An Article Opened My Eyes To Gender-Free Parenting Even If It's Not For Me

An Article Opened My Eyes To Gender-Free Parenting Even If It's Not For Me

Just because something is different doesn't mean it's wrong.
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The other day, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when one of my friends shared an article titled, "This Is What It's Really Like to Raise a Gender Neutral Child," published on Vice. Dani raised her child to be more gender neutral and shared their story for the world to read.

I clicked on the article not knowing what to expect – I never really had much of an opinion on raising gender-neutral children, so I knew this would be an opportunity to learn something. I knew I had to go into it with an open mind to retain more information and understand it from a perspective much different than my own, but I was curious.

When people are introduced to a topic out of their comfort zone, they are very quick to discredit it. People have this fear of being ignorant or being caught not knowing something, so instead of accepting unfamiliarity and learning about something, they settle for what they initially believe could be the right answer. Americans are also comfortable with traditional values. They don't like to step outside their comfort zone until they have to, generally speaking, of course.

When reading the article, there were many quotes that stuck out to me, one of them being, "When they hear you're pregnant, the first question people ask is whether it's a boy or a girl. Why is everyone so eager to figure out my child's genitals?" Instead of questions being asked that are more meaningful, like "How has your journey been while being pregnant?" or "Have you thought of any names yet?," we remain creatures of habit and ask the same question every time: "Boy or girl?" I don't think it's a reason enough to raise a child gender-neutral, but it's a core value often overlooked.

Upon gaining interest in their story and need for some elaboration, I decided to reach out to Dani myself. Luckily for me, I got an answer. This is what was said:

"My daughter is my daughter. She's a girl with many (what people would call) boyish interests and favourites: the colour blue, dinosaurs, fire engines, climbing, riding her scooter really fast and many more. What I'm trying to do is take those limitations 'boy' 'girl' colour/interest away and let her figure out what it is she loves. I dress her in clothes that we both like and that are comfortable or practical (and sometimes they are pretty, too). Her favourite colour right now is blue, so she has a lot of that, but all other colours are in her wardrobe, too, like pink."

Being gender neutral is not so much about defying who you are as a person, but rather, accepting yourself for everything you are and love. For Dani, it's about embracing every quirk and trait you have to step away from expectations that are set for you. Mathilda, the daughter, is being raised to feel like she can only wear pink because she's a girl, or can't like dinasaurs, again, because she's a girl.

"If she was the girliest girl ever (and some days she is), I'd still do the same, because why not? It feels right to open all the doors to her: be athletic, be artistic, be brave, be colourful. All I want for her is to have all the options (a phrase I've been saying a lot) and not limit her to only 'girl' things: being pretty, sitting still, and the colours pink, white and red (apparently, red is a girl colour. Who'd have thought it..)."

One of the most important aspects of the parenting style is being able to raise a child free of societal constraints - the way they dress is a small but valuable example. Although Dani is much more liberal with the term, the article I am writing focuses on her story, not how other parents raise their gender-neutral child. For Dani, it's not about the term, it's about raising your child to be free of constraints, to be who they want.

Although the article on Vice was written about gender-neutral parenting, Dani doesn't actually classify as being one of them. In reality, Dani doesn't really associate with the term because Mathilda is just raised to be label-free.

It’s about how you want to parent a child, not how you label their gender, and that's what makes this parenting style authentic.

So although Dani isn't a perfect example of gender-neutral parenting because it's actually not the method being used by their family, the sentiment of freedom is still there. The Vice article overall was phenomenal and for the first time, I felt like I actually understood the purpose and processes of raising a gender-neutral child, even if Dani wasn't actually meant to be the right example.

Most people are not going to be interested in having a gender-neutral child alongside me for various reasons, but just because you wouldn't practice it doesn't mean it should be abolished. For some people, this is the right option and their calling, so they deserve to follow their choices. If you don't agree with something or even if you are just ill-informed about a subject - like I was - you need to learn about it. Read books, watch videos, talk to people. Learn about it before you judge it and even if you gather as much knowledge as you can and you still don't agree, that's fine. You're entitled to your own opinion, just like everyone else is.

