Stop Stereotyping My Children

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When your daughter was born, what were your wishes for her? Were they different than your hopes for your son?

Soon after finding out I was carrying boy/girl twins, a stranger approached me and asked me what I was having. I answered matter-of-factly, expecting a simple “Congratulations”. Instead she exclaimed, eyes wide with excitement, “Oh! He’ll take such good care of her!” Wait, what? Did I miss something? Was my daughter going to need to be taken care of?

When they were born five weeks early, my son was able to return to us after only 12 hours in the NICU, while my daughter stayed there for 12 days. People commented that my son was “sturdy” and “tough” because he came to us so soon and that my daughter was “angelic” and “fragile”. So sleep deprived and emotional, I couldn’t wrap my head around what I was being told. My daughter and son were both fragile and tough because they were born prematurely. They were twins, they were preemies – they were the same.

Over the course of their first year of life, my twins swapped personalities multiple times. A once calm and light-hearted baby, my son changed into a strong-willed, passionate toddler. My daughter was the opposite. Fussy and easily irritated as an infant, she grew to be all smiles, easy-going, the life of any party. And yet, I was told, “Boys are so much easier than girls. You’ll find out when she’s a teenager.” Will I? Are all daughters doomed to be door-slamming drama queens who talk back to their mothers? (How’s that for a stereotype?) What if my daughter is different?

I heard, “Boys can’t stop moving. They’re so physical. They’ll jump, climb and keep you on your toes. They’re hyper. Little girls sit so nicely and behave.” Is that true? My daughter is currently the “active” one. She yearns to be upside down, thrown into the air, and she’s learning to stand on her head. My son will sit with a bucket of blocks for a half hour and read a pile of books five times in a row. What if he’s different?

I don’t know that they are, because my twins are also the same. They both love pink, wearing sunglasses, and kissing dogs. They both love running and yelling, banging pots and pans, and throwing balls.

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My husband and I know that with boy/girl twins, we’ve been given the chance to raise them as stereotypically as we want them to be. We know that in some ways, they’ll fit those stereotypes and confirm people’s opinions. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, we dress our daughter in pastels and our son in vibrant colors sometimes. Yes, my daughter is super social and yes, my son loves to shout “vroom, vroom” when he pushes his trucks. But my daughter also loves to wear blue, play rough and throw herself to the ground. My son asks for his hair in a ponytail, loves stuffed animals and kisses anything that stands still for more than two seconds.

Their second birthday is coming up. There’s no need for them to have separate gifts. Princesses and dolls for her, animal books and cars for him – it’s not necessary. In fact, it’s ridiculous, outdated, and just plain wrong. They share everything. That means you’ll find my daughter riding a toy fire truck down the driveway and my son cradling his pink lovey. At the same time, there’s no need to fight the stereotypes either. My daughter doesn’t need “girl” colored blocks and cars. My son doesn’t need dolls made specifically for boys. They’re going to play with whatever we put out for them. Balance is key. We hope to offer them a variety of toys and games in all sorts of colors and materials. They shouldn’t be limited to any one type.

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The coolest thing about being parents is that my husband and I get to mold our children with the values we believe in. We know we’re not going to feed the stereotypes. At the same time, we aren’t out to prove something to the world either.

We’re going to treat them the same, because they are the same. They’re both toddlers. Soon, they’ll both be just kids. Later, they’ll both be just teenagers.

We’re going to treat them differently, because they are different. Their individual characteristics (not gender specific) should be noted and respected.

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So to whoever told me that my son will grow up protecting my daughter solely because he’s a boy and she’s a girl – I ask that you stop stereotyping my children. They’re still just babies. We have no idea what kind of adults they will turn out to be. Until they’re grown, we’ll be treating them just as they are. Different, but the same.

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23 thoughts on “Stop Stereotyping My Children

  1. JustHeather says:

    Lovely post!! And I totally agree with what you are saying about how you raise them. No twins here, but I do have a boy and supposedly a girl coming (very soon) and I plan on raising them like this too. Well, the boy I’ve already started with… He chose the fact that he loves diggers, cars anything with wheels, but he also has bright pink mittens because he chose them. (He doesn’t have much other pink, because I don’t care for pink! And OMG is it so very hard to fully avoid for a girl.)

    I will raise my kids to be polite, caring, respectful, etc regardless of what gender they are. And I will love them for who they are, not what they “should” be because of their gender.

    You go, Mom!!

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Exactly! You make many good points here. I feel like, in 2015, it’s easy for kids to play with toys and wear clothes that usually match the opposite gender, yet the stereotypes still exist! Your little girl will be here soon!

  2. randomsqueaks says:

    Ok, I only read the first paragraph about the stranger telling you that your son will take care of your daughter. I just have to comment already and say I would find that hilarious now if someone had said that to me! V is Little Miss Independent and doesn’t want anyone telling her what to do. She’ll probably be “taking care” of M! I will read the rest of your post and comment again, but I just had to share in the hilarity of assumptions based on gender.

