Why Does My Son Hate ‘Girl Stuff’ All Of A Sudden?

By kindergarten most children have learned and adopted cultural gender norms and roles.

By kindergarten most children have learned and adopted cultural gender norms and roles.

PPBB Community comment: “I wish I could control what my kids are learning in the classroom. My son comes home from kindergarten feeling like all he can play are superhero games. 
I’ve been telling both he and his sister from their day ones that all colors are for everybody, al
l characters are for everybody, princesses are for everybody and superheroes are for everybody. We live that way. 
But a few days in school and my boy yells “yuck” every time I ask him if he wants a pink heart sticker for crying out loud. 
It’s depressing, really.” -Kelly F

 

PPBB Reply: A lot of what your son is doing right now is totally age appropriate and common for kids who are in the phase of establishing gender permanence. Kids his age categorize everything and the world is very “this or that” for them right now. Good/bad, pretty/ugly, mean/nice, funny/scary. This is why the preschool/kinder age has such big emotions as the huge world they are learning so much about every day doesn’t line up with their boxes and they feel shifted and out of sorts. 

The categorization helps them feel a sense of control, because going out into the world every day without mom/dad right there can be scary and overwhelming so they compartmentalize everything and take their roles VERY seriously, which is why your son is overemphasizing that he is a B-O-Y right now and pink heart stickers make him wretch. 

It is completely frustrating and also a great indication he is learning and absorbing everything around him, including our culture’s definition of gender roles. Just be patient and keep emphasizing little gender equity mantras. It will stick with him as he matures.

Some PPBB gender equal and media literacy mantras you can use are:

Colors are for everyone.

All toys are for all kids.

There are many ways to be a girl.

There are many ways to be a boy.

Each person is Full of Awesome in their special way.

 

Images source.

 

Pigtail Pals & Ballcap Buddies is a small business owned and operated by Melissa Atkins Wardy in Wisconsin, where our shirts are printed and shipped with love.
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Sunnie’s Christian School Forgot Jesus Had Long Hair: A Lesson in the Gender Binary

“I should just be able to be me.” -Sunnie Kahle, eight years old

The background: a private Christian school sent a letter to Sunnie’s home stating “We believe that unless Sunnie and her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.”

Sunnie Jesus

The school stated the other children were confused by Sunnie’s appearance and hobbies not matching her gender, so the school asked Sunnie to conform or stay away. Sunnie’s family was offended by the letter and Sunnie was pulled from Christian school and enrolled in public school.

I have reached out to Sunnie’s family on behalf of the PPBB Community. (Thanks Erin an Kate for helping me yesterday with contact info.) I spoke with Sunnie’s grandma for a while this morning and that lady is FULL of Awesome. Sunnie is going to come out of this just fine.

Here is what I’d like the conversation to address:

– Is there only one correct way to be a girl? Are there many ways to be a girl?

– Is the term ‘tomboy’, even when used in a positive way, actually harmful to kids? What does it really imply?

– Is gender binary? Or is gender, especially when we are discussing young kids who are extremely curious about the world, more fluid and not such a cause for concern?

– If other students are confused about something, is it best for a school to hide that thing away, or use that thing as a teaching tool? What if that “thing” is actually a person? What does this teach our children about acceptance, empathy, leadership and kindness?

– What do schools teach their children when they oppress gender nonconforming kids? What could Sunnie’s teacher and school have done that would have had a more positive outcome for all students involved?   (Here are some ideas.)

 

There should be no concern or alarm when we see a child acting like a curious child. 

A girl playing in the mud, collecting baseballs, catching frogs, playing rough and tumble, climbing trees, wearing short hair, etc is being girly. She may also love sparkles and princesses and dressing up and unicorns or mermaids or tigers or beluga whales.

A boy skipping, dancing in fairy wings, caring for a doll, getting lost in his art, playing quietly, wearing long curly hair, etc is being a boy. He may also love sports and guitars and skate boards and being loud and messy.

Let’s not lose sight of the idea that our job is to show the world to our children and then give them the space to show us who they want to be in it.

 

(Let’s establish a few guidelines for the comments here because this community is a safe and respectful place for people:

~ Be respectful of religion here, no matter how much you do or do not agree with the information presented.

~ Use this thread to take a macro look at the issue of gender stereotypes and a binary gender code in childhood. I’ll ask you to remember tat just last week we were talking about a boy from a public school who was shamed and punished for acting outside of assumed gender roles with his My Little Pony bag. This mindset is not individual to this one Christian school.

~ This story is awash in gender stereotypes. “Tomboy” “Boy things”, etc. Let’s focus on energy on fighting those and not other distractions that may come up during this conversation about Sunnie.)

Turning My Son into a Millionaire Eggplant: The Powerful Transformative Properties of Nail Polish

J Crew's Jenna Lyons and son.

When I view the J Crew ad this is what I see.

This was the focus for me – a moment of delight and love passing between a mother and her son.

As I was quoted saying in this wicked smart Ms. Magazine piece by the fierce Melanie Klein (also a mother to a young son):

“The camera has to zoom in SO much on the toes to make the news story, you completely lose sight of the delightful moment between loving, doting mother and happy, beautiful son.”

You all know I’m a big picture kinda gal, and I don’t look at the world with fear and hate, which is why when I first read about this ridiculous ass hat controversy in the wee hours of Monday morning when I was up late working, overtired and annoyed by the stupidity of such a non-issue, I closed the link and didn’t give it much thought. I didn’t bookmark it to blog about or share with the Pigtail Pals parent community because of the aforementioned ass hattedness of it all. I was offended the fear mongering and homophobic conservative media created an issue out of nothing, and did so at the the expense of a mother loving her son (in an advertisement, mind you). I was reluctant to share a “news” piece linked from FOX News (a four letter word in my house).

If ever there was an example of picking gnat shit out of pepper, the media has done it a thousand times over.

Wednesday morning came around and you’d think there wasn’t an entire global region is hisitoric political upheaval or an armageddon-like nuclear disaster in a population-dense country or a massive budget crisis in this country….

Because the morning brought the whole country talking about nail polish. Seriously? What’s worse, we were debating whether or not the application of hot pink nail polish to the feet of a five year old boy could in any way affect his sex, sexual identity, and sexual orientation. Pink nail polish on this young boy will no more turn him into a transgendered person than would green polish on my son turn him into a millionaire or would purple turn him into an eggplant.

What does need to be addressed, is the gender constraint and gender policing going on in this hullabaloo. From the moment go nearly two years ago, Pigtail Pals has put a direct challenge to the marketing and products that I know to be objectifiying, limiting, stereotyping and sexualizing our girls. What we must know as parents and people who care about children – we must afford this same right to our sons.

You’ll be hearing more from me and Melanie Klein in the coming weeks about raising sons, and Pigtail Pals has already begun creating a brother line of designs to honor our wonder full boys.

So for now, this is my official comment on this mess, actually comes from a fave mom blogger of mine named Jennifer (also a mom to a young son), and is important as it applies to all of us who have ever raised a little boy:

He thinks it looks pretty and just wants to be like the people he loves.

 

The big picture - a moment of love.

Just in case I’m wrong about the powerful transformative powers of nail polish, later today I’m going to paint my car in my chocolately OPI and see if it turns into a pony.

*Our friend Dr. Logan Levkoff writes a great post for the HuffPo here. “Colors are just colors.”

*Our friend Peggy Orenstein writes a great post with an important history lesson here.

*Our friend Dr. Robyn Silverman uses some restraint and common sense to remind us, “This is an ad.” Her TODAY Show clip here.