Parents live in the gendered world of their children, too

I did a little research hinting at the way gendered childhood might affect parents – by looking at how the gender of their children affected their favorite colors.

Because gendering – especially around consumption – is so fierce, I figure that’s got to be the tip of the iceberg. I thought of that walking to the kids’ school the other day:

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Maybe the mothers dressed to match the kids because it was the first day of school. Or maybe they have more matching clothes so that coincidences like this happen more often at random. Who knows?

14 Comments

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14 responses to “Parents live in the gendered world of their children, too

  1. giliell

    When our daughter first told us that girls “mustn’t wear grey” my wardrobe provided useful evidence of the contrary. But it was interesting that the lace on the leggins didn’t gender them enough. After that we made the conscious effort to stock up my husband’s wardrobe with more colourful T-shirts

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  2. I *really* think you’re reading too much intro that photo.

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  3. In my house, I tend to pick out my clothes first. Then, I help my daughter choose her clothes. I have noticed that on more than one occasion I am drawn to clothing for her that is similar to my own. Now that she is more opinionated on the matter, I find that she does select clothes similar to me sometimes (e.g., I’m wearing a skirt, so she wants to wear a skirt). Other times, we just settle on “seasonally appropriate” for her (miss-matched clothing, socks with sandles). There is, however, definitely something mostly-subconscious going on here among parents. We also know that children do copy their parents. In sum, there is something to this.

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  4. giliell

    I’m going to make the claim that you autimatically live the gendered world of your children because you interact with them. They#re part of your life. I can tell by the look at the cars of the parents whether their kids are boys or girls or both. The markers sneak into your house and everywhere and suddenly you’re wearing a hairclip with a pink unicorn

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    • Does the woman in a house full of man-boys dress less feminine because no one else dresses femininely, or more feminine as a push-back against the sea of testosterone, to remind herself that she’s a woman?

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      • giliell

        HOw should I know? My claim is that a woman in a house with sons only is going to live in a house with more action toys, more dark colours and generally more Star Wars stuff everywhere.

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      • HOw should I know?

        Please do not think that I was challenging you in a hostile fashion!! It was an honest question asked with complete sincerity.

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  5. I have 2 girls. When my wife and I wear something of their colors they are blown away and give lost of compliments, which makes us want to do it more often. Sometimes I will dress them first and then tell them to help me pick my clothes from 2 or 3 options. I think it’s an interesting observation that worth looking deeper, because it may not be only limit to clothes.

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  6. krippendorf

    Or…
    1. Some kids don’t give a rat’s furry behind what color clothes they wear. Their parents buy clothes in colors that they, the parents, prefer. I like red, therefore from the rainbow of kids T-shirts at Target, I buy the red one. Result: more matching than if color choices were random, but not because the parent is adapting his or her own preferences to the gender of the child.
    2. Of the kids who have a preference for what color clothes they wear, some nontrivial fraction mimic the color preferences of their parent (and, as is often the case with learned behaviors, the same-gendered