Thoughts on Raising Children and Gender Stereotypes

This article may share some stronger opinions than you are used to reading here. Please know that I continue to respect ALL opinions and today I am going to take my right to share mine. I do hope that we can have a conversation below in the comment section as I am always keen to hear others opinions on this subject matter.
Gender Stereotypes and Children




Those were the options if I didn’t want GREEN for clothing when I was preparing to have my first baby. Because we were not finding out the gender of our baby and people wanted to give us gifts of clothing, we received a sea of beige and green. Don’t get me wrong, the clothing was adorably scrumptious, but I didn’t want my new baby to be dressed all in green, regardless of their gender.

Before I share the rest of my thoughts, I should add a side note in here that shares with you my aversion to pink prior to becoming a mother to a daughter. I did not care for pink, and I swore up and down that if I had a daughter that she would NEVER wear pink – well, perhaps I wasn’t that extreme, but it was close!

Well, I had my baby and she was a GIRL
(Does this look wrong to you? Hey! Blue is my favourite colour!)
To this day, I don’t really know what hit me other than the fact that I was SO excited to have had a girl, but what did I do? When I sent my husband out for more underwear because I had a vertical c-section and I needed some granny panties (oh boy, you know your husband loves you when….), I also gave him my request for some PINK onesies, sleepers and clothing! YIKES!

I was in as much shock as he was, but truthfully, in those early days, I just wanted everyone to know that she was a baby GIRL and the only way that I felt I could fully show them that was by dressing her head to toe in PINK.

Right from the start, clothing for girls is much different than clothing for boys. Have you noticed how much easier it is to purchase adorable baby girl outfits? For some reason, someone got the memo that baby boys don’t need cute outfits! I really found this out when I became a Mommy to a son. Anyhow…I digress.

Aside from that first flash of pink, it was very important to me that I raise my daughter in a world where she knew it was NORMAL for her to play with trucks, to get dirty (even though I have an aversion to dirt) and to like vehicles, just as one example. Just like when I had my son, I was bound and determined to raise him in a world where a boy owning a doll was accepted!

I do believe that there is a fine balance between nature and nurture. We can influence and guide our children as we raise them, but we cannot fight nature. My daughter has grown to become a “GIRLY GIRL” (I really don’t care for that phrase) as she LOVES anything pink and frilly. In fact, I think she would wear pink head to toe and would be happy if all she owned were pink clothing! And my son, well, he isn’t necessarily a “typical boy”, but like the stereotype goes, “boys will be boys” (again, I don’t love this saying as it implies that perhaps there is a problem with boys, I feel it has a negative connotation, but it could be just me)- he enjoys running and being active (NON STOP, I might add) and he enjoys playing with cars and getting dirty.


Guess who comes in the house dirtier when I send the children out in the backyard to play? You guessed it, my daughter. And guess who has a true heart of gold and if he even thought he physically hurt someone, he would be so upset? You guessed it, my son.So you see, my daughter enjoys getting dirty (I mean dirt smeared from head to toe) and my son likes to play with dolls, so now what?

The honest truth is, I wish we didn’t even have to ask that question!

Listen to this YouTube video on
Gender Stereotyping in Children’s Clothing
List of Panelists:
Emma Hawkes (@_rethinkpink) runs a blog, online store and podcast dedicated to challenging gender stereotypes, and “raising the next generation of empowered, fearless and intelligent children”.

Tom Burns (@GoodMenProject) and (@BuildaLibrary) is a writer for The Good Men Project, an organization dedicated to getting people thinking differently about what it means to be a good man.

Jenn Neilson (@JennNeilson) and (@JillandJackKids) is the founder of Jill and Jack Kids, making playtime-worthy clothes for kids who dream beyond pink and blue. She has a PhD in philosophy and a passion for gender equality.

Doina Oncel (@hEr_VOLUTION) founder of hEr VOLUTION, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging girls and women to pursue careers in STEM, and STEM education.

Laurie Petrou (@lauriepetrou) is a published author and professor at Ryerson University where she specializes in media, gender and popular culture.

Crystal Smith (@achilleseffect) is the author of The Achilles Effect: What Pop Culture is Teaching Young Boys about Masculinity and a blogger who writes about the impact of gender stereotypes on boys.

and ME!
Drowning in Pink and Blue

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30 Responses to Thoughts on Raising Children and Gender Stereotypes

  1. Reese Speaks says:

    I am going to be at this Hangout for sure, MTM! I always have a lot to say about this topic, and am glad that this topic is going to be discussed in this manner. Thanks!

  2. This is an interesting topic. No matter how I tried to keep my daughter in gender neutral clothes…she still wanted a pink dress…

  3. Jaymi says:

    This is definitely an interesting topic, I am lucky enough to e the mommy to two beautiful and completely different little girls, one is a princess who loves nothing more than to dress up in pink, glitter, and tiaras, and one is a princess who loves nothing more than strip down to her diaper and spend an afternoon digging in the dirt and playing with tractors. I am sick of hearing her called a tomboy, because she wears bob the builder t-shirts instead of Sophia the first ones. She’s still my princess, she just has a little dirt under her nails….

  4. Yuen Ch says:

    My sister gave birth to a son a few days ago and she avoided pink colours. I think yellow is a great neutral colour.

