My three-and-a-half year old son loves his cars and superheroes and other 'boy' things. As a three-year-old boy should. He also loves pretend-playing superheroes and transformers with us. On days when he's not at nursery, and hubster's at work, I am his partner-in-crime / companion but when dad's home, the two often have a riot together. Like the other weekend, when he pretended to be Spiderman and appointed Hubster as Batman. Wanting to join in the fun, I asked which superhero I could be. That's when my son said those words: "No mummy, this game is just for boys..."
JUST FOR BOYS? Who told him that? Who had put it into his head that superheroes were for boys and Barbies were for girls? Not me. Not my husband. Could it be a friend, another three-year-old as innocent as him? A teacher? Something he heard on the telly? Or could it be a combination of them all, the underlying messages that society in general were sending him?
It's an age-old belief that certain things/ toys/ occupations are for boys ONLY, and some for girls. We've all grown up hearing/ believing/ seeing 'pink' being marketed for all things girly, and 'blue' for boy stuff. Heck I know so many modern-day, forward-thinking parents who paint nurseries either blue or pink, or buy only the 'permitted' colour of clothes for their newborns.
'Boys don't cry' and 'girls don't climb trees'- so many of us have heard that, probably even said that. If we, as parents don't differentiate between the sexes, society does. People do. Marketing does. Take LEGO – a universal favourite of all kids. You have superheroes and construction sets and the like for boys and My Little Pony and Anna and Elsa's Princess Castle for girls. A boy will not choose the Princess Castle because he doesn't see his male counterparts doing the same. Not necessarily because he doesn't want to. Without realising it, he has been brain-washed by what's 'acceptable' and what's not.
Interestingly, I came across this letter written by LEGO to parents in the 1970s (it went viral on the Internet last year). It is beautiful in its thought and content…
Have we taken a step (or more) backwards now? Has the gender gap infiltrated this beautiful message? Has marketing made it all blue versus pink?
Think about it. Are we limiting our childrens' potential and growth by making them conform to society's acceptable norms?
My little boy loves to pretend-cook with his little kitchen set. He often makes me lunch or bakes a cake. Sometimes, he likes to help me with real cooking too while I'm in the kitchen. I love that he does it. But something inside of me tells me that he probably won't do that in a few years time. Because little boys are supposed to be helping dad with tools in the shed, not baking a cake with mum in the kitchen, right?
My son enjoys pretend-cooking with the kitchen set
WRONG! Some of the world's best chefs are men. Women fly planes and go to space. Mums go to work and dads stay home to look after the kids. The new-age metrosexual male wears pink and orange. And it's ok. It's not abnormal. It's just the new normal. It's an individual choice. That should be accepted. And respected.
So let's stop filtering those innocent minds with what's 'right' and 'acceptable' and what's not. Because there is no black and white in this matter. It's not even grey – it's colourful. And diverse. And that's how it should be. Let your daughter play with cars – she might grown up to be a car engineer tomorrow. Allow your son to dress dolls up – he could become the next Armani or Gaultier. Give your child the chance to fully explore his or her potential, and become the person they want to become, not the person you – or society – says they should become.
Would you allow your son to play with dolls? Or your daughter with cars? What are your thoughts on the subject? Do leave a comment / thought in the comments section.
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