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View Poll Results: Would a gender-neutral environment make a difference to a child's understanding?
Yes - stereotypes/gender roles are not innate. 5 35.71%
No - stereotypes/gender roles are exclusively innate. 2 14.29%
Maybe - only in certain instances depending on a child's wants. 0 0%
Who gives a damn? You're thinking too much! 7 50.00%
Voters: 14. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
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Old 06-25-2010, 09:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.


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Lately I've been wondering what happens if you raise a child in a gender-neutral environment. While I haven't studied much in this specific area, it seems like it would be a perfectly respectable way to raise a child.

Gender-neutral environments basically lack anything that's classically defined for girls or boys (e.g.; fire trucks vs dolls) or avoids harboring any gender-specific thinking. Basically, allowing the child to conduct his or herself just the way he or she wants, without having the poison of "you're a boy/girl and this is how things are done because of it" ingrained to their impressionable psyche.

Now here's the question, for the poll above.

Gender-neutral environments in terms of child-rearing: let's say you're just starting out (I know many of you are parents already, and even have children that are grown adults) with your first child. Would you raise them in a gender-neutral environment to foster their own personal will, or would you push gender roles on them regardless?

Do you think it would make a difference to a child raised in a gender-neutral environment, personality wise, in contrast with his or her peers?

In your opinion, for instance, if a little girl was raised in a gender-neutral environment, and set loose in a department store, would she be able to point out the differences in gender roles (for example; "pink frilly things are for girls/footballs and rough-and-tumble for boys") without first having the schema for gender-specific concepts in her mind?

I don't think we've had a discussion like this before, but, does the environment of a child make a severe difference on their views of boys/girls?
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Old 06-25-2010, 10:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Exclamation Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

Option four, but it's not a case of you thinking too much: it's a case of you thinking about nonsense and taking it seriously.

There's no need to even worry about gender roles; they'll develop whether you like it or not. And how pray tell can something that develops naturally be considered a "poison"?

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Old 06-25-2010, 10:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

Well speaking from personal experience, I was a tomboy who loved nothing more than climbing trees, riding my bike, playing with my brother's toys, playing soccer and riding a skateboard. However, my twin sister loved her dolls, soft toys and helping Mum with cooking and baking. Apparently our brother, when he was about three years old liked to wear Mum's high heels and necklaces! He grew up to be just a normal guy. Our parents never worried about me being boyish or my brother being a bit girly when he was small We laugh at the old photos that were taken at those times.
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Old 06-25-2010, 11:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

Originally Posted by Hepcat View Post
Option four, but it's not a case of you thinking too much: it's a case of you thinking about nonsense and taking it seriously.

There's no need to even worry about gender roles; they'll develop whether you like it or not. And how pray tell can something that develops naturally be considered a "poison"?

But it was more like thinking, "what if people are NOT innately 'female' or 'male'?"

And if parents who raise their children in such environments where these kinds of things aren't apparently obvious have been successful in such an experiment.

As far as the "poison" some people feed their kids from day one, I was referring to the whole "you're male/female, and this is what you do/how you think/what you wear" mentality that parents have who raise their children in a militant environment according to the child's gender.
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Old 06-25-2010, 11:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
Well speaking from personal experience, I was a tomboy who loved nothing more than climbing trees, riding my bike, playing with my brother's toys, playing soccer and riding a skateboard. However, my twin sister loved her dolls, soft toys and helping Mum with cooking and baking. Apparently our brother, when he was about three years old liked to wear Mum's high heels and necklaces! He grew up to be just a normal guy. Our parents never worried about me being boyish or my brother being a bit girly when he was small We laugh at the old photos that were taken at those times.
The persuasion of the human mind is a really interesting thing.

I bet those photos are simply adorable, though.

My youngest sister was a bit of a tomboy when she was growing up. I was the girly one of us two! However my parents didn't really wash us over with gender-specific playthings or concepts.
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Old 06-26-2010, 12:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

Kids don't need gender roles pushed on them. They develope those roles, attitudes and tendencies naturally. Wouldn't it also be considered a "poison" or "militant" for a parent to intentionally deny their child gender-specific clothing, toys or reading material?

