I loved the latest Huffington Post piece by Lori Duron on Halloween Drag Queen outfit. And without ever having heard about the #RaisingARainbow concept before, I appear to share many of her views when it comes to raising what she calls gender creative kids.
I previously wrote about my frustration for the way small kids are put into girl/boy silo, and to me this has to do with our responsibility of fostering resilient and adaptive kids who hold the tools to thrive in a world of opportunities. In today’s world, the old gender stereotypes doesn’t work anymore. So raising boys in the old fashioned way, or in other ways raising kids to take on narrow minds and prejudice actually means adding huge hurdles on their path to grown-up-life.
Our world moves forward! As when little girls can have Superman undies, and little boys can dress up as girls for Halloween. Or all kids can pick all colors. At our house, the boys can wear and play with anything they like; whether it’s the super neat dollhouse from Finn.no, baby dolls and strawler from their older cousins, Frozen princesses – or cars, train sets, superhero accessories and anything that might function as a sword. Usually it’s a mix – such as pink Hello Kitty socks and red Superman t-shirt, or a fire truck transported alongside a baby doll in the strawler…
And fortunately kindergarten consciously focus on encouraging boys and girls, and kids of different age to play and hang out. Which means that when my oldest kid had his first sleepover, it was with his girl bestie. I’ve no idea how the mix of his friends will be in the future, but I hope it won’t become as gender divided as when we grew up.
In a world rapidly changing, where traditional role models and gender stereotypes also evolve and are challenged, I predict this might be a good platform for embracing the many facettes each of us are equipped with, dare to be ourselves and respect others’ capabilities and differences. As a mother of boys, it’s good to see that men don’t have to be tough all the time, that it’s good to talk about and express our emotions, and that they can be praised and encouraged for empathic skills and the soft sides, not only for achievements and the typical “male” capabilities.
With a 3-y-o I often have to answer for how everything in the world works. And we question and explore it together, thinking aloud, challenging both common routines as well as the fundamental and established truths of our society, all the why’s, how’s and what’s. Here are some examples from our chats;
- Walking home from kindergarten; Mom, when I’m a big girl, can I get a dress like Mathilde’s? (Of course, if you want to)
- Preparing for bedtime; Mom, why are some clothes just for girls? Why don’t they have pink and purple with superman? (Well, the store has separate sections, but boys and girls can choose what they want to wear)
- Following a play date with friends from a refugee centre; Why can’t we have a house like Maryam & Omair, with so many many kids? Why do we live alone, only us? (Well, we could – after all it’s more boring not to share house with other families)
- Going shopping; Can we go barefoot to the store? (Of course)
- Meals; Can we have breakfast for dinner? (Yupp!) Can we have dinner under the table? (Why not) Can we eat outside? (In December, dark and snowy – well, sure)
Not all of these are about gender as you can see, but my point is that I try to apply an everyday approach, encouraging some outside-the-box thinking.
Opening up to a mindset of not accepting ordinary practice and “normals” without questioning it, and at the same time exposing the kids to different surroundings, other cultures, different views, new parts of your hometown, friends of various genders, backgrounds, age groups – widening their horizon from an early age.
We talk about how some families have to moms, two dads, or many parents. And about how we can fall in love with girls, boys or both and that’s fine.
The kids have also been helping out at home since 1,5y – setting the table, emptying the dishwasher, filling the washing machine, recycling and sorting garbage, making meals. Which I hope will make them both see it completely natural to take their share of chores when (if) they get a family of their own, and respect the efforts and value of what many still perceive as women’s tasks.
Whether my small nudges aiming to supply the boys with some basic idea that anything’s normal and okay will work, I’ve no idea – my kids have brains and souls of their own and will chose their own path. They’ll also get influenced by friends and various external influencers I won’t have any control of whatsoever. Maybe they act out exactly in the opposite direction as part of their process to become independent individuals. We’ll see. But at least I’ll have added some rainbow seeds into the mix…
Anyway, Halloween is just around the corner, and I’ll be on the lookout for Super girls, Drag queens (or just princess boys) and all other variations of kids enjoying the trick or treat outside the gender silos!