No harm for a boy to learn about "girl" things

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  June 29, 2012 06:00 AM

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I have three children...of ages 6, 4,and 2 my 6 year old only likes to watch shows where it's all girls. I have an older niece and he looks up to her so much that he only likes to watch what she does...although I might add that I do get upset at him if he pretends to walk like a girl and so forth but I get confused because he loves cars and boyish things...so my question here is this...is it normal for a 6 year old boy to be interested in girl things and will it affect his sexual preference? Thank you.
From: Yolanda, Brownsville, TX

Yolanda,

It is normal for a 6-year-old boy to imitate someone who is important to him, boy or girl and an older girl cousin is a perfect candidate. She's so grown up! She knows so much! From his perspective, why wouldn't he want to be like her? What's more, there's a whole world of "girl things" out there, just like there are boy things. Sounds like he's already mastering the "boy things," so now he's curious about what he doesn't know. Good for him.

Try hard not to reprimand or otherwise censor him for doing so. He'll learn soon enough -- from his peers -- what's socially acceptable and what's not and these behaviors will disappear or go underground. Most likely, this is a phase that does not predict sexual preference. And what if it does? He'll need your unconditional support.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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7 comments so far...
  1. What is up with these "sexual preference" letters lately? This sounds normal to me. But what if later on in life it is revealed that he is gay? So What? What does that mean to you? Why does that matter? Will you love him less? I didn't think so.

    Posted by jd June 29, 12 08:18 AM
  1. What's up with the theme of letters that boil down to "my boy likes girl toys - will he be gay?"

    What does it mean to 'walk like a girl'?

    My advice - give your child enough space to walk, talk, and play in the way of THEIR choosing without your judgements and fears getting in the way.

    You are risking creating problems and hangups with your behavior.

    Posted by Montyy June 29, 12 11:08 AM
  1. I don't understand this recent obsession with people writing in to ask if their children are gay because they like opposite gender toys or clothes. Sometimes, boys who like "boy" toys and girls who like "girl" toys are gay, too.

    Posted by Shaking Head June 29, 12 11:10 AM
  1. "is it normal for a 6 year old boy to be interested in girl things and will it affect his sexual preference?" you have it backwards, his predetermined sexual preference is more likely to influence his likes/dislikes

    Posted by mike June 29, 12 12:57 PM
  1. First, there are many things that we think of as "girl things" that are useful life knowledge for everyone. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, all those basic taking care of life things. Encourage any interest your boy shows in learning those skills; his life when he goes away to be on his own will be much easier. As Ms Meltz says, he'll learn soon enough not to brag about those skills among his peers. But he WILL thank you later.

    Second, both the question and the answer are confusing gender identity and sexual preference. (In oversimplified short, the first is who you want to be and the second is who you want to be with.) Allowing your boy to experiment with feminine things makes him no more or less likely to be transgender than suppressing the experiments, but it DOES make it more likely that he will be open about it with you and happy about his identity in later years.

    Posted by Shirley Marquez June 30, 12 11:44 AM
  1. The very macho owner of a gym I used to belong to had a five year old son who was obsessed with Ariel from the little mermaid. He had an Ariel doll his grandmother wisely bought him, and he loved to brush her hair. At one point in his office with his son playing at my feet, the Dad looked at me and said "What do you think about a boy who likes to play with Ariel?" I looked straight at him and said "I think he's got a thing for redheads." The look on the gym owner's face changed in a way I hadn't seen on him, and I think it seriously changed his perspective on his son's favorite toy.

    Knowing about girl things or being interested in girl things doesn't form sexual preference. It just means he is curious, which is a sign of intelligence, which I don't have to add is a good thing. If your son turns out to be Gay, Bisexual or Transgender it isn't going to be because he had a stage of being interested in consumer goods and services that we judge and label "girl" things in our culture. Sexual identity simply isn't as simple as that.

    Posted by merilisa July 2, 12 09:09 AM
  1. First of all, people need to stop acting as if the world will positively end if (gasp) a child turns out gay. Most of my gay friends had straight, ordinary parents. Nobody 'made' or influenced them to become gay. They just came that way. If they were lucky, they had parents who supported them. If not, they learned, mostly with regret, to live without contact with parents who couldn't love them as they were. Examine your own motives, and look down the road. You could do everything 'right' and still end up with a gay child. Only your actions will determine if that child still wants to give you the time of day when it is time to choose your nursing home.

