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Help me to help my three year old realise that girls aren't shit!

(86 Posts)
StarsAreShining Wed 05-Oct-11 21:42:25

My son is almost four, and seems to have absorbed a lot of awful opinions and made them his own. This includes, but is not limited to, 'I don't like pink because it's for girls. I like blue',(despite having a few pink things and not noticing the colour before), 'I don't like girls. Boys are cool', 'Girls cry but boys are brave', etc etc etc.

I'm feeling really disappointed because I don't know how to deal with this. I feel like I've failed. There's just a general feeling of men being big, strong, brave, cool and doing all of the exciting stuff, while women are quiet, weak, cry and do a lot of cleaning. There's no way I want this to continue. We regularly talk about it and read books which promote equality, but it doesn't seem to sink in. I've tried, but it seems that the rest of the world has won sad I'm aware that his dad and grandad regularly say things like 'Ugh, grandad's a big girl!', and I've told him that I'm not happy with my sex being used as an insult, but I can't make him stop. We do talk about these things, and he'll happily talk about people being equal, but it doesn't seem to be sinking in.

What do I do?!?! I really struggle because I don't have any friends who share my opinions. I barely even know anybody with children, let alone children who aren't having certain behaviours pushed onto them or restricted because of their sex!

EmilyMurphyLegallyAPerson Wed 05-Oct-11 22:06:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Harecare Wed 05-Oct-11 22:16:47

Just remind him that you are/were once a girl. I bet he thinks you are cool, brave, clever, strong. This won't work forever, but it will for a few years yet. Can you turn the derogatory remarks around? e.g. Grandpa's a big girl, oh good perhaps he'll be able to help DH rewire this plug/do a maths problem/something girls are supposed to be rubbish at, then? Girls are good at ...
It does help if you are a good role model and can do all the things girls are supposed to be rubbish at. Make sure he helps with the chores as any good child would regardless of gender so he doesn't think it's just for girls.

Harecare Wed 05-Oct-11 22:17:45

Get out to toddler groups, there are plenty of other parents who share your views and all childcare workers must promote equality.

scottishmummy Wed 05-Oct-11 22:24:43

dont be disappointed or ascribe adult sentiments into a child's words. he doesnt mean it with the potency you ascribe to 4yo everything is said as is definitive and fact. please dont be too disappointed and dont rise to perceived inequality statements

mix with mums at soft play, he will encounter predominately females at school and nursery

StarsAreShining Wed 05-Oct-11 22:41:10

I have tried telling him that I was or am a girl and that I'm cool, but I don't think he really believes it. His dad likes to refer to me as 'just a mom' now, which is obviously incredibly funny... I forgot that I stopped being a real human being once I gave birth. He doesn't want to have sex with me, so I don't matter. And as for the other remarks his dad makes, we're not together and he's incredibly sexist (but doesn't realise it). I've actually had to sit there and listen to him telling me how he managed to 'get' a stripper, as though it's some great achievement. I'm certain that he regularly brags about that. He's actually one of the most false and shallow people I've ever come across. He also liked to tell me how he was considering splitting up with his current girlfriend because he could get someone like that (a stripper). Clearly, being paid to be leered at makes you a superior specimen. And my son thinks the sun shines out of his arse sad I really struggle with it. He wants to be just like him.

He does help with the chores and has a little chart which he fills in. He sorts his own laundry, puts his own ironing away, makes his own bed etc. I have been to toddler groups, but really didn't meet a single person who thought the same way. He's currently at nursery and I'm still having difficulties. I've so far been advised to take him to karate and do more 'boyish' activities with him, so he doesn't get picked on by the other boys... He has growth problems and there's no way I'd advise that he starts hitting other children as a way of dealing with problems! It's thoroughly depressing sad

I'm not at all a 'girly' kind of person and am good at things men are generally considered to be good at, but he doesn't see that too often. Sees me cleaning and looking after him. And his dad loves to paint me as 'that old nag'. Generally talks about me as though I'm very uncool, because I'm a mom. I don't think he even realises what he's doing. I've tried to talk to him about it, but he told me that he didn't believe feminism was relevant any more, because women have achieved total equality. Had to laugh. He isn't even willing to look at hard facts and statistics. Just disregards them.

