Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gender Fluidity, The Genderless Baby and Raising my Son

If I were reading about a mother who didn't want to raise a son (as you have been for the last week), I would probably be thinking this:  Lady, you are pathetic.  You have a healthy, growing, thriving little boy.  There are mothers all over the world who have buried their sons, yet you are so selfish that you wish you had had another daughter?  Get over it.

Yeah, I'd be pretty judgemental.  I get it that I am privileged to even have the opportunity to reflect on why I find it difficult to raise a son.  Still, how much worse of a mother would I be if I didn't reflect on my feelings and direct my thoughts toward investigating my attitude and healing my past (from which my attitudes come)?

And so I will finish these reflections on gender with the following thoughts:

In May, The Toronto Star ran a story about a couple who are refusing to reveal the gender of their baby in order for the child to grow up without all the stereotypes associated with gender.

I think they are brilliant.

I had first read about gender fluidity (for children) in April and I was really intrigued by it.  When I read about Baby Storm who is being raised by possibly the most open-minded, loving, accepting parents on the planet I was absolutely thrilled to learn that there are parents who are so incredible.

I am simply not even mature enough to embrace what they have done--prevent gender stereotyping by not divulging the gender of their baby.  But I get it.  I totally get it.

You see, I just don't think that sex and gender matter.  At least, not when it comes to how I want to raise my children.  I don't believe that the stereotypical 'male' and 'female' behaviour that people are so quick to observe in my children actually have anything to do with sex or gender.

My daughters love to wear dresses.  They choose pink and purple clothing when we go shopping.  They love their Barbie dolls.

AND, they refuse to wash or comb their hair.  All 3 of them.  They play in mud.  Often.  They ride on Tonka trucks down our sloping driveway, slamming their feet into the sidewalk just inches before they would shoot out onto the road.  They climb trees.  They delight in feeding bugs and worms to the chickens.

They are active, curious, busy children and I don't see that any of their behaviours are related to how they identify themselves as girls.  And I don't see that any of my son's behaviours are related to being a boy.  He is simply growing up the best way he knows how in the environment that he was born into.

The boundaries that I place on Julian will be the same as the boundaries I place on my daughters.  We don't tolerate aggression.  We don't act with prejudice, arrogance or ignorance.  We show kindness and compassion to our family, friends, neighbours and acquaintances.  We value patience, fulfillment, safety and good health.  We choose to live in Freedom and Joy.

What if my son starts hitting or biting?  Well, so what.  One of my daughters went through a brief aggressive period.  We responded with patience and understanding;  she doesn't hit or bite anymore.  What if my son wants to play with cars and trucks and trains?  Well, he can if he wants.  He can also play with Playmobil and Duplo and My Little Ponies and Barbies and whatever he wants.  What if my son wants to wear dresses and hair barrettes?  Okay.  He likely won't forever.

Meeting Julian's needs and guiding him as he grows are my main objectives.  I will do this by authentically getting to know him and observing carefully as he signals his needs to me.  I will listen carefully to him and to his sisters throughout their lives and I will give them my unconditional, unequivocal love and devotion.

That's all.
I'm done talking about gender.
For now.

PART 1:  Disappointment after my Son's Birth
PART 2:  Gender Stereotypes
PART 3:  6 Reasons I did Not Want a Boy

1 comment:

  1. I will say that I am sooo happy that you are over the moon to have your son. I read your "6 reasons why I don't want a Boy post" and have to comment so you will realize and understand gender has nothing to do with how a child behaves or is. Most people nowadays don't want boys for ridiculous reasons unless they had really negative experiences with men (then understandable, but yet why would they marry? Still figuring that out.) and think girls are perfect. I am sick of it because no child, boy or girl is perfect and will have difficult moments. Thing is you shouldn't judge your child based on what you see from other children. The common "Girls are sweet, calm and cute and boys are boisterous, loud, dirty and smelly" is plain foolish at best. If you really thought that, then "Girls are hellraisers when they hit their teens". Would you believe that? If you think the stereotype boys are all what you mentioned when they are young in that post and feel bad for the parents, then you will get your share when your girls are teenagers because they will be just as "difficult" when reach that teen age. That is a common stereotype as well. But of course it's a myth that all teen girls are nightmares, so obviously it has to be a myth that all little boys are what you mentioned on why you didn't want a boy. Just because your girls are well behaved and see lots of well behaved girls, don't expect ALL little girls to be the same. And if you don't believe that, take my 2.5 year old daughter for some time and believe me, she will drive you up a wall and you will not stand her for even 5 min.

    I have a 7 year old son and boy/girl twins age 2.5, my oldest son is well mannered, polite and very affectionate towards everyone, we taught him that and he knows right from wrong. If he misbehaves, he will get appropriate discipline for his actions and he learns. But we never really had dealt with his misbehavior as he hardly misbehaved. He's very laid back and calm, so it's just personality. With my twins, they are different. They are both high maintainance (and yes the GIRL too) and will exhaust you to no end. It's their personality I believe but we are disciplining them to our ability, but it's a bit harder since they are much younger.

    So point of advice. Children come with different personalities and character, as well as how the parents parent them. You do realize we have a lot of horrid parents these days. The gender of a baby is not already pre-packaged on how they will behave. I've seen many spoiled boys and girls who are complete shits and very well behaved boys and girls. Again they will have their difficult moments, but you know, that is part of parenting and we all have to suffer through it. But the pity thing is lots don't see that and judge and stereotype...it's stupid, in fact they are stupid. To be honest, I am glad and feel it is good that you have a son now to show that all the things you previously saw little boys is all rubbish (always wish everyone would get at least one of each gender to realize this), otherwise you will never realize and probably would have been those "anti-boy" moms..believe me they are not the best people to be around with because I always get negative comments about my boys from them even when my boys are on their best behavior and ironically when my girl misbehaves in public, they just laugh it off like it's cute..hmpf!