I’ve read countless blog posts, articles, arguments and have thrown myself into several face-to-face and twitter discussions regarding the latest parenting controversy – Genderless parenting. When it first came up, I thought what the hell is that? And when I found out that it’s when parents decide not to put any emphasis on what gender their child is, like parents Kathy Witterick and David Stocker who are raising their third child genderless, I was confused.
Genderless? YES! Genderless! Am I speechless? Absolutely NOT!
When I first read the article about Witterick and Stocker a billion “things” popped in my head. First and foremost, what a pain in the ass to keep this secret; the baby is four months old only a few chosen people and the siblings know the baby’s gender, what a tremendous burden these parents have put on these people and their five and two year old children. Do they really expect a five and two year to have the constraint not to say anything? Not to slip? I mean if they are successful these kids should be tested for Mensa because I can’t think of one five year old that can keep a secret. The fact they these children haven’t slipped up has me wondering what the hell they did to bribe their children to keep their traps shut. But what actually has me speechless is the fact that for four months this mother and father have had no help in regard to dressing, bathing, or changing their baby. Mercy me! I definitely would of jumped out a window after four months of straight diaper changing – that’s roughly 1,200 diapers! That alone would send me to the nearest Staples to order a billboard declaring “It’s a Boy!” or “it’s a Girl!”
The parents made the decision not to disclose the sex of their baby because they “believe they are giving their children the freedom to choose who they want to be, unconstrained by social norms about males and females.” Hogwash. Their theory, beliefs, desires of raising a children unconstrained by the social norms seems like a direct contradiction of what they don’t want to do – by not letting the child identify with who they were born to be they are now forcing the child to be something that they may have never been.
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for giving a child the independence to determine their own path in life, to choose their faith, to grow and become who they need to be, to give them the confidence, love and support to find out who they are – but I feel what these parents are doing is robbing the child the chance to identify with themselves. The societal pressures are hard enough; to throw this type of psychological pressure on their children seems like one big paycheck for a therapist when the children hit their teens.
I understand that media is pumping young girls with how to look, what to play with and pimping out Bratz Dolls and Barbie’s by the bus load and boys get pigeon-holed into football, trucks, GI Joe, farting and burping. I get that we need to give our children a strong sense of self. I get it. But is this the way? I’m really not sure. As a parent I know I gender trap my farting pooping boys. I put them in blue and beige, buy sports equipment, trucks and nerf guns but I also know that they wear my makeup, paint their nails and are very curious and explore all the gender traps surrounding girls. I have chosen to let my children be whoever they want to be at the moment they want to be it because at seven and three what they want to be changes daily. Monday a Fireman, Tuesday a Zebra, Wednesday a Dancer, Thursday a Lion Tamer, Friday a Dentist for animals only.
Maybe I shouldn’t even get involved in this controversy because who the hell am I? As parents we parent to the best of our ability, and have to do what’s best for our family. Whether you’re a Tiger Mom, an Unnatural Mother, or want to raise your child genderless who the hell says you can’t? You gave birth, adopted, accepted the role of parent, do what you want, just don’t harm ‘em.
But I can’t drop this issue. I just can’t. I know I am judging but that’s because I felt judged after I read that article and that because I’m raising my boys as boys that I’m wrong. That I’m placing my kids in a corner and raising freak shows. I really don’t think that by allowing my boys to identify as boys – to be themselves whether it’s with a football or purse in their hands that I’m not building a strong character as implied here:
“When faced with inevitable judgment by others, which child stands tall (and sticks up for others) — the one facing teasing despite desperately trying to fit in, or the one with a strong sense of self and at least two ‘go-to’ adults who love them unconditionally? Well, I guess you know which one we choose.”
So if I raise my child as a boy or girl it means that I don’t love them unconditionally or am not hands on? My seven year old just won the ”Strength in Character” award at his school, and guess what I “allowed” him to be a boy! Shocking!
Stocker also said “What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It’s obnoxious.” Really? Does this observation apply to all the choices parents make for their children or just the toys and the clothes that we pick out for them? Because the last time I checked my children don’t have many choices to make. Am I supposed to leave it to my children to choose everything? Reasonable choices like where to eat, where to go on vacation, should we go to the park or to school? Aren’t these choices that parents should make? If I left it up to my children they’d be at park every day, have a pet monkey and every meal would be at McDonalds. Some would say that wasn’t good parenting either.
Withholding the sex of a baby is certainly not giving that child the power to make decisions on his/her own, isn’t that a skill that is taught anyway? Think for yourself? The only message I get is that the parents are giving themselves the power of challenging their family, friends, society and have put unnecessary burden on a few select people including their five and two year old children to keep this tremendous secret.
Maybe I’m just too old school, not confident enough to live my life as a statement but after reading countless blog posts and articles I’m pretty set in my views and agreed with most posts like –Roni Noone’s who wrote this article. Roni made perfect sense, I loved the honesty of the post, and I still do. But a little controversy happened when Cheree (with a K) who blogs at The Verbosery said with authority that gender is simple until it isn’t. And I agree. Gender is something that is typically black and white, but something this simple can be very complex for an individual struggling with who they are and their own sexuality. I support her thoughts too, I really do. However, I think it’s vastly different issue that is plaguing our society; Cheree’s statement has a lot of merit and strength behind it for an individual that already knows that they are not comfortable in their cleats or ballet shoes; that they were born a girl but know in their soul that they are a boy (Chastity Bono or rather Chaz, for example), I get that, but what Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are doing seems like a sociological science experiment, like what B.F. Skinner did with his air crib, but then his daughter Deborah seemed to turn out okay, but this still this feels like a social hypothesis, and we will only know the true conclusion as we follow this family.
All in all, should I really care this much? As long as the children are loved, that’s all that matters? And really, I’m not perfect and I know I’ll be footing the bill for my children’s therapy at some point.