In a world replete with binaries, have you ever heard about the concept of Gender Neutral Parenting?
Though it's a phenomenon still in its incipient stages, but it comes as a sigh of much needed relief in a world plagued with 'pink for girls & blue for boys' beliefs. I had several bitter-sweet experiences while I was planning for my baby shower last year. Much to my and my husband's amazement, the so-called spoilt-for-choices pregnancy and child-care stores din't have much to offer beyond the boundaries of pinks and blues. For overzealous parents like us, who had no inkling of our baby-to-be's gender, and were just looking forward to the experience of parenthood and some light baby-shower fun, it was quite a disappointing stint. While we were looking for neutral picks in terms of colors and themes, we were constantly cajoled into either finding the gender of the baby or picking a combination of blue and pink.
It was then that I had made up my mind of not exposing my child to gender-based compartmentalization in terms of upbringing, habits, clothes, literature or toys. I remember how careful I was while giving my brief for the cake to maverick cake-artist and connoisseur of desserts, Master Chef Kandla Nijhowne. I was determined to have a gender neutral cake brimming over with baby cutesies. I had spent many nights looking for the most unconventional options and had put together a list of props that I wanted to be included such as booties, bibs, clothesline, onesies and many others. I can't even begin to tell you how nicely were my ideas put to execution by Mrs Kandla. Much to my delight, she came up with the cutest caption that read, 'Pink or Blue, We Love You!'. Our family and friends quite appreciated the gender-neutral choice of babyshower theme and cake, and that encouraged us as parents to continue with this parenting style.
As a matter of fact, we were recently covered by Chandigarh's leading newspaper, The Tribune, for being among a few adventurous parents who have adopted this parenting style and decided to raise our children sans the confines of gender stereotypes. As you can see in the picture, we love dressing Baby K in pinks, purples and peaches. Not only this, he loves to play with my dolls and doll houses too. When he was even younger, my Mom and nieces loved dressing him up in my baby clothes. So, we have had memories with him wearing my frocks, tunics and even sarees.
You may read the entire article here, http://epaper.tribuneindia.com/c/24679004
Choosing to raise my child gender neutral is a decision that I am truly elated and proud of. It comes as a great breather in times when everything is being compartmentalized and labelled.
How Can You Raise your Child Gender Neutrally?
Parenting your child this way is easy and enjoyable. All you need to do is to allow and motivate your little ones to explore, express, dress, play or socialize unfettered, without the baggage of expected societal norms and aspirations. Encourage them to seek out choices for themselves in all spheres of life without labeling things, ideas or activities as 'for you' or 'not for you' based on their biological sex.
As a parent, you can let your child interact and grow up gender-neutrally in countless little ways. Letting little girls play with cars and robots, allowing boys to play with teddies and dolls, not reminding young boys to 'stop crying and Man up', giving young girls the freedom to opt for pixie hair-cuts, allowing children to pick play dates irrespective of their gender, encouraging boys to read classic tales of Cindrella, Snow White and others, offering children to choose their own clothes without any color biases are a few of the parenting practices that may help you transform your parenting style.
You will be pleasantly surprised to know that as a way forward, Sweden has already embarked on this trend and realized its magnanimity in improving the lifestyle and overall prestige of its citizens by adding a gender-neutral personal pronoun 'hen' to the country's vocabulary. Many of the clothing brands have followed suit and launched gender neutral outlets for toys, gifts and clothes. It looks to good to see some sanity spreading in the world. Isn't it? :)
We have happily adopted the Gender Neutral Parenting Style. What about you? :)