6 Ways To Raise Your Kids Without The Gender Binary

Ad failed to load

One of the biggest thrills about pregnancy and childbirth is finding out if you are having a boy or a girl. For many parents, this is the time that they finally decide between crib sets with names such as "Floral Garden" or "Sports Balls In Blue." They are inundated with gifts of frilly pink dresses or onesies with appliquéd neck ties. But what if you're the kind of parent who doesn't want to put your baby in a "blue is for boys, pink is for girls" box. Is it possible to find ways to raise your kids without the gender binary?

I first heard the term "gender-neutral parenting" in college. I happened to be pregnant with my first child, and was reading an article in my psychology textbook about a child raised without gender. Frankly, I wasn't convinced that it was 100 percent healthy to avoid the concept of gender altogether. But, learning more about the concept of gender neutrality did push me to speak in less gender normative and gender binary terms around my kids.

The concept of gender-neutral parenting became more widespread and accepted once parents began to understood that raising a child without the gender binary didn't have to mean raising a gender-less child. In fact, U.S. News & World Report noted that there is no single definition of gender-neutral parenting. According to Everyday Feminism, gender-neutral parenting isn't about neutrality, at all. It is about being more diverse and removing limitations.

Ad failed to load

Here are some ways you can be a more gender-neutral parent.

Ad failed to load

1Don't Leave Any Toy Behind


There are many different degrees of gender-neutral parenting, according to Parents. It doesn't necessarily mean that girls and boys can't play with gender normative toys. What it means is that boys aren't limited to cars and trucks, and girls aren't limited to princesses and baby dolls.

Just yesterday, I was shopping for a birthday present in the toy department at Target when I overheard a conversation in the next aisle. It was a father talking to his young son, "I've already told you, those are girl's toys. They're not for you. They're not for boys. Let's go look at the trucks." As I made my way over to the aisle where they had been standing, I expected to see Barbie dolls, dress-up sets, or any number of "pink aisle" toys that some parents find completely inappropriate for their sons. Instead, I found the Melissa & Doug section replete with puzzles, sticker books, and wooden toys. It made me so sad that any toys, but these in particular, were considered "too feminine" for a 3-year-old boy.

2Don't Care About The Hair. . . Length


One of my biggest pet-peeves is hearing someone say that short hair is for boys and long hair is for girls. The length of a person's hair has nothing to do with his or her gender. If your son wants to grow out his hair or your daughter wants a pixie cut, it is simply an expression of style.

I remember being in a Catholic school where a boy's hair couldn't touch the top of his collar, but girls could hairspray their bangs six stories above their heads or they could cut it as short as they wanted. It made (and still makes) zero sense, especially with renderings of Jesus Christs' amazing locks in every room. Hair should not be gendered.

3Remove Gender From Jobs


Another way I brought gender-neutral parenting into my home was to remove gender from careers. They aren't firemen, policemen, or cleaning ladies — they are firefighters, police officers, and housekeepers. Kids should know that their career goals shouldn't be limited by who they are or how they identify. According to Our Everyday Life, using language that does not reinforce traditional gender roles can help eliminate gender binaries and ideas of gender appropriateness.

Ad failed to load

4Enroll Them In Extra-Curricular Activities


Take the gender out of sports and other extra-curricular activities. Don't pressure your kids to join certain activities or forbid them for signing up for things they are interested in. Where would we be if Ryan Gosling's dad had prevented him from joining a dance class when he was a kid, or if Danica Patrick's mom had told her race car driving was only for boys?

5Be Colorblind


According to Smithsonian Magazine, the 1918 trade publication Earnshaw's Infants' Department wrote:

In the 1920s, department stores such as Filene’s, Best & Co., Halle’s, and Marshall Field told parents to dress boys in pink. It wasn't until the 1940s that the colors switched to how we know them today. But even so, gender neutral clothing was the norm. By the 1980s, however, ultrasounds made it possible for parents to find out their child's gender and designers took advantage of this by creating gender-specific baby goods and the trend hasn't ceased.

If you want to raise your child without gender binary, teach them that colors have no gender.

6Instill The Idea That Chores Are For Everyone


Everyone in the household should take turn doing each of the chores. If Mom is the only one who ever does laundry and Dad is the only one who mows the lawn, the children may grow up believing that these are gender-specific chores. Teach each child how to do each chore so that when they grow up they are self-sufficient and well-rounded. Set a good example by sharing chores with your partner.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

12 Overnight Face Masks To Use To Wake Up Feeling Pampered AF

Spring is right around the corner, and as far as I'm concerned, the sunshine and warm breezes can't come soon enough. But now that we're about to say goodbye to winter, it's a good time to take stock of your facial skincare routine. You know, in the …
By Katie Malczyk

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger

Here's How Early An Ultrasound Can Actually Determine Your Baby's Sex

From the moment you see those two lines on a pregnancy test, there are a few markers along the way that stand out as especially exciting. Amongst them are hearing your baby's heartbeat and feeling that first, sweet little kick. And if you are finding…
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik