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DominicX's avatar

As a kid, did your parents enforce gender stereotypes on you (to what degree)?

Asked by DominicX (28792points) September 10th, 2009
44 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

Inspired by Jamielynn2328’s comment

Obviously, I wore boys’ clothes and baseball hats and junk, but I’m referring more to classic “negative” things, such as your parents discouraging you from participating in certain activities because they weren’t “feminine” enough or telling you that boys don’t cry.

Personally, my parents didn’t do any of that. I had an EasyBake Oven and a baby doll, for crying out loud. I loved playing “house” and I had pink plastic sunglasses. (I liked a bunch of boys’ things too; I was just highlighting the more girly things). I was never taught not to cry or express emotion either. Maybe that’s what made me gay… :P kidding

But I’m curious. I ask this question on every site like this and I can’t believe I haven’t asked it here yet.

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casheroo's avatar

I catch myself saying “big boys don’t cry” to my son, but I don’t mean it as a gender stereotype..I’m pretty sure if I had a girl I’d say it to her with “girls” of course I do refrain from saying it and have asked my parents not to say it.
My son is pretty emotional, and we actually encourage it. He’s very loving, and sweet and loves to give hugs and kisses and console anyone he thinks is sad. I want to keep this window open for him, and not make him think it’s not “manly”
He does have his specific interest, the main one being trains…little girls love trains as well, it’s a kid thing. He also has a baby doll with a bottle that he loves to care for, and we encourage that as well.
We will always be open minded, and hopefully that will rub off on our son.

Facade's avatar

Not at all. I was a tomboy for a long time. I started doing “girly” things at about 13 after I quit gymnastics.

DominicX's avatar


Gymnastics. Right, I forgot. I did gymnastics when I was younger only because my sister was doing it and I wanted to do what she was doing. I ended up really liking it.

jamielynn2328's avatar

My parents would let my brother do so many fun things. He could go play in the apple orchard. He could go down to the creek and collect tadpoles and crayfish. He could take his three wheeler out riding in the back trails. My brother was fifteen months older than me and I sat there having to watch him do it all. I was a girl. Therefore I could not go have any fun at all. I guess girls should just be happy with a jump rope and a front yard.

Many children gravitate towards toys or activities that are within their gender expectation. However just because a kid doesn’t do this, it doesn’t make them gay or weird. I was a tomboy that wasn’t aloud to do anything I wanted to do.

I ended up rebelling against my parents in a pretty serious way. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant and cleaned up my life who knows where I would have landed. I have always raised my son and daughter the same way. I encourage their interests no matter what they are. My son feels that he was born to dance and my daughter loves cemeteries. Not what I planned for, but their personalities are what matter, not their gender.

Facade's avatar

@DominicX It can be very fun

aphilotus's avatar

My parents didn’t do any of that, as far as I know.

They’re ex-hippies, though.

dpworkin's avatar

I was born in 1949, so I’m certain they must have in some ways, but my parents fought other stereotypes; for instance they went way out of their way to send me to the only integrated nursery school in all of Los Angeles. 1953 Was pretty early for middle class white people to care about stuff like that.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes my parents raised me and my brother in very gendered ways – when I started rebelling against all that, they didn’t take it well, still don’t…my mother to this very day comments on how I’m not a proper woman and how she can’t possibly fathom why anyone would marry me and how inevitably my husband will leave me because I ‘make’ (which isn’t true) him stay with the baby…

DominicX's avatar


Yeah, I was pretty emotional as a younger kid too (and still am I think). :P I used to be obsessed with hugging my parents and I was maybe a little on the too sensitive side sometimes. I’ve learned to not let that be negative so much anymore. You sound like a damn good parent. :)


Your mother does not sound like a positive influence (to put it nicely).

