mynaturalfamily

Inspiring natural, happy, healthy families!

Tomorrow’s Child July 18, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 2:34 pm

I had the opportunity to watch a documentary film this last week about businesses that were working hard to increase their sustainability factor.  During the film, a poem was recited by Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface Inc., the world’s largest carpet tile manufacturer, and Glenn Thomas, an employee at Interface and the poem’s authorIt was incredibly touching to see two men who had never before cared what their industry was doing to the environment (so long as they made a profit and complied with the government regulations of creating and disposing of waste), become aware of the fact that this is the only world we’ve got, and if we destroy it, we are essentially destroying a child’s future.  Maybe not for our own children, or even for our grandchildren, but for the children that we will never have the opportunity to meet: what would life be like for them if our present generation doesn’t take care to protect our environment and find ways to renew our resources?

Tomorrow’s Child (by Glenn Thomas)
Without a name; an unseen face
and knowing not your time nor place
Tomorrow’s Child, though yet unborn,
I met you first last Tuesday morn.

A wise friend introduced us two,
and through his sobering point of view
I saw a day that you would see;
a day for you, but not for me

Knowing you has changed my thinking,
for I never had an inkling
That perhaps the things I do
might someday, somehow, threaten you

Tomorrow’s Child, my daughter-son
I’m afraid I’ve just begun
To think of you and of your good,
Though always having known I should.

Begin I will to weigh the cost
of what I squander; what is lost
If ever I forget that you
will someday come to live here too.

 

Cloth diapering is certainly one way to ensure there’s a clean earth left for our children’s children’s children, but what other ways do you care for tomorrow’s child?  What are the little things you and your family do each day to reduce waste, recycle materials and reuse goods?

 

Moms make milk…what’s your superpower? April 30, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 11:35 am

I just don’t get it.  How on earth do people get offended by the act of breastfeeding in public?  I was at a coffee shop the other day and, while waiting in line for a latte I knew I didn’t really need, saw a woman lift her baby out of his stroller and swiftly onto her breast.  She didn’t have a cover, but honestly, it seemed like the nipple never even made an appearance!   This lady was a boob-ninja.  While I was ogling her adorable baby, I saw an older woman approach the young mom, and hiss in her face audibly enough so that everyone in the vicinity could be sure to hear: “You need to do that at HOME!”  Are you KIDDING me?!  My back immediately straightened and I stopped breathing (I guess when it comes to “fight or flight”, I choose “freeze”), certain I was about to bear witness to a hormone-induced, coffee-singling brawl.  But this mother was not only a ninja, she was a saint.  She just smiled at the opinionated woman and shrugged her shoulders, as if to say, “I’m doing my thing and if it bothers you…tough.”

As I left Starbucks, I was still wondering what one could find so offensive about breastfeeding?  It’s a beautiful part of a woman’s body that, when given the opportunity, can create the only food a baby needs to survive!  Sadly, this woman isn’t alone in her thinking.  Recently, a photo of model Miranda Kerr breastfeeding her baby behind the scenes of a photo shoot (click here to see the article) led people to write comments such as this:

People should NOT breastfeed in public. Like it or not, breasts are sexualized. That’s the way it is and you’re not going to change it. You may think it’s “empowering” to flop your breasts out in public, but so do porn stars. We, as humans, wear clothes for a reason; our bodies are sexualized. If you don’t like it and don’t agree, go flop your milk bags around in a nudist colony, cause I most certainly don’t want to see it.

– Lyrra, US, 29/4/2011 9:28

This woman is far more vulgar than the act she’s talking about.  To me there is a HUGE difference between baring your breasts while performing a sexual act in public (no thank you) and baring your breasts to feed and bond with your child in public (yes please).  Add to that the proven emotional, developmental and health benefits of breastfeeding, both for baby and mom, and it’s easy to see that breastfeeding is not a sexualized act.  It’s as natural as breathing and about as vulgar as a naked baby tush.

What’s your take on public breastfeeding?  Are you okay with it as long as women wear a nursing cover, or do you think it’s unfortunate that a woman should even feel like she has to cover up?  Or are you one who feels like it shouldn’t be done in public?

 

Where my “Wearers” at? April 13, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 2:39 pm

I fall more in love with the idea of baby-wearing every day, despite the fact that my husband gets a repulsed look on his face every time I mention the word “baby-wearing.”   It’s not that he doesn’t agree with the benefits of it, but for him the term conjures up an image of literally wearing small children like an article of clothing (“Do you like it?” “I love it!” “I got it from my womb!”).  For him, I say “hands-free baby-carrying,” and he seems to like the idea of doing it with our future babies a bit more.

