breaking down gender stereotypes

Boys Like Trucks and Girls Like Dolls: Becoming a Parent
Becoming a parent is a humbling endeavor from the very start. We all have preconceived ideas and opinions on how we will, perhaps, do it differently. We often have non experience based theories of how child raising should be. There is an almost quaint naivete to our well intentioned but, often, misguided notions of how we will somehow do it better. And then you have children.


Studying sociology in my liberal arts New England University, I was taught that gender proclivities are taught to us by society. The sociological theory being that we are given subtle and overt messages from the moment we are born that socialize us into certain gender roles, stereotypes, habits, and preferences. My professor asserted that without these societal constructs, we would be inherently more neutral and unbiased towards our definitions of ourselves.


I was ready to be the most open minded mother ever. My boy would play with dolls if he wanted to. He could paint his nails if the urge struck him. My daughter could wear a tie, wear short hair, and play baseball with the boys, if she so desired. I was going to be gender neutral and open minded and thoroughly modern. Because I wore my intellectual theories like a badge of pride, so goeth the fall of cold hard truths. My son came into this world with an incomprehensible passion for garbage trucks that made me wonder if I myself had ever loved anything as much as that kid loved a giant green garbage truck. My daughter has been obsessed with babies since she was able to hold her arms out and take hold of a babydoll; she has barely thought of much else.They were thoroughly and completely entrenched in traditional male and female interests and definitions.


Not to say this is everyone’s truth, but it was mine. And it was all ok. Because they were genuinely being who they were. If they had been the kind of kids that eschewed traditional gender stereotypes, I’m proud to say that I would have  been fine with it. I am also fine with the fact that I now don’t believe in what the sociology professor espoused. There are ingrained parts of ourselves that are just truly to our core, who we are. Whether we are gay, straight, or transgender, my experience as a mother taught me the humility of letting experience be the best teacher. I am honored to settle into the great unfolding unknown of each passing day of motherhood with all that these little souls came here to teach me.

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