I don't plan on raising a gender-neutral child, but I respect people who do.

Cover Image Credit: Dani

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20 Rules Of A Southern Belle

It is more than just biscuits and grits.
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These unwritten rules separate the people that move to the South and were born and raised in the South. If you were born and raised in a small southern town, you either are a southern belle or hope you get to marry one. Their southern charm is hard to dislike and impossible to be taught.

1. Adults are to be answered with "Yes ma’am" and "Yes sir."

Whether it’s your parents, grandparents, or the person that checks you out at the grocery store, always say yes ma’am.

2. Always write a thank you note.

For any and everything. No gesture is too small.

3. Expect a gentleman to hold the door open and pull out your chair.

Chivalry is not dead; you just need to find the right guy.

4. All tea is sweet.

Below the Mason-Dixon Line, tea is made no other way.

5. Don’t be afraid to cook with butter.

I’ve never met a good cook that didn’t giggle a little.

6. “Coke” refers to all sodas.

Here in the south, this means all types of sodas.

7. Pearls go with anything — literally anything

And every southern belle is bound to have at least one good set.

8. "If it’s not moving, monogram it."

9. Pastels are always in fashion.

And they look good on almost everyone.

10. And so is Lilly Pulitzer.

11. Curls, curls and more curls.

The bigger the hair, the closer to Jesus.

12. If you are wearing sandals, your toenails should be done.

13. Never ever ever wear white shoes, pants, dresses, or purses after Labor Day or before Easter.

Brides are the only exception. Yes we actually do follow this rule.

14. Never leave the house without lipstick.

A little mascara and lipstick can work miracles.

15. Always wear white when you walk down the aisle.

Weddings are taken very seriously here in the South, and they should be nothing but traditional.

16. Southern weddings should always be big.

The more bridesmaids the better.

17. Saturdays in the fall are reserved for college football.

Whether you spend it tailgating in that college town or watching the big game from your living room. You can guarantee that all southerner’s eyes will be glued to the game.

18. Sunday is for Jesus and resting.

19. Learn how to take compliments curiously.

20. Have class, always.

Cover Image Credit: Daily Mail

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It's 2019, And I Can Confirm One Size Does Not Fit All, At All

I'll take feeling good over meeting your standards. Thank you.

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We live in a society where being yourself and expressing who you truly are is something that is becoming more and more accepted and is actually trendy. Left and right, people are coming forward and declaring who they are and want to be in life and there is a crowd of people there to cheer them on.

There is also always that small percent sitting in the corner, ready to throw derogatory comments and taint the self-love, respect, and acceptance that's flowing.

Every single time this happens, the internet breaks and feuds form in the comment sections. How many times does this fight have to be had before people just mind their own business? How someone looks is frankly none of your concern. Whether you think the person is too fat, too skinny, too girly, too rough, too whatever, it's none of your business.

I'm a firm believer that one should focus on their own life instead of living to tear others down. You should be more concerned with feeling good in your own body than wasting your energy trying to make people ashamed of theirs. It's not your place to comment on someone's appearance.

We should work on building up confidence and feeling good in our skin. Exercising, working on your mental health, and surrounding yourself with good energy will improve your life exponentially. DO NOT do this to achieve an aesthetic or try to look like an Instagram model. Only do it to feel good about yourself internally. What you look like on the outside should only matter to you.

I would be lying if I said I didn't fall victim to countless beautiful women who post their swimsuit photos looking like they stepped out of Vogue magazine. I would be lying if I said I didn't struggle with my own body image and have to remind myself daily that it's okay to not fit their mold. I won't lie to you. We live in a world that feels the need to comment on every inch of our skin rather than focus on more important issues. Shut off the noise and ignore the words that are given in hate. You have better things to do than focus on their negativity.

Make your own mold.

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