How do you explain to kids that certain things are girl / boy things?

(167 Posts)
BabyRuSh Fri 01-Mar-13 17:39:31

Sorry if its a dumb question. We were picking out shoes for ds recently (2y) and he kept pointing at pink ballet pump shoes in the catalogues. I didn't know how to say that those designs were for girls. Is there a nice way to explain this?? I have no issue with him playing with pink toys as i believe toys are gender neutral, and am a bit stumped as to how I explain that he can't wear certain things because he's a boy!

OP.....having skimmed through a small selection of replies, I bet your wishing now you'd never asked grin

ZuleikaD Mon 04-Mar-13 15:13:07

My DD also has shortish hair and plays rugby and wears boys' clothes, and people frequently mistake her for a boy (doesn't help that she introduces herself as Thomas because she's obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine). She's nearly 4 and it doesn't bother her in the least so far.

vess Mon 04-Mar-13 14:44:52

My dd2, age 3, wears a lot of boys gender neutral clothes. She has a plain black and green winter coat - a hand-me-down one - and shortish sort of hair. Everybody thinks she is a boy.
That doesn't bother me.

What bothers me is that now that she is more aware, she will know that people think she is a boy. I really don't want her thinking she is not a 'proper' girl!

Bundlejoycosysweet Sun 03-Mar-13 19:47:48

When my eldest was three we went to get him sme new jelly shoes and he chose the pink sparkly ones with a strawberry on the front. I had no trouble him wearing them out at paddling pools and beach. In fact lots of his friends of both genders loved them.

He is now five and probably wouldn't wear them now because he is at school and suddenly all his peers are spouting gender stereotypes. We try and counteract this but peer pressure is pretty strong at this age.

Personally I say let kids wear what they want.

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 18:09:17

grin @ picking up typos!

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 17:27:12

Zuleika - exactly. And if people are going to insist on seeing children as simply extensions of their parents ideologies, instead of human beings who need to be allowed to develop their autonomy (as long as they are safe and warm while doing so) I would rather my child gave out the message that I am NOT some refugee from the 1950s and the world will not end if a male toddler decides to - gasp - wear something that your granny might sniff at as 'for girls'.

I really do find astonishing this attitude that there is stuff for boys and stuff for girls and we have just got to 'get over it'. Imagine the uproar if we were told we could not dress little girls in blue trousers or let them learn about physics.

This debate is just another branch on the same nonsense tree.

ZuleikaD Sun 03-Mar-13 17:19:23

seeker "At 2 they are likely to be their parent's (sic) political billboard."

I'm sure seeker is using 'political' in its widest possible sense to mean 'making some kind of statement', but what she isn't seeing is that whatever way we bring up our children is some kind of statement. Refusing to allow your son to wear pink is just as much of a statement about your own beliefs as permitting it.

Sirzy Sun 03-Mar-13 15:50:58

I wondered that Spero!

DS in 3 and although I buy the clothes he decides what he is wearing, hence him wearing wellies (clean!) and a sun hat to go to the cinema today - there aren't many years of your life you can do that without it being odd so let them enjoy it!

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 15:44:52

I must be thick but could someone please explain why clothes for toddlers are a political choice ? I wasn't aware clothing featured in the manifestos of any political party.

MajaBiene Sun 03-Mar-13 14:35:25

A 2 year old who chooses pink clothes/shoes is a political billboard?

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 14:29:15

At 2 they are likely to be their parent's political bill
Board. At 12 they are making informed choices

MajaBiene Sun 03-Mar-13 14:10:50

So basically, small children can wear anything they like and it doesn't really make any difference.

By the time they are at school they will probably decide to conform to gender expectations. Or they might not. And that doesn't really matter either.

5madthings Sun 03-Mar-13 14:09:55

Thanks spero I think he is pretty cool tho a whingy beast at times!

bigtilly that is exactly the reaction I have always had.

