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Your son plays with…girls. February 20, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, feminism, gifted, older son, societal commentary, younger son.
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We had parent teacher conferences recently.  While they overall went fairly well, there was one part of the discussion that bothered me.  The teacher seemed concerned that the younger son spent more time playing with girls than boys.

I think that what gets me about this is that I’ve heard it almost every year that either one of my kids has been in school.  Every time I hear it, I have the same reaction: “So?”

I can’t remember where I came across this bit of info, because I first found it when the older boy was in elementary school.  It turns out that kids that are gifted are more likely to be androgynous and make an effort to actively choose their interests rather than following prescribed “gender-appropriate” behaviors.

This was a huge relief for me for many reasons.  First, my sons have had interests in things like barrettes and finger nail polish, Dora, My Little Pony, etc.  I assumed it was normal curiosity that most kids had, but maybe not.  However, I’ve made an effort not to impose gender stereotypes on them unnecessarily.  I’ve also noticed that there’s a lot more rough and tumble and even some bullying that goes on with boys.  My boys aren’t into that, so it seems obvious that they would be more interested in playing with girls.

Second, it was a personal relief.  I work in a couple of fields that are mostly male, and when I feel comfortable with it, I can be rather confrontational and direct.  I was more interested in Legos than Barbies, and in school, I liked math and physics.  It’s nice to know that I’m not “weird” for a woman…even though I am apparently different.

If I ever needed proof that there are some aspects of gender that are socially prescribed, I’ve gotten it over and over in this one question.  I’m sure my parents got the opposite – your daughters are tomboys.  What surprises me about this is that people really get so worked up about it.  Why aren’t they surprised when girls and boys don’t want to play together?

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Comments»

1. Luke Holzmann - February 21, 2012

Yep. I related much more easily with the girls in high school than the boys. I also get rather frustrated whenever there is a “girls against boys” grouping for an event. Why institute a clash between the genders? Why not, rather, encourage us all to understand our differences and work together in our strengths? Isn’t that a high priority in the politically correct climate of public schools? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Perhaps it’s the “differences” thing that people are trying to avoid… but why focus on it by grouping that way, then?

[sigh]

~Luke

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2. Rebecca - February 21, 2012

I have a similar experience with two out three of my children. My middle one, a girl, is most definitely a tomboy and at 12 is still best friends with 3 boys and no girls. She would not wear a skirt after the age of 5 and I gave up even trying to convince her to wear any girls’ clothes at all a long time ago. She’s never played with dolls, always preferred lego, and maths is her best subject. When she recently started at high school she was prepared for different PE from the boys but freaked out when they were split for design technology too! My youngest, a boy, plays with mostly girls and always has done. He’s not interested in boyish things like trucks and diggers the way my eldest was, much preferring animal figures, playmobil and Zhu Zhu hamsters.

Teachers have mentioned it in passing to me, but not really made a big deal of it with either of them. Some other parents have not actively pursued some of my daughter’s friendships with boys, and I guess the friends she has now are the ones with parents who just accepted it. I wonder sometimes what the future will bring in terms of friendships for both of them…

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3. Darleen Saunders - February 21, 2012

And we think school is so important for socialization. I say it ruins it. And while we’re on the subject, why do we still group by age? There is no studies that indicate this is necessary or even advantageous.

My daughter preferred to play with boys in preschool and the teachers thought she was developmentally delayed because of it and recommended I hold her back. Independent testing for school readiness indicated she was in the high gifted range and they recommend acceleration. Go figure.

She’s seventeen now, has friends of both genders and is attending university a year early. I’m glad I trusted my own instincts.

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4. vicki - February 21, 2012

isn’t this what we want? to make our children happy with who they are and encourage them to understand each other? who decided that we have to play with others of our own sex anyway?

when boys and girls play together they will learn to treat each other as equals when they are adults. i’m betting that will make for a much better world for all of us… 🙂

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5. I am a feminist because I have sons | FCIWYPSC - August 25, 2013

[…] rigid in it’s ‘enforcement’.  I’ve had teachers complain because both of my sons played with girls.  I’ve lived in fear that my kids will get picked on because they like nail polish or My […]

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