  5. Little Miss Kate says:

    I have been working on teaching my boys to be “colour blind”. When DS asks for the pick balloon after getting his hair cut that is OK by me – colours do not have a gender.

  6. Jennifer Van Huss says:

    :LOL!! Great post! I agree with you! I have to fight with DH when my boys choose ‘girly’ things. I have no problem with it! Same with my DD. Unfortunately, she is a girly girl!! Heaven help me!

  7. The Flying Couponer says:

    So true! Colours don’t have a gender! Love it!

  8. Emma Hawkes says:

    Love this post! As the mother of a 1 year old girl I believe I have it pretty easy actually. In the end if she’s a “girly-girl” or a “tomboy” she will be accepted. We still have a long way to go when it comes to our boys being able to wear pink without being questioned though 🙁

    • You are absolutely right, Emma – I believe that boys have a harder time with this too! Boys wearing nail polish, for example will be much less accepted than a girl playing with a dump truck in the sand 🙁 Makes me so sad! Thank you so much for your comment and I look forward to chatting with you further on this topic – there is so much to explore!

  9. Christy Martin says:

    I don’t know if it matters or not. All the kids in this family seemed to have been what they were supposed to be regardless of colour. Most of the girls liked pink, the oldest now will wear anything but pink and is more sporty. Another one loves green anything! They boys have all loved anything with wheels and don’t care what they wear, as long as it is comfortable. They all love slimy things like snakes, bugs and they have no problem playing with each other’s toys – they just want to be included!

  10. Cheryl says:

    If my husband saw our boys wearing a pink shirt he wouldn’t like it. I, on the other hand, don’t care about this at all. I say if they want to wear pink, play with dolls or do anything else that is considered “girly”, I’m fine with that if that is what they want to do. I just want my boys happy and if it makes them happy and they aren’t hurting anybody then great! 🙂

  11. Katie Edwards says:

    I’m totally with you here. My daughter loves Spiderman, and at the playground, she always gets: “That’s a BOY shirt!” And when I had a son, I had a really hard time finding him cute things to wear!! (I have a suggestion about this exact thing on my blog this week – not going to be spammy and link, but check it out if you like!)

    I’ve found that a disproportionate amount of the baby boy clothes have some kind of sports thing on them, or a gross slogan like “hunk” or “boob man.” Why do we have to put them in a box as soon as they’re born? Why can’t clothing manufacturers accept that boys can wear colour?? I wouldn’t put pink on my son, but he can wear yellow, green, orange, teal blue – enough with the navy and brown!

  12. Great post! I say let the kids be kids and not worry about it too much. Our son is definitely a boy though in his activities but I don’t have a problem with him wearing his pink shirt every once in awhile – no big deal!

    • I totally think that there are certain gender behaviours etc. that are more typical to a specific gender, but I just don’t love stereotyping, especially when it comes to children as they are shaped SO easily, you know? However, you know that saying “Boys will be boys” – I think that often in my head when I just don’t understand something about my son. Does that make sense?

  13. Great post – really important to talk about these things. I’m glad we’re in a world where it’s becoming more and more OK to live a little differently. I think it’s so sad when children are not free to be who they really are. It’s time we let go of all these stereotypes.

  14. Laurie P says:

    So glad I read this post. I never, ever, liked pink. As a kid, right up until I became a mom. When I was pregnant with my girl, I knew even before finding out her gender, that she was a girl. I just knew. But I always avoided buying pink (except for ONE little receiving blanket). I figured other people, like my parents, would bring on the pink and I was right. I just go with the flow really lol. I buy lots of blue, yellow, purple, etc….
    Also I had saved a lot of my sons clothing/toys. Not because I had planned to use them again, it was all sentimental. Well…..15 years later, his stuff is being used on my baby girl. And she looks damn cute in his clothes. I don’t have her dressed in boys stuff all the time, just the odd shirt or shorts/hat. She loves the old trucks tho.

    I just bought a couple of summer dresses this week for her. One pink/orange and 2 blue ones 🙂
    Not bad considering I have never been, and never will be a girly girl.

  15. Julie Harrison says:

    Since my daughter was old enough to voice her opinion, it’s been very frustrating for her (and us as her parents) to find that the “girls” toys in Toys R Us are almost entirely pink and don’t even have the kind of toys she likes! Same goes with clothes … why should she have to shop in the boy’s section just because she doesn’t want to wear pink and sparkles? The world is full of a million beautiful colours, but our stores are so gender stereotyped.

  16. Darlene Schuller says:

    My girls are females but can keep up with a guy in any way. They loved to play with cars and dig out in the yard just as my son did. They had gender defining clothing when young but didn’t always wear them, especially if we were just at home but as they got older, they expressed their own style. Companies make gender coloured toys etc for sales reasons…when my last one was born. We made her gender colour purple.. just because we both love it.

  17. Cheryl Grandy says:

    This gender stuff is complicated. I gave my daughter a toy truck even before she got her first doll, but when my son came along I noticed that he played much more enthusiastically with trucks than she ever did. My daughter had several dolls; my son had one doll and access to my daughter’s dolls – neither of them played much with dolls. My son refused to wear his sister’s outgrown blue jacket because it was a “girls’ coat” (it was a gender neutral jacket from a yard sale – quite likely originally belonging to a boy).
    Each child is an individual – I think some differences are because of their gender, some because of the way they are raised and some because they are individuals. The important thing is to raise them to be good people

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