Followers of my blog have read my many stories about helping Matilda avoid being a girly girl … and failing. Interestingly, Mateo is also entranced by the world of princesses.
As I write, he is wearing a ballerina skirt over his clothes and is playing with an Ariel and Barbie doll. Who can blame him? He lives in a house full of dolls, tulle and sparkle. His idolizes his sister and thus wants to do what she does.
Don’t get me wrong. Wearing dresses is not his preference. He just likes to do it sometimes, especially when he wants to dance. And he plays with ”boy” toys just as much as he plays with “girl” toys. He loves trains, dinosoars, cars and trucks. He likes sports and is very active.
In short, he is what I wanted Matilda to be. He is open to both “boy” and “girl” toys and activities. At 20 months, Matilda knew that she was a girl, but Mateo seems to not know, or care. And I think its wonderful.
So why am I worried? I have this nagging feeling that its our job as parents to teach him that he is a boy and let him know what our society expects of him. Others clearly feel that way too. Well meaning people try to nicely explain to him that he needs to wear boy clothes, or that dolls are for girls. If someone said something like that to my daughter I would tear into them, but for my son, I keep quiet. I am conflicted.
The definition of what it means to be a girl or woman has changed dramatically since the 70s. But for boys and men, its basically the same. Will it ever be ok for boys to wear a dress out in public or to have a Barbie doll? Do we really need our children to be gender identified a such a young age? I would love to hear your thoughts.