I've been discussing this with my partner, but he's really the only support I have. He can also see that it's a problem and it's getting worse as he gets older. Unfortunately, he doesn't live anywhere near us and only sees us at weekends. My parents like to talk about how he's a 'proper little boy', because he loves trucks and diggers and running about. I can't believe they can't see that he likes that stuff because that's what's been pushed at him. I wonder whether they'd think he wasn't a proper boy if he preferred playing with dolls.

I feel really pissed off that the rest of the world is filled with morons and they're already placing restrictions on him.

StarsAreShining Wed 05-Oct-11 22:45:43

And as for what you said about childcare workers promoting equality, I'm sure they have to, but I'm sure that a lot of stuff slips through. And a lot of stuff has already happened at home by that point.

We went to his play and stay session at the nursery about two weeks ago. The number of girls running around in pretend princess heels with fairy wings and cleaning accessories was depressing. One boy did wear a dress at one point and my son was very, very shocked. Thought it was wrong. I just don't understand how this has happened!

I still remember going to the play and stay session at his pre-school and hearing a comment that the manager made. A little girl was playing near us, trying to use a remote control to make a little rubbish truck move along. She hadn't realised that there were two and she was actually controlling the other one. The manager showed her and then turned to me and said, "It's us women - we're just not technical!" as though it was incredibly funny. I was so offended that a stranger would imply that I'm stupid because I'm female.

scottishmummy Wed 05-Oct-11 22:53:18

i think youre angry and upset with lots of factors in play
annoying ex
degree of anxiety about son

look,your wee boy is unlikely to be a raging misogynist based on a few trucks played with. in the same way a wee girl wont be barbie princess because she likes dollies and pink

sports and physical activities are good for kids and if well run,dont encourage rough fact probably discourage it

give yourself and son some credit,if you raise with good fair values and equality.likely you will get that back in a child

Grumpla Wed 05-Oct-11 22:53:30

Whereabouts are you Stars? might it be worth seeing if there is anyone local to you interested in hanging out?

I'm bringing up a two-year-old male feminist in East Anglia at the moment. It is quite depressing, how gendered everything is. I find myself re-writing books as I read them to him quite a lot!

I am lucky in that the fab nursery DS goes to are very happy to encourage girls and boys to play with a wide range of toys, dressing up clothes etc, whereas his last nursery used to be a bit weird about him liking dollies, prams etc.angry

Keep on fighting the good fight, I am sure he will put two and two together at some point and realise his father is a bit of a twit and that is why you are no longer together! It's good that your new partner is more supportive - even if he's not there with you all the time he will be modelling positive behaviours for your son.

Arkady Wed 05-Oct-11 23:10:14

Does he have any female friends? Or female relatives he really likes (adult or child)? Can you say "what about ...?

I agree that getting to toddler groups /sure start / the swings so he knows more kids and can see that these generalisations are bollocks might help.

It sounds like it would help you feel less isolated too. From what you said about his idea of what girls do, and not knowing people with shared views or with kids it sounds like you're having a rough time right now. Honestly, lots of other people aren't entirely pushing this stuff onto their kids. You may not be registering the counter examples yourself - take a second look at the kid hanging upside down from the swing, it may be a girl, and the one with 3 teddies in a little pushchair may be a boy. Say hi to their parents. Compliment them on their cool kid and on their parenting that lets kid be themselves rather than forcing them into a stereotype. You might make someone's day. You might make a friend. You might just feel better for knowing not everyone buys into all that shit.

Also, maybe browse the feminist board for ideas about successfully challenging your dad and partner, for you and your son's sake, as their words are causing pain.

