Increasingly, parents want to give their children a gender-neutral upbringing.
It is said that this way a child can discover and develop optimally.
But is that really that easy, and what do you really have to take into account as a parent?
Ellen (41) from Rotterdam [last name known to editors] raises her children gender neutral. "It has not been a conscious goal of mine to raise my children gender neutral, but it is going very well. Our eldest son (7) came into contact with 'girl stuff' a lot through daughters of our friends. One day he saw a princess dress from the movie
, and also wanted one. I followed him in that, and let him wear and do what he likes, whether it's typical for boys or girls. By the way, we give all our children the space to adjust their preferences discover and be who they are, regardless of gender."
“You have to think of a wide variety of boys and girls toys, neutral clothing and be aware of the word you use for your child.”
Steven Pont, developmental psychologist
Finding identity and being authentic
According to Steven Pont, developmental psychologist, gender-neutral parenting manifests itself in different ways. "You have to think of a wide variety of boys and girls toys, neutral clothing and be aware of the word you use for your child. It is about directing your child as little as possible in forming a gender identity. You attract No limits in this if your child is interested in things that are normally seen as 'opposite sex', but also let your child be free if he or she is attracted that are stereotypical of his or her gender."
There are several advantages to gender neutral parenting.
For example, a child learns to find its own identity and to be authentic, according to Justine Pardoen, linguist and founder of Bureau Jeugd & Media.
"If children are given the space to experiment, they will eventually find where their authenticity lies. It can be a good idea if you give your child a certain freedom in this. With this way of parenting, children are given the opportunity to make many choices themselves and are not given only the 'obvious' offered."
“Society is still a long way from accepting that boys and girls can make their own gender choices in everything.”
Justine Pardoen, founder of Bureau Jeugd & Media
To what extent do you protect your child?
There will undoubtedly be people who look at a boy strangely when he walks down the street with nail polish or a dress or wants to go to school with it. "Society is still a long way from accepting that boys and girls can make their own gender choices in everything," says Pardoen. "For example, I felt I had to warn my son for comments when he wanted to go to school with nail polish on. He went to ballet class, but wanted to stop because he got so much comment from peers."
"It is of course very dependent on your child whether you want to protect him in it," says Pont.
"One child only gets stronger from comments and doesn't care about it, another child doesn't take it very well. If there are comments from other children, you can of course also agree something with the teacher and other parents that they also come to school with nail polish the next day, if there is enthusiasm for it."
“Whether your child is into 'boy' or 'girl' stuff, or a combination of the two, the important thing is not to force them into a corner.”
Steven Pont, developmental psychologist
Has gender neutral parenting failed if your daughter still loves princess dresses and dolls?
"You have to remember that some things are also determined naturally, and that there are differences between boys and girls," says Pardoen.
"It is therefore completely okay if a girl eventually becomes more attracted to 'girl things'. Children can also at some point develop the need to mirror other children, which makes them more attracted to the activities and stuff that are stereotypical for their gender."
"Whether your child is into 'boy' or 'girl' stuff, or a combination of them, the important thing is not to force them into a corner and offer both sexes and activities equally so that your child has something to choose from" , says Pont.
"I would advise other parents to follow your child's interests and preferences as much as possible so that all aspects in your child can be developed. My children feel confident because they can be who they are, and this way of parenting teaches them to be herself", Ellen concludes.
An English couple kept the sex of their baby a secret for 17 months.
Read their story at Kek Mama.