Pink For Boys

When I was newly pregnant with Little Evan, I spent a lot of time complaining about how tiny clothes and baby swings and car seats only came in PINK or BLUE and how SEXIST that was and how no child of mine was going to be forced into traditional societal gender roles, No Sirree Bob. Long live feminism! Down with patriarchy! Damn the man!

But once my inside baby became an outside baby that had needs – CONSTANT NEEDS – I no longer cared if he was dressed exclusively in gender neutral patterns and played only with organic wooden black and white patterned developmental toys. I was just happy to find a clean “Boys Will Be Boys” onesie while Evan quietly chewed on Baby’s First Football so I could brush my teeth for the first time in three days. I was too focused on survival parenting to bother labeling my parenting.

I’m not saying it’s IMPOSSIBLE to raise a child without some boys=blue and girls=pink mentality slipping in. More power to those who prioritize gender neutrality in their every day lives. But for me it took a back seat to breastfeeding struggles, poopsplosions, sleepless nights and just hoping I was doing a good job.

But then I look at my kids and realize I’m doing pretty well.

I DARE you to tell me I can't play with this stroller.

In our house, we never say “Don’t play with that, it’s for girls”. We never say “Boys don’t cry”. We don’t call things “sissy” or “wimpy” or “manly” or “tough”. We are just as likely to hand Caroline a truck to chew on as a flower shaped teether. If Little Evan asked for (another) doll for his birthday we would buy him (another) doll. If Caroline decides she wasn’t a blue tricycle she will get a blue tricycle (and I would thank my lucky stars she didn’t ask for the Disney Princess one that cost twice as much). They play with what they want, when they want, and nothing is expected of them besides good manners, sharing and putting things away when they are done.

That’s the kind of parenting I believe in.

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26 Responses to “Pink For Boys”

  1. Krista says:

    Atta girl! While I do love putting Chessa in adorable little dresses, most often she decides those are the days she wants to be digging in mud puddles or playing football!

    • bebehblog says:

      Please note the giant pink headband. Like I said, I’m not going for gender-FREE, I’m just working on breaking the gender stereotypes and letting them explore without criticism.

  2. Cole says:

    I have a baby doll that I love, and Mommy has that exact same stroller tucked away for my birthday!

  3. Jen says:

    We seem to have the same mentality around here. When it was just Ben, of course, there were mostly, if not all, boy toys. Then Emilia came along & slowly but surely the girl toys & stuff came trickling in. Now the kids play with a variety of toys. Emilia, at almost 3, has gotten into the princesses & doll houses & tea party but Ben will play those things with her. And she will play trains & cars with him. Emilia has gotten a lot of hand-me-downs as well…whether she likes it or not she got Ben’s trike and when he outgrows his 1st bike, she will get that as well (we got a black one on purpose!) Parents who have the cash to get their kids everything gender specific & new…well…hats off to them, I suppose.

  4. Audrey says:

    Same here. They share everything. And if Ev wants to ball his blankie up and carry it around because it has become “his baby” I am more than happy to coo over his baby and rock his baby when he asks me to hold it. Also I totally help him put on the Disney Princess heels when we are at play group..boy loves him some heels.

  5. Joanna says:

    If our second was a boy he’d have been playing with a pink kitchen, baby dolls… no doubt. And my daughter? one of her favorite games is “making the trucks go vroom vroom” Oh & playing with footballs.

    Yay for just letting our kids explore & play with no boundaries (well no gender boundaries!).

    • bebehblog says:

      It is easier for Caroline to play with “boy” stuff because we have one of each so the cross over is pretty natural. Although Evan picked out that stroller and the baby doll all by himself – I imagine I’ll be buying Caroline one of her own when she’s older so there’s no fighting.

  6. Leah says:

    We are pretty much trying to do things the same way. Or at least I am. I had to get all Smith College on Bruce’s ass and go into a diatribe about gendered speech and the Other As Lesser and blah blah blah feministcakes when he told Calder to stop crying like a little girl.

    I don’t think too much damage has been done yet though. Calder had a tantrum the other day playing dress up with the next door kids because they told him he couldn’t be a princess. I said screw that, he can be a princess and helped him get into his very favorite Jasmine pants.

  7. Tottums says:

    You tell ’em girl. I also am a firm believer that little boys can like ‘pink’ just as much as little girls. My older son loves playing with strollers, and dolls, and shopping carts. He also likes having his toenails painted. I DARE someone to tell me, or him, that it’s not okay for boys to do. DOUBLE DOG DARE THEM.

  8. I applaud you, Suzanne, for your efforts. It’s been an uphill battle to make sure my daughter doesn’t get locked in to “Disney pink things mode,” but I have managed to get her interested in airplanes, race cars, and Angry Birds, so I have no fear she will solely identify with the things society wants her to. Still, it ain’t easy, because the commercials and the toy makers still divvy things up between “boy” things and “girl” things, and I have to be careful to never refer to them as such.

    • bebehblog says:

      I think this will take a lot more effort once they are old enough for school, or the first time a friend makes fun of Little Evan for wearing a pink hat, but I’m hoping the early lessons will carry some weight.

  9. I just hate all the everything-has-to-be-pink-cause-I-have-a-girl crap! Why on earth does fisher-price feel the need to make a pink version of the little people airplane?!?! It already has a girl pilot, it’s not like the white airplane is excluding girls. All this hyper girly stuff is ridiculous. Why can’t they just use all the colors and have them be for everyone?!?!

