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This board exists primarily for parents of LGBT children to swap support and advice. Others are welcome to post but please be supportive.

DSS age 3 is "a girl with a willy". AIBU to ask...
33

hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 16:54

how we help him?

At his main home (65% of the time) it is mainly just him and his DM (one previous serious boyfriend, current casual one). Until recently, he's seemed like a happy, well-adjusted boy.

In recent months he's been telling us he's a girl, and in the last few days he's decided he's "a girl with a willy" (quotation marks because I'm not 100% sure whether they're his words or his mum's). DM allows him to wear dresses out and about, sometimes to nursery (4 days/week) and he loves it.

But.... at DH's/mine, where he is the other 35% of the time (ish), there's none of it. We have bought him a dress he can choose to wear - he doesn't. We will often (without any ill intentions) say "good boy" - maybe 1 in 10 times he'll go "no, I'm a girl", which we sort of brush off with, "oh, ok". There's no fight back from him.

DM has, in the past, said to us that she's not sure she will have more children, and has told me very sincerely that she was gutted DSS was a boy, as she desperately wanted a daughter. Part of me wonders whether this is kind of encouraging him to be the daughter she never had? Her and DH spoke this morning, and when DH expressed concern that it’s encouraging him to dislike himself because he’s not a girl, she told him that it’s best to just tell DSS he is a girl with a willy, as apparently this will allow him to not get confused.

I am really at a loss to understand how telling him this is anything other than completely confusing.

DH expressed to DM that he’s worried about DSS getting mocked at school if he continues to say he is a girl, and that we should neither encourage nor discourage the dresses/calling himself a girl until he is old enough to express himself more eloquently - currently, asking him why he wants to be a girl gets the answer “because I do”. I do wonder whether DSS (who is a sensitive child) wants to be in a sort of girls’ club with mummy, so by telling her he is a girl, makes them more close? Having said that, he also occasionally will tell me and DM that we are boys, so I’m at a bit of a loss.

Does anyone have any advice?

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Guineapigbridge · 26/07/2021 17:02

My advice is let him be a kid, give him a range of clothes, never comment or give any energy to it. It is very normal for three year olds to exolore lots of ways of being themselves. It signifies nothing about what he'll be like at five, fifteen or fifty.

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NeedNewKnees · 26/07/2021 17:05

My middle one was a cat for 6 weeks at that age. Don’t stress over it, but definitely keep an ear out for what your mother is saying to him. If she’s filling his head with nonsense about wishing he were a girl, I’d reduce contact.

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 17:07

@NeedNewKnees it's DSS's mum that's saying this, not mine! Sorry if that was unclear. We would very very happily take on more contact if we could, but sadly that's not an option right now (and not for lack of us trying!)

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SnoozyBoozy · 26/07/2021 17:09

It's difficult to know whether this is being driven by his DM or whether she is taking his lead and letting him be what he wants. 3 is very young. I'd be inclined not to mention too much to him, let him wear dresses if he wants to, give him a range of options for toys etc and don't "gender" them and you may find he continues down this route, he may just like wearing dresses and playing with toys that boys don't typically play with, or he may just decide himself that he's a boy.

But pushing against it because you feel the mum is pushing it will confuse the poor lad even more, and you may find when he starts school, it's not spoken about again.

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Smartiepants79 · 26/07/2021 17:11

He’s 3. He’s has no idea what most of this means.
He is trying out all the things that he likes doing and the adults around him are gendering all those things and making it into a ‘big deal’
Small children like to think that they’re cats and puppies and dinosaurs we don’t automatically assume that they’re actually going to be those things. Being a girl/boy is a role to play.
The girl with a Willy thing is weird and confusing. My biggest concern would be the way it appears to be being handled by his mother.

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 17:17

@Smartiepants79 totally agree with everything you've said. DH and I try to be very neutral - we don't disagree when he says he's a girl, we just say "ok then" and change the subject. I agree that DSS's mum seems to be handling this oddly and DH and I are not sure how we can handle this!

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 17:19

@Guineapigbridge thank you, that's just what we plan to do :)

@SnoozyBoozy I can't help but feel it is definitely partly being pushed by his mum. I can't see how else he would distinguish that boys have X and girls have Y - I don't think it's something his nursery cover at this age from what they have said in the past when we first raised the matter with them of him saying he's a girl.

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WallaceinAnderland · 26/07/2021 17:23

When he says he's a girl, why do you say ok then? You must be confusing the hell out of him. Tell him he's a boy.

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 17:27

@WallaceinAnderland in the past, if he's told us he is something (a cat, dog, whatever) if we directly argue with him it turns into a fun game for him "yes I am", "no you're not", etc - by brushing it off he loses interest and chats about something else

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Sonarl · 26/07/2021 17:27

Get a grip. He's 3. one of my son's wanted to be a cat at this stage, the other wanted to be Thomas the tank engine. Give him a range of toys and let him play and let him where whatever he wants. But don't tell him he's a girl..Because he's not, and can't ever be and it's not fair (and it's not what he's saying at this age anyway).

