Thankfully, we live in a time where the majority of people recognise that boys and girls are equals.
Despite this, from the time a child is born, they are bombarded by gender stereotypes.
They are told from day one what to be, how to think, and what they should look like. As a same-sex parent to two daughters, trying to find gender-ambiguous toys, clothes and books is a constant struggle.
Why are we still pushing gender stereotypes onto our kids?
I was standing in line recently outside a popular toy store and there were a little boy and his mum in front of me. He was excitedly looking through the window and commenting on the things he liked. There was a duvet set just through the glass and he made some remark about how he really liked it. His mother's response: "Oh no love, that’s a girl's one. That one over there is for boys." His face fell, but they continued on their way.
Sadly, this sort of thing is something that I see. All. The. Time. I don’t for a second think that she is a bad mother or that she is coming from a bad place. How could you blame her… It’s just the way that we were all raised.
In an ideal world, there would be no such thing as toys for boys or books for girls. Let them just be kids and figure out what they like. Allow them to experience everything from trucks and trains to dolls and dress up. They will naturally gravitate towards the things that they prefer, and that’s ok.
What can you do?
Avoid speaking about "boys" or "girls" things in front of your kids. Reassure them that all children of any gender can play with all toys. The same goes for clothes, books and TV programmes. Any time our 4-year-old comments on a particular toy being for a boy, I will quickly let her know that it's not only for boys, it’s for anyone who likes it. At that young age, it’s a lot easier to be able to influence their perception in a positive way.
And it’s hard. I know it is. Most shops and websites have the girls and boys items very much segregated. I was delighted recently to come across a clothing brand that doesn't distinguish between genders and just labels the kids' section as "kids". If more companies and brands could get on board and stop pushing stereotypes onto children, it would make our job as parents a lot easier.
Let’s just let kids be kids
There will be plenty of time as they grow up to explore their gender identities. However, pushing a narrative on them from the time they are born, is not only unhealthy but also unnecessary.