In this guest piece for The Queerness, Jadyn Gracelyn dispels some myths surrounding gender neutral parenting.
Raising a child by avoiding gender bias is a concept often misunderstood by the general public when in reality, it’s not at all that complicated. But the reason why gender neutrality perplexes people is because of the societal constructs of identity defined by your biological sex, resulting in parents passing down ideas that could potentially have a negative impact on their kid’s upbringing. In an open letter published on Huffington Post, Michelle Zunter explains, “Children pay attention to the words we say and labels we attach to people.”
The primary purpose of gender neutral parenting (GNP) is to challenge traditional gender roles, ultimately letting kids be themselves. As simple as that sounds, various misconceptions of GNP have surfaced, leading to unwarranted negative opinions of this lifestyle choice.
So what exactly has been said about GNP?
Myth #1: GNP is against femininity and masculinity
Because this parenting style objects the notion of gender stereotypes, one of the biggest misconceptions of GNP is that it’s completely against any typical feminine or masculine behavior and encourages androgyny. It does not seek to insult either gender nor does it promote gender neutrality, despite what the name indicates. It’s merely being pointed out that gender can be restrictive and that children shouldn’t be defined by the limitations of their biological sex, according to a blog post by Tootsa founder, Kate Pietrasik. It’s about letting your kids explore their personalities beyond what their gender might dictate.
Myth #2: GNP encourages homosexuality
A strange yet very common belief, many are under the impression that GNP will make your child gay. Much like how it doesn’t force children to sway to a specific part of the gender spectrum, it also doesn’t influence a particular sexual orientation. Paige Lucas-Stannard shares on Everyday Feminism that most ongoing research strongly suggest a genetic component in homosexuality, therefore it cannot be ‘trained’ despite what kind of household a kid is raised in and the type of parenting style adopted by the adults.
Myth #3: There isn’t anything you can teach if you can’t share your views
The idea of parents being neutral may be confused with a lack of a parenting style, or parenting in general, especially because there isn’t a singular definition of GNP. While the latter may be true, the concept of raising kids without any forms of sexism advocates freedom for kids to just be themselves, to choose activities and other things that they find interesting, not what society thinks boys and girls should be interested in. US News Health explicate that not enforcing your views is a way of offering opportunities and reinforces a positive environment that allow kids to let their individuality shine.
Whether your boy is a sports fanatic or loves to wear pink, or if your little girl likes to draw or play in the mud, what matters is that parents create a safe place for them to be who they are, which is exactly what gender neutral parenting is about.