Sunday, March 11, 2012


When I think of middle childhood I can't help but linger on the issue of gender typing. As parents we play a role in socializing gender, we dress boys and girls differently, select toys based on gender, and often react negatively if they behave in ways they think are gender inappropriate. So I propose this question, if we are on the front lines of shaping thier lives, what could be done to erase these gender lines that are so clearly defined? Masculinity and femininity develop early, Kohlberg's Cognitive Development Theory states that a child notices physical and behavioral cues, the child then finds it rewarding to behave in a gender-appropriate manner and imitate same-gender models. Children, including my own see the example we set before them, they will either want to be just like you or completely opposite you. When you are at home if you have that significant other, share the household responsibility. Let your child see mommy picking up a hammer and putting things together and also let them see daddy doing the dishes, is it really that hard guys? Come on! Your son will see this and in the future will do the same for his significant other. Your daughter could potentially become more self confident and learn how to better choose and wait for the right person. Isn't this what we want for them, to be better than us in every way possible? Let your child play with the things they like to do. If a boy wants to play with dolls, met him play with them. If a girl wants to play toy cars or trucks let her play. Avoid comments like "boys shouldn't play with dolls" or "girls shouldn't play with trucks". Help your child dress up in a way he or she wants to. Try not to be over protective of your girls, and please don't emphasize on her physical appearance. Yes she look uber cute in that pink frilly dress but let her know she is smart and has so many other qualities to work with. Jackie Raio


  1. Someone once told me that by gender typing your child, you are prohibiting them from reaching their full potential. That has always stuck with me, and the more I learn, the more I realize that it is true. The way people react to a child's gender definitely dictates how that child acts. This subject has always really interested me!
    Kelsea Bedford

  2. I was a tomboy for many years. I wanted nothing to do with dolls or dresses, and wanted to hang out with my dad doing "boy" things. When we would go to McDonalds my parents would always order my sister and I one girl happy meal and one boy happy meal. My parents never questioned me or said anything to me about why I never liked doing girl things, they allowed me to be me. As I got older around late junior high years I started to wear dresses and liked more girl things. My mother one day bought my son GI Joe action figures and his dad was upset that she bought him "dolls." I just think its very important to let the child play with whatever he or she wants to regardless of the gender type.
    Sam Martel

  3. I think gender typing is such a neat subject and is becoming more important today as young children who are girls grow up feeling like a boy and relating to that gender better and vise versa. I really liked reading your post Jackie because you are so on point here. I was a big "tom boy" in middle school, and my parents let me do a wide variety of things like playing with dolls, wearing dresses, but also hunting with my dad, and fixing stuff outside. As I got older i didnt feel any pressure to be a certain way and it helped me find myself, which turned out in my favor because I can put on a dress and get all frilly, but doesnt mean i cant go fishing or play in the dirt which are typically considered male type of things. I think that putting pressure on your child to be what you want, will eventually confuse them and derail them from becoming their own person.
    `Brittanie Bennett`

  4. As a parent with two boys, this is a touchy subject. I encourage my boys to dress and play the way they want. I will always support the activities they do and would never tell them what they want to play with is wrong. My 6 year old plays with the little girl next door every day. Sometimes they play trucks and sometimes they play sidewalk chalk. They both do well playing each other’s preferred games. The one draw back of the non-gender typing idea of a way of life is the society we live in. We live in a very simplistic and narrow minded society. I want my children to have the choice, but I also want them to be prepared for who they will come across in the world who does not believe boys should play dolls and girls should play trucks. It should not be this way but we have to make sure by helping our children stay diverse, we don’t alienate them socially.
    Samantha York

  5. Being from the old school it is hard to not be somewhat old fashion in my thinking. However, I did let my grandson paint his toenails with his sister and her friends. I drew the line with the fingernails, but hey, at least I went half way. I figure he will decide for himself who he wants to be with and I just hope he is happy. Happiness in todays society seems to be a rarity and in short supply. I agree to help your kids be happy, as long as it is safe. - Sam Dillé

  6. Gender Typing is defined as the process by which children acquire not only a gender identity but also the motives, values, and behaviors, considered appropriate in their culture for members of their biological sex. The last part that starts with "motives,values,and behaviors.....," some parents take it too seriously, they think that must fit their child into what the general society accepts. However, studies has shown that children who are in the middle of the gender identity continuum( that is not too boyish or too girlish) tend to develop a healthy and stable self-concept.
    Nkechi Anyanwu

  7. I wish people would be more open-minded of this subject when raising their kids. We obviously can't force the view of not gender typing their kids. I just wish parents would at least know it's not "wrong" or "bad" for a boy to want to play with dolls or a girl to play with trucks and cars.
    -Jennifer Hancock