Gender Neutral Parenting: Is It Breaking Stereotypes On Children Or Denying Them Clarity?

By Olivia Reese, Parent Herald December 06, 04:00 am
Some parents have adopted the gender neutral parenting approach. Despite the parenting style's good intentions, experts have slammed it and stressed that it is confusing children and denying them clarity on their identity.
(Photo : Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Since childhood, people have experienced gender stereotypes that put them in either with the feminine and masculine labels. Pink is for girls and blue is for boys; toy trucks are for little boys and Barbie dolls are for little girls. Some parents, however, have adopted the gender neutral parenting approach.

Gender neutral parenting is "about giving children the freedom to make choices about themselves by eliminating gender stereotypes in dress, play and behavior," according to Columbia Chronicle. Some parents practice gender neutral parenting by never formally revealing their child's sex and allowing them to pick the pronouns to describe themselves.

Other parents allow their daughters to wear sparkly earrings couple with cargo pants, or boys playing with a kitchen set while donning a builder's costume. This depends on whatever makes the child happy and content.

Corissa Howington, the manager of Facebook page Gender Neutral Parenting, said that this parenting approach gives "children all the options and let them work it out for themselves." Christia Spears Brown, author of the book, "Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes," is raising her children by saying, "Come on, kids," instead of, "Come on, girls."

Some clothing and toy companies (Target and Quirkie Kids) in the United States have followed gender neutral parenting in recent years. In Sweden, teachers are being trained to exercise gender neutral teaching methods and in North Carolina in the U.S., principals and counselors attended a presentation that recommends avoiding the use of the "he" and "she" pronouns to address children.

Despite gender neutral parenting's good intentions, some experts aren't entirely sold on the idea. Fran Walfish, a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California, said that every boy and girl child "must make a strong identification as a male or female person" because without it, the kid could feel confused or lost. Clarity is the most important aspect of a person's identification and he/she cannot be "a full person" without a clear-cut male or female gender identity, Parents.com reported.

Rachel Lu, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, wrote in The Federalist that the concept of gender neutral parenting is most damaging to young boys. Lu stressed that boys "naturally regard manhood as an aspiration" and they attain it through discipline, work, and support from adults and their parents. Telling young boys that manhood is "a matter of indifference" may encourage them to grow up falling short of honorable manhood.

What do you think of gender neutral parenting? Do you support or disagree with it? Share your thoughts below.

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