Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Born this way

During my first pregnancy, I had certain... ideas about how I'd raise my children.

"I'll never breastfeed!" I declared one day.

"I'll still have a super active social life!" I promised my friends while we were out having drinks, something we did almost every night.

"I'll make the rules—my children will listen to me!" I said in a room full of other moms at my baby shower.

Only now do I know why they all started laughing at me.

What you say before you become a mom—and what you do once your are a mom—are two completely different things.

I breastfed, didn't get out much when I had a new baby at home, and never made too many rules for my boys.

Everyone parents differently. I co-sleep with my three year old. I'm relaxed about my children's chocolate consumption. My boys use a stroller if they get really tired. I am a helicopter mom, and I'm a constant worrier. I educate my boys, keep them active, and travel with them as often as I can. We have memberships to all the museums in town, and we let our boys do what they want—within reason—as long as they're safe, healthy, and happy. I think taking part in extra-curricular activites is important, and I'm my children's number one cheerleader, goal or no goal.

When my youngest son asked for a pink plasma car, I said yes. When he asked to buy a doll, again, I complied. Despite this, my son is very much a little boy. It's just natural for him, and for his brother, to love play fighting, to think trucks and diggers and cement mixers are awesome, and to want to climb furniture as if they're monkeys. Trust me—I never taught my boys to act like wild animals in the home! It's something that they were born with. Of course, both boys have different personalities; my oldest son is more of a bookworm, and reserved, my youngest, more athletic and daring.

As parents, we are responsible for the well-being of our children. It is up to us to try our best to make our children normal members of society. That's not to say girls should wear pink, and boys need to have short hair; but they should know IF they are a boy or a girl. Pretty basic concept right? Not for some parents...

When I found out that a couple in Toronto was keeping the sex of their baby a secret, I rolled my eyes. And then get upset. I feel sorry for this child. And for his siblings. I think these parents are only doing this for show and for attention—not because they want the best for their offspring. Trust me. Not knowing if you're a boy or a girl is not healthy. And these parents will in turn end up spending thousands of dollars in therapy for this child named Storm. (There's a therapy session right there...)

These children are not attending school. They're not even being home-schooled the 'normal' way. The parents practice 'unschooling', (*eye roll*) and believe a child's learning should be curiosity driven. So if they're never curious about learning the alphabet, I guess... so be it?

They believe children can make choices for themselves, like how to wear their hair and choosing their own clothes. Sure, we all let our children choose what to wear from time to time, and I encourage independence in my children, but as a parent, it's ME who makes the real decisions. And if my son puts on a shirt that is dirty and stained with grape juice and we have somewhere important to be? Of course I'm going to change him!

This Toronto couple wants 4-month-old Storm to grow up free from strict social norms about males and females, so they have shared his or her sex only with their other children, Jazz and Kio, a family friend, and two midwives.

I wonder what will happen when this child is of the age to join a sports team? Will the parents protest that teams are, after a certain age, divided by gender? Will they be totally okay if Storm is a boy and chooses to only wear dresses out in public? Even for an important job interview? When Storm becomes a teenager, then what? What about rules like not wearing a hat in school? Assuming they ever enter a public or private school system, will they argue those rules, too?

I just can't accept this way of new-age parenting. It's completely unhealthy. Some people are calling this a lab experiment, and I have to agree. Some say it borders on child abuse.

Because Jazz and Kio wear pink and have long hair, they're frequently assumed to be girls. The parents don't correct people; they leave it to the kids to do it if they want to. "Though Jazz likes dressing as a girl, he doesn't seem to want to be mistaken for one," the article says. Right there, you've got yourself a problem and I'm glad I'm not the one who has to fix this. How messed up for these kids!

I'm all for raising children your own way—and I think we should all tolerate different ways that children are being raised today, within reason. We don't have to jump up and down and clap our hands just because someone is doing something so drastically different. Sometimes, it's just wrong.

27 comments:

BusyDad said...

I usually refrain from judging others, because I believe in the ability of parents to know what's best for their kids, but...

WACKOS!!!

LZ said...

It's just stupid. I don't feel bad judging, either. Why on Earth would someone do this? I think it's quite a bit better for a child to be treated as a boy or girl, instead of as a freak. The child has done nothing wrong but will be the target with this sort of upbringing.
The parents need to smarten up.

Erica said...

OMG sorry for the "r-rated=ness" BUT WTF??!!?!?!?! I dont judge other moms in most cases but c'mon.......I raise my daughter to be PROUD to be a GIRL and my son PROUD to be a BOY.......of course i have no problem letting them choose their toys but these people are taking it to a sick level! They are setting up their kids for abuse and torture from other children and society.....born this way is F-ing right. GOD made them a BOY OR GIRL thats how they were born and thats how they should be ! Their parents should teach them to be proud of their gender not encourage them to possibly choose a different one! Im so angry right now !

Elaine A. said...

As parents we are there to guide our children. These people have gone too far and unfortunately their kids will pay for it.

I liked the way you prefaced their story with how you parent. You're a good Mom Loukia!

Issas Crazy World said...

I sorta want to stand up and applaud you for this one. I try so hard not to judge others too much...or not out loud at least. But yeah, these people are...just wrong.

SC said...

This is just wrong on so many levels. It really makes me concerned for the overall health of these children... if the parents are this loose and careless with these types of parenting decisions, you have to wonder if the basic needs of these kids are even being met. I hope for their futures that they are.

blueviolet said...

