Weathering the "Storm": Genderless Parenting
I'm sure by now you've read or heard about the Canadian couple who are not revealing the gender of their child, Storm, to friends, family, or the general public. The reasoning they've given is that they don't want their child to be forced to conform to gender stereotypes and they want for Storm to choose his or her own path. The couple's two older children, both boys, reportedly turn heads for the long braids in their hair and for choosing to wear pink dresses in public.
Before I launch into my thoughts on this "genderless parenting" idea, I want to say that I am rather socially liberal. I respect the right of parents to raise their child however they see fit - no matter how extreme the circumstances. Unless a child is being set up for physical or emotional harm, then I'm all about a parent's rights to raise their child in any sort of alternative manner.
So, I suppose you could say that I support these parents in their choice to raise their child in a gender-free world.
And I do.
Except, I think they're crazy.
Now I know they've come under lots of criticism in the past few days. I am not writing this with the intent of criticism, but simply to share my thoughts.
I've been reading the book "Nurture Shock" by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman and in chapter three the authors detail how children as young as 6 months of age study the faces of people who are not of the same race as their parents more closely and for longer periods of time, in an attempt to distinguish themselves and figure out where they fit. Knowing this, it seems that Storm's parents are going against an idea that is essentially built into his or her DNA - the need to belong and to "classify" oneself.
No matter if we like it or not our children spend their earliest years trying to fit in--an idea that follows them into the pre-teen and teen years, and whether we care to admit it or not--follows us into adulthood. An identity, a way of belonging, those things are vital to our mental health and well-being and, while I'm certainly not a psychologist (or, frankly, any sort of expert) I'm sure that these things will likely affect Storm in a negative way.
But, for kicks and giggles, let's say that it doesn't. Let's say that this idea of genderless parenting goes over swimmingly for Storm, and he or she fully embraces it and all that it entails.
What about all of this hoopla? What about all of the press? Can poor Storm live a normal life where he or she isn't always pegged as the kid whose parents decided not to tell anyone whether he or she is a he or she for however long they are able to keep this up? In my opinion any good that can possibly be done by this idea is erased by the inability to execute it in a world that is ready to accept it instead of gawk over it. Sorry folks, but we don't live in a bubble.
And neither does Storm, bless his (or her) little heart.
What do you think of Storm's parents' decision? Have you ever made a decision that you felt was in the best interest of your child that others rallied against? Do you feel that Storm is being set up for an emotional rollercoaster (and thousands of dollars of therapy?)? Let us know in the comments.