One of the greatest things about little kids is their innocence. They are devoid of any preconceived notions or clichés that can clog the minds of us grownups. They don't understand how or why pink identifies something female and blue identifies something male -- they just know what colors they like. They don't understand the idea that girls should play with dolls and boys should play with cars. They don't know gender and don't care. And neither should we. Here’s what I’ve learned from my very own free-spirited babes:
Anyone Can Enjoy a Boy Toy. Gender bending is a normal part of a toddler’s development. Judging by my child’s preschool, plenty of little boys like pink and little girls like “boy” toys. The funniest of these discoveries was walking into the bathroom to find my son with red lipstick all over his face. You know what they say… monkey see, monkey do!
Superheroes Come in All Packages. When my daughter was three and wanted to dress up as Superman for Halloween, it was more about the cape and the super "S" -- not about the "man." She wanted to be a superhero, Superman was her favorite, and I thought that was completely awesome. That said, if my son was into tutus, it may be more about the boogie than the actual outfit. Get it?
What Other Kids Will Think. Some of my friends are perfectly comfortable with their children’s self-expression, but worry that other kids will tease their child. I try not to worry too much. If my son insisted on wearing a dress to school, I might sit him down and gently warn him that other kids might be confused and might even say some hurtful things. I see it as more of a reason to support my kid's choices. If a child knows their parents love them no matter what, a few judgmental words from other kids won't be the end of the world.
Viv Schaffel is a freelance journalist and essayist who writes for a vast array of publications, including CBS Watch!, The New York Times, Working Mother and The New York Post. She writes/performs sketch comedy and is an upstanding member of US Weekly’s Fashion Police, poking fun at red carpet risks.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.