StarsAreShining Thu 06-Oct-11 08:17:32

I'm just really concerned that the way I'm raising him won't have as much of an impact as anything his dad does. He absolutely adores him, despite him being shit. I do feel very annoyed that he feels he can laugh at me for taking parenting seriously. He wouldn't do half of the things that I do. Wouldn't be good for his image angry

As far as I can tell, the nursery are absolutely fine with children playing with any toys. Although my son does have some typically girls toys at home, he's far more likely to stick with cars when he's there. I wouldn't have a problem with that if I really believed he like them that much, but I do have a problem with him sticking to cars because that's what the other boys are doing and the other toys are girls toys.

I'm located near Birmingham (more black country - dudley). There is a Birmingham feminist group, but I can't go because it's on an evening. I'm a single parent with no transport! I'm also incredibly awkward with people in real life grin

It is true that I would like my partner to be spending more time with my son. He's just having great difficulty finding a job in this area. It feels like it's never going to happen.

The only child he regularly sees outside of nursery is a little girl. They come over to our house once a week. But he's not overly fond of her. Partly because she's a girl, she's a year younger than him and has very little english. It's not her first language and her speech is very confused. Often combines the two languages or just babbles. I originally thought that her mom had similar ideas to mine. She comes from a country with a different culture to ours. A lot more female friendly. She also mentioned doing volunteer work for womens aid, so I was really hopeful, but then she's come out with some absolute corkers. It was a bit of a disappointment.

I have tried to challenge his dad, but he's very difficult to get through to. He's the kind of person who would argue that the grass is blue if it suited him that day. His whole family live their life by lying. It's difficult to be around someone like that. He will just refuse to accept the truth, and you can go no further when a person will reject everything you say, no matter how much evidence there is. I even lent him a very accessible feminist book, but had to ask for it back because it was clear that he was never going to read it and I thought it might disappear. He honestly doesn't realise how awful and prejudiced he is. He's the kind of person who will happily come out with a lot of hateful, racist speech if he has an argument with somebody who isn't white. But claims to not be a racist. I don't really have the opportunity to confront him and his dad because I'm not there and don't see a lot of it. But I know what they're like. I'm also in the awkward position of not being able to challenge him because he'll not take anything I say seriously. I am only a woman, after all!

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 06-Oct-11 09:44:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StarsAreShining Thu 06-Oct-11 10:30:23

I have reached that point myself with his dad. I now don't allow him into the house. Haven't exactly banned him but say no when my son invites him in at drop off. I'd rather not be around him.

To be honest, he already sees my partner doing a lot of stuff when he's here. I don't actually cook at all! He also does a lot of the child stuff alone, so puts him to bed, showers him etc. Things are shared quite equall, but it's just a pain that we only see him at weekends. I don't think my son has even thought that cleaning is a womans job, because my partner does it and my son joins in too.

I do regularly reserve books from the library which promote equality or have non traditional female characters, and will step this up a bit. I was reluctant to push it too much, but I might have to in order to counteract the stuff he's hearing everywhere else. We've had a nice chat this morning about who can play with what and who can wear certain clothes. Also asked how he would feel if somebody said he wasn't as good as a girl because he's a boy. He was outraged grin Then I asked the other way and he said that he'd tell them off because boys and girls are just as good as each other. So perhaps he's not a total woman hater yet grin

His consultant at the hospital is a woman and we do regularly talk about men and women in different jobs, so he is aware that anybody can do anything (within reason).

I'm just not certain that the nursery is encouraging gendered play. The dressing up outfits are in a pretend shop at the moment, and the railing is quite high so the teachers reach whichever outfit the child wants. They're just giving them what they're asking for. They don't only have fairy wings and princess shoes. They have a huge variety, but the girls all wanted those things. I do believe that the kinds of toys they've been playing with for the past few years have an impact on the choices they make at nursery. If you've been read lots of princess stories, referred to as a pretty princess and played with lots of pink, glittery things, why wouldn't you want to dress up in a princess outfit at nursery? I did actually ask the staff if they encourage the children to play with other toys, because my son would play with cars the whole time if he could. They said that they do make sure the children aren't stuck in one area the whole time, but that doesn't mean that they'd necessarily push him towards anything which is typically for girls!

