Recently in the land of the internet, both on blogs and a message board or two, I’ve read (and sometimes been a part of) conversations about boys who cross the boundaries of social norms. Often, parents are hesitant about what to do.
Do I let my son wear purple to school? Will he be ostracized or made fun of?
What does it mean that my son likes to play with dolls?
Are my relatives right that letting my boy wear a dress will “cause” him to be gay?
Parents worry. I worry. We all worry. And it’s because we want the best for our kids. And it can be a tough world out there, and we just want to protect these small extensions of our hearts.
In these kinds of situations, I do really think that it’s the kids who are the wisest. These boys who buck social norms have the strength to listen to their hearts and to follow them. And often, especially when they are first entering school, their peers, too, have the open-mindedness to embrace the expanded notions of gender that children can play out. When a boy enters a classroom, confidently wearing a dress, he’s taking the lead in changing our world, just one tiny step at a time. And we, as parents, can support him in doing so, thereby taking a step alongside him.
And I know, believe me, that walking alongside “world-changers” is most often harder for us parents than for our children. But I think that the parents asking questions like those above, and all of us, really do know how best to support our kids. If we’ve given them the love and acceptance to develop, for instance, into a boy who loves purple, we will know how to love them through a transition to school, through the small steps that they take to help others expand their ideas about what boys and girls can and should do or be, no matter our fears about how others might accept them.