Throughout our lives we are force fed stereotypical junk food about genders. Boys in blue, girls in pink. Boys should play superhero and war, girls should play princess and dress up. I don’t know how this came about, or why it still continues. One thing I do know is this: In my house, my children will be raised to look beyond such crap and see people for who they are as people. Does it really matter that there be such a distinction of gender character other than what anatomy has already done for us?
I have to admit, I never really thought about it until I had kids. We were also the parents that found out our first born would be a boy and immediately started shopping blue. Same thing when we find out the second child would be a girl. Pink shopping all the way. Now that they have grown older and really started to come into their own, I realize that it was nothing more than a crock of bird cakes.
My children are now four and two and very much becoming their own little people. All of the colors we spent so much time focusing on are meaningless. My son likes to wear Little Girl’s pink and purple sandals, and she likes to wear Little Man’s backwards hats and blue plaid house shoes. They run around like that without giving a care to what colors surround them. For the kids, it is just fun times. Why can’t the rest of us see this?
I have become committed in my mind that as they grow older, I will do everything in my power to NOT promote these stereotypes. I know that in the future they may encounter people who tease them or bully them. It happened to me in high school as I used to wear 5 strategically placed ponytails in my hair. Yeah, I was one of those kids. I learned both the right and wrong ways of dealing with it, which is experience I can share with my kids should the need arise.
Dads, let me encourage you today to think on this. Think about the importance of nurturing a child’s imagination and creativity. Think about the social importance of raising children who see past the color barrier on so many levels. Think about the important role you play on instilling these values to your children and how you can do so.
As modern day dads, we have been working to smash the mold cast by media, pop culture, and generalizations based on the past. For our children, we must also work just as hard to smash the molds of stereotypes that are put in front of them everyday. We can be advocates not just for our children, but for ALL children. Join me in the commitment of raising understanding and inclusive children. For their sake, and for a better future for them all.