This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!
In this culture, it’s difficult to raise a child. There are lists of rights and wrongs you must attend to (and choose between, since they differ so vastly) and scores of things to worry about. Just fear alone could cripple a parent who dwells on it. One of the recent things that has blown my mind is the debate on gender-specific items for kids. Watch out, parents of America! Target just desegregated their toys! Your boys might turn into girls!
I just can’t imagine why mixing in the dolls with the trucks would be such a bad thing. Since I have a boy and a girl who are close in age, they are each always playing with each other’s toys. We have tons of fairy wands that my son plays with (what boy wouldn’t want to cast a spell on his big sister once in a while?) and we have trucks, planes, and Legos that my daughter plays with (she loves to build – and destroy – tall towers).
That being said, there are some things that my kids seem to inherently just do that goes a little more with their “assigned gender”. For instance, my daughter loves wearing dresses. Sun dresses or all-out princess dresses, she’d rather wear one than pants any day. Did I exclusively buy her dresses? Absolutely not. She likes to play rough, so I in fact discourage them sometimes. But she has this love for them that I could never have forced on her even if I wanted to.
Alternatively, my son loves to be outside and get dirty. He’s an escape artist when it comes to getting outdoors. If there’s a door open, he’s dashing out, headed straight for the nearest mud. He’s constantly got dirt under his nails, bruises and scratches on his legs from climbing (and falling), and he’s shouting about everything. He is, as you might say, “all boy”.
I think God created us to be individually different, with interests and personalities unlike anyone else’s. He created us male and female (Genesis 5:2). He specifically created each one separately and for a different purpose. But the good news? The good news is that while we have things about us as women or men that are often “built in”, there are things about many of us that break those molds. Many people think that women should do the cooking in their families. Well, if only women should cook, why are there so many incredible chefs that are male? Often, people think that men aren’t as gentle or nurturing as women are, but I know many gentle and nurturing fathers; one of them is my husband.
Our society has created roles and stigmas that bind people, and often make them try to be something they aren’t. These labels may have originated (like many stereotypes) because of a frequently-occurring trait, but they are by no means a blanket statement. We shouldn’t put people in boxes – especially our children – before we even bother to find out if they fit. Differences should be celebrated instead of stamped out. Girls who love blocks and train track might just be engineers. Boys who play with dolls might just be great dads. Why should we discourage either possibility?