My husband pointed me to this article earlier this week. In a nutshell, it's about a couple from Toronto who haven't told anyone the sex of their child. They say they want to "give Storm (the baby) the freedom to choose who he or she wants to be."
I'm sorry, but no. I'm not one to believe that you HAVE to dress your girl in pink and your boy in blue. I think that boys can play with babies and dress up just as much as girls can. Raegan has some trucks and she loves to crawl around and pretend to be a monster. As a teacher, I put out dress up clothes and trucks and My Little Ponies and make it clear to the kids that they ALL can play with any toy, regardless of if they are a boy or girl. But to me personally, keeping your child's gender a mystery is just a bit much. I feel almost like it's a science experiment for these parents, with their children at stake. And while most people seem to be focused on the issue of gender, I have other problems with this article.
The quote from the article that kind of put me off was this one from the father: "What we noticed is that parents make so many choices for their children. It's obnoxious." Yeah. That, my friends, is called being a parent. I think as a culture we have become so worried about what is "right" and what is "PC" when it comes to raising children that we've forgotten some of the basic principles of being parent. I am not at all against letting your child pick their hairstyle or their clothing. There are much bigger things to battle with your child over than that. But I think that as a parent, it is your responsibility to make choices for your child. The unschooling thing, where the children get to choose their own learning based on their interests, is perfectly acceptable for the older two children at the age of five and two. That's actually called developmentally appropriate practice for early childhood. That's what I do in my classroom every day. However, even though the children's interests dictate what we focus on in the classroom, the children aren't in charge. I have a schedule. We have small group learning time, and the children are expected to sit and do learning activities. Some children don't want to sit, but they are learning to follow rules and directions.
And when those two children get older, they need structure to their education. What if they are never interested in math concepts? Are their parents just not going to teach them math? There are concepts that you have to learn in school in order to be able to function in the real world with a job. It's a basic life principle. Everyone has different learning styles. Regardless of how you feel about society, it is the society that your children will someday live in. You have to prepare them for a life as an adult. As a parent, I assume that you want your child to be successful. That you want them to become independent and not reliant on you or the government to support their needs. The dad in this article is a teacher at an alternative school, which I assume requires some form of post-secondary education. These children are not going to be prepared for the kind of education is takes to have any kind of successful job if they are always allowed to dictate their own learning. There comes a point where you say, "*I* am the parent. Here is what you need to do."
I'm all about giving choices. Raegan doesn't get to choose her own bedtime (dear God, that would be a nightmare!) but she can choose who she wants to tell goodnight first. She has to pick up her toys, but there's the choice, "Do you want to pick up the blocks or the babies first?" Give children choices gives them a sense of control and teaches them not to blindly follow. I want Raegan to be able to think for herself. I want her to be able to make the right choices when she's faced with difficult situations. But it's my job as her parent not to let her go along willy-nilly making all the choices.
Maybe the article doesn't explain it all. Maybe these parents plan on homeschooling/unschooling their children in a way that allows them to explore their interests while learning basic concepts that they need to have the equivalent of a high school diploma. I hope that's the case. I just see too much these days of parents being more worried about doing what's PC, or trying to be their child's friend, instead of being The Parent. As it should be.