Bringing up boys

I read an interesting blog the other day and it got me thinking . . . mostly due to the comments that were received (including those on Facebook). June from "A Wise Woman Builds her Home" blog wrote about a news article where a mother of a young boy put pink nail polish on his toes. Junes question was "what did her readers think of this?". Not surprisingly, almost all said NO, many found this very disturbing, sad and angry at the mother. Reasons given included: causing confusion to the boy, the feminization of boys, leading homosexuality, blurring genders etc..

I thought about this all day and these are my views. I would be interested in yours. When my sons were little (aged around 2-5), they asked from time to time if they could wear my nail polish . . . I saw nothing wrong in putting it on their nails. It wasn't any different to when they tried on my high heeled shoes, carried my handbags around or wore my necklaces during dress-ups (as in the photo below).

None of these activities have in any way affect my sons, they are men, they are not confused about their gender and they don't plan to wear nail polish as adults. Kids don't see the world like adults - when they get play "dress-ups" they aren't confused about their sexuality . . . they are just having fun. Many boys, mine included would be wearing their mothers high heeled shoes one moment and then off to play in the dirt with their cars the next moment. I gave my sons my old barbie doll . . . they showed no "female" behaviour when playing with these dolls - Tristan pulled off her head and turned her into a gun much to my horror (he was around 5 years old) - BOYS WILL BE BOYS no matter what toys they are given. And I am sure this has been going on for years and years.
If we say no to boys wearing nail polish (or wearing mums high heel shoes) as it "could" cause confusion (or blur the gender roles) . . . then where do we draw the line. Can boys only do boys activities . . . does this exclude cook and clean and playing with their sisters toys? None of this is encouraging "neutral gender" at all, we need to look at this from a child's perspective not as an adult. We read far too much into these things . . and take away some of the fun of being a child. In the long term boys will be boys and girls with be girls! However I am no saying this is suitable for older boys, when they should be being "boys" but quite harmless when they are smaller having fun. Anyway once boys have reached a certain age they have moved on and usually outdoors kicking a ball around in the mud. I am sure some of you will completely disagree with me over this, but I thought it was a topic worth discussing.

PS my mum taught my brothers to knit - it had no affect on them at all - however they no longer knit. No idea why????
Boys knitting as part of the war effort


  1. My son has put my shoes on for fun before, and he plays with Dolly's toys sometimes (dolls, tea parties etc), but those games often don't last long before he's ready for his trucks or tools etc. I've also noticed when he does play with dolls etc he plays with them in a masculine way - not as tenderly as Dolly!!

    When I watch Dolly playing with her dolls and having tea parties etc, it makes me think that this is one of the ways little girls start learning how to care for a family etc (in training for when they are older)... and why should it be different for a boy? Boys don't grow up and go live in some exclusively male world - they grow up to have children and need to cook etc - does taking care of a child or cooking make him more feminine? No, of course not!! So why should playing with a doll occasionally when they are small be a problem??

    I would be rather disturbed if playing with "girly" things continued when he was older, but while young... it's really a NON-issue, in my opinon!!

    Oh, and I have been teaching Danny to knit and sew, he does some crafts etc... it's all part of creativity, learning skills and learning to do detailed tasks... Not some plan to feminise him!!

  2. I also read this blog post, and commented. I don't think the author was attacking parents who allow their sons to occasionally wear high heels or paint their fingernails. My son, when he was a toddler, liked to watch me paint his older sister's fingernails and ask me to do his too. I would paint his toenails. His sister dressed him in skirts and encouraged him to play with dolls. None of this has harmed him in any way, and he is as masculine as a young teenage boy can be.

    I think the blog author was worried that ads, such as the one she featured on her post, were completely unnecessary especially in this day and age when homosexuality is more and more acceptable to 'mainstream' society than it ever has been. I agree with her. Little boys wanting to copy mummy by wearing her high heels or try their big sister's lipstick is normal enough behaviour as they are growing and learning, but encouraging it or portraying it as a 'normal' choice in popular media can certainly be confusing to young boys and teenagers who may already be struggling with the concept of being a man (particularly if they are growing up in a fatherless home.)

  3. I agree mum-me that putting it into an ad is the problem and for that reason I never took photos of my sons wearing nail polish and shared it with the world.

    It's funny though, all thought the 1980s pop singers wore makeup( lots of it), but most were not gay (ok, Boy George was) but most weren't. No one really worried too much about this at all. We have experts today worried about all sorts of things that really are not worth getting worried about. I do wonder if this ad was run in Australia if people would really care too much.

    I was though very surprised by the many comments of shock horror that appear to be very extreme.

    Have a great week.

  4. Clara, boys do turn "girl" games into something quite different don't they. They think differently and that can be seem in the games they play. And they seem to be drawn back into "boy" activities no matter how many girly things we present to them. They are boys, just as girls have that nurturing aspect that boys don't have as much of.

  5. I don't have a son so can't comment from first hand experience but I would have to agree that while they are little I can't see it being an issue!

  6. Homosexuality is not *caused* by things like dressing up in mum's lippy, high heels & pearls & ear~rings. And think of all the biblical men who wore gold jewllery ~ enough of it to pretty much deck out the 1st temple! lol A well adjusted boy is going to leave that all behind as he matures, just as most girls gravitate towards clothes & make~up because the internal wiring is just different. A boy is not a girl ~ nothing like. We make a fuss about these things but God made it so that something has to go deeply & fundamentally wrong to change that. Neither my daughters nor I are *girly girls* ~ but we aren't men either. We don't think like men; we don't act like men; we don't understand men ~ & with 4 in this house we've had lots of practise. Nothing my boys ever did made them anything but manly blokes ~ & I could tell some hysterical tales...☺

  7. Um, sorry Jo, That was me ~ Ganeida. Signed in elsewhere & forgot I was.

  8. My husband was taught to cook and can cook better than me, in fact he taught me allot when we were first married.

    My husband wants to teach any boys we might have in the future how to cook.

  9. I think that boys and girls alike need life skills - that involves cooking, sewing, etc. In no way is a mother feminizing her son by teaching him to sew. Indeed - she is teaching him to be a responsible, self-sufficient human being that will not need to go to his wife every time he needs a button put back on.

    I know that when I was a little girl, I would play dress up with both my mother and my father's clothes. When they are that tiny, I don't think it's a big deal...

  10. Jo- I think men and boys need to recognize the feminine side of life as well. The things that we love - the things that we do. I love that there are men out there who love to knit! Some of my favorite "run around with" friends are guys-



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