Family Life


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Raising Davis: Do our gender ideas influence our kids?

Davis was given a skipping rope in a party loot bag last year. He loved it, learned to skip and became very good at it. Then he asked if he could bring it to school. I hesitated.

Before Davis was born, I swore that I would not be a parent who resorted to boy/girl stereotyping. It isn’t so easy in practice. Now he was about to enjoy skipping during recess, and, there I was, afraid he might get teased for doing an activity that could be more associated with girls.

We talked about it on the way to school with the skipping rope ready in his backpack. I explained that some kids might see skipping as a “girl thing” but if he enjoyed it, he should go ahead and skip. I also told him, however, that it is great exercise and I named a few famous athletes who skip to keep in shape. I was giving him ammunition – just in case.

I was anticipating he might be teased, but I wanted the best of both worlds; let him take the skipping rope to school but give him some comebacks if anyone bothered him.

As it turned out, I was the only person who was wrestling with gender stereotypes! He brought the skipping rope to school for a couple of days and then moved on to something else. I needn’t have brought it up.

Davis is very conscious of being cool, not only in his demeanour but also his wardrobe. He sees how the older boys in school wear their clothes, backpacks and how they talk and interact. They are his role models.

When he arrives at school, kids will shout “Hi Davis” from the playground. Davis will return their enthusiastic greeting with just a nod. This is how he sees the older boys of 10 behaving and he is following their lead.

Davis gets invited to as many girl birthday parties as boy parties, but he has clearly illustrated, at his young age, that he is going to be like the big boys.

If he gets a stuffed animal at the next girl’s party and wants to bring it to school, will I comment? Perhaps not. Davis will decide if it goes with his cool big-boy T-shirt, hoodie and backwards cap!

To read more of Meghan’s Mommy Diaries, visit or follow her on Twitter @raisingdavis.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, December 2012.

a man carrying two children

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