    Second, what's all this with 'girl's shows' and 'boy's shows' and 'girl's toys' and 'boys toys'. My sons played with dolls and hammers as toddlers. They watched both 'Star Wars' and 'The Sound of Music' when they were older. Now they can take apart and put together almost everything, but can also be tender and gentle with a toddler cousin just learning to walk. They can build anything with legos that you could imagine, but they also know how to cook omelettes and do laundry. Someday they're going to make a pair of awesome husbands to whoever is lucky enough to snag them.

    Posted by BMS July 3, 12 01:26 PM
 
7 comments so far...
  1. What is up with these "sexual preference" letters lately? This sounds normal to me. But what if later on in life it is revealed that he is gay? So What? What does that mean to you? Why does that matter? Will you love him less? I didn't think so.

    Posted by jd June 29, 12 08:18 AM
  1. What's up with the theme of letters that boil down to "my boy likes girl toys - will he be gay?"

    What does it mean to 'walk like a girl'?

    My advice - give your child enough space to walk, talk, and play in the way of THEIR choosing without your judgements and fears getting in the way.

    You are risking creating problems and hangups with your behavior.

    Posted by Montyy June 29, 12 11:08 AM
  1. I don't understand this recent obsession with people writing in to ask if their children are gay because they like opposite gender toys or clothes. Sometimes, boys who like "boy" toys and girls who like "girl" toys are gay, too.

    Posted by Shaking Head June 29, 12 11:10 AM
  1. "is it normal for a 6 year old boy to be interested in girl things and will it affect his sexual preference?" you have it backwards, his predetermined sexual preference is more likely to influence his likes/dislikes

    Posted by mike June 29, 12 12:57 PM
  1. First, there are many things that we think of as "girl things" that are useful life knowledge for everyone. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, all those basic taking care of life things. Encourage any interest your boy shows in learning those skills; his life when he goes away to be on his own will be much easier. As Ms Meltz says, he'll learn soon enough not to brag about those skills among his peers. But he WILL thank you later.

    Second, both the question and the answer are confusing gender identity and sexual preference. (In oversimplified short, the first is who you want to be and the second is who you want to be with.) Allowing your boy to experiment with feminine things makes him no more or less likely to be transgender than suppressing the experiments, but it DOES make it more likely that he will be open about it with you and happy about his identity in later years.

    Posted by Shirley Marquez June 30, 12 11:44 AM
  1. The very macho owner of a gym I used to belong to had a five year old son who was obsessed with Ariel from the little mermaid. He had an Ariel doll his grandmother wisely bought him, and he loved to brush her hair. At one point in his office with his son playing at my feet, the Dad looked at me and said "What do you think about a boy who likes to play with Ariel?" I looked straight at him and said "I think he's got a thing for redheads." The look on the gym owner's face changed in a way I hadn't seen on him, and I think it seriously changed his perspective on his son's favorite toy.

    Knowing about girl things or being interested in girl things doesn't form sexual preference. It just means he is curious, which is a sign of intelligence, which I don't have to add is a good thing. If your son turns out to be Gay, Bisexual or Transgender it isn't going to be because he had a stage of being interested in consumer goods and services that we judge and label "girl" things in our culture. Sexual identity simply isn't as simple as that.

    Posted by merilisa July 2, 12 09:09 AM
  1. First of all, people need to stop acting as if the world will positively end if (gasp) a child turns out gay. Most of my gay friends had straight, ordinary parents. Nobody 'made' or influenced them to become gay. They just came that way. If they were lucky, they had parents who supported them. If not, they learned, mostly with regret, to live without contact with parents who couldn't love them as they were. Examine your own motives, and look down the road. You could do everything 'right' and still end up with a gay child. Only your actions will determine if that child still wants to give you the time of day when it is time to choose your nursing home.

    Second, what's all this with 'girl's shows' and 'boy's shows' and 'girl's toys' and 'boys toys'. My sons played with dolls and hammers as toddlers. They watched both 'Star Wars' and 'The Sound of Music' when they were older. Now they can take apart and put together almost everything, but can also be tender and gentle with a toddler cousin just learning to walk. They can build anything with legos that you could imagine, but they also know how to cook omelettes and do laundry. Someday they're going to make a pair of awesome husbands to whoever is lucky enough to snag them.

    Posted by BMS July 3, 12 01:26 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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