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t recall my parents doing much to enforce gender behaviors on us. They pretty much let us follow our own interests.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@DominicX ha, you do indeed put it very nicely – she’s the epitomy of critical

casheroo's avatar

@DominicX ohh, does that mean he might be gay as well? I would probably love that too much lol ;)

DominicX's avatar


Well, you never know… :)

But it sounds like that wouldn’t present a problem to you. I would hope that in this day and age, a lot of parents would be like that.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Yes, it was very much a gender-based household. You’d all think it was the 50s up in that shiznit. Then again, there were too many rules to begin with; rules for every little interaction of life, everything. Every. Thing.

I certainly wasn’t feminine enough for my guardian at times, what with my bookishness and my fascination with taking things apart to see how they worked, and she’d let me know I needed to be more girly, and how!

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Not really, but I do know that at one certain point, I did tend to feel left out among my own peers.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

No, I was extremely lucky and indulged by my grandparents. Whatever I wanted, I got be that boy clothes, boy toys or the usual girl stuff (I’m a female). My parents were lax with the clothes but not so much with the toys I wanted or activities I wanted to do. Still, I think I’ve had the best of the spectrum.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@aprilsimnel you know, I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about…it really rings a bell, for me, a personal partner and I were recently discussing the very thing you speak about…how in my family so much energy was wasted on what the relationships are, where everyone stands next to each other, all these ridiculous rituals, all these ‘proper’ things to do that NO energy was spent on the actual relationships and in the end, there was no substance…it’s so sad that our family was so much (as in many households) about what a ‘family’ should be, that we weren’t family…it’s as if it was more important to my parents to consider what others thought of us as a family than what their own kids did

KatawaGrey's avatar

My mother was always just so thrilled that I was a happy kid with good friends and doing activities that I enjoyed and that were not dangerous that she didn’t much care if I was girly or not. Every once in a while she would half-heartedly tell me that I should dress a little more girly or hang out with more girls or more people my age. I would usually nod, smile and go play Magic in my boys pants with my much older male friends. She would just sigh smile and bring us snacks. My mom is a great mom and always encourages me in what I want to do as long as I am safe and happy. the same goes for gender roles I want to conform to and those I do not want to conform to.

KatawaGrey's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: Thank you! She is a lovely mother. :)

kheredia's avatar

I don’t remember my parents ever influencing me in that way but coming from a large family with Mexican ancestry I can tell you some of my cousins got it bad. Luckily my parents left their macho ways a long time ago but some of my aunts and uncles still think boys don’t cry and girls have to learn how to cook so they’ll be good wives someday. I’m glad I escaped those traditional, macho ideas.

Les's avatar

My parents didn’t force any type of stereotype on me, but if I wanted to play with Barbies (which I did), I got to play with Barbies. I also likes playing with toy cars and trucks and Big Wheels and Lego. I helped my mom cook and bake and helped my dad (read: watched) change the oil in the car and rotate the tires. Both of my parents worked, so I think my influence was to be a successful individual, regardless of gender.

Facade's avatar

Adding to my answer: My parents didn’t enforce gender stereotypes, but my school did. Women did not wear pants. Women were not allowed to preach. Men were the head of everything. Yea, my parents wasted thousands of dollars on that school.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I don’t know, it’s tough for me to answer really. I never really had an affinity for stereotypical girly things for the most part… I did have an easy bake oven though, but I had one where you could make little rubber worms and spiders and stuff too to make up for it ;).

Given that, it’s hard for me to tell if I was just naturally like that, or did growing up with 5 older brothers and an insanely old school mom just sort of gradually condition me for it.

I looked up to my brothers a lot. They were always “manly” so whatever they did, I always did, I played basketball and volleyball because my brothers did, I do love playing both, but I got into it because of them, I mimicked how they dressed, etc etc etc. So maybe some things weren’t pushed on me per say, but I may have learned to do them simply because my brothers did, and I wanted to impress them.

I’d say the only things my mother made sure I did was be gentlemanly. when I was young I always held the door open for her, when I started dating she made sure I paid for my date unless they requested to pay for themselves, etc etc etc, I’ve never really seen any problem with that though.

Sarcasm's avatar

I don’t recall my parents ever trying to force genders out of myself, my brother or my sister.
They both seemed more worried about making us intelligent, responsible people, not so much about whether we enjoyed barbies or gi joe as kids.