Semantics aside, it’s easy to see why the idea of baby-wearing was embraced by our current parenting culture.  We certainly didn’t come up with the idea…mothers in Africa have been wearing their babies for centuries…but it’s hard to argue against a brilliant idea when you see it.  Want to be able to use both hands to more efficiently get errands, chores and work done all while maintaining constant contact with your growing baby?  Yes please!

There are some who believe that holding a baby too much will spoil them, cause them to become dependent and clingy and keep them from learning to self-soothe.  I’m not really in that camp as I see a difference between a four-year-old’s temper tantrum and an infant’s cry: one is because they’re not getting what they want, the other is because they’re not getting what they need.  A baby does not yet understand the concept of manipulation and if they begin to cry when there is a lack of skin-to-skin contact with mom and dad, I believe there’s something instinctual going on there.

The cognitive and developmental benefits of wearing your baby have been proven by medical studies:  babies who were worn an average of three hours longer than a control group (who either didn’t wear their babies or didn’t wear them much throughout the day) cried 43% less than the those who were carried less.  It’s hard to gauge the concrete accuracy of statistics, but every one I know who wear their babies have children who don’t cry very often.  Their baby’s need for contact is consistently met, which I believe creates the opposite of a “clingy” child; because those needs are met in infancy, they aren’t trying to fill a void later in life and become comfortable soothing themselves when it becomes developmentally appropriate.

Other benefits include faster socialization skills, as they can see more of their world and interact with adults more consistently (you don’t learn much about other people when you’re staring at the cover of a stroller all day), greater cognitive development (when you spend less time crying you get to spend more time learning) and better regulation of their internal systems (some doctors argue gestation is actually 18 months: 9 in the womb, 9 outside the womb.  Your body still regulates your baby’s after they’re born!).  Benefits to parents are that they don’t have to spend the better part of their day opening and closing a cumbersome stroller.

Don’t get me wrong: register for that jogging stroller and get a car seat that detaches so if baby falls asleep in the car you can take him out without waking him up.  It’s nice to keep your options open for different situations you’ll encounter.  But when you can, as often as you can, hold your babies close: there will come a time where they won’t want to be held any more, and it’ll come sooner than you’d like.  And I promise you won’t spoil them 🙂

 

A First Time for Everything April 6, 2011

Filed under: Fluff Stuff & All Things Cloth,Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 12:37 pm

The re-diaper sale was such a hoot!  It was so much fun to see all these parents care so much about what goes on their baby’s skin (natural materials) and what ends up in landfills (not their diapers), and save all kinds of money!  I especially enjoyed seeing new moms bring their moms to the event.  I saw a lot of jaws dropping that day as women who cloth diapered years ago saw what cloth diapering had become over the last couple decades.  Fuzzi Bunz got this whole modern cloth diaper movement started back in 1990 and there’s been no turning back since, and older moms were so amazed and impressed by the ease and accessibility that defined these newer styles. 

Wait, 1990 was two decades ago?!  How did that happen?  Now I feel old.

Anyway, moving on.  You know what else made my heart skip a beat this weekend at the sale?  Seeing all the couples.  So many parents shopping and planning for their baby, some with their first on the way, some with an entire brood waiting for them at home.  They all seemed so at ease and comfortable with each other.  Yes, we were busy and crowded and people had to wait in long lines, but all this love and excitement of welcoming a new little person into the world was shining through the congestion. 

I started thinking about how them being here all started with a first date.  There was the first glance, perhaps one that took their breath away immediately.  Or maybe there were years of friendship before the recognition that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together gradually crept upon them.  There was a first time one of them mustered up the courage to call the other, a first time they held each other’s hands, a first kiss.  After all those first times, there was the one and only time one asked the other if they would marry them.

It’s probably because it’s the time of the month where I’m wearing my Fuzzi Bunz mama cloth, but I got a little choked up thinking about how great it is to be in love.  In love with your husband.  In love with your wife.  In love with your child.  I started thinking about how even though there’s so much darkness in our world, people still fall in love enough to want to bring a child into it.  Not just because “they want to have a baby” or because their biological clock is ticking, but because they realize that love doesn’t divide, it multiplies.  The children who are shown unconditional love and support from their parents grow up to become adults that show unconditional love and support to others.  That’s something our world could use a little bit more of, I’d say. 