I had never heard about that Storm situation. That's way non-traditional, huh?

Michelle said...

Here is the thing... Storm is going to know what gender he/she is, it is the outside influences that are not. I think that the parents (whether they are going about it right or wrong) are just trying to remove the gender stereotypes.

It's actually a really interesting concept to me. Think about how we all usually find out early what we're having now. So from the womb we're talking to the baby. We decorate nurseries in pink or blue. We assign gender roles before we even have the child.

To each their own I guess. I don't see it as child abuse because let's face it, parents all over the world raise their children differently than I do. I don't have to agree with it anymore than I expect them to agree with the way I parent, you know?

Marinka said...

I completely agree with you. They're insane. It's kind of amazing that both parents are insane in the same way and they agree on this choice.

I can't even imagine the conversation they had with their other kids.

"Now, we will tell you your sibling's gender, but YOU MUST NOT TELL ANYONE EVER!"

WTF.

WTF?!

Excellent post!

Lynn MacDonald said...

It does sound like a whole bunch of bullshit to me...and why the need to publicize it?

tiarastantrums said...

I so do not "GET" un-schooling - Unparenting I say! I feel sorry for these kids - they will be the weirdos no one likes!

Avitable said...

I don't actually have a problem with this. Children are subjected to a lot worse, and as bizarre as these parents seem, they also seem well-educated on the subject. This isn't something borne from ignorance, and it may end up working out in an interesting way.

Loukia said...

Adam... it's completely ridiculous and insane and stupid and these poor kids. Starting off life being confused and scared to talk about if they're a boy or a girl? Hello therapy. Stupid, stupid, stupid parents!

liz said...

I totally agree with your post. I wrote about this myself but maybe wasn't quite as objective?

http://www.teaandsnippets.com/2010/05/

Cheers

weebsurfer said...

Yeah... I'm with you. All I think about when I read about this is ♬It's time for androgeny.♬ It's Pat!♬ They'll likely not have any issues without an education though. They'll be a "(Non)reality" show soon enough. God help us all if we accidentally watch it.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

And this is why I rarely follow links from blog posts. I started reading your post two hours ago, followed the links, decided I had to share them with my sister, which started a long chat about raising kids without gender, and now I'm finally back to comment! Except I can't remember exactly what I was going to say.

Something about how I don't really understand why there's a problem with having gender. There is a reason that ALL creatures on the planet are male or female. No one else expects male animals to act differently than they always have (or vice versa), so why is this an issue if male (or female) humans act in a male or female way?!

liz said...

Agreed. I just handed my 18 month daughter a Polly Pocket doll. She removed the shoe and ate it.

Jill said...

Yeah, I too think it's unfortunate. A total gimmick and the kids will pay for it.

Sarah at The Stroller Ballet said...

I agree with Busy Dad. I, too, try not to judge. But I'm off to read this article, now, and I can't help but think that these people are nuts!

Crunchy Carpets said...

It just feels that sometimes parents try too hard at being different.
That they have to NOT be just a good parent ...or part of that parent 'tribe' or whatever and HAVE to be different for difference sake.

I am all for avoiding stereotypes..but you can't avoid gender.

And as people have said..what about being comfortable in your skin as a boy or a girl...why can't you teach them that?

I am so tired of people trying to be 'special' instead of just focusing on being parents

Abby said...

My mom loves to talk about how in the 70s when she was raising me and my brother, the popular parenting advice was to give your boys a doll and your girls a truck so as not to reinforce gender stereotypes. Well guess what happened? The boys would shoot each other w/ the dolls and the girls put their trucks to bed.

You hit on a key point: we have much less control over our kids than we think we do. I agree, in many ways, they're born the way they are.

lessonsinlifeandlight said...

I realize I'm kind of "out there" when it comes to my pregnancy/birth/parenting choices: midwives, birth center, Hypnobabies, cloth diapers, possibly homeschooling, etc., but this whole gender thing is just too weird, even for me.

Mommyfriend Lori said...

Loukia, all those qualities make you a totally amazing mom. I respect you so much for your parenting style.

Anonymous said...

Did you read the editorial written by the mother in today's Ottawa Citizen? As she points out, this has all been blown out of proportion by the media. It really bothers me that everyone feels the need to judge these parents. They obviously love their children and, while we may not all agree with their parenting choices, they are perfectly valid. Personally I'm surprised that people are getting so worked up about their story. Each to their own, I say.

ModernMom said...

I usually try not to pass judgement because we never know what is going on behind closed doors BUT my heart aches for that little baby.

Jackie H. said...

I had to read all the comments on this one! I figured you might get a little more heat for making such a strong stance on this one. ;) I totally agree with you and I guess I'm happy to see that other people do too. I really don't care how these people raise their kid, yes, I think he/she is going to end up in therapy but the main thing I worry about is everyone jumping on the bandwagon and then judging me. I worry that people like this will make it so that even calling someone a boy or a girl will be having a gender bias. I think we'd be so much healthier recognizing the differences and then teaching our kids to respect everyone. Good post.

PAM said...

I am very open minded and do my best not to judge others for the most part. Goodness knows I've been judged and called a dishonest parent and it pisses me off to no end. That being said, I really feel that Storm (and the other children) are being given a disservice. It will be interesting if we could fast forward 15 - 20 years...

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