Is it okay to hide gender from your child. THEIR gender?

Jamie - posted on 01/20/2012 ( 23 moms have responded )

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Parents kept their child's gender a secret until he reached five and went to school:

http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/couple-...



Okay ladies, I'm curious to hear what you have to say.



I have mixed thoughts on this.



I do ask that in this debate you give your true opinion, but please go in-depth as to why you feel that way. While you may feel it is "weird," "creepy," or just plain "bad"- that doesn't give me a good idea as to why you feel that way. So, please, elaborate beyond that!

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Mary - posted on 01/21/2012

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I do wonder...had Sasha been a girl, would "hyper-feminine" clothes (like frilly pink dresses) have been banned?

Mary - posted on 01/21/2012

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I agree with both of you. Form reading this article, I got the impression that they were more about suppressing traditional masculinity than truly neutralizing gender. I think their approach actually made a much bigger deal about gender stereotyping than it ever needed to be, and probably made it a much bigger issue in this child's life than the average 5 y/o.



It seems like it would have been a bit "healthier" to simply begin his babyhood the way a lot of us who don't find out the sex prior to birth do. I had a nursery and room that pretty neutral (to me). It was pale green and blue with puppies. The clothing was all fairly neutral as well. After birth, they could have just kept things neutral; it seems like having older children of each sex would have made this easy - put the kids in hand-me-downs from each of them. As s/he aged, this would have made it even easier - follow the child's lead in choosing colors, toys, outfits, etc.



The key, to me, is not about avoiding traditional gender-specific stuff, but rather in being consistent in not pushing your own (or other's) notions to influence your child's choices and preferences. In denying or "hiding" this kid's gender, they were pushing their own agendas and beliefs on their kid(s). From this piece, (and a few others about them I perused), I'm not sure that they are so much gender-neutral as they are reactionary against gender extremes. They weren't trying to let him decide on his own, but rather shifting him away from being what they think is "wrong".

Chelsey - posted on 01/20/2012

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I think the whole thing is quite ridiculous. If the parents were really set on letting their child choose then they would be giving him all the options which would include masculine clothing. Letting him wear a shiny pink girls swimsuit but not cargo pants doesn't make any sense. Laxton said she wanted to avoid all stereotyping but by not allowing her son to choose masculine clothing she is basically indicating that being a boy is bad.



The article says that he wears a girls blouse and boys pants to school because they require a uniform, but was it the boys choice or did his parents decide that he couldn't be all boy in his attire? Laxton said "I dont think I'd do it if I thought it was going to make him unhappy.." That right there tells me that this is not the childs choice, but the parents pushing their agenda.



I have two girls and a boy due in 3 weeks. My girls have dump trucks, cars, superman costumes and even boys underwear because they liked the pictures on them better and I'm sure that my son is going to be dressed up in tutus, carry around dolls and get his nails painted just like his big sisters. I understand not wanting to tell your child that they can't play with something because its a "girl toy" or a "boy toy" or telling your child that they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up, but this is extreme.



I really hope that in the years to come the little boy really gets to make his own decisions and if that choice is to wear masculine clothing then i hope his parents support him. I also hope that his parents decisions now do not negatively impact his relationships with his peers in the future or negatively impact how he perceives himself and his gender.

Stifler's - posted on 01/22/2012

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I find them creepy. They aren't letting him be himself they're trying to make him a girl by making him wear dresses and banning boy things. Their gender neutral idea wasn't very well thought out.

Merry - posted on 01/21/2012

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In theory it is a nice thought but they obviously aren't rising him neutral, they're just raising him transsexual.

I think gender neutral should mean no obviously male or female clothes toys etc. no colors that indicate a gender.

Neutral, browns, reds, yellows, some greens, etc.

Not pink frills and refusing a police man outfit or whatever.

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Janice - posted on 01/24/2012

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If they rejected clothing with skulls because it is morbid then that would be okay. The article said they rejected skulls because it is masculine. If the parents are trying to raise the child free of stereotypes than they shouldn't be denying their son clothing because it is masculine.

