Are you raising your children to be gender-neutral and race-neutral?
When I say “raising gender-neutral” children, I do not mean raising children who are devoid of a sense of gender identity. To me, raising a gender-neutral child means that it’s perfectly ok for a boy to wear pink and a girl to wear blue. It means my son can play with a Hello Kitty and Barbie doll without anyone batting an eyelash. It means that if my daughters and I are having a nail polish painting party, I will not exclude my son. It means having no problem with my daughter spending her entire afternoon playing with Hot Wheels cars and monster trucks.
Raising a race-neutral child is the same thing, except it applies to race. Recently, my children started daycare full-time in the U.S. Our daycare is awesome because they have live-streaming videos of the room that your child is in. The first time I logged on, I watched my little 16-month-old walking around the room firmly hugging an African-American doll. The next time I logged on, I saw the same thing… as well as the 3rd time.. and 4th time… apparently, that African-American doll is the first thing she reaches for when she arrives at the daycare, and she carries it around most of the day. Since she loves it so much, I am planning on buying her one exactly like that to have here at home.
Even though we live in the 21st century, some people still think that it’s not OK for girls to do “boy” things and boys to do “girl” things. Some people still aren’t comfortable letting a “white” child play with a “black” or “Asian” doll. We live on a planet where there are all kinds of people with all kinds of skin colors that come from all kinds of backgrounds. Especially in America, we are a melting pot of all the different cultures and societies from around the world. If we want the little humans we are raising today to become well-rounded, open-minded, non-racist, non-machoistic citizens of society tomorrow, we need to be models of the behavior we want them to emulate.. and to me, that begins at this young age with letting them do things like play with a Barbie doll if they are a boy or buying a new Lightning McQueen car set for their birthday if they are a girl (if they want those things, of course).
I didn’t set out to purposely impose playing with cars on my daughter or dolls on my son. Since I have children of both genders that are close in age, they play with each other constantly, including each other’s toys, and have taken an affinity for what the other wears and plays with. They are also curious about people who do not look like them, since they grew up in a European country where everyone looks the same. Since moving to the U.S., my 3 year old’s best friend at daycare is a Latino girl and my toddler’s favorite doll is one with a skin color completely opposite of her own. And I love it! If I as a parent objected to these things (which I don’t understand why anyone would), I am setting my children up to potentially be racist, machoistic, homophobic, and who knows what else. I don’t know about you, but that is not the way I want my children to grow up. I hope they grow to be adults who are loving, open-minded, and accepting of all people around them. In this day and age, I don’t know how any parent can think differently. Those are just my two cents, though….
What are your thoughts on this?