September 12, 2016 Sarah 4Comment

“Can I be a Storm Trooper?”

“No.”

“How about a Power Ranger! With a gun??”

“Nope.”

“Darth Vader?”

“No.”

“All my friends can be those things. Why. Can’t. I.??”

My son has been dying to choose his Halloween costume since July. So earlier this week, with the first of the Halloween costumes sprouting in the stores, we went for our first go see. I told him he didn’t have to choose one today, but he was determined to walk out the door with his Halloween costume. So we started negotiations and as you read above, it didn’t start well.

It’s a good question he was asking. Why, when I allow his sister to pretend to be a princess or a ladybug or a superhero or a doctor, I have boundaries on his choices? I have friends who don’t allow their daughters to dress up as princesses, and I have friends who really discourage any type of princess toys because of the message it sends.

I’m not one of those parents. If my daughter wants to dress up like a princess, I’m okay with it. I don’t think the message is dangerous. I think for little girls, the draw of dressing up is the sparkles, the twirling skirts and the pretty accessories. They don’t connect the negative connotation of “princess,” like what adults do. Our issue with girls playing with princesses comes from our preconceived notions, not theirs. My daughter can still be strong, smart, kind and pretend to be a princess for Halloween…if she wants to.

However, my husband and I are much more controlling with our son’s toys and costumes. You will not see any toy guns or swords in our house. You will not see any toys with guns (if they come with one, they are promptly thrown away.) While I do allow superhero costumes, I don’t allow swords or guns or weapons as accessories to those costumes. I also don’t allow him to dress up in costume as a “bad guy, like Darth Vader.” Why? Because that message is loud and clear. Bad guys hurt people. Guns hurt people. Swords hurt people. And a six year old is not ready for the nuances, so we just don’t allow any of it. And some will say, boys will be boys, and it’s totally normal for them to play with guns and swords. Well, maybe that’s true because it seems that even if the toys don’t make their way into my house, when little boys get together, often “fighting” is the theme of the play. So I’m not going to condone it even more by creating more opportunities.

Maybe my son doesn’t think this is fair. Maybe he doesn’t understand why I don’t put these boundaries on my daughter’s play, but I do on his. But it’s because we’re trying to steer him in a certain direction. We want him to know that there is NOTHING funny about pretending to hurt or kill people. That is not a game. Never a game. Playing with princesses doesn’t send a dangerous message. Playing with guns does.

And in case you’re wondering, we settled on a fireman. He’s thrilled to carry the walkie talkie and fire extinguisher. Like I said, I’m all for superheroes.

Sarah's signature

photo credit: Halloween 2015 (15) via photopin (license)

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4 thoughts on “Yup, I’m a Sexist Parent. I Treat My Son Differently Than I Treat My Daughter.

  1. If it helps at all (and at his age it probably won’t) you can tell your son that when I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to have gun toys either. And I was a girl.

    1. Oh, and we didn’t do Halloween at all. So if he’s feeling like his life is the most restricted of any 6 year old on earth, you can tell him there are people who don’t even do the costumes and trick-or-treating thing at all.

      I’ve always wanted to go to a costume party though. :)

  2. I’m not actually sure that qualifies as treating them differently – since I assume the same rules apply to your daughter, just that her interests make them irrelevant. Now if you allowed her to play with guns but not him, that’s another story. I agree with your reasoning behind not allowing weapons or villains, there’re so many “positive” costume/toy options.

  3. I don’t even know were to start on the idiocy here, but hey your child right? We all have a right to teach our children ignorance.

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