I must agree that the article didnt state that they kept his gender a secret to him. In my home we dont mind being naked in front of our 2 year old, she showers with both hubby and I. She also has a baby brother so she really is beginning to understand what a boy and a girl are. But maybe this family is more conservative in that manner and no one sees each other naked, so they can hide it. IDK

Kelina - posted on 01/24/2012

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I'm curious if someone could highlight a few things for me. First can someone point out where in the article it said that they hid their child's gender from their child? cause I must have missed that. I thought they just hid his gender from the rest of the world. Which I can see. My son loves playing with dolls and his favorite color is pink. If he were allowed to wear his sisters backyardigans shoes(and they fit) he most definitely would. He also loves carrying around a purse. However, we've taken a lot of flack for allowing him to do that and I'd freak if someone ever made him feel bad because of the things he likes just because he's a boy. HE's two. he shouldn't have to deal with that stuff yet. One of the things I think is being blown way out proportion though is his choice in clothing. Every post I've read so far seems to be bashing their choice to reject

"ultra-masculine" as a phrase but what I saw in the article was that being described as stuff like skulls and they've also rejected barbie. Really, is there a whole lot of other inappropriate girl clothing? I'm asking sincerely, I have never had to shop fro my daughter and we have no cable. I know many people don't have a problem with skulls and stuff like that but I also know many people who do. I'm curious how they would hide his gender from him when he's obviously going to see the differences in his brother and sister and figure it out himself.

[deleted account]

I think it's really messed up. A girl is a girl and a boy is a boy. I don't think you do any child any favors by hiding something so basic and primal in regard to identity.

Janice - posted on 01/23/2012

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Oh and when I was a toddler teacher, for over a year my assistant was a man. It definitely surprised parents but most appreciated the diversity of having a man in the classroom. Actually the company I worked for owns 3 daycare centers. We would all come together for training an in the 5 years I was there only 4 men worked (in the classrooms) for any of the day cares.

Same goes for the nursing field, very few men and when it occurs people think its odd.

Janice - posted on 01/23/2012

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If these parents were truly believed in gender neutrality then their be no such thing as "hyper-masculine." Everything would just be stuff to choose from. What if it were a skulls with bows shirt and pink cargo pants, would that be okay for Sasha to wear?

The only purpose of hiding a child's gender is to shield them from possible ridicule when they choose items that are associated with the opposite gender. This aspect I can kind of understand. However, that does not seem to be the goal of these parents.

I do not see the purpose of hiding a child's gender from them. They can know they are a boy or girl an still be given the choice to dress or play with anything.

Jamie - posted on 01/22/2012

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Exactly, Emma.

I feel there is definitely a male prejudice in this 'gender neutral experiment' they are conducting on their child.

Stifler's - posted on 01/22/2012

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And I don't care if my son wears a dress or high heels but why repress him wanting to play with trucks if that's what he wants to do?

Jamie - posted on 01/21/2012

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LOL right...even "debating mums" are all in agreement....seems like it would take a lot for that to happen.

Merry - posted on 01/21/2012

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Yeah, I use this term as kindly as possible but it appears wackadoodles like these parents are few and far between. :):):):)

Jamie - posted on 01/21/2012

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Thanks for all the feedback.



It is interesting that there isn't much of a gap in opinion on this!



I agree completely with almost everyone on here.

Sherri - posted on 01/21/2012

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Sorry but every child needs an identity and denying that they are male or female is denying their identity.



I see this causing many psychological problems to be honest. I see them being chastised, picked on, very limited if any friends. The consequences for their actions could really cause a lifetime of hurt.

Amie - posted on 01/21/2012

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I don't see how they raised him gender neutral. They had him squash his "masculine" side when he started leaning towards it. How is that gender neutral? How is that letting him choose?



It's not. They chose for him whether they admit to it or not. They chose to raise him in a femine atmosphere in the guise of gender neutral. If it was truly gender neutral they would have allowed him to choose toys, clothes, etc. that he wanted - no matter what gender they "belonged" too.



I don't label myself as raising my children gender neutral but I'm not squashing any tendencies they do have, one way or the other.