scottishmummy Thu 06-Oct-11 18:22:51

its the dad you have a problem with not the son,you need to stop all this what if about a wee boy.

ok so in actuality your worries about son are bit heightened and hes an ok wee boy.

you have a gripe with the dad, but dont enact out upon your son. dad may well be a bit of a caveman.but that in no way means that your son will be too. dont project misgivings about the dad onto the son

and no youre not correct about play with pink and princess stuff=grow up become a isnt a straight forward causal relationship as that .it really isnt. nor does a wee boy dressing as pirate and waving a sword mean he will go onto pillage. you are making this way to simple it isnt a straight forward cause and effect. i know plenty wee girly girls all pink and ta-da havent gone on to be princessy at all

essentially modelling,societal pressures ,family relations,child preference all impacts.and the exact nature if it all isnt known and is contentious

BedHog Thu 06-Oct-11 18:38:38

We're struggling a bit at the moment with adverts. All the toys are ridiculously gender stereotyped and DS comes out with things like 'girls things are rubbish'. I try and explain that all toys are for all children, some toys are cool and some are rubbish, and pointing out that he likes playing with his female friends' toys (my friends all think like me so have a good variety of toys) but I don't know if he believes me.

To be honest, my friends with girls are having a harder time. They are intelligent, professional women who aren't girly, have tried hard to be gender neutral in bringing up their DDs, yet now seem to be fighting a losing battle against the flouncy frilliness and fairy wings that their DDs seem to passionately desire.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 06-Oct-11 18:39:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StewieGriffinsMom Thu 06-Oct-11 18:41:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

scottishmummy Thu 06-Oct-11 18:49:39

school and nursery all exerts a subtle peer pressure for gender stereotyped toys. another child has it, or you get given such toys as gifts and before you can say barbie your girl has princessy wings and a tiara

solidgoldbrass Fri 07-Oct-11 00:51:40

I tend to rely on 'Only silly people think that' if DS comes out with anything sexist.

StewieGriffinsMom Fri 07-Oct-11 07:29:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StarsAreShining Sun 09-Oct-11 20:44:03

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this. I don't think my son has a key worker... I feel really clueless about the whole nursery thing, to be honest. I think they already have me down as a trouble maker, since I've already been in twice about him being singled out due to his size. He's receiving a lot of negative attention from the other children. I started a thread on it the other day because the teacher behaved really defensively when I asked about it. I may well go in to ask about how they encourage non-gendered play, but I currently feel as though I lack the confidence to broach the subject.

scottishmummy, I didn't mean that girls who play with these toys will turn out to be human barbie dolls! I was trying to say that I think their choice of toy at nursery is influenced by the kind of toys they've been given to play with at home. It all just seems quite segregated. Would you ever consider banning a barbie doll if it was given as a gift? Or do you think that would make it even more appealing?

Thanks for the book recommendations. There are lots I'm going to be reserving at the library. Just want to make sure we're still discussing these things.

scottishmummy Sun 09-Oct-11 21:37:50

no i dont ban gender specific toys.i accept graciously and if its played with fair enough. imo,there are bigger things to sweat than toy kitchens and barbie for girls and guns and pirates for boys. im not in favour of creating a forbidden list.

and no what my kids play with at nursery isnt necessarily what they have at home. to an extent nursery creates a demand,peer pressure and swop toys or play with each other toys at parties play dates. ime home doesn't create the demand for what played with at nursery

at nursery all kids have an allocated key worker,and they are supposed to keep a file on child progress and meet each few months to liaise with parents

BlitzMum Mon 17-Oct-11 06:36:33

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

jasper Mon 17-Oct-11 07:34:26

Lots of wee girls his age have exactly the same dislike for boys. Don't worry too much

KRITIQ Mon 17-Oct-11 13:18:42

Blitz Mum, wtf are you talking about? Your post is repusive.

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