Those of you who have been on this journey with me for a few years now will know that I am not into pink for miss3. There’s nothing wrong with pink in itself, I’m just a bit conscious of the girlie princess all things beautiful narrative. It’s not something I want my children to buy into. I have written about it in different posts in the past.
I tried to avoid buying pink initially, but my loved ones did and their pink options looked so good on her, I think I went ahead and bought some too. Lol.
If you follow my stories, I shared on intentionally buying non-girlie (as they are advertised) toys. So specifically, I buy building toys such as magnet tiles, blocks, and then trains, drums etc. In case you wondered, if I had a boy, I would do the same – encourage play with traditionally non-boy toys too. I believe we need to work hard to reverse some of these gender stereotypes that society pedals. Or at least question them.
Anyway, now at age 3+, miss3 loves the building stuff but equally loves the pink, ballet, princess related stuff. Somehow. I woke up one day to find this.
So what next?
1. My first learning is that this is not something I believe I need to fight. I have come to realize, that I can steer, but she is her own person already. It’s empowering for her, healthy and builds the trust between us, when I show her that she is capable and equipped to do this – make her own choices. I will even go as far as saying, there’s a very thin line between guiding and playing god in our children’s lives. At some point we will have to start holding on to what we have taught them and believing it is enough to sustain them to make the right choices. I actually believe in some areas you can start this early.
2. My second learning is that, this presents an opportunity to show trust.This trusting them and showing them you trust them dance is a topic that I love. When she was less than a year old, I would let her carry our bose portable speakers across the room for me. My heart will be in my mouth, she could tell, but she did it anyway and she never dropped it. Trust is two way. I show her I trust her and she in turn hopefully learns she can trust me too. She may continue to love pink, but if she trusts me, she is more likely to listen and learn when I share on any topic in general. So in the long run, she is more interested in what I have to say and happy to listen to me.
3. My third thinking around this, is what could I actually do to discourage a love for pink, anyway? And what would be the benefit? Wouldn’t that teach her that she is not capable of making a choice for herself over something as small as choosing a favorite colour? I still make it clear I don’t like princess stuff – she knows this. But, I don’t admonish. I talk about it sometimes but not all the time. I even bought a tutu yesterday. I have also explained the non princess’s options so she knows they exist, but I don’t push them on her by force.
4. Finally, I believe what will help kill gender stereotypes is what our children see around them, regularly. What we do as a family will either reinforce or dismiss these stereotypes. The type of play and extracurricular activities she engages in and is exposed to – let girls get involved in football, boys can play with dolls and even help in the kitchen. The things I say to her about what boys and girls can do. The stories in books she reads and hears, too.
So in this way TRUST, the careful CHOICES we make to avoid gender stereotypes and STANDING BACK… will be at work. These factors, as well as avoiding gender stereotypes, are playing a big role in my (intentional) parenting in the early years journey. I never expected to be dealing with them quite so early into motherhood, but hey I’m ready! I am happy to do what it takes for the future benefits.
No matter all our intentional wishes and teachings, at some point, we will have to let our children find their own way too, for themselves. And hope all we have provided is a solid root for them. I am reminding myself of this a lot more these days, as we approach age 4 and officially say goodbye to the toddler years.
Oh and if miss3 decided to be a professional ballerina in the future, I would be very OK with that. Look up Michaela De Prince :).