Attention parents out there! Have you noticed that your children from the very earliest ages display male or female type of behavior no matter how hard you try to “unbias” them and give them the full spectrum of experiences of cars and balls, baby dolls and barbies? As a mother of five I remember a particular daughter from babyhood who only liked frilly pink and purple dresses and baby dolls but never pants, cars and balls. I deliberately tried to get her to wear blue clothing as I was never dressed in pink as a child and was never attracted to that ultra-feminine frilly look. I also never liked sports as a child and tried to introduce her to something I never had like soccer and soft ball with the hope of making her a more-rounded individual. No such luck! She hated sports, she hated pants, desired only to wear pink and purple with frills, and played dolls and barbies having no interest in balls or cars. She was so rigid in her ways that she often drove me to the brink of parental craziness!
Yesterday, there was an article in my local Bend, Oregon newspaper about gender neutral parenting being on the rise. This is really concerning to me with my personal and professional experience and what I know about brain science. I believe while it sounds like a good idea in reality is harmful to our kids. The article quoted a person in a Social Work program who stated that sex was determined at birth and that gender is socially learned. This is a politically correct philosophy but it doesn’t match up with current brain science. Boys and girls brains are different and are used differently by each sex. There is a learning difference that isn’t recognized in a majority of education curriculum. This is why I believe that we have many more diagnosed ADHD boys out there. Teachers aren’t engaging them in the way they need to be engaged and the boys are bored, restless, distracted, even physically aggressive. I am a professional that works regularly with ADHD kids and their families. I prescribe medication often per parent request which is sometimes unfortunate as we really don’t know the long term effects of stimulant medication. I feel the problem needs to be partly remedied in teaching methods that recognize sex differences and not one size fits all. Boys learn by games, challenge even competition. That has been largely removed from school with a preference of touchy feely types of teaching which works great with girls but not boys. Until our school’s teaching methods match up to current brain science, I am afraid our children will not learn up to their full potential.