Parenting children

Parenting Children: Is Equality Always Fair?

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There is an emerging trend towards gender shattering: the so-called obliteration of gender roles, designed to put girls and boys on equal footing. The quest to raise a child unencumbered by society’s expectations exploded into public discussion with the birth of “Storm.”

Storm’s parents have declined to make their infant’s gender public knowledge: only the baby’s parents, siblings, and the doctor who delivered the baby know its gender. Instead, they hope their gesture is “a standup to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime."

At the Egalia preschool in Sweden, the pronouns he and she have been abolished. Instead, staff members use a neutral pronoun, or refer to the children as “friend.”

The preschool makes a special effort to ensure that no particular toy is seen as for boys or for girls. The Lego blocks, for example, were specifically placed next to the kitchen area to “make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.

In both instances, the assumption is that by giving children the “choice” to choose –whether that choice involves girls playing with Legos or boys wearing pink tutus, will allow a child to develop to his or her full potential.

Free from society’s preconceptions about how things should be, these children will usher in a world where boys and girls not only have equal opportunity, but are equal (read: the same) in every way.

But the issue here is not whether or not it’s healthy - or even possible - to raise a genderless child.

The real problem is that in an attempt to level the playing ground so that everything’s equal, proponents of genderless parenting are actually being unfair to their children.

Let’s think about it this way. When I go into a class and request special accommodations for a child with special needs, some teachers wonder if those accommodations are “fair” to the other children. They understand that the child needs those extra considerations in order to fulfill the basic things that are required of them in class.

And yet, they worry that the other children will think that those children have an unfair advantage. My answer is that being fair means providing the experiences and materials a child needs in order to succeed. If a child needs more than what’s being given, than to provide him with those accommodations is fair.

I give the same answer to my kids at the dinner table. “Why should he get the special yogurt, or a chicken leg instead of the fish sticks?” one of my children asks plaintively. I always answer that this is what he needs, so that’s what he gets.

The point is that it’s not always fair to give everyone the same thing, whether it’s a toy, a haircut, a meal, or an opportunity. Fair is giving your child what they need in order to reach their full potential. Some children need so much help that you’ll always find yourself on call. Others seem to magically putter along on their own, with little intervention needed.

Biologically, socially, and emotionally, we know that boys and girls are different. There’s nothing wrong about that, and everything good. If they are different than, then their needs are patently different. And giving them what they need in order to grow and develop? Well, that’s just what’s fair.

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