Family Life

When kids just need to be kids

gender specific toys

My little two year old man is into ‘shopping’ at the moment and pushing his friends around in the pram. Actually, one friend is in the pram and the other is in his bag, or handbag… I am still working it out. Either way, it doesn’t really matter! To him, this is what his big sister does, so of course, he must do it too.

I refuse to be one of those parents that tell their children what they ‘should’ be doing. I refuse to tell my children that dolls are for girls and diggers are for boys, because in actual fact, the love can be shared, right? I want my children to know that they can feel empowered to make decisions for themselves about choices that matter to them. Just because there is a line of lawyers in my family with an expectation desire to continue this tradition, it should not mean they are expected to do so. In actual fact, my message is and will always be: ‘Do what you want to do, not what other people want you to do.’

I kind of get the whole gender specific expectations that we have going on in our current society. I don’t live in a tent and am completely aware that many individuals are quite sensitive to having specific gender roles played out. I remember distinctively having a conversation with my girlfriend after her son started dance lessons and the conversation (or arguments) that she had with her husband that revolved around “dancing is for girls” and “dancing is not just for girls”. You get my drift…

But the truth of the matter is, my husband would probably feel and act exactly the same way (no disrespect sweetie). Somehow, there is relationship to what a child does, or does not do, that impacts feelings of ‘manhood’, ‘fatherhood’ or something similar. I have not quite figured it out. I mean, why should a father’s son pursuing dance mean anything other then the fact that he enjoys dance? But, surprisingly, it does (so it seems).

And here we stand in a world that is meant to be accepting, embracing and open to individually, is unfortunately very much lead by society’s expectations and stigma. Because lets be honest, God forbid if a little boy pushed a pink pram with dolls inside and took up dance class the next year.

Catalogues will often (most often) still display toy kitchens with little girls baking. Most of these kitchens are either pink or red. Have you seen a green or blue kitchen advertised lately? But yet, Masterchef is one of the most successfully rated TV shows and currently has 3 leading chefs as the hosts, with to date, many of the guest chefs as males. Is there something not quite ironic hypocritical about this situation? And yet, toy kitchens are advised to the toddler girls… definitely not seen on the ‘boys’ page.

I honestly believe that there is enough pressure on little human beings to behaviour appropriately, use their manners, be kind, respectful, don’t hit, push or bully and always share, never steal, be mean or use harsh words….. they need not have any more.

Toy companies, you have almost got it right; you put a little boy playing cooks alongside the little girl in your catalogue… even though it is still on the pink page. Lego now has Lego Friends, and parents are out buying Lego Disney castles (myself included). Supermarket trading cards appeal to both sexes, no gender difference there (thanks Jamie!). You are almost there. And, we are beginning to see more young boys pursue dance. But as my girlfriend Cherie says:

“Little imaginations know no gender stereotyping. Drop the pink, & the blue, pop some incredible polka dot action in your next catalogue & show us a little boy mimicking breastfeeding with a sweet doll (like my son does), or a little girl smashing the sh*t out of Lightning McQueen & Tow Mater (like my daughter does, ha!).”

You got it in one Cherie!

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