Does gender define your kids?

Does the world treat you differently because you’re a girl?

I think most of us would admit that yes, society does treat boys and girls differently. It’s a fact of life because guess what, we are different.

But a couple in Toronto is keeping the gender of their child a secret, hoping this child can choose who he or she will be. Their older two sons have also been given the freedom to choose the length of their hair, whether they wear pink dresses or pants, and whom to tell that they are boys.

Whatever you think about this parenting technique, I do think this social experiment by Kathy Witterick and David Stocker brings up an interesting question: How much does our gender define us?

It’s true that girl baby showers are pink and boys are blue. Boys get trucks while girls get dolls. The divide includes everything from TV shows to pajamas in princess versus cars.

And as much as I like to think of myself as open-minded, I find myself gravitating to the pink section of the clothing stores or the princess-theme paraphernalia. I do it less because of any pre-programmed idea of what girls like, but more because my daughter has expressed an interest in these things.

I wonder, though, how much of her likes and dislikes come from a subtle gender bias and how much is actually coming from the desires and personalities of my children. She also loves building blocks and LEGOS, and we encourage her to play with whatever she wants. I hope I would be as encouraging if I had a son who preferred princesses to Tonka trucks.

In this regard, I think the mini experiment by the Witterick/Stocker family is fascinating (although I wouldn’t want my children to be the test subjects of such an experiment). How will their child define him or herself without the world dictating what it means to be a boy or a girl? Will he choose a gender or wind up being truly genderless? Is that even possible?

What do you think of this family’s decision to raise a child “genderless”?

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.

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