Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Do you gender stereotype?

Many a parent will have struggled with this issue, myself being one of them. My son is a wonderful, kind hearted, sensitive boy full of imagination, who likes fairies. I knew it would just be a phase, and he is starting to outgrow his fascination with the magical winged creatures, but at the time I found it hard to deal with. My husband and I tried to discourage him playing with fairies, until one day I stopped and really took time to think about it. I realised, it doesn't matter what toy he plays with, if it makes him happy, that's all that's important.
People have certain expectations of how boys (and girls) should behave, and what toys they should like. I remember briefly studying about this in sociology. The topic stuck in my head; if a child were left to choose the toys they liked, without the influence of adults, they would not necessarily choose the toys associated with their own gender. Children learn what are "boys" toys or "girls" toys, they are influenced from a very early age what is considered appropriate for them to play with.
Gender stereotyping definitely exists, but why is it so much stricter when it comes to boys? My niece, for example, a self professed tomboy, plays football and likes power rangers, nobody bats an eyelid. However, a boy, particularly one who happens to be tall for his age, and likes fairies, that's much more of an issue for people.
I know there are other children out there who like toys not really intended for their sex, and I am now of the opinion that it really doesn't matter. At the risk of sounding like someone much older than I am, children grow up so fast these days, and I for one intend to cling on to every second of my son's childhood...with or without fairies in it.
Find my story, an e-book inspired by my son, on Amazon:

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