Gender neutral parenting is about encouraging traits in your child that make a good human, not just a good man or woman. It’s about raising kids without enforcing traditional gender roles on them. This conscious type of parenting sets kids up to be successful no matter what society says they should or shouldn't do. And there’s a growing number of people who believe in raising their kids without preconceived stereotypes.
Our society is inherently patriarchal, and in recent times, there has been a rise in the demand for the girl child to counter that. However, in contemporary marketing we also see that it’s acceptable to market “tomboy” or traditional boy elements to a girl (playing sports, wearing baseball caps), but marketing stereotypical “girl” toys or activities to a boy (like playing with dolls or ballet) is not as welcomed. Both girls and boys should be raised without any biases to allow every opportunity available to the child.
Development begins at a very early age. Early childhood is the period when the majority of brain development takes place. Whatever a child is exposed to during this phase forms the building blocks for how they will perceive and react to the world later on in life. Gender biases that are imposed during these early years in various ways, such as the toys and colors made available, could cause children to dissociate from what they really like and want to do.
Pro’s of gender neutral parenting:
- Creates more autonomy in children.
- Highlights important values like creativity and individuality by offering freedom of experience and choice.
- Opportunity for a wider range of hobbies and interests that can enhance their insights.
- More adaptable and familiar with the interests of the opposite gender.
- Increases the child’s awareness of self and identity.
- They grow up learning to be unbiased in any and every situation.
Tips on gender-neutral parenting:
- Show your little one that there are no gender-specific tasks, even at home. Household chores and errands can be divided and shared equally.
- Try to find role models who don’t fit into the typical male or female roles, such as female scientists, diplomats and philosophers or male nurses, classical dancers and teachers.
- Keep room decor and toys neutral until your child shows a preference for a certain style or toy type.
- This does not mean you should deny that sex or gender exist. You can still call your kids him/he or she/her. You can call them boys and girls.
- It does not mean banning pink or blue things. Pink and blue things are okay, but making pink and glitter only for girls and making blue and dark colors only for boys is not okay.
- It does not mean denying letting girls play with dolls or boys play with toy cars. Children have many interests. A lot of girls will actually like dolls. And so will a lot of boys. A lot of boys will actually like toy cars, and so will a lot of girls. You don’t need to make a toy car sparkly for a girl to like it. It’s about creating a safe place where they can play and make clothing and life choices free from judgement.
- It does not mean that boys have to like pink and girls have to like playing sports. Many will. Some won’t.
How clothing fits into gender neutral parenting:
When trying to approach gender-neutral parenting with babies and toddlers, keep in mind that clothes play a big role. Girls' dresses that are pink and say phrases like "little princess," and boy's shirts that are blue with cowboys and trucks on them create gender biases before kids can even conceptualize what self-identity is, let alone have a say in it.
Gender-neutral kidswear lets go of the outdated cliché of pink versus blue, welcoming unisex clothes that allow for self-expression and a neutral concept of gendered identities. But it’s not just about taking away pink and blue. Gender neutral clothing allows children to wear whatever they want no matter what color or pattern that may be. It focuses on the functional rather than the decorative side of fashion and enables kids to play freely in clothes that do not restrict movements. Gender neutral clothing is designed with practicality and versatility in mind.
With retail at the forefront of cultural shifts, consumers can now align their values with their purchasing power. As millennials become parents, they are more likely to spend money with brands that focus on inclusivity and encourage change. Gender-neutral clothing for kids has become particularly appealing, as they prioritize spending money with brands that reflect societal movements by breaking down clichés and developing awareness around important topics.
Society does not change overnight. Mindsets can take a while to adjust. But a conversation has started, and that is a big mark of progress.