m4s0n501

As a father of two girls there is a perceived notion that you must raise your daughters in a certain way (or at least I sometimes get this impression form the people that I interact with). At the same time, when I talk to fathers of boys, I hear differing things about their impressions and the ways in which they feel that they can and should raise their boys as well.

For girls, there is the impression that society expects that they will be introduced to dolls, dress up and the like and that fathers will support this feminine societal view. While boys are given toy guns, legos, cars or trucks to solidify their manhood. Who says though that it has to be this way? Who says that a girl can’t love playing with cars or trucks? Who says that a boy cannot like playing with a Cabbage Patch Kid doll?

For me, I have always encouraged my girls to do what they want to do. Whether this is playing baseball or dolls, dress up or cars, I am encouraging them to be the person that they want to be while at the same time encouraging them to explore areas outside of the normal societal mores.

I have been encouraging this from an early age and I show this not only in the things that I let them see and try, but also in the things that I do with them. Thus, whether it is wrestling and roughhousing with them on the floor or dancing will we can’t see straight, I am pushing myself to look outside of the box while at the same time encouraging them to explore non-traditional society roles and activities.

I truly believe that fathers who do this are building their daughters into strong, well-adjusted members of society that will be able to stand on their own two feel and who will be able to decide for themselves in the end what is right and what they will stand for. In the end, that is what I want for my daughters. I want them to be self-sufficient and I want them to know that no matter what society will say that they can do and be what they want to be no matter what!

What about you? How do you encourage this in your own children?

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  • Deron

    Fascinating topic.  I have a 30 month old boy and a 10 month old girl.  We thought it was amazing how our son seemed to automatically gravitate to what you might consider ”boy toys” ie cars, balls, etc.  When this became apparent to us my inner 12-year-old took over and I helped fuel this even more by purchasing those type items.  (note that he does play with steretypical “girls toys” when when visiting friends, and we appreciate the creative, imaginary play).

    Now that our girl is getting to an age where she can “pick” what she plays with, we’re curious to see how she reacts.  Right now, she wants whatever toy her older brother is playing with!  So my wife and I are excited to see if she gravitates to more “girl toys” later or if she ends up playing with cars and sports equipment her whole life.  Such an adventure!

  • Elizabeth S.

    As a girl who grew up playing ninja turtles and barbies, and had to fight some family prejudices to play soccer, I swore I would raise my daughter to also fight against stereotypes. But then I also caught myself succumbing to the reverse stereotype. Would I buy my son a pink toy if he asked for it? Probably not. Glitter? No chance. Then I stepped back and started “caving” a little when I caught myself doing these things (much to my macho husband’s dismay). Kitchen toys and mardi gras-type beads for my son? Check. Purple items when he asks? Check. Now I have a daughter, too, and amazingly, at 8 months she started gravitating towards…purses. No joke. At a year she had a clear affinity for shoes, purses, Hello Kitty…and Ninjago. I think having a child of each gender will help me keep my own gender biases in check, and I the best I can do is promise to stand up to people (family members included) who think we should be sticking to traditional gender roles instead of breaking stereotype barriers.

    • http://www.veritymom.com Danielle Gahl

      Have you checked out Cinderella Ate My Daughter? It had some great insights about how the great divide of sex really boils down to the commodification of childhood. (Or, that was my takeaway.) 

      It is so funny to hear about your pink toy thing– we struggle with the same thing, but for our little girl. 

      I thought if we had a boy, I would encourage him playing with pink toys or princesses but with my daughter, I was hesitant because I didn’t want her to equate her childhood with a cloud of imposed femininity. 

      Of course, I am probably just over thinking this and should give my kiddo a box and some markers to play with….problem solved:)

      • Elizabeth S.

        I will check it out, for sure. Thank you for the suggestion. I also hesitated with pink for my daughter, although not because I have anything against it. My own dresses were entirely frills and ruffles my grandparents made sure I had femininity imposed on me so hardcore, I would be taken in from playing soccer and forced to embroider and watch telenovelas. However, I also knew that it was my mom’s influence that made it clear that I could do and like whatever I wanted, not whatever was deemed appropriate for me to like. I was opposed to buying everything pink and glittery and frilly for my daughter because I knew that’s what EVERYONE else was going to buy her (and I was right). I just needed to make sure that I wasn’t making everything boy/girl, his/hers, etc. for the benefit of my own children. And my siblings are right now board. As far as rough-housing goes, they are equally willing to throw my daughter around as they are to throw my boys. And yeah, like you, I’m probably over thinking everything, but with my son now starting to say, “that’s for girls, that’s for boys,” I feel like I need to make sure that they all know that the only thing that’s really only for boys and girls is giving birth. Everything else is basically fair game ;-)

  • http://twitter.com/sburda Steven Burda, MBA

    I have two kids: Ethan and Annabelle !

    - Steven Burda

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/burda

  • www.MadDadzBlog.com

    I have my own take on the “boys v. girls” thing.  I’m not quite as, uh, analytical as this post.  
    http://maddadzblogs.com/blog/2011/08/31/boys-v-girls/

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