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 17:30

@Sonarl fair enough. We're neither encouraging nor discouraging, because as I've said above, directly disagreeing about it makes it into a fun game for him.
I'm more concerned that his mum is treating him like the daughter she never had, and that's what I'm worrying will mess with his head. I feel that me and DH have a grip - it's his mum that is the one encouraging this.

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Bortles · 26/07/2021 17:31

'Thats nice dear' and carry on as normal. All refs to him as a girl should come from him and not be reinforced from outside. Just let him carry on being a kid and take it as seriously as if he said he was a dinosaur.

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Sonarl · 26/07/2021 17:31

fair enough, pass the grip to her Smile

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NeedNewKnees · 26/07/2021 17:46

Sorry, @hulahoopqueen, that was my shoddy reading skills (shouldn’t try to multitask when playing on Mumsnet!).

That’s more difficult, certainly. I think just brushing it off is the way to go. Or engaging in kind - “Ok, love. What should I be? I think I’d like to be a giraffe.”

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toocold54 · 26/07/2021 18:06

My middle one was a cat for 6 weeks at that age.

😂😂😂

As PPs have said there’s nothing to worry about. I really don’t think his mum would be pushing it on to him because she wanted a girl. Carry on as you are just going with the flow and give it a year or 2 and then re-evaluate the situation.

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Bluesheep8 · 26/07/2021 18:37

My middle one was a cat for 6 weeks at that age.

My cousins son was a tractor. And insisted on being referred to as Tractor.

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toocold54 · 26/07/2021 19:08

My cousins son was a tractor. And insisted on being referred to as Tractor.

😂😂
I forgot how wonderfully weird little kids are Grin

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MilkCereal · 26/07/2021 19:18

My ds was a t rex at that age. He only answered to 'T rex' for a few weeks. 3 is too young. Nothing you can do about his mother, just let it be and see what the school years bring. My ds when asked still says he wants to be an animal when he grows up- hes 5!

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KimmyAndMe · 26/07/2021 19:29

The child is 3! Allow him to choose his clothes and toys. He can be anything he wants to be at this age. Nobody will bat an eyelid.

I was a “tomboy” throughout my childhood. I Thank God 🙏 there was no such thing as Trans back in the day.

Once I reached puberty I became a “girly girl”. I’m so glad to have married, given birth and raised my family. I’m proud to be a mother.

Again, I’m so grateful my adult opportunities, as a woman, weren’t snatched away from me on my thoughts as a young child.

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Travielkapelka · 26/07/2021 19:47

You ignore it and say “that’s nice dear”. Whatever you do, do not think that it’s indicative of anything else. It’s a totally normal 3 year old phase. There is absolutely no need to do anything else at all.

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 19:53

@MilkCereal @KimmyAndMe @Travielkapelka all good advice and along the lines of what we're doing/plan to do. Thing is, what do we do about the fact that it seems his mum is encouraging it?

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hulahoopqueen · 26/07/2021 19:54

Sorry @MilkCereal can see you already mentioned DM 🙈

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KimmyAndMe · 26/07/2021 20:01

@MilkCereal @KimmyAndMe @Travielkapelka all good advice and along the lines of what we're doing/plan to do. Thing is, what do we do about the fact that it seems his mum is encouraging it

Honestly? In your position I would just say, “Yeah, yeah,” to the mum at this stage. Allow your stepson to be himself at yours. The mum sounds a batshit tbh. This child needs someone to fight his corner. You have a fight on your hands in the future. Keep the welfare of the child uppermost in your thoughts. Good Luck OP 🍀

Thank God the child has you 💐

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spongedog · 26/07/2021 20:57

I'd be very interested to know how your 65:35 is split and the fact that "We would very very happily take on more contact if we could, but sadly that's not an option right now (and not for lack of us trying!)"

Nothing you have said - factually - suggests that the child's mum is encouraging anything unusual. But your tirade towards this woman will cause this child far more issues, long after this phase has passed. You really do need to step back away from parenting this child. He has 2 parents already.

The child is 3 - you can only have been on the scene a couple of years? Yet here you are - parenting and over-involved. Let Mum and Dad work together to support their child as he moves on to school. Otherwise it will be a horrendous next 15+ years.

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WillowGrand · 26/07/2021 21:03

Poor little thing, the girl with a Willy thing is fucked up, don’t care about the defence of the mum it just is.

I think you do just try to go as neutral as possible, ignore as much as possible but I think I’d have to challenge the “girl with a Willy” tosh with his mum.

The only conversation I’ve had with my girls growing up again and again until it’s sunk in which may be worth doing casually when it arises is saying “there is no such things as girls things/jobs/toys/games and boys things? Just things” followed by “the only difference between girls and boys is girls can have babies and boys can’t”.

I think I’d slip that in as much as possible and add “boys have willies, girls don’t”. The change the subject.

Hard very hard.

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