I honestly think more parents are raising (or are trying to) their kids gender neutral they just don't label it as such and don't get in knots over it. As I said above, I'm just letting my kids be themselves. If that means my boy likes to play with dolls and have tea parties (which he does sometimes) I have no issue with that. Just as I have no issue with our daughters doing "manly" things - like going outside to work on the vehicles with dad, taking out the remote control back hoes and digging giant holes in our yard (ugh, which is annoying I might add - the holes, not the playing) etc. I've also found it's easier for children to blend the two genders and dismiss the stereotypes if they are in a family that has at least one boy and one girl. Then it's mostly an unconscience thought to let them do as they do. When you have only one or the other, it hits you in the face a bit more and the effort has to be there a bit more.



Oh and one last thing. I've also found it to be more accepting to society as a whole if girls are the ones who blur the gender lines. Hardly anyone blinks an eye at a girl doing boyish things. It's just becoming an every day occurence. However, if a boy (or ma)n wants to do a typical girlish thing, he's looked at sideways. Many people tease these boys and men. Even our movies portray this - Daddy Daycare anyone? How often did those men get poked at for wanting to run a daycare? How many women here would not blink at seeing a daycare fully staffed by men? It's just another double standard in society --- women can do what men do but men can not do what women do.

Ania - posted on 01/21/2012

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How do you hide gender from the child? how do they play with other kids, they don't have contact with anyone else?

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I feel you don't need to hide anything.As babies keep things neural and as they grow they can pick.Its about not pushing your opinion on them.If left to there own device they will choose for themselves.I know, i have two girls who are very different.Due to been given the freedom to be themselves.Yes there girls but that does not mean its pink and glitter all the way.Which is the stereotype lol.



Our oldest daughter wears sports clothes and has played with cars, trains etc since a small child.However still likes to dress up an ocassion when she chooses in a dress etc.



To others maybe she has been seen as a "tomboy".However we have raised her to know without being told, she is a girl who has chosen to be herself and do and wear what she feels is comfortable for her.

I was very impressed at her playschool, there was many toys and they had the freedom to play with what they wanted.Boys played Mommy's and daddys.My daughter was often the dad.Her teacher was great and allowed them to do as the pleased without interferring.Shes 7 now.She plays with who she wants, so a mix gender at school,and is seen as a great/talented sports person by both gender of friends/teachers.

Her teachers are very open minded, which lead the children to feel free to play with what they chose for themselves in regards to playschool and in primary school to be honest as well.

Same for our second child, her personality has lead her to love dolls, and pink and all things of that nature.We have never pushed our opinions on them.

Yes there girls but they have there own minds and there own personalities.Its there choice not ours.We teach our girls that we are all equal and we chose what makes us happy.

[deleted account]

Absurd. Truly 'gender neutral' would be allowing the child to choose from ALL kids stuff available whether it's 'boy' or 'girl' and letting the CHILD make the choice to his/her preference. Having 2 big sisters... my son was exposed to a LOT of pink and girly stuff. I have quite a few pics of him in one of their dresses... I've even had some online friends say he'd make a cute girl. lol But that kid is all boy and it's been his choice what to play w/ or not play w/.... yes, I bought many 'boy' toys after his birth... cuz his sisters were leaning mainly toward girl stuff by the time they were 6, so we had no more in the house.



Granted, I didn't dress him in girl clothes, but I'm also not trying to specifically raise a 'gender neutral' child. Just letting my kids be themselves.

Jamie - posted on 01/20/2012

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My antennae went up at those parts of the article, too.



I understand the concept of this, but based on what I've read I am really wondering if the motives are as pure as "gender neutralization. "



I am a little confused to why they see certain things as "hyper masculine" and find it negative. I would assume that if the parent was allowing their child to pick from personal preference rather than gender norms, there wouldn't be "too feminine or too masculine" a choice because the child from the start has been completely shielded from the idea of gender. It would just be what they like and what they don't like.



Also, they seemed to prefer their child (knowing he was born male) select feminine outfits. They didn't seem to put a ban on female clothing, only male.... (in their defense they did toss out Barbie)

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