Save. Spend. Splurge.

Raising Little Bun without Gendered Social Norms

I have experienced a lot of this ever since I had Little Bun, but just to be sure that we are on the same page, gendered social norms are things like this I have heard from various people – acquaintances, other parents, my own parents, etc:

  • Little boys can’t have tiny home kitchens or bake because that’s for girls but yet, a mini BBQ grill is okay for a boy because men grill but women cook and bake in the kitchen, yet PROFESSIONALLY, most chefs are men, not women as it’s such a boy’s club that actively tries to keep women out
  • Little boys cannot like pink – His favourite colour is magenta but I know it’s because my favourite colour is magenta and he’s very Mommy-centric at this age
  • Little boys shouldn’t wear yellow, ducks, flowers, little puppies, or anything feminine – His favourite socks were little puppies, and he wore lots of little yellow duck clothing and blue flowered items
  • Little boys should play with boy-centric toys like tools
  • Little boys can’t wear dresses or girly items – I once dressed him up in full on faux fur stoles and jewellery and he loves his pink shoes, as well as anything pink (I gave him a magenta pink sweater and he is in love with it)
  • Little boys should not like unicorns, rainbows or flowers, that’s for girls – He LOVES drawing rainbows, flowers, hearts, and flowers. It’s his favourite motif at the moment….

The latest one?

Little Bun is not being boy-ish enough by playing in my closet with me and upcycling.


My mother can’t help it – she grew up two generations ago when little boys and girls were socialized into those roles, and she STILL thinks it’s uncomfortable to let boys wear pink, flowers, enjoy unicorns, rainbows, etc.


She is who she is, and she is finding it very difficult in this world where we are far more open about .. EVERYTHING and fluid in that sense.

But if she is even remotely sexist, racist, etc.. my siblings and I absolutely call her out on it and she clams up. We refuse to let her continue without being challenged on these things.

Moving on…

My mother expressed a discomfort at Little Bun playing with jewellery in my closet and upcycling with me.

He finds it to be fun because it’s like an art project, and I see ZERO PROBLEMS with him enjoying jewellery as a boy, or whatever he wants to enjoy even if it isn’t jewellery but fashion instead, but she writes to him:

It’s surprising a little boy loves jewellery, your Mommy should give you more little boy toys.

I don’t think I want him to read that, but then I reconsider and wonder if he SHOULD read it, and then for me to explain to him how it’s okay to be different and to reply back to her in his own words about why he enjoys upcycling so much.

I do not want him to ever feel like he can’t like something because of his gender. That’s nonsense.

It’s ridiculous, the way that a little girl might feel like she cannot love math or science because she’s a girl.

We refuse to put that attitude on our son however. He is allowed to enjoy and like what he wants, and he just has to learn how to deal with people who are uncomfortable with it, maybe this is his first brush with this.

I once asked Little Bun why he loved my closet and playing with jewellery with me, and he looked around and told me: It’s because the closet is beautiful in here, and I love jewellery.

My mother also thought he should absolutely not wear these hand-me-down clothes from a girl cousin because he would decide he would like boys instead of girls.

My response: And what would be wrong with that?

I have zero tolerance, even with my family because it is a GOOD thing to challenge them so that they don’t keep perpetuating these beliefs and grow in their mindset.

I have zero problems if he does turn out to enjoy being with boys instead of girls (love is love, period), and I also find it ridiculous that clothing can make children decide their sexual orientation early on.

If that’s the case, all the little boys in old photos in the past dressed up in lace, dresses and so on, should ALL be gay as well then right?

No, this is illogical and irrational that clothing can MAKE YOU be a certain way or person. You are the one who decides that, not your clothing. It’s just fabric.

My response back to my mother for this jewellery thing, was to let Little Bun write it and explain to his grandmother why he enjoys it so much. I do not want him to grow up with a complex about what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for a boy.



  • NZ Muse

    Sooo … Spud’s room is still pink, because he came so early, and then life has been crazy the 2 years since he was born. (This is the year! We have the new paint! The previous owners had a girly girl, obviously)

    He’s obsesed with all things vehicles, though. Those are literally the only things he will play with.

  • Maggie

    Both my son and his BFF picked a pink and a purple backpack for back to school last year. You know who was uncomfortable with it? Both their fathers! Such BS! You keep being an awesome parent!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Really! Well. I guess I should give my partner more props then, as he is the one who got our son his first pair of pink shoes which he adored and wore until they were too small. His next pair, which our son picked out by himself, were also a dark pink again.

  • Char

    Both of my boys played with ‘boyish’ toys like trucks and cars, and ‘girlish’ toys like dolls and play kitchens; my younger son wore pink, sparkly butterfly wings and played dress-up in my closet constantly! And you know what? They both grew up into outstanding young men, sensitive, thoughtful, and open-minded. Neither is gay, if that matters to anyone. I say, ignore the haters and let Baby Bun do his thing!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thank you for the encouragement. I am certainly working on avoiding the grumbles and ‘noise’ and letting him do his thing. Whatever it is. And I don’t even care if his sexual orientation is different so I am not sure why they think saying it would change, would stop me from letting him be who he is.

  • Tara

    I also noticed that you/your partner recently bought barbies/dolls for Little Bun and encouraged his play with them. Thought that was awesome!

  • Gail

    Being gay is not a choice or a “lifestyle”one elects because of pink or blue preference, trucks or jewelry; it is simply the way a person is by nature, and we all need to know and respect that just like weight and skin tone, people come in different varieties. And that, to me, is interesting and wonderful.
    I think it is every parent’s duty to expose all their kids to as wide a range of experiences, through play, especially, that will lead the child to who he/she is. The sooner the children know themselves, the more likely they will be at peace with this, provided there aren’t still idiots around who want to “train” them to be who they are not so they can fit into a mold and remove the fears these people have of anyone different from themselves.
    You are on such a good track with Little Bun; he is going to grow up to be a well-rounded, open-minded adult. That combined with his obvious brilliance, precocious sense of humor and lovingness make me say hurray for the world: Little Bun is here!

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I just hope that he won’t get too much of a lashback from the others at school. Already as a little toddler he was looked at askew because of his pink shoes for instance.. I mean, a TODDLER. I guess I am worrying about him being bullied. Thank you.

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