I’m raising two girls. That statement alone is offensive to some people.
An increasing number of parents are engaging in what’s been coined “gender-neutral parenting.” The premise is that anatomy doesn’t assign gender, so they are raising their children with the freedom to express themselves however they’d like. Everything from clothes to toy selection is open, without parental persuasion toward the preferences of a particular gender.
As with most polarizing topics, there are varying degrees of this parenting approach. At one extreme, there are online communities for people who are raising their children as “theybies,” according to an NBC article. These parents do not reveal their child’s sex to anyone—including grandparents—and refuse to use gendered pronouns when referring to their kids. On the opposite end are parents who demean their sons for showing interest in dolls and don’t allow their daughters out of the house without a gigantic hair bow. And then there are middle-ground parents who might let their son grow his hair out a bit or buy their daughter toy trucks—as well as princess figurines.
Observing all of this can be confusing for parents like myself who want to help their children develop a biblical worldview and embody their natural design yet be independent, confident, and equipped to thrive as adults in the modern world. It’s even more perplexing to figure out how to do this when some extremists perceive any parental movement toward a certain gender as forcing a predetermined identity.
If my head is spinning, imagine what all this is doing to the kids themselves.
My husband and I are trying to raise our daughters to identify with who God designed them to be, embrace the characteristics He gave them, and develop confidence in the goodness of their Maker. Whether they pursue dance or lacrosse, we don’t plan to stifle their interests. In fact, both of our girls have shot BB guns and enjoy playing in the woods, but they also love unicorns and glitter. On the other hand, we won’t muddy the waters further by intentionally buying them gender-neutral clothing or letting neutrality drive any of our parenting choices.
We want to empower our daughters to be well-rounded women of God, which the world needs desperately. We need women who are strong and smart and who pursue godliness above anything else. We need women who are confident in their beauty and don’t use it for selfish advantage. In the same way, we need men who are confident leaders but also empathetic. We need men who seek to serve and choose to use their influence to empower the lost and lonely.
I want to raise those kind of people for the next generation, and the only way I know how to do it is by keeping my eyes on God. Our Creator made us differently on purpose, and Scripture tells us that He liked it that way. Genesis 1:27 says, “male and female he created them.” And then verse 31 tells us, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” That’s pretty clear if you ask me.
We need to invite God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to steer our parenting more than any blog or book, no matter which end of the spectrum they support. We have to keep asking our Designer to show us how to raise our children in the way that brings Him the most glory. We must ask Him to help us parent in a way that reflects the goodness of His image.
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