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

(169 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!

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.

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.

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

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

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

Teajunky understands perfectly!!

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!

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.

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 14:35:25

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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

grin @ picking up typos!

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.

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!

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.

Witchofthenorth Wed 06-Mar-13 22:21:19

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

homecountiesmummy Fri 25-Sep-15 16:52:07

I recently brought my DS just turned two, has some lovely little Start Rite Louisa Shoes in navy blue, from Russel And Bromley. The lady who served us knew exactly what I was looking for, rather than directing us to the boys section.

I simply want my DS to have footwear that is suitable, practical, and comfortable for his little feet, and looks nice. The lady in the shop also said that quite a lot of mums buying the traditional/ Start Rite Classic shoes for both little girls and little boys, which is why they stock them. Is the Prince George Factor at work here, I wonder?

Equally, she said that all the staff in Russel And Bromley in Winchester, think these little shoes look so cute on both little girls or little boys. Because my four year old little girl has put on a growth spurt recently, My DS also wears some of his older sisters clothes, play shorts, and little bibbed short dungarees, in yellow, orange, pale green, with white knee socks. I just think kids clothes and colours should be gender neutral so I tend to mix and match.

At pre school my daughter is equally happy playing with other little girls as well as boys. When I collected her recently, she was playing with a little boy wearing pink wellingtons. They had all been having fun splashing in puddles. But I am sure a little boy in pink wellingtons does not make him gay, no more than putting my DS, in Start Rite Louisa Shoes as a toddler. But then pre school is different to primary, and children do become more influenced by society norms and expectations.


knittingbee Fri 25-Sep-15 17:49:59

Have you been employed by Startrite or Russell and Bromley to resurrect this zombie thread? hmm

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