  10. Katherine says:

    I love this post. For lots of reasons. The main one being that I am completely on board with this kind of parenting. We let Rylee play with whatever she darn well pleases. She has tea sets and dolls and dress up clothes and she’s content playing with all of those things. But she also loves digging in rocks, playing with trucks and helping daddy drive the tractor. I love that she’s not too girly but not super tom-boyish either.

  11. LOVE this post. It’s something I struggle with all the time. I hate most of the princesses and for a long time, my daughter didn’t seem to be into them either, instead choosing Mickey and friends and the Toy Story gang. But now she’s 3 1/2 and it’s like they’ve somehow taken over her DNA. I’m not too worried though because there’s something she loves way more than the princesses — Star Wars.

    Have you read Peggy Orenstein’s fabulous “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” yet? It’s fascinating and will make you hate marketers for this pink culture. Here’s one of the most fun facts I learned from it — until the 1950s, pink was a boy’s color because it was the feminine of red and blue was a girl’s color because it has always symbolized things like fertility (that’s why Mary was always depicted in blue). And that explains why Wendy wears blue in Peter Pan but Michael wears pink!

    Anyway, it’s always nice to see someone else consciously trying to avoid the genderfication of our kids. I’m not going to NOT buy my daughter a pink dress or a princess doll — but I’ll also continue to buy her Legos, trucks and other “boy” toys.

  12. Sarah-Anne says:

    this post makes me laugh; your kiddos could care less about playing with each others toys & there are crazies out there that are so concerned about gender stereotypes.

  13. Sara says:

    Wooohooo! I can’t stand when people label their kids (or OTHER peoples kids). I know my fella and I will be good about it, but I cringe at the thought of how family will talk to them. His family calling a kid “gay” because he likes to paint his fingernails and walk in his mamas high heels. ughhhhh.

    Awesome for you for letting your kids be kids. :)

  14. Sara says:

    OH my gosh I love his little smile and superhero cape and yay! Baby dolls are for boys! We’re still working on not focusing on Ollie being a “tough-guy” and just being a “nice guy”. :)

  15. Julie S. says:

    I couldn’t agree more! It is so fun to be buying pink clothes for baby girl’s upcoming arrival, but I know that most of the toys she will be around, will be boy toys! And there is nothing wrong with that. We let Brayden cuddle his stuffed animals and pretend to feed them, and then the next minute he is tossing trucks off the bed. As long as he is nice, respectful, and kind? It doesn’t really matter to me!

  16. Katie says:

    100% behind you!!!!!

  17. Waoh! There’s a tv in your front room now! I just noticed.

  18. TMae says:

    Sing it sister!

    I just read a post by another blogger talking about how she had overheard a father telling his pre-teen/early-teen son not to buy something from a street vendor because it was “gay” and that if the son DID buy it, the dad “was going to kick [his] ass.”

    So I wonder, is this generational? Geographical? Part of the communities we align ourselves with? It pains me to think that someone will tell O at some point that “that’s for girls” or to “act like a man.” He won’t hear it here, but can I protect him from it EVERYWHERE ELSE? Maude, I hope so.

    (I really love the blurry action shot of E and the stroller – ZOOM!)

  19. andrea says:

    That’s the way we (try to) roll as well. I think that letting them explore is super important in creating open-minded little people who will hopefully grow up to be tolerant and respectful. I also believe in teaching by example and I think we become trapped in the dominant gender roles once we realize that mommy cleans, makes the beds, does laundry, irons, and daddy takes out the garbage, fixes the deck, kills the spider, and sits around watching football and drinking beer while mom makes dinner.
    We try to mix it up in our house… I don’t like to/know how to cook so Ku makes dinner some evenings while I sit around and read blogs, and I cut the grass while he does laundry. He does take out the garbage every week and I do sit for what seem hours to fold piles and piles of laundry, but we do make an effort to share the responsibilities around the house so that Bresho learns that you do stuff around the house and being a boy or a girl do not determine what.
    Also, I find it was easier to let Bresho explore when he was smaller since he didn’t really know what was going on. He is understanding things more and more and when we tell him “good boy!” after he goes to the potty, he will say: “I girl. Good girl.” He is definitely confused (from his experience at daycare?), and something tells me this is the time to start explaining things in a way he understands. It is not easy, though. I actually think it is a very difficult thing to do. I wish there was a manual or something.

  20. It’s funny, because while my kiddo is the first one to pick up a truck or an airplane and go completely BONKERS for it? He’s also the one that likes to push the babydoll around in the stroller and goes “OH NO” when he crashes her into the wall.

  21. Tiffany says:

    I’d like to make a little confession.

    When my son (now almost five) was a baby outgrowing his travel system stroller, I saw a patterned Chicco that I absolutely loved. It was lime green with polka dots. Some of those polka dots were hot pink.

    I bought it anyway because – hey – the stroller is for ME and he just happened to be the one sitting in it.

    Of course I have no problems with pink shirts or him playing with his sister’s toys now, either.

  22. Upstatemamma says:

    I have struggled with this a little bit with my son has he got older. He has dolls, when he was three we got him a play kitchen, when he was four he wanted a doll sling so he got one. We try not to say no to things just because of gender stereotypes. But he is older now. And when he was five and wanted pink tape on his hockey stick we paused. We debated it. In the end we said he could but we did explain to him that some people might be confused by his choice. We explained a little about how pink is thought of as “girly” and that some kids might ask him why he had pink tape. He opted not to. And lately, at almost seven, he has been asking to wear some of his sister’s nail polish and I frankly don’t know what to say. In theory I want to say “sure kid, be who you are.” on the other hand I don’t want him picked on. Sigh!

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