Do you or others you know say “That’s for girls” or “That’s for boys”? Here’s why we need to stop defining and limiting our children’s interests by gender.
I had a problem with the cashier, and not for ringing an item up twice.
It wasn’t that at all. In fact, she greeted us with a friendly smile and rang up our purchases on time. But meanwhile, my son had been waiting and passed time by tinkering with whatever was nearby. In this case, he was running his hands through a box of bracelets.
The cashier, oblivious to her comment, brushed my son’s hand away and said, “Oh that’s not for you, hon. That’s for girls.”
Why we need to stop saying “That’s for girls (or boys)”:
I get it. I shop in the boys area in the store. And I wasn’t thinking of buying my son pink bracelets.
But pointing it out makes it a bigger issue.
For one thing, my son had no idea what was going on. He could care less whether a big sign near the bracelets said “For Girls.” He was curious, bored, and wanted to see the box in front of him. With the cashier’s statement, he felt like he did something wrong.
And the worst thing is, he didn’t. Imagine doing something and someone calls you out like you should’ve known better.
Another thing, it’s not just for girls. If a boy wanted the pink bracelet, or the pink cupcake, or the pink anything, he can have it just as much as any other girl. It’s not the cashier’s (or anyone’s) place to decide that for a child. Especially one that’s not even hers.
So… what can we do instead? If we see a boy tinkering with pink bracelets, or a girl eyeing a shirt with a dump truck on it, what do we do?
Honestly? Nothing. Just let them be. Highlighting anything our kids do draws attention to it. After all, we reinforce the behavior, values and actions we pay attention to, both good or bad.
Pointing it out draws attention to it and makes it seem odd or even wrong, even when it’s not. And pink bracelets and shirts with trucks aren’t worth the attention we’re giving them.
Saying something makes kids feel like something’s taboo. I’d hate for kids to feel like they can’t like certain toys or items or even interests. All because others told them “that’s for girls” or “that’s for boys.”
I don’t see society changing so much that we’d have gender-neutral everything. And I don’t think we need it to, either. But that doesn’t mean we should point out what’s for girls or boys for every thing they’re curious about.
Case in point: we’ve gone to an indoor trampoline park a few times where we need to wear the park’s socks to go in. The color? Pink. Did we make a big deal about it? Nope. The socks are for everyone, girls and boys.
If anything, encourage a conversation with your child if he happens to bring it up. The other day, my son said his favorite color was red. He pointed out that red was also a favorite color of the boys in class, along with blue. He went on to describe that the girls liked red too, but they liked pink and purple more.
I asked him what he thought about that. Why the boys and girls liked separate colors and he replied in earnest that he didn’t know. It’s a good idea to make him wonder about it from time to time. To question why we segment things that don’t always have to be divided.
It’s something we should all consider from time to time. At least enough not to point it out when you see a boy tinkering with a box of pink bracelets.
Discuss more topics here:
- Are You Raising Your Kids to Conform to Gender Stereotypes?
- How to Help Your Social Child Handle Peer Rejection
- How to Create a Close Relationship with Your Child
- 6 Tips to Make Your Morning Routine for School Run Smoothly
- How to Stop Siblings from Fighting and Teach Conflict Resolution Instead
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments! Does it bother you when people point out things for girls or boys?