Our family began to grow in the late 1970s, with the entrance of our first son. In spite of the fact it was the 70s, we were never confused about his gender. As he grew, so did his energy and capacity for mischief. Being our first, I really didn’t have anything to compare him to. He just seemed to be an energetic toddler. Neither one of us doubted that over time he would grow into a man.
Much to the boy’s dismay, over the course of his next sixteen years, the best we could offer him was five little sisters.
And so, Christopher Michael grew up in a land filled with baby dolls and pink bikes. With the each new announcement of family expansion, he asked–no, he begged and prayed for–a little brother.
At last in happened. Although he was well past longing for another boy to play trucks with, he was thrilled to finally have another boy in the house.
There was no confusion about the gender of this new addition to the family either, so we named him Tommy. Nature’s handiwork left us unmistakable clues that he too would grow into a man.
Tommy was born into the opposite end of a five sister run. He rode the hips of little mothers and wore their hand-me-down pink tights. Even though he was bathed in a house filled with estrogen, the boy carried himself with an unmistakable John Wayne swagger.
At 18-months old he whittled his first gun out of a cracker with baby teeth. Then, with the concentration of a warrior, he began shooting imaginary foes from his highchair. He saw footballs in lace patterns of his sisters dresses and was convinced I swallowed his “bouncy” ball. The evidence, he believed, was clearly hiding under my maternity top.
You might be thinking, “So what, these are observations countless mothers make–what is your point?” Simply that we live in an era where the obvious is questioned. Parents are told to ignore what we see. We can no longer assume a boy is a boy or a girl is a girl.
We are not to believe what we see is true. Biology is not truth, feelings are truth. Now that’s confusing!
As adults, we can dismiss certain influences. We are free to choose our religion, our education, and vocation. To a large extent, we can choose our peers and social circles. More often than not, children don’t have that kind of luxury. They are forced by law into a controlled environment, completely out of their control. To a child, the world is filled with unbelievable truths.
There is a fine line between fantasy and reality, feelings, and fact. Children don’t always know which side of reality they’re on. Sorting these things out takes time, maturity, and guidance. That’s part of the job description of a parent.
There are many voices offering confusing messages to children about what it means to be a boy or a girl. Let’s start with some age appropriate truth, for parents.
Every human begins life as female. It’s not until the mother’s ovaries bathe a growing baby with testosterone that the baby becomes a biological male. When this dramatic transformation takes place it changes the structure of the brain. Then once again at puberty, male hormones flood the brain and body. That’s when a very real physiological change occurs. Boys and girls do have very distinct character traits. We are different. That’s not only okay, it’s wonderful.
In spite of decades of encouraging boys to play with dolls and girls to play with trucks, boys are still boys. It has taken a long time for science to disprove what politically-tainted psychology has exalted to parents as truth. Boys are different than girls. They learn differently, they communicate and solve problems differently, they develop at a different rate.
This simple reality should be obvious. Now we have parents who are confused about their child’s gender just because a boy wants to play with a doll, or a little girl is rough-and-tumble.
It’s a sad irony when schools that take great pride in celebrating diversity still refuse to acknowledge the differences between male and female.
Are there children and adults who are confused about their gender? Increasingly so. Nevertheless, there is an unseen danger that we, as parents, need to understand.
When we sacrifice the most basic part of our own identity, that of being a girl or a boy, we lose the foundation of who we are as individuals. It is extremely important to help our children find their identity, but their gender is just a small part of who they are as a people.
What do we tell our children about a gender-confused world? The truth. That gender-confused children are just that–confused. Their feelings don’t change who they are–or their worth. All children are unique, irreplaceable, and have a purpose to fulfill in the world.
The push to neutralize the genders is an attack on an individual’s worth. To neutralize our children’s gender is to swaddle them in black and put an anonymous mask on them from birth.
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