My brother and I both ended up being very into legos as youngin’s, and then we moved onto video/computer games. I don’t recall what my sister was into as a kid, I know we had some barbies and My Little Ponies hanging around the house, but I don’t remember her ever specifically playing with them. When she was a teenager, she ended up just going out and becoming part of the drug culture.

All of us ended up straight (as far as I can tell). Neither my brother nor I ended up being “alpha male” personalities, and my sister somewhat did.

My parents themselves didn’t really stick to typical gender stereotypes. They both worked full-time, they both did their fair shares of raising us kids, fixing up around the house, helping us with schoolwork, etc. But these days my mom spends her spare time gardening, my father spends his working on his cars.

evegrimm's avatar

I didn’t really have gender stereotypes enforced on me until my stepdad was in the picture (permanently), which wasn’t until I was set in my ways (~13 or so). As a child, I remember being just as happy climbing trees and playing in the garden with mud and dirt and such as playing dress-up.

My mom, however, was/is a tomboy herself, which probably helped (?).

Also, my dad probably had no ideas about gender stereotypes, so I was “allowed” to play with both Barbies and action figures, and I watched just as many Star Trek/Star Wars movies as Disney movies, growing up. (I dressed up as male characters from movies on more than one occasion for Halloween as well; I think as a child I liked the “cool” characters more than the girls, who weren’t cool as often.)

My stepdad has ragged on me about being ladylike and about wearing too much black (what? it goes with everything). He’s also critical of my weight. All of these things are traditionally “female” stereotypes.

I have always liked books, which I feel are gender neutral, but as I get older, I notice that I do like traditionally “masculine” things: FPS games, RPGs with lots of blood/video games in general, I avoid “chick flicks”, I enjoy writing code (still learning!), etc. But at the same time, I cook, bake, knit, crochet, sew, make tea (with a teapot and everything), etc. I try to be a rebel with everything that I do. :D

wow, I talk a lot when I get going!

Darwin's avatar

My parents made a point of giving my brother and me the same toys and letting us sort out what we liked. We both got Tiny Tears dolls and we both got toy dump trucks. I traded my doll for my brother’s truck, which worked just fine until he started kindergarten. Then he wanted the truck back. After that the big toys were things like bicycles and things we asked for specifically, as well as a wonderful wooden block set that is now being enjoyed by the grandkids.

While my father came from a very traditional family but one with more than its fair share of eccentrics, my mother came from a family with a very long history of doing whatever one wanted in spite of what the neighbors would say, as long as it was legal. My mother was the first girl to wear pants to her high school back in the 1940’s (amazingly it wasn’t against the rules because no one had ever done it) and was the only girl in her graduating class in Engineering at UC Boulder. She also was the first female researcher hired by DuPont.

My grandmother was the first female journalism major at KU and was the only female on the reporting staff in Kansas City. She married a railroad man, and moved to Mexico where she learned to use a six-shooter to keep Pancho Villa’s men from stealing her clean laundry. They had a desire for my grandfather’s clean shirts.

Other ancestors did a variety of things, including the woman who started off on the ship from Scotland with 6 children and a husband, landed in New York as a widow with 7 children, and went ahead and bought a covered wagon and headed west because she had promised her husband she would. Others were Quakers when being Quaker wasn’t cool (and could get you hanged), Jews ditto, and on and on back to the guy who went from France to England instead of going on the Crusades with his brother, and ended up being the ancestor of the subject of the oldest surviving stained glass window in Britain..

