Dear Parents, Let’s Talk About Kids and Gender Roles
Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer is raising a happy and joyful son without following rigid gender roles or rules. And she wants you to understand why.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope you will read it in the spirit that it is written, with compassion and great care not to offend, but to connect as parents and have a positive impact on our world. I know that you are a wonderful parent and that you love your child as much as I love mine. We try to raise our kids to be good people and hope that they will be happy and successful in life.
Because of that, I would like to make one request. If your son or daughter happens to notice that my son Jackson (or any other boy) likes to have his nails painted, loves the color pink, and thinks princesses are pretty neat, or notices girls who like “boy things”, please teach them not to say mean things to him. Although he may like things that we’ve been told by media and society “aren’t for boys”, please let your child know that he’s still a valuable human being and deserving of respect and compassion. They may not like those things or, like that, he likes those things, but please teach them that calling him names or laughing at him really hurts his feelings and makes them a bully. There are some severe power struggles among kids in schools and I know that they may feel under pressure from their peers to pick on the kid who is “different” or perceived to be “weak” so that they won’t themselves experience that fate. My hope is that you will instill in them a sense of respect, tolerance, and acceptance of others. If you’d be so inclined to go the extra mile and teach them to step in and call out bullies when they’re picking on kids who may be a little different, that would be awesome.
I have raised my son without rigid gender roles or rules. I introduced him to all the colors in the rainbow and more, not just blue, from the time he was a baby. I bought him a variety of toys from the beginning including “boys toys” and “girls toys” because each had lessons that I wanted him to learn like to be adventurous and nurturing. Since the time he has been able to…