Written by Bindu Raichura
Parenting can be very tricky. What seems right or wrong to you as an individual may not feel the same way when you become a parent. What is right for one parent may not be right for another. Parenting styles differ from parent to parent- this is well known and accepted in recent times. However, should parenting a boy be any different from parenting a girl? What is your take on gender-neutral parenting? What are its pros and cons, impact on the child, etc? Read on!
Let’s first get a clear picture of what we are exactly addressing in this article.
Similarly parenting both boys and girls, with the same values, lessons, etc is called gender-neutral parenting. It is a style of parenting that does not change just because the gender of the child is different.
Here the parents do not subject and restrict the child to gender stereotypes such as blue for boy and pink for a girl; car toys for boys and dolls for girls, etc.
A baby, when born, is a gender-neutral baby because it does not know what society sees as a “boy’s behavior” and a “girl’s behavior”. All babies look the same, be it a boy or a girl. The very first question a stranger asks you when they see your tiny baby is – “Is it a boy or a girl?”
When you don’t restrict your child by saying “only boys do that, girls don’t play with that” and allow your child to explore and learn more about their own interests, you are opening doors to gender neutrality.
We have been brought up with very strong beliefs about what a girl or a boy can or cannot do. We have been conditioned by society about what is acceptable and not acceptable, based on our gender.
Today’s parents are more open-minded and realize just because a boy likes pink color or a girl prefers fast bikes to ballet classes, it doesn’t make them any less of a boy or a girl respectively. Parents are ready to let their children find their interests and forge their own paths instead of blindly following societal expectations.
In today’s world, it most definitely is. When women are forging their path in solely “male-dominated areas” and men showing excellence in things considered “feminine”, it is healthy to let your child explore both worlds.
Raising a gender-neutral child who is allowed to follow their passion is very healthy and allows them to be themselves without having to hide. Gender-neutral children do not hesitate to show or tell the world what they like and what they are good at. They do not get bullied by societal expectations and stigmas.
When you say or are committed to raising gender-neutral children, you are open to the idea of letting your gender-neutral child follow their dreams and passion, without letting their gender become a deciding or influencing factor.
So, how exactly can you address your child and their interests? Most of us have grown up with the gender differences ingrained in our upbringing, so much so that it will spill out in our conversations with our child, unintentionally.
Try to replace gender-specific words with neutral words. Here are a few gender-neutral terms a parent can use with their child:
When you are committed to gender-neutral parenting, you will learn to replace terms as you go.
So what are the good and the bad effects of gender-neutral parenting on a child?
Just like any parenting style, gender-neutral parenting has its own set of advantages and disadvantages too. However, every parent should remember, they are responsible for the next generation. Unless you teach your child about gender neutrality, even if you don’t follow it yourself, your child may not be the inclusive type when it comes to different genders.
Also Read to know some of the other Parenting Styles
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