Residents of West Sussex, 23-year-old Shannon Walsh and her 28-year-old husband John, decided that they would raise their son Logan as gender-neutrally as possible. And now they have to put up with criticism and insults on social networks because many people are very unhappy that the boy is dressed in pink clothes or allowed to play with dolls.
Shannon, who is now pregnant with her second child, spoke about her approach to parenthood to the Daily Mail and explained why gender-neutral parenting is not child abuse at all. The girl immediately decided to raise her son as naturally as possible: Logan is still breastfed. And raising a baby in isolation from gender-related stereotypes also seems natural to her. So, Logan is never told that any actions or things are “specially for boys.”
We just don’t create these imaginary boundaries that everything has to fit into. A lot of people think that dresses are just for girls, but our son picked out a My Little Pony dress from a thrift store and I bought it for him – he loves to wear dresses.
But the boy does not wear exclusively “female” clothes at all.
He chooses for himself and clothes that are associated with boys. We just do not divide clothes by gender – it’s just clothes. The same goes for toys, games, hair, jewelry, and so on.
According to Shannon, this approach allows children to be themselves – 100%.
They don’t have to hide or pretend to be interested in certain things, they can be sincere and not conform to the stereotypes people have made up.
At the same time, the girl emphasizes: this format of education does not mean at all that it is necessary to hide his gender from the child or refuse to talk about gender differences.
Logan calls himself a boy, he knows he has a penis. And he also knows what he likes and doesn’t like, he knows that if he wants a makeover like a unicorn, it’s okay, because why all of a sudden only girls can like magical creatures, pink or glitter?
Shannon believes that such stereotypes are outdated and children do not need them. Moreover, according to the woman, Logan’s peers do not at all consider it strange how he dresses or behaves. The boy is still small and attends kindergarten for three hours twice a week.
Most of the children there are the same age, and I still have not seen or heard any particular reaction. This suggests that as we grow older, society and older people impose their stereotypes on us until we begin to believe them. Children do not care whether you are a boy or a girl, whether you wear a skirt or trousers, whether you like cars or princesses.
When it comes to breastfeeding, Shannon doesn’t think there’s any particular age at which it should be stopped—it all depends on the baby’s needs and desires. After the birth of her second child, she plans to breastfeed both of them until they give up breastfeeding themselves.
Most relatives and friends of the young family support such parenting methods. But Shannon and John have to listen to criticism as well.
I especially remember someone saying that since Logan is a boy but plays with a doll, he will become a naughty child. And when someone saw him with pigtails and in bright clothes, they told me that he looked like a gypsy – and this really confused me.
Strangers often mistake Logan for a girl, but this does not bother his mother.
I grew up with the same stereotypes as everyone, so I expected it.
The girl is much more embarrassed by comments and messages on social networks. So, one woman wrote to her that she was “nasty” because she “forces her son to be a girl.” But in response to insults, Shannon prefers to engage in education.
People my age often don’t know that just 50 years ago, pink was the color for boys and was considered masculine, while blue seemed to everyone more delicate and feminine. Well, dresses were originally worn by all children, because they made changing diapers and potty training easier.
Reflecting on the future, Shannon admits that her son may want to change his appearance when he grows up. But she hopes that he will always remember the main thing: he always remains himself and his family loves him immensely.
Let your child be happy regardless of his hobbies and interests. You just need to judge people less – and teach your children the same.