Parenting outside the mainstream boy/girl dichotomy can be a challenge to most parents. Yet, as some parents have chosen to play it full-throttle with gender neutral parenting and perhaps, tend to extremism in that they haven’t revealed the gender of their child, 3-year old Storm, others have resorted to what would, perhaps, be the normative gender neutral parenting practices such as encouraging their children to pick their toys without differentiation, keeping clothing and room decor neutral as well as fostering an environment that is conducive to raising children who do not internalize the gender dichotomy and can critically dissect its prevalence elsewhere.
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If you, too, are fascinated by the idea that IMHO should be adopted worldwide, here are a few gender neutral parenting practices you can adopt:
1. Do not, under any circumstances, invoke the apparent relationship between biological sex and gender
‘Maleness’ is defined by certain muscular features, narrow hips, and a wide range of other physiological characteristics which seem to reinforce the supposed ‘inherent’ connection between gender and sex. If you choose to be a gender neutral parent, categorizing physical and mental characteristics into one of the two sexes will pretty much backfire on you. Instead, let the kids grow without having any preconceived and concrete notions of gender and sexuality.
2. Never reinforce gendered stereotypes
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Contrary to popular belief, children are blank slates. The moment you impose conventional stereotypes on them, they imbibe these ideas and it becomes increasingly hard to undo it.
3. Let sexuality grow on its own
This is an expansion of #2, because the stereotypes of heterosexual boys should like heterosexual girls can be damaging in many ways. Let them come of age, and they’ll begin developing romantic-sexual feelings towards a particular sex, or better yet, both sexes. This offers a certain degree of sexual flexibility and you can rest assured that your child got to choose their own sexual orientation.
Suggested read: Why I doff my hat to the women who choose to not have kids
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Home-schooling isn’t easy, but if done right, the benefits are nearly endless. When it comes to gender-neutral parenting, it almost completely offsets the societal ‘mapping’ of gendered-characteristics onto your children.
5. Try and champion self-determinism
Letting your kids choose aspects of their identities is one of the biggest things you could do as a parent. Gender neutral parenting becomes easier the more you trust your child to make the ‘right’ decision, and ultimately coming to terms with the idea that there isn’t one ‘right’ decision. Set lenient boundaries, and talk to them as much as possible.
6. Turn your attention to the toys
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Try and keep a large assortment of gender neutral toys, and don’t mind if there’s the occasional overly-muscular He-Man action figure or a pretty Barbie doll, chances are they’ll spend a fair bit of time with both.
7. Gender neutral clothing
It’s fairly easy to get gender neutral clothing over the internet these days, and certain clothing companies in Sweden have done away with ‘male’ and ‘female’ categories for children’s clothes.
8. Career counseling
In many countries, professions are tied to someone’s gender because of societal expectations. Introduce them to a diverse range of subjects, and see where they’re picking up interest and showing some promise.
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