So yeah, I got all this from participating in a diaper consignment sale.  What can I say?  There must be a lot of love in cloth diaper stores…:)

 

Choosing to Parent March 16, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 1:39 pm

This is something very near and dear to my heart: the choice to parent.  “The choice to parent“? you may ask.  You mean “choosing to become a parent, right?”  Well, not exactly.  Yes, you choose to become a parent (or not…sometimes it more or less happens to you without your choosing.  I’m a firm believer, however, that those little surprises can be life’s most amazing blessings!).  But more important is how you choose to parent your children.  How you choose to guide them, teach them, and raise them into adulthood.  A parent I very much admired told me they always thought about how they’d like their children to act when they are 21; that thought is what encouraged and guided them to make the parenting choices that they did.

Through my work with children and their families, I’ve seen so  many variations of the way people choose to parent their children: Authoritarian Styles, Authoritative(Democratic) Styles, Permissive Styles and Neglectful Styles.  These are terms used in pyschology, but you don’t have to be a psychologist to recognize that neglectful styles of parenting are probably not going to  be the best choices.  They range from never attending your child’s softball games to forms of abuse, mainly not providing a child with adequate food, safety, or nurturance to the point where they fail to mature or develop appropriately.  But what about these other “styles”?  Here’s a brief overview of what each typifies:

Authoritarian:

  • The parent is highly demanding, but not responsive
  • Attempts to control to an absolute standard.
  • Values obedience and does not encourage give and take.
  • Emphasizes strict family rules and is often referred to as military style parenting
  • Authoritarian parents attempt to exert complete and total control over their families.
  • They can be restrictive and rigid, demanding absolute obedience, often in a ‘do as I say not as I do’ style of parenting.
  • Punishment is often harsh and punitive.

Authoritative (Democratic):

  • The authoritative parent encourages independence, originality, open communication, and listens to the child’s point of view as well as expressing his or her own, while at the same time maintaining a fairly high level of expectation from the child in terms of conduct and responsibilities.
  • The authoritative parent believes in developing close, loving and nurturing relationships with their children, giving them clear, firm and consistent guidleines.
  • Open communication encourages verbal give-and-take.
  • Authoritative parents encourage their children’s independence, individuality and creativity by being highly responsive toward the children and expecting a degree of responsiveness in return. In terms of demands, age appropriate behavior is expected, along with clear standards and boundaries which are firmly set.
  • Because children are encouraged to think for themselves, a high level of autonomy is achieved for the child. This is placed right alongside a balanced and disciplined conformity which is of equal value.
  • Children of authoritative parenting style grow up experiencing safe boundaries, against which they are also encouraged to push and question in a mutually respectful environment.
  • Authoritative parents exert firm control but do not hem the child in with restrictions. These children become socially responsible, able to control aggression, self-confident, and high in self-esteem. By encouraging independence, the child learns a high awareness of social responsibility through openly discussing how their actions will affect other people.
  • Authoritative parents want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated and motivated as well as cooperative.

Permissive:

  • The parent is responsive but undemanding
  • Is accepting and affirmative of the child but makes few demands for responsibility or conduct.
  • The permissive parent tends to take a tolerant, accepting attitude toward the child’s wants and impulses, including sexual and aggressive impulses.
  • Permissive parents have trouble saying no and setting boundaries and guidelines for their children.  They tend to be lenient and to avoid asserting authority, or imposing controls or restrictions, or indeed, any confrontation wherever possible.
  • Few demands are made for mature behaviour, like displaying table manners, or sharing responsibilities around the home. There are very few rules governing the child such as for bedtimes, homework schedules, mealtimes, or TV watching.
  • Permissively raised children are generally allowed to control their own behavior and to make their own decisions.
  • Inconsistent discipline creates problems around lack of responsibility, motivation and self control become more apparent.

I will say I tend to lean more towards the authoritative/democratic side of the spectrum, while recognizing just how challenging this is.   To follow authoritative parenting 100% of the time with no occasional slips of acting out of anger (yelling when I didn’t really need to) or giving in (letting them have the dang toy even though I said no) would make me perfect.  And that is something I am certainly not nor will I ever be.  In those situations I pray I have the strength to recognize when I’ve made a mistake, apologize to my child and forgive myself.  All I can do is hope that my core values of loving my child regardless of who they become or what they choose, being available for them, providing unconditional support, and always giving them what they need, not necessarily what they want will help me to give a loving, empathetic and responsible adult to the world.

