The futility of gender-neutral parenting
In steadfast pursuit of gender equality and to promote nonconformity, it’s become popular in some social circles to start early, very early, by raising young children in a gender-neutral way: not revealing the baby’s sex at birth, dressing them and their bedroom in various shades of oatmeal, encouraging them to play with gender-neutral toys. There’s also pressure on corporations to help; parental complaints led Target to stop sex-segregating its toys, for instance.
Offering kids the opportunity to pursue what they’d like, freed from societal expectations, is an undeniably positive thing — whether it has to do with toys, clothing, or their future aspirations. But the scientific reality is that it’s futile to treat children as blank slates with no predetermined characteristics. Biology matters.
A large and long-standing body of research literature shows that toy preferences, for example, are innate, not socially constructed or shaped by parental feedback.
Most girls will gravitate toward socially interesting toys, like dolls, that help social and verbal abilities develop. Most boys will gravitate toward toys that are mechanically interesting, like cars and trucks, fostering visuo-spatial skills. …
I hear from many well-meaning parents who raised their children in gender-neutral homes and were surprised to find that they nevertheless gravitated toward stereotypical interests and toys. Little boys who were given pots and pans to play with turned them into makeshift toy cars, complete with self-generated engine sounds. Little girls turned to one another and started playing house.