I got home from work today and decided to spend a couple of hours watching The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds and play Sims 4.
It’s a great show and i always find it interesting to see what children talk about with others their own age.
Today’s episode was a little different though. There was an experiment in which they were paired off and had to dress up like a married couple, and at the end they were told about a twist in which they would have to swap outfits and essentially dress up as the opposite sex.
A scary percentage of the children (mainly the girls surprisingly!) were making fun of the boys and saying that ‘boys shouldn’t wear dresses or makeup’ and it got me thinking.
The programme has little segments introducing a few of the kids’ families and most are in or around my age range, or at least around Tom’s (21-35). This is essentially my generation that are still teaching our children gender stereotypes and that inanimate objects can be only for a certain group of people. I find this really unhealthy and quite worrying!
I suppose it’s impossible for me to understand how you could be so closed minded about what toys and clothes your children can have because i’m someone who will give pretty much anything a go once and i’m a huge hippie (without the cultural appropriation/dreads).
But what benefit can you see from putting a child in a box and forcing it to act a certain way? As a kid i loved Barbie and horses and Polly Pocket, but i also enjoyed catching spiders and keeping them as a pet in a tissue box and playing make believe games because i was ALWAYS the boy/husband and learning how to play football with my Dad on Colwick Park. Haven’t we learnt anything? Repressing feelings only leads to resentment, unhappiness and an extreme pressure to act a certain way.
I find it painful to see 5 year olds already dictating to others about what they “should” and “shouldn’t” do and although society will play some part in that, i can’t help but look at the parents and wonder why. It’s inevitably something passed down through generations and i understand that traditional families still exist but it just doesn’t feel like we’ve learnt anything. Surely there’s enough hate and stress in the world already without adding in this expectation, this list of rules that you have to stick to for the rest of your life and if you don’t then you’re abnormal and weird and will be taunted and bullied…
I have quite a clear vision of the type of parent i want to be someday. It’s a mix of picking out the really good ideas my own parents have, learning from the mistakes they made and refusing to make them myself and things i have seen other parents do on Instagram/YouTube/blogs. Nothing would make me happier than seeing my future son having the time of his life in an Elsa dress and no strangers feel the need to make comments, or a daughter that follows her dream and becomes an expert mechanic (quite likely with her genetics to be honest!). Fortunately this is something i know Tom and i will agree on. I don’t know whether that’s upbringing or simply that we’re quite weird ourselves, but i’m completely determined that whatever humans we create will be self confident and free to be whoever they want to be.