Posts Tagged ‘ gender neutral ’

Ellen Stimson, Author of ‘Mud Season’ Didn’t Believe in Barbies or Toy Guns Until…

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Author Ellen Stimson‘s memoir Mud Season recently hit shelves. It’s about her family’s move to gorgeous, rural Vermont after one magical vacation. Things pretty much go south from there in her witty and bittersweet book.

Ellen had a lot of ideas about parenthood that went south, and she shares them with us in this most excellent essay below. Find out what happens when well-meaning pacifist, gender-neutral parents come to blows with their feisty kids’ personalities. Would you let your kid have a Barbie? A toy gun? They didn’t think so until…

Parenting 101 by Ellen Stimson

When our kids were little we had very definite ideas about what their raising was going to look like. There would be no gender biases in our toy purchases for one thing. We were not going to fall into the truck and gun or pink and purple trap. Our house would be free of the stereotyping messages that our culture bombards little boys and girls with on TV and on the playground. Our house would be a gender-neutral zone, where preferences and natural identity were respected and exploration of biases examined. Multiculturalism would be taught and thoughtful discourse would be encouraged. This was the way we made our way in the world, and it was the way we would raise our children, by golly.

We had spent lots of time thinking about these issues and planning our parenting styles. Our ideas had been long-considered, and we were going to wind up with balanced kids who treated everyone they met with kindness, dignity and respect. They would not be bound by society’s notions of male and female. Their lives would be fuller and richer as a result. I’m sure we saw them bringing peace to the Middle East and curing cancer while they were at it.

In the whole nature versus nurture debate we fell squarely on the nurture side. We figured if parents would just provide loving experiences and offer up ideas at the supper table, kids would gravitate toward tolerance. What debate? We had this whole thing figured out. Only then, we actually met the kids. We had forgotten that they might come to the party with their own ideas. (more…)

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