On Socialization

As a parent, I spend much of my day attempting to “socialize” my kids–“Don’t hit your brother! Stop jumping on the couch! For the umpteenth time, ‘yeah, right!’ is sarcasm.”

There are a lot of things that don’t come naturally to little kids. Many of them struggle to understand that these wiggly lines on paper can turn into words or that tiny, invisible things on their hands can make them sick.

“Yes, you have to brush your teeth and go to bed, no, I’m not explaining why again.”

And they definitely don’t understand why I won’t let them have ice cream for dinner.

“Don’t ride your bike down the hill and into the street like that! You could get hit by a car and DIE!”

Despite all of the effort I have devoted to transforming this wiggly bunch of feral children into respectable adults (someday, I hope,) I have never found myself concerned with the task of teaching them about gender. As a practical matter, whether the children behave like “girls” or “boys” makes little difference to the running of the household, because we have both–by contrast, whether the children put their dishes away after meals and do their homework without me having to threaten or cajole them makes a big difference.

Honestly, I can’t convince them not to pick their noses in public or that broccoli is tasty, but I’m supposed to somehow subtly convince them that they’ve got to play Minecraft because they’re boys (even while explicitly saying, “Hey, you’ve been playing that for two hours, go ride your bike,” or that they’re supposed to be walking doormats because they’re girls (even while saying, “Next time he pushes you, push him back!”)

And yet the boys still act like boys, the girls like girls–statistically speaking.

“Ah,” I hear some of you saying, “But you are just one parent! How do you know there aren’t legions of other parents who are out there doing everything they can to ensure that their sons succeed and daughters fail in life?”

This is, if you will excuse me, a very strange objection. What parent desires failure from their children?

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9 thoughts on “On Socialization

  1. One of my son’s classmate’s parents seem to fall into that category. I’ve never seen a more miserable kid, and more salty than I was when I was a good ten years older than they are. Those parents do seem preoccupied with gender, in the typical progressive fashion.

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  2. “This is, if you will excuse me, a very strange objection. What parent desires failure from their children?”

    The tiny portion so in love with themselves that they think they can be holier than God by giving their children stones when they ask for bread.

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  3. I don’t know any parents personally who make a big deal about enforcing gender roles for young children (teenagers don’t count for this, I think…). What I find odd is stories of really young transgender cases where the parents *do* seem to make a big deal out of, say, a boy playing with his older sister’s dolls (not necessarily even trying on her dresses)… (I mean, for me, I’d rather let my son try on his sister’s princess dresses a few times than turn him into a medical case, but what do I know? For the record, in spite of growing up surrounded by princess toys and no attempt at segregating his play, he mostly seems interested in cars… And, no, the princess toys took over, we didn’t go into that voluntarily…)

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    • My daughter gives each and every car and truck a name, and they’ll usually need some careful nursing because they have some ailment or another. My son plays with dolls if there’s a slide he can slide them down.

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      • I am not progressive, but I have to spent a lot of time with my daughter. Therefore, I rather prefered plays and games which would be more amusing to me. On one time, I’ve invented a play involving Jason. First we draw harpies: terrible, scary monsters (IIRC I also wanted to teach my daughter some courage). Then jason came with his crew and they were fighting the harpies. And then… my daughter declared: “And now harpies became good and they started to have their babies”.

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