  3. randomsqueaks says:

    Now I’ve read the whole thing, and I agree with so much of what you said. The only things I don’t agree with are because my twins are different than yours. My two fit some stereotypes more than yours, but who cares. To me, they’re so much more different than they are alike. And honestly I’m very glad to have a boy and a girl simply because the firstborn child won’t be inundated with gender-specific toys. I said something similar about the blocks after my in-laws bought primary colored blocks for M and pink/pastel blocks for V. Who cares which baby got which because they’re all going in the same tub. I’m so irritated by clothes though. I’m all-out girly with V and I dress M very boyishly. J doesn’t think it’s boyish but for my classic Southern style of pastel blue bubble suits and smocking, it is. I’m at the age where boy clothes are all dark colors and crazy graphics. Why does it have to be that way? What’s wrong with light colors on boys past 6 months? And why can’t they have cutesy animals on their t-shirts instead of graphic motorcycles and dinosaurs? Ok, this is getting way too long. Apparently you touched a similar nerve with me. Let me end with saying that I completely agree with what you’ve said. I’ve noticed how my two are already geared towards different interests but at this age, they share more than they don’t.

    • futuresoccermom says:

      OH my goodness you are SO right about the clothes. I’m very irritated with clothing choices myself. For boys, I agree. Why can’t they wear pastels? I also CAN’T STAND the graphics and the motorcycles and all that – where are the cute dinosaurs and doggies? And for girls, I don’t mind the colors – it’s the materials I don’t like. I can’t find comfy clothes for her. My son gets cute fleece PJs, my daughter has these frilly lace things that I hate. Her pants are skin tight, his are comfy and roomy. Ugh. That’s another topic in itself, I think. And there’s nothing wrong with kids who do fit stereotypes – that’s exactly my point. There’s nothing wrong with kids, period! I love your blocks story, haha. Imagine telling them in the tub to make sure they keep the colors separated!

  4. robin says:

    I think for some reason with twins people really need to differentiate the kids in their heads in some way so they revert to stereotyping and categorizing. I try at every opportunity to challenge that but there’s only so much we can do. For example I like telling the story of the ultrasound for this current pregnancy, where I saw the fetus “jumping” (like pushing off with two legs and sliding down, then doing it over and over again) and sticking out a teeny little tongue, and just being crazy and silly on the ultrasound. And I’m like, and then we immediately knew the gender, and people usually say “oh boy right?” and I’m like NO! Girl! Just like Banana, who was thrilled TO PIECES to be dressing up as Tigger, it turns out my girls are crazy! Apple is the one who spent almost 30 minutes so so patiently trying to get the cat to play with the new cat toy or will sit and work on an art project until you beg him to stop so we can clean up and move on to something else. Having boy girl twins has really been such a fun and interesting experience, seeing how their identities play out, and also noticing whether or not I am imposing gender stereotypes on them.

    • futuresoccermom says:

      I agree with you – people don’t know what to do or say with twins so they just say the first thing that comes to their heads. As if they need to point out the differences, to distinguish them. Like you said. Weird! Yes, so excited for your newest bouncy little girl!

  5. Amy says:

    Love this!!!! Such wonderful messages to send to your kids. I wish more people understood and could live by this this especially dads who sometimes have a harder time when their sons want to play with dolls…thanks for sharing!

    • futuresoccermom says:

      Thank you! Yes – I have to say, toddlers love dolls. And I find it so endearing to watch both of my kids snuggle the dolls, learn to dress them, change their diapers, etc. Both boys and girls need to know how to take care of other people! I appreciate your kind comment!

  6. Erica says:

    Thank you so much for sharing a little glimpse into what obviously is a busy, but fun filled life with twins! Hope to see you at Wordless Wednesday next week! xoxo

  7. Valery Valentina says:

    Hi, here from Mel’s roundup, second helping.
    I love to read this. Maybe because I feel like a secret twin mom of my very bouncy daughter, always wondering about the one who didn’t make it. What if it would have been a quiet boy? Or even a quiet girl? Still people ask me if she is a boy because of her short hair and her liking of big trucks. So , yes to stop stereotyping.

  8. Cathy says:

    It’s frustrating isn’t it? My boy-boy twins were born at 36 weeks and before we even left the NICU, it was all “oh look at how big he is, he’s going to be a football player”. Um, he’s 5 lbs .. ? What? And “oh look at his long fingers, he’s going to play piano and basketball”. Can we maybe, I don’t know, let them master eating and pooping first?

    I really don’t understand why people feel the need to pigeonhole kids like that. We just make sure to always tell them, they can do or be anything they want, as long as they are kind, moral people (who remember to call their mother).

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