Friday, July 3, 2009

We're sticking with tradition

At my house, we always have a lot of noise and commotion. We have an over abundance of whining, primarily from my daughters, and an over whelming amount of yelling and chasing, mostly from my sons. Why, I wonder, do my girls tend to be so emotional and my boys tend to be so active? Is it something I have done?
I remember, before either one of us were mothers, my sister, with whom I have little in common concerning our social views and beliefs, talking about the importance of gender neutral toys in raising children. She believed it was vital to expose children to a variety of different play things so as not to pigeon hole them into traditional gender roles. As a mother of two boys and (soon-to-be) three girls, I, respectfully but totally, disagree! (I suspect, now that she has been blessed with a boy and girl of her own, my sister may feel differently as well.)
From the very start my children were very different from each other. Even as babies, they showed a natural tendency towards certain personality traits and, yes, those traits followed along traditional gender lines, in many respects. My girls were more easily entertained and had longer attention spans from the time they could sit up. They enjoyed quiet play like reading books or playing with Fisher Price Little People. They were also more sensitive and emotional, even in infancy. My boys, as babies and toddlers, were very active and focused primarily on developing their gross motor skills. My oldest boy loved to throw things and to climb everywhere, as soon as he was able. My younger son was such a little bulldozer, barreling over anything and anyone in his path, even as a crawler, that he earned the nickname "Buster". These tendencies showed up regardless of the fact that, with both girls and boys in the house, they were exposed to a great variety of toys. In fact, even now when they do choose the same toys they play with them very differently! My sons will hurl Barbie dolls across the room, or my daughters will make the Hot Wheels cars talk to each other about their feelings! So much for gender neutral!
I am actually quite glad for the differences though! I want my girls to grow up to be feminine, young ladies and I want my boys to grow up to be strong, confident men. Our culture does not support traditional gender roles but I am old-fashioned and traditional is exactly what I hope for, for my children. It seems to me that parents, though well meaning I'm sure, have done their children a disservice in encouraging gender confusion. It seems many men are struggling to figure out what it means to be a man. They have been so greatly discriminated against in recent cultural history, that they are unsure of their place and role in society. It seems many women are torn between their maternal instincts to stay home and care for their children and the desire to do something "worthwhile" with their lives. Too many women in roles of authority seem to become bitter and overpowering in an effort to prove their worth. Neither men nor women seem to have much self esteem, neither gender seems to be completely at peace with the choices they make in life.
I have always known my vocation was in the home. I have always desired to serve God as wife and mother but even I felt pressure to choose a career path when I was in my early twenties. Though, I have always felt that God made men and women different in so many ways for many good reasons, I wanted to be sure I was truly contributing to society. I no longer doubt that by raising my children and supporting my husband I am absolutely making the world a better place. I no longer question the validity of traditional gender roles. Now I am not necessarily saying that no woman should ever work outside the home, but what I am saying is that they should never feel the need to compete with men. Likewise, men should have not feel pressured to prove themselves to women. Each of us should see our personal value in light of the gifts and talents God has given to us, and we cannot truly do that unless we acknowledge that boys and girls are created different.
Men and women have different strengths because they are made to work together and to compliment each other, both in society and in the home. There is a place for nurturing and a place for strength. There is a place for emotion and a place for action. When we confuse our children about their gender, we end up confusing their future and messing up the future of the world we live in. So, at my house, we allow our boys to be boys and encourage our girls to be dainty, young ladies. The rest we leave to God. We pray He will guide them in the direction He wants them to go and that, of course, they will have the confidence to follow whatever path that may be.


  1. I completely agree with you here. I have no idea why gender neutral ever got started...Trust me, after 3 rowdy & highly energized boys, I am more than happy to have my quiet, reserved & dainty girl.



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