For another perspective on parenting, Bo Bryson (someone far more experienced in parenting than myself) offered to share his and his wife’s thoughts on their choice to parent:

At the most basic level of our parenting, Jen and I have defined our principles as:

  1. Proximity – The state, quality, sense, or fact of being near or next; closeness. Proximity is being close in person but also in heart reality (mind, body, spirit) – being there for our children when we are with them no matter at home or other place; letting them know we are close and not allowing our mind to  wonder to work, hobbies, etc…
  2. Availability – Present and ready for use; accessible, capable of being gotten. Being available means being able to be contacted by your kids – being available means many times being at home but also when unable, making sure they know you are available. I also think this means being available even if we have something we think is ‘of more importance’
  3. Responsiveness – Answering or responding; readily responding to influences. Being responsive means to not be dull nor deaf – being responsive means to listen and act – being responsive means to not neglect a kid’s call for attention- being responsive is to guard your children’s heart
  4. Sensitivity – The ability to respond to stimuli; the degree of response. Being sensitive is being aware of your child’s needs – being sensitive is knowing when to say yes and when to say no – being sensitive is being aware of when to step in and when to back off – being sensitive is helping our children be ok with who they are. But as a Father, being sensitive meant to me to be engaged and ‘attached’ from the start of the pregnancy, not waiting until the toddler years to enjoy my child.

These are the four foundational principles we have adopted. I would not be truthful if I were to tell you that we do not adhere to more of the attachment theory of parenting. This does not mean this theory is correct or the best for each family because we have close friends who use a more – well, what would be termed ‘a scheduled model/theory’ and it works well for them.  And we have yet other friends who use a combo. And you know what – they all work for the families that use them.  Again, what is the underlying principle of the formula being used?  If the principles are broken, the formula may also be broken.  However, since  we gravitate toward the attachment theory, I will mention what Dr. Sears terms, “The 7 B’s of Attachment.”  They are:  (1) Bonding at Birth (2) Breastfeeding (3) Baby wearing (4) Bedding close to baby (not necessarily in same bed) (5) Belief in value of responding to baby’s cry (6) Beware of baby trainers (meaning all advice is not good advice) (7) Balance for parents and children.

These 7 B’s are not a set of rules but rather an approach that incorporates the four foundational principles I listed above. I have had a parent ask me, ‘What if I do not use all 7 B’s, does that mean I am not attached to my children?’ My answer is of course not! Maybe one of them does not fit with a foundational principle you have or maybe one of the seven is unable to be done for physical, mental or emotional reasons.

Once foundational principles are identified…a point to consider (if not the starting point) is: what is the ultimate goal of parenting? And as with anything in life, if you know the goal or a desired destination the journey seems less confusing and many times more enjoyable. For Jen and I, the ultimate goal of parenting is two-fold: (1) Realize we are raising adults not children (2) Realize we are stewards of a precious soul that God has blessed us with. Now let me expound on this.  As a mentor told me, you reap what you sow. Therefore, we want to sow seeds of  love in our children’s lives that in return will reap a harvest in their adult years.  I recognize that one of the potential hazards, if you will, of attachment parenting/theory, is that the child becomes the center of the universe. While at some level, this has to be the case when they are small. We desire our children to know that the world not does revolve around them. Simply, that it is ‘not all about me.’ Herein lies the balance of parenting; we so much want/desire our children to know, recognize and feel loved but once this love is recognized, not to assume it is just for them. This love they know then needs to be poured out to other family members, friends and others they touch in their life. You see, it is one thing to know you are loved but it is quite another to be able to give that love away.

There are many more wonderful points Bo raised, and those will be included in his next newsletter if you’d like to read more(http://www.trinitychiro.com/treatment/children.htm).  There are so many ideas, theories, styles, and beliefs about how to raise children that there could be a never-ending list.  It’s important to remember that you’ll grow and change as a parent as much as your children will grow and change as people.  When it comes to parenting, be willing to listen to your heart, pay attention to your child, and be prepared to learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible.

