Friday, November 23, 2012

Letter to my babies: A moment of parenting paralysis


Yesterday I had a profound 'I don't know what to do in this situation' parenting moment.

We were at our local Westfield, checking out the summer fashions, when you were both suddenly fixated - hypnotised even - by a very beautiful pair of pink glitter covered sandals. They were gorgeous. As if they wouldn't be. Pink. Glitter. As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too many sparkles.

Of course you wanted them. Why wouldn't you? They were shiny and pretty and fun and - most importantly - pink.  You adore pink. You love it with all your hearts. Especially you, Rocky.

And why shouldn't you have them? You are three. You have no idea or understanding of gender. I love that about you. I love that nothing in your world is distorted by society's - frankly quite bizarre - expectations of gender roles or socially constructed mores around behaviour for 'boys' and 'girls'.

But you know what? I didn't know what to do. I was very careful NOT to say "Oh no, they're for girls". But I was stuck. Honestly, truly, stuck. Because, actually, I don't have a problem with you wearing pink sparkly sandals if that's what you want to wear. I don't want to stifle your creativity. I don't want to create barriers around you when you're still learning about yourself and the world. And quite honestly, I think more people could benefit from feeling confident in their own tastes and their own choices, without worrying about what other people think.

I want you to learn that what you think about yourself is a whole load more important than what others think of you.

But I couldn't help acknowledge that if I did let you have them, other people would start on at you with all of that gendered rubbish. I could just hear voices saying "why are you wearing girls' shoes?" "oh you funny little boy wearing girls' shoes" or even worse, "what are you doing to your boys, letting them wear girls' shoes".

And then I thought that would be worse. Because you'd be hearing it constantly from other people in an environment that wouldn't allow your dad and me to explain it properly.

So I did all I could do. Reminded you that we were looking for shorts, not shoes, and bought you these - in all their proud pink glory :)

You haven't taken them off yet, and they're currently in the wash so you can wear them again tomorrow. I love you my little men. Boys can totally wear pink.

All the love in the universe,

Your mama


  1. Jen ! I love this post. I love you as a mama. Bless your pink loving boys. Xxx

  2. That is wonderful! Last year my wee man took a shine to his cousins pink sequinned shoes. I let him wear them the few days that we were there visiting. Then he spied a red pair of crocs in a shop. I bought them for him he loved them. Fleeting wants...............

  3. Parenting perfection Jen!! Truly, I think your solution was the best way of tackling the situation. Not because the shoes were necessarily 'girls shoes' but because as you say, we can't always get what we want and you were on a short hunting mission as you say. What a great compromise!! xx

  4. Good for you. It's hard though, isn't it, trying to avoid falling into gender stereotypes. My kids (2 girls and a boy) all have rainbow colored toenail polish on at present...


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