We all love having awkward conversations with strangers, especially when strangers feel the need to share their opinions on how we need to raise our kids. Or a personal new favourite of mine: when a stranger insists on me cutting my sons hair as a means of not letting him feel confused – gender wise. “YAY – so fun”, said no mom ever.

I’ve been mulling over this topic of kid gender stereotypes for some time now,  and I wanted to share some of my personal views with you on this hot topic. I would love to hear your thoughts on this  – please feel free to share in the comment section below <3


HE VS. SHE

The latest ice breaking conversation with total random strangers involves my three year old son, Malakai. Toddlers naturally draw attention in public spaces, as they’re loud, unpredictable, cute, a little gross, and unfiltered – SO UNFILTERED!

Therefore, people will often stop to ask my husband and I: “How old is your daughter?” OR, “Your daughter is so beautiful.” My husband and I will politely respond with : HE is three years old, OR, HE is a boy” , OR, if I am too tired for yet another awkward chat with a stranger about my sons gender I just say: ” thanks so much “ without correcting them.

When we politely correct strangers by saying: “He is a boy“, they immediately look shocked and quickly respond with: “Are you sure he is a boy? OR , Won’t his long hair confuse him as he grows up? You should cut his hair so that he looks like a boy!”

WAIT.WHAT?

Granted, strangers mean well (for the most part) and they speak from a point of reference. But what I don’t like is the defining of his identity according to his hair. Yes, normally girls have long hair, but so do boys. Why would long hair confuse him as he grows up? He is your typical: farting, messy, loud, independent, exploring, adventurous, sweet, caring, creative and sensitive – little BOY.

His hair does NOT define him, nor does his hair define us as parents. 

In all honesty it can be frustrating sometimes, because I am constantly feeling the need to justify to strangers why his hair is long. When in actual fact : WHO CARES!? He is MY son, his hair has never been a problem to him, or to anyone else who matters in our world. Those that do matter, love him for him, and they too get a little offended when people confuse him for a girl!

GENDER STEREOTYPES & FEAR

From a drama teaching perspective I have had many “interesting conversations” over the years with parents of boys who wanted to explore drama as fun afternoon activity. Some parents would query if drama would make their boys more “feminine” , or if role-playing and dressing up would confuse their identity.

Creative role-playing is one of the best things that ALL children could and should do when growing up. It builds their confidence whilst role playing, and it allows them to empathize, relate, and express feelings and thoughts that they wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable doing so in person. Drama and role-playing gives young people the tools, the words, and the confidence to feel empowered as they grow up in a world that is ever changing and so unpredictable.

I have seen boys play girl characters, and girls play boy characters, and it has NEVER ever been a problem or a concern. I think it becomes a concern when we make it something that it’s not. Kids should be allowed to explore and express themselves creatively, as it teaches them more about themselves, others and the world that they live in.

Our insecurities or hidden fears shouldn’t shape their character, our love for them should hold the power and weight to let them be who they were created to be.

IDENTITY IS SHAPED BY LOVE

So for me, as a mom of a boy, and as a drama teacher who has taught for a million years and counting. I know that my sons hair, different colours,  clothes and toys cannot shape or influence his identity, the way I love him will.

Before becoming a mom, a few people came up to my husband and I and said:

“Your children will grow up understanding that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Things of this world, the negative, the broken, words that destroy will fall off them and have no impact on them what so ever!” —> Fast forward to today, and I still firmly stand on that!

My job as his mom is to make sure: that he feels loved, safe, feels understood and heard, and that we are learning from one another constantly. This in turn will shape and influence his identity, his sense of self worth, and his confidence.

What I am basically trying to say is: do not box your little children in –  out of fear of the “what if” they turn into “x,y,z” , because they played with “this” toy that’s for the opposite sex, because they want to wear these colours etc .

They are little, they are just playing, trust me, they are not thinking about all of your internal fears and what if’s. It only becomes a “thing” when you turn it into a thing. Don’t let your fears box your children. Let your love for them shape them, not your fears.

Let them be little, and just love them <3

10 Comments

  1. Modern Zulu Mom February 23, 2017 at 9:58 am

    We can be so judgy at times – there are a million other things we should be worrying about and a how a child looks shouldn’t be one of them! He is gorgeous and so lucky to have such an open-minded and loving Mama.