We tend to pride ourselves on figuring out what we like to do, figuring out how to do it, and then helping our kids do the same.

evegrimm's avatar

@Darwin, awesome answer!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t remember my mum saying anything gender stereotypical. probably my dad though.
all i remember is loving barbies so much. and watching wrestling with my brother every week.

knitfroggy's avatar

The only one that comes to mind is that I wanted to play trombone REALLY badly. My mom insisted it was a “boy instrument” and absolutely wouldn’t let me play it. She said I may as well play the tuba. So I ended up playing trumpet and french horn. I finally quit after 8th grade because I still really wanted to play trombone. I always tell her now that I may have been a world class trombonist if she’d have let me do what I wanted to. My daughter will start band next year and I plan on encouraging her to play trombone, but will let her play whatever she wants.

evegrimm's avatar

@knitfroggy, From my own band experiences, I tend to think of trumpet is a male-dominated instrument, too, so not sure if your mom got anywhere with that. French horn is split between the genders. :) (I knew a world-class baritonist in HS; she was completely awesome on Trombone, too!)

The only instrument that’s got really well defined gender roles is flute. But then again, the flautists that are well known (Trevor Wye, James Galway, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Paul Taffanel and Philippe Gaubert) are all male.

rooeytoo's avatar

My parents were very stereotypical themselves but did not force it onto me.

As a kid, I followed my dad around constantly. So I learned how to work on cars, do woodwork, cut the grass, fix the toilet, all the things that were considered man’s work. I had no interest in anything female.

My mom did teach me and my brothers how to knit and sew and I am proficient at both but don’t really enjoy them. There is no domestic chore, except cooking, that I like. I HATE cleaning

Garebo's avatar

Are you really gay?

Jack79's avatar

Me and my sister sort of sprouted without much supervision. I used to play with her dolls all the time, but it didn’t make me gay. She wanted to be a pilot for a while, but eventually got sucked into the system and became a teacher.

The only real gender rules my dad had were about behaviour outside the house, and especially going out, coming back home and so on. You’d think that being older, I’d have to fight the battles for her, but instead, I’d be allowed out till 2am for example, and then 3 years later when my sister was the same age, she wouldn’t be allowed out at all, or only with me (because I was the big brother who would supposedly take care of her) or only until 11 or something. It was so unfair that even I noticed it.

They also didn’t like me trying to cook and stuff (but I did it anyway for the simple reason that our mum is a crap housewife), whereas they expected my sister to learn all these things, whether she wanted to or not.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@Garebo Yes he is. And mighty proud to bear his banner high.

mattbrowne's avatar

On the contrary. My mother always told me boys can load the dishwasher just as well. I got two brothers.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Garebo no, he’s the fake kind of gay. you know the kind that says it so everyone claps and supports him. oh wait…

OpryLeigh's avatar

Not really. Of course I had a few frilly dresses and family members bought me Barbie and My Little Pony which I loved for a while but when I got older I started to climb trees and lived in Jeans and tshirt. They never tried to discourage me of my tom boy ways and now I am what I believe to be a healthy balance between tom boy and feminine.

Having said that, you’re privilaged if you see me in a dress now. I hate them.

Facade's avatar

@Leanne1986 reminded me that my parents used to dress me in pretty expensive dresses and bows and whatnot. I don’t remember my transition into being a tomboy.

JLeslie's avatar

When I told my dad in 3rd grade I wanted to be a cheerleader, he told me to go out for the football team. I would say no, they did not typecast me as a female. But, I naturally gravitated towards “girl” things.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

@JLeslie I’m sure you would have dominated at Linebacker.

Darwin's avatar

My sister used to play football, until she damaged a ligament in her neck.

janbb's avatar

My mother was and is a firebrand – she was one of the first woman chemists at the FDA and started her own business when we kids were young. I was raised with a lot of boys around and fought and kicked with the best of them. I also ran pretty freely through the countryside -climbing trees and going off for bike rides. Cowboys and Indians was my favorite game. I would say I wasn’t pressured to act a certain way, although there were many girly things I enjoyed – like playing “teenagers“with my best friend.

And this was in the 50s.

shf84's avatar

Yes I had that filthy dirty garbage pushed in my face my whole child hood “be a man” the whole disgusting degrading dehumanizing bunch of shit. It sucks I’m glad you didn’t have to go through that. I am so glad that feminism exists it was intended to help women but it has done nearly as much for men. I rejected all that garbage by the way I sew, I wear what I like I go to NOW meetings it feels so good to live in the 21st century.

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