I have discussed this with another friend and our conclusion was feel sad for people who live somewhere that people would comment negatively or be mean to a CHILD wearing something slightly out of the norm. I regularly see kids in all sorts of funny outfits, it makes me smile and nothing more. There is a girl who comes to toddlers who has a very particular sense of her own style, her mum half despairs and half laughs, is is her fourth child and she is well aware some battles are not worth fighting so she makes sure she is warm enough and lets her wear her madly clashing combinations smile

This all came up on a thread I did about ds3 and if I should buy him anew fairy dress etc as he had outgrown his other one, people seemed to think I must live somewhere odd becausehe isnt bullied/picked on for his dress sense. I think its sad that so many assume a child will automatically be picked on etc. That isnt my experience and when the IDD situation has arrisen ds3 has dealt with it. I will help give my children tactics to deal with bullying or name calling etc and step in when necessary. I won't stop therm doing something 'in case' they get bullied. I don't think 'conforming' to avoid bullying is the right path to take and sends the wrong message to a child, that they are doing something 'wrong' when they aren't!

fouranddone Sun 03-Mar-13 13:57:51

Teajunky understands perfectly!!

bigTillyMint Sun 03-Mar-13 13:51:28

5madthings, no one ever made nasty comments, in fact he made many people smile a lotsmile

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 13:40:19

And 5madthngs, I think your son sounds amazing and will no doubt go on to achieve great things in adulthood. He clearly isn't deflected by the small minded, who must live their lives constantly on the look out for other people commenting. How exhausting that must be.

Spero Sun 03-Mar-13 13:36:52

I have read it all, and that is the message I am getting. You are getting a different one, that's super, that is what discourse is all about surely?

I remember a care case I did once where the baby was in foster care before her parents killed her through combination of neglect and rampant drug use. I had to spend an hour trying to calm down my parent client - time we didn't really have to waste given the enormity of the mountain he had to climb to prove his fitness to parent.

Why was he so cross? Because at supervised contact the day before his baby girl had arrived in a blue onsie. According to him this was abuse. Why wasn't she in the pink vests etc, etc.

Maybe that was just his way of thing to deflect from the much more serious issues with which he had to contend. But sadly I think there are a lot of people out there with this bonkers world view.

They really need to know their history. In Victorian times PINK was the favoured colour for boys as it was seen as a 'strong' colour. I think the switch in perception came after WW2 when the Nazis designated pink triangles to homosexual men in the death camps.

What I object to is people being put into boxes for utterly illogical irrelevant reasons.

ZuleikaD Sun 03-Mar-13 13:25:43

Also, if you only buy pink for your girls and blue for your boys, your child is just as much of a political billboard as if you don't care.

ZuleikaD Sun 03-Mar-13 13:24:51

I agree with those arguing that supposed bigotry seems to be more real for some people than any actual bigotry and that they are prepared to circumscribe their child's choices on that basis.

I object very strongly to children being used as their parent's political bill board.

It's not being used as a political billboard if your child has made a choice for themselves (at 2, 12 or whatever) and you go along with that.

The children are far more sensible about these issues than the adults, seemingly.

lifesobeautiful Sun 03-Mar-13 12:52:06

Aaarrgh, I'm not saying that department stores should dictate societal norms - where did that come from! I'm just saying that whether you like it or not, most people consider some things to be girls clothes and some things to be boys clothes - which is why on shops and websites there are sections for girls and for boys. Eg most people I know would think dresses were girls clothes. Even if they didn't mind their little boys wearing them!! It's fine to let your little boys dress up in whatever they want - if that's what they want!

Right - I have RL things to do (10 people to tea!) - and I now officially surrender!! Have fun everyone.

catkind Sun 03-Mar-13 12:49:30

Homophone, we've said to DS (3) that some people think pink is for girls but that's a bit silly, and if he wants to wear pink he should. Pink is his favourite colour at the moment smile

MajaBiene Sun 03-Mar-13 12:41:48

I really don't think 2, 3, 4 year olds need to be protected from bigots. No one is going to hassle a pre-schooler for wearing a tutu or pink shoes.

When they get to school there might be more pressure to conform to gender stereotypes - children of 5+ will work out for themselves if they want to wear ballet shoes or football kit.

Some adults fear of bigots seems to be massively out of proportion with any actual bigotry toddlers might face.

seeker Sun 03-Mar-13 12:37:57

"and anyone who said anything to a 2 year old about gender stereotyping of clothing is clearly just a narrow minded bigot, tbh."

Of course they are! Anyone who said to a child of any age would be too!

But my job as a parent is to protect my children from narrow minded bigots, until such time as they are old enough to decide for themselves what they want to do.

I object very strongly to children being used as their parent's political bill board.

5madthings Sun 03-Mar-13 12:35:49

I don't think you failed at all bigtilly you let him be a child smile

Did he get horrible comments?

bigTillyMint Sun 03-Mar-13 12:33:17

Oh dear, I have failed so miserably in this.

My DS LOVED to wear his sisters pink ballet shoes, leotard and tutu at every opportunity - both at home and in the street/at others houses until he was about 5 and decided he preferred footy kits.

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