    Reply
  2. Jonelle February 23, 2017 at 10:58 am

    I recently had this conversation…
    Other person: Your daughter is beautiful
    Me: thanks, my son!
    OP: yes mine’s a boy
    Me: No I meant mine
    OP: Oh! But his hair!
    Me: beautiful isn’t it?

    It drives me nuts! I also hear a lot of “but maybe you should cut it so it doesn’t irritate him” but their daughter has long hair all in her face. What she doesn’t get irritated with it?

    Thanks for writing this post! Loved it! <3

    Reply
  3. Mama Dear February 23, 2017 at 11:02 am

    I love your post!

    “Our insecurities or hidden fears shouldn’t shape their character, our love for them should hold the power and weight to let them be who they were created to be.” Couldn’t agree with you more! And it is wonderful that you touch on this subject. I assume you also saw Nat Geo Jan Issue 🙂

    Reply
  4. Dale February 23, 2017 at 11:27 am

    I had a similar issue with my son. When he was a baby people would say she or what a beautiful girl I wOuld correct them nicely and often there response would be he is too beautiful to be a boy… Which I always thought was odd as he got older he still got those comments even though he was dressed in very boy outfits, because he was so rough and tumble. When I told people about they would say it’s his pretty curly hair… I eventually did cut from a pure maintenance issue and less people confuse his gender but still on occasion I get she is so cute… I just go thanks and walk away. I also g wet alot of moaning from certain family members about the fact that when my son decided he wanted to wear a tutu and do ballet like his friend ( a girl) was doing I said sure… He also like playing with her baby doll and pram… I don’t get this weird obsession with boys and girls must do this and that… Especially at 3…lets not put them in boxes, let’s not make issues and let’s build an understanding between genders. Lets create a world were boys can be soft, creative, beautiful and strong and so are our girls. I find it a little sad that society hasn’t come as far as we thought.

    Reply
  5. Charlene | High Heels And Fairy Tales February 23, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I LOVE your son’s hair, and I love this post! I’ve always said that if we were to have a boy, I’d let his hair grow because I think it looks so cute when they’re little. 🙂
    I’ve come to realise that people will always judge, and for some reason, feel the need to share their (unwanted) thoughts with us. It’s just not easy to shake off when those thoughts are about our kids.

    Reply
  6. Claudine Avelino February 23, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Please DO NOT cut his hair! I absolutely love the little hardcore look he has with his hair and the way you dress him!
    You guys are great parents!

    Reply
  7. Shaveh February 23, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    I absolutely love your perspective and approach. As modern parents we are so wrapped up in all the information we are constantly bombarded with, that we forget the bare basics of life and like you’ve said, loving someone fully makes them become secure and whole individuals.

    Reply
  8. Juwayra February 24, 2017 at 9:07 am

    I love your post. I also get questioned about why I don’t cut my son’s hair because he’s a “boy”.
    It’s very frustrating at times but I really don’t care how people feel about my son’s hair, it’s MY son!

    Reply
  9. Ana February 24, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    My little boy had long hair for ages , my mother in law even snuck in a quick trim once whilst I was in the loo.

    I only cut his hair when he started to tell me it hurt when we brushed it (he had the sweetest curls)

    My oldest is going to be 10 and has longish hair (goes to a pvt school) ppl can see he is a boy and everyone admires he’s gorgoues locks.

    What’s the 1st thing guys usually do when they leave matric????Grow their hair!

    Since having my boys I’ve learnt so much about human nature, strangers would come up to me and insult me about bringing my little bean out as a new born how could I blah blah blah , I’d be in tears when my husband would inform said strangers he was in fact 4-5mnths old, then we’d get the ahhhhh was he a premmie?
    In saying that I’ve also had wonderful strangers come up to me and pray for my little boy.

    Reply
  10. Cecile May 11, 2017 at 5:49 pm

    This is wonderful! The first time i have read your blog but so thoughtfully wtitten and … meaty? Unusual
    Nowadays in the bite-size info world! My kids go to Waldorf schools and their non stop roleplay drives me nuts dometimes! But oh thr imagination that vomes from it! Also, i have bought my daughter the book ‘ Bedtime stories for Rebrl girls’ and some great stories in there about gender stereotypes. Not just for girls, your son is bit young now but a great addition to the shelf!

    Reply

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