 

Technological Advantages…or Disadvantages? March 7, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 12:54 pm

I’m a little concerned about the direction that children’s toys are headed.  Call me old-fashioned, but I seem to recall a time when kids needed to use their imaginations to create something: a castle out of blocks, an airport out of wooden airplanes and Lego’s, a gourmet meal out of plastic food and cookware.  I remember inevitably getting more joy out of building forts with the boxes that my gifts came in than playing with the actual gifts (unless that gift was rollerblades. Best. Christmas. Ever.)  Sure there are still toys like this out on the market, but statistics show that parents are buying fewer stuffed animals and wooden train sets each year and opting for things like this instead:   I’m sorry, but what the heck is this thing and what does it do to benefit our kids?  I’m amazed at the amount and complexity of  high-tech toys that consume the shelves at stores, and the number of laptops that are marketed towards four-year-olds.  While searching for a gift for my niece, I came across a Barbie Video Girl Doll with a description that read,

“With a real, working video camera in her necklace, this Barbie’s a total star (and can make your little doll a star, too!).  She has a video screen in her back and a battery in each thigh—and she’s still skinny as a stick!”

If people were capable of spontaneously combusting from repulsion, I would have.  There are so many things wrong with this particular toy that it’s hard to fit my disgust into one little blog post.  I’m personally against Barbie Dolls period, nevermind the fact that now they’ve gone and reinforced the belief that girls need to be “skinny as a stick” AND made it easier for creepers to record little girls on video.  Barf.

But I digress.  There are of course great toys to come out of technological advances.  The educational aspects of things like Leap Frog and V-Readers don’t seem like such a bad thing; they make learning to read fun for little ones, and who can argue with the awesomeness of that?  But there is too much of a good thing, and I’ve seen it: kids who play with electronic gadgets and games all day, and are therefore rarely required to use their imaginations.  Last time I checked, being active, creative and imaginative are the fundamental building blocks of being a healthy kid, and eventually a fully functioning adult.  These toys, with their flashing lights and pictures, encourage kids to get more excited about “things” than other people.  Kids start to relate to their toys more than their playmates, and to me, that is an incredibly dangerous scenario.  And the instant gratification that these toys provide interferes with a child’s ability to develop patience.  My personal theory is that these instantly-gratifying, hyper-busy high-tech toys introduced at an early age contribute to the development of disorders like ADHD…but I am certainly not a child development specialist nor have I conducted research that satisfies this claim.  I’m just going off my own observations and experiences.  I guess the key is moderation.  A video game or playing with that space-ship-whatever-it-is-cat-thing every now and then can be great fun for a child, but just make sure they get outside and use their imagination on a regular (ie, daily) basis.

What do you do with your kids, or encourage them to play with, that fosters their imagination, creativity, and social growth?

 

Girls Are Made With Sugar and Spice and Everything Gender-Stereotypically Ingrained in Them at Birth February 2, 2011

Filed under: Raising Little People — My Natural Family @ 8:37 pm

I got to take part in some really interesting discussions the other day in my Interpersonal Relations class.  A mother of a young boy exclaimed, and adamantly so, that her boy wasn’t allowed to sit on his cousin’s swing because it was pink, and if he was caught playing dolls or having a tea party with her, he got punished.  I thought it was a bit extreme, but was genuinely curious about what prompted her to be so convinced that a little pink in her boy’s life was such a bad thing, so I asked.

“Because I don’t want to raise my boy to be gay.”

Our teacher chimed in, “I hate to break it to you, but you could dress your boy in a sparkly tutu or soldier camo and it wouldn’t affect his sexuality.”

“Well, maybe,” she retorted.  “But if he plays with stuff like that it might make him a sissy, and he’ll have a hard time succeeding in life because people think men like that are weak.”

“Men like what?” I asked. “Who enjoy the color pink?”

“Not just that, but men who act like girls.  Who talk about their feelings and cry and other ‘girly’ things.”

“What if your girl wanted to wear all blue and play sports with neighborhood boys?  Would that be as upsetting to you?”

