Last week I posted this picture on Facebook of my son, my husband and myself celebrating New Years. I received a comment, not saying how happy my son looks or how much fun we are having, instead asking why my son is wearing nail polish? That sent me into defensive mama bear mode! WTF?!?! Why is it such a problem that my son is wearing nail polish? Are we still living in the 1900′s? No we are not!
Why do we have to raise our boy children to play with cars and our girls to play with dolls? Why should we associate blue with boys and pink with girls? Why not teach our children to develop both sides of their brain equally and let them explore playing with dolls, or with cars if they choose to.
A good friend of mine left me this comment after I posted that my son had asked for 3 Princesses for Christmas: “I love how you are raising your son without the usual gender barriers put up in this world! Who doesn’t love a princess?!”
Exactly, who doesn’t love a Princess? I think the appeal to my son is that they are pretty and that they are different from whatever he already has. Their dresses are sparkly and colourful and DVD’s are fun and musical. Why not like Princesses?
Children go through various phases where they play with one item for a few months and then move on. This may or may not be a phase and even if it isn’t, I don’t care.
On Facebook about 6 months ago, a mom had posted a comment about painting her son’s nails and asked other moms what their experiences were. It was so nice to see other moms having positive reactions and responses. I know that at first when my son asked me to paint his nails, I was worried that he would be teased. If you know my son, if there is any little boy that can pull off nail polish it’s him! So far, except for the one ignorant comment, we have been fortunate. Most kids and parents think it’s cool, and honestly no one really cares.
This begs the question why do we raise our children with gender barriers?
I’ll be perfectly honest, when we had our son, I never thought in a million years that he would be registered in dance class or wanted his nails painted and to play with princesses! As parents we have tried to foster in him is his own interests, not ours. We’ve tried to support whatever he wants to explore. Take dancing for example, he fell in love with the PBS show Angelina Ballerina. This didn’t come from me, it came from him. He would dance around the house and then one day I asked him “Would you like to take dance classes?” He answered with an enthusiastic “YES! “. This is his second year in dance and he absolutely loves it. He is thriving in this environment and again it had nothing to do with my husband or I. We just went with what our son wanted.
The person who I’m proud of the most is my husband. He absolutely doesn’t care one way or the other about my son’s fascination with princesses. He applauds it and has said many times “well, they are pretty 🙂 !” Too many men let their own fears and insecurities prevent them for seeing their child for who they are, which is just that, a child. It’s their job to explore different themes and toys. My son sees me paint my nails and wants his painted as well, monkey see, monkey do.
So the next time you see a little boy with his nails painted, or playing with dolls, or wearing pink shoes, smile and give the mom a wink. Congratulate her for being brave enough not to care about society norms and pressures. Our jobs as parents is to foster our children’s interests and love them for who they are, not to set our preconceived notions about what type of toys boys and girls should play with. So let’s do away with gender barriers and just let kids be kids!
May this post inspire you to evaluate your own gender barriers. Do you have any? Do you care?
Written by: Agnes Mayer
My 4 yr old son currently has red and blue fingernails and green and black toenails because he wanted Captain America hands and hulk feet.
It’s not just about being a princess…its also about being able to express themselves however they want. When people ask me ‘why does your son have polish on his nails’ I just say ‘why not’?
He also is really jonesing for my gold nail polish. Which he can get on his nails once he stops touching EVERYTHING WITH WET NAIL POLISH ON HIS HANDS! Including his nose…
My kid also takes dance and music classes…maybe our kids should hang out;)
Sounds good Erin. Thanks for the support. Exactly “why not!!!!” Glad to know I”m not the only mom who paints her son’s nails and is proud of it.
It’s insane to me that we STILL HAVE TO HAVE THESE CONVERSATIONS, that people still think there is anything inherently feminine or masculine about certain colors, cuts of cloth, bodily adornments. I agree with you a million-fold on your child-led parenting style; I hope in a generation or two it will be the norm. Three cheers for nixing gender/color/hobby/interest/color shaming! xxx+o
Your right, Jess, it is insane to still have these convesations about colors and gender. Humans have been decorationg their bodies since time began.Up until recently pink was for boys and blue was for girls. And nailpolish was developed for men to begin with. The ruling class could afford the decoration and proudly wore it on their nails. Boys like color on their motorcycles and trucks, so why not on their body? a little spot of color on an otherwise drab canvas hurts no one. Why should anyone car what’s on anybody’s toes? Or fingers for that matter.
My take is that it’s an acknowledgement of a woman’s second place status, not to be taken seriously. For any male to take on ANY feminine habit, cooking, knitting, conversations more than a grunt and everybody assumes the guy who does that MUST be gay. That’s nuts.
In my view, if the feminist movement really wanted to elevate women they would have campaigned for the freedom to act more like them, to celebrate women and to put forth the notion that any man who was brave enough to express what they liked was usually associated with women was to be applauded for good common sense. instead, they took the tact of becoming more like men and thier habits, effectively agreeing with the patriarchical view. hence where we are today with subjects like this. Unless something changes I don’t see it getting much better soon.
I cannot put into words HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS!!!!
We do this in our house, too. My daughter and son are equally free to play dress up in superhero, doctor, princess, or fairy costumes. They get their nails painted (when they haven’t been biting them…). And they choose the colors and style of clothing they want to wear within the dress codes of their schools. Being from the conservative South, we have had a few issues with bullying, but we nipped them in the bud quickly and continue to do things the way we see fit. “Why not?”