This Article is About
girly girl
cute baby
third child
boys and girls
self image
self esteem
Giving Children Choices About Their Gender
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Being a parent has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world, because with the best will in the world it’s quite easy to get it wrong. In the paper this week there was a report about Kathy Witterick and David Stocker who are the parents of two boys aged 5, 2 and a third child of four months . The most recent child Storm is following in the steps of his older siblings who have been bought up gender neutral and wear both boys and girls clothes and the parents refuse to disclose which gender Storm is. Their reasoning for doing this is that they believe parents make too many choices for their children which they describe as ”obnoxious “

I find the word obnoxious a curious word to use. Of course parents make choices for children and for one very obvious reason. Most children don’t have the maturity to make all choices for themselves. I think their attitude is hypocritical. They are still making a choice for their child by choosing not to talk about their child’s gender and to pretend otherwise is just silly.

How much this will affect their children in a positive or negative way, I have no idea. I was a very girly, girl who wanted to play with dolls and do their hair from a very young age, but I was also very tough and could fearlessly climb tress and easily beat boys older than myself in an arm wrestle. Because I had short hair I was frequently called a boy and I found that annoying, but whether it would have been easier if everyone had known I was a girl, I don’t know. I do worry however, whether giving children choices about choosing their own gender and keeping it secret will lead to more confusion not less.

I really hope that the effect on Storm and his siblings is only a positive one and doesn't have an impact on their self esteem or self image. You’ll notice I used the word he – because from the photograph in the newspaper, gives all the appearance of being a boy and it’s quite difficult to describe such a cute baby as ‘ it’. They don’t know me – so it really doesn’t make any difference what I think.

Storm’s parents have been criticised for imposing their ideology on their children, but isn’t that what all parents do either directly or indirectly? Is this really any worse than people teaching their children about a particular religion, pushing them towards academic success, encouraging them into particular career paths or into particular relationships and all the other things that parents do or try to impose on their children? I think it probably isn’t and Kathy Witterick and David Stocker are like many other parents who want to do what they believe is best for their children. Parents generally don't set out to deliberately knock their children's self image, self confidence or self esteem.

However, in their attempt to do what they believe is best for their children, I’m reminded of the famous Philip Larkin poem “This Be The Verse” in which he shows his disdain for parents in general when he says that parents manage to screw up their children’s lives whether they mean to or not. That’s why I believe that being a parent, or should I say ‘successful’ parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world.

Street Talk

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