There was a program on MSNBC a few years ago about some little boy who (I believe) had a botched circumcision so the doctors persueded the parents to allow them to perform a sex change on him. The parents then raised their boy as a girl with all the clothes, toys, etiquette, etc, and "she" still wanted to dress like a boy, climb trees and play sports. As "she" grew up, she always knew she was different, but it was never explained to her until she was an adult. What a mind-f***!

The bottom line is that kids know what they are, so if a parent is going to influence them, do it in a positive way. As a parent, I wouldn't play games with the kids' formative years for the sake of experimentation.

The only other situation that would be worse, I feel, would be to be raised by two gay parents. Because, imo, that's not a natural environment for a kid either.

Last edited by Dave78; 06-26-2010 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 06-26-2010, 12:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

I agree with Dave. Research has shown that homosexual and heterosexual men differ in the central nervous system mechanisms and hormone levels that control sexual behavior and this difference is no product of upbringing or environment, but rather of prenatal development and structural differentiation. Therefore, I don't think that the environment of a child make a severe difference on their views of boys/girls.

But to avoid the ostracism of such children by parents and schoolmates, I do think that society has to change the criteria regarding expected "gender behavior". In other words, the child should not be hidden from gender differences from birth, but rather no "feminine" behavior norms or "masculine" behavior norms should be imposed by the parents or society, nor on how the child chooses to dress...in dresses or in pants. Tomboy girl behavior and dress and girly boy behavior and dress should be just as acceptable as feminine girls and masculine boys behaviors. Many parents are already raising their children in this fashion, but once in the schoolyard the situation can change.

Whatever happened to "unisex" dressing and behavior? For school-age kids, jeans are already preferred. Most baby clothes are unisex these days, and gender neutral children's clothes are popular. White, green, yellow, orange, purple, red with animals, teddy bears, shapes, letters, or stripes are available. These are all choices that could work for both boys and girls.

As for expected behavior, I am against coercing boys to go into 'masculine' professions and girls into more submissive roles. Let nature takes its course here as well.

As for homo or hetero, as the child matures, sexual orientation will follow nature, no matter what the child raising environment. It is inborn in brain structure and hormone levels that control it. All the parent can do is accept it.
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Old 06-26-2010, 12:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

The only other situation that would be worse would be to be raised by two gay parents. Because that's not a natural environment for a kid either.
I went to school with quite a few kids who were being brought up by gay parents mainly lesbians and they (and us) never thought anything of it. They called both the woman by their name not "Mum". They were a lot better off than some kids being raised in homes where the Mum and Dad argued all the time and then separated. I work with a guy who has been in a long term relationship with another guy and they foster a boy. They had to be screened extensively but they are giving this troubled boy a really secure home. The boy is 10 years old and has requested that the social workers let him stay until he is 18. I don't find this unacceptable at all. They are decent human beings not weirdos in any way.

Last edited by Sunny; 06-26-2010 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 06-26-2010, 12:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Child-rearing in gender-neutral environments.

Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
I went to school with quite a few kids who ) never thought anything of it. They called both the woman by their name not "Mum". They were a lot better off than some kids being raised in homes where the Mum and Dad argued all the time and then separated. I work with a guy who has been in a long term relationship with another guy and they foster a boy. They had to be screened extensively but they are giving this troubled boy a really secure home. The boy is 10 years old and has requested that the social workers let him stay until he is 18. I don't find this unacceptable at all. They are decent human beings not weirdos in any way.
I know one defense that people use in saying homosexual parents are wrong is that kids their age will treat them different but I believe that is becoming very little of an issue as each generation is being taught tolerance of others more and more. I think that's one positive thing about today's generation. Also, as far as influence we've already stated in here that kids are born to be what they will end up being so having gay parents won't force kids into being gay anymore than straight parents will be guaranteed straight kids.
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Old 06-26-2010, 01:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Soot and Stars View Post
Also, as far as influence we've already stated in here that kids are born to be what they will end up being so having gay parents won't force kids into being gay anymore than straight parents will be guaranteed straight kids.
Right on.
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