/12/2013 at 11:35
Ha ha TT, no I completely get you! I'm very anti-sparkle/pink, but if my child (boy or girl) is determined to run around in a tutu, so be it! It's not for me but I'm open to whatever. Harry picked his clothes from the age of 2 which meant a certain red teletubby jumper must have been washed a thousand times!!
I like that people are so much more open to sharing gender roles and opportunities, it's great that we've come so far. I just think we've a bit of a way to go in the stuff you can't see. For example, I get on my high horse about the maternity/paternity leave thing and the government not considering men able to take time off to care for a baby under 20 weeks. Not only is it sexist but I don't think it's necessarily right for the babies either. We're often stronger than each other at various things, practical and emotional, and it's nice to have the chance to embrace that regardless of the bits between our legs :D
22/12/2013 at 11:43
Yep, my husband is taking 9 weeks additional paternity when I go back to work and very time I tell someone this they say "Ooh. How do you think he'll get on? Does he know what he's letting himself in for?". Erm, yes, he's an adult and a father and will be no less capable than I was but I don't remember you asking if I'd be able to do it.
22/12/2013 at 12:31
I don't that as sexist at all. We were in a similar situation when I returned to work full time and my H went part time to cover childcare. I think it's more because it goes against tradition, rather than sexist.
Also with regards to maternity/paternity allowing fathers to take paid time off at all has come a long way over the last few years. We tried to sort something similar when my daughter was born 5 yrs ago and it was t an option at all. I think it only came into play 3 yrs ago.
It's a sensitive subject to me as now we are both self employed my H will be lucky to have 1 day off (the day the baby is born) and I will probably only have a few weeks off.
22/12/2013 at 12:38
Oh LR, I really do. I've had people question whether my husband 'is okay' with taking time off to look after baby, implying it's been forced upon him (he's dying to do it), and someone tried to make a joke of it at our Christmas party. I think men should be encouraging each other in this stuff, supporting the equality of it all. I resent that 'men' (boys) like to make out it's not manly to be the caregiver for children, and the government should have done much more long ago. They harp on about feckless fathers and the breakdown of relationships yet from the very off they discriminate between genders by marginalising the dads when it comes to spending time with the baby. I think the birth is great place to start recognising dads as an equal parent, and the rights - and responsibilities - that go with it.
You are right, things have improved a lot on that front, it's just not enough for me in 2013. I'm too impatient! :-\
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