“I don’t have any girls, thank God, but if I did that wouldn’t matter to me.  It’s ‘whatever’ if your girl is a tomboy…I’d actually prefer that because she’d probably get a lot further in the career world…but if your boy goes around playing with girls and liking dolls you get worried.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks that what this girl was saying sounded ridiculous initially, but after some pondering I realized she was sadly accurate.  Despite all our advances and triumphs as a society, we still equate success with labels attributed being “male”–ie “tough,” “competitive,” “aggressive” –and labels attributed to being “female” as qualities that simply hold one back (“sensitive,” “emotional,” caring,”).   To avoid gender-labeling altogether, let’s get crazy and call those “male” qualities “instrumental” qualities instead and the “female” ones “emotive” qualities.  Doesn’t it seem like both sexes could benefit from possessing both instrumental and emotive characteristics?  I know one of the reasons I love my husband so much is because he’s in touch with his emotions; he’ll fix the leaky faucet and repair a whole in the wall, and then tear up at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (don’t get me started on how many boxes of tissues we go through watching that show).  His ability to recognize his emotional states and comfort in expressing them makes him a great communicator, and someone who is easy to love and grow with.

I think back to the first day at school in one of my Sociology classes: we were going around saying what career path we’d like to follow after graduation.  When we came to one particularly good-looking guy, he said he was studying child psychology and early childhood education because he’d like to be a stay-at-home dad someday, and maybe a kindergarten teacher later.  He was immediately ridiculed by most people in the class…even the women…and I remember thinking how sad that was.  No one bats an eye when a woman expresses a strong desire to be a stay-at-home mom.  Perhaps he’ll find a woman who likes the idea of being able to continue working full-time after the birth of their children.  She’ll bring home the bacon from a rewarding career that she loves and he’ll be living his dream of getting to spend more time nurturing and caring for his children.  Why should there be anything wrong with this picture?  He is by no means a “sissy” (anyone who works as a full-time parent knows exactly what I’m talking about) and his wife wouldn’t necessarily be some cold, emotionless ball-buster.

I suppose the most frustrating thing for me, as a woman, is that on some level this attitude seems to make being a woman less valuable.  “I don’t have any girls, thank God…” Really?  Why are you so thankful you weren’t burdened with any girls?  And this mom is not alone in this thought process:  I’d say most parents are genuinely happy with the idea of simply giving birth to a human baby.  Boy, girl, whatever.  But some parents display a strong interest in having a boy because they want something that will eventually take care of itself, be tough and less vulnerable, and fun to wrestle with.  People who want girls list totally different reasons: they want something soft, quiet, and fun to dress.  And when that boy comes, he better act like one or else.   It’s okay if their little girl likes to play sports or wear blue, but “don’t get too outspoken or assertive, because then men will be intimidated by you and you won’t be able to find a husband” (this sounds absurd, but I’ve actually heard a mother give this advice to her daughter). 

The craziest thing is this mentality is presented to us from the minute we exit the womb.  Girls are wrapped in pink blankets at the hospital; dad passes out blue cigars at the birth of his son.  Moms and dads throw their little boys high in the air while they cuddle their girls gently.  Girls advance verbally faster than boys and every one attributes it to biology, but it’s been proven that parents talk to their girls more than boys from day one.  For their girl parents call her blanket a “blanky,” a cat a “kitty,” a dog a “doggy.”  When boys are learning the names for things, a blanket is “blanket,” a cat is “cat” and a dog is “dog.”  Girls are usually taught to be less direct with their requests: “Maybe we could go see a movie?” where as boys are taught to state their desires directly: “Let’s go to a movie.”  This is not to negate the fact that, yes, there are of course biological differences, both physically and mentally, in the way males and females are structured.  But sometimes I wonder just how much of what we attribute to being “male” or “female” is truly biological or predominately socially ingrained.

At the other end of the spectrum there are parents who make their boys wear dresses and go by names like “Julie” or “Margaret” because they want their boys to be in touch with their “feminine side.”  They believe this will help their sons know what it’s like to be a woman and will therefore teach them to respect women.  I feel like this is just opening the floodgates for massive amounts of future psychotherapy.  Just as it’s not a good idea to pigeonhole your child into the stereotypical gender ideals of their own sex, it’s probably not any more beneficial to force them to adhere to the stereotypical gender roles of the opposite sex.  There is a lack of freedom in both options that keeps the child from growing, learning and reaching their full potential of being their true self…not some ideal that their parents buried into them.  What if we taught both boys and girls from day one to practice both instrumental and emotive qualities that are beneficial for any one to possess: assertiveness, emotional awareness, strength, and sensitivity?  Let’s be a little more rough-and-tumble with our girls and tell our boys it’s okay to cry when they get hurt.  And at the end of the day, if your boy likes to play tea-party with his sister, despite being surrounded by army men and Tonka trucks, well, then that’s your wonderful boy feeling comfortable and free enough to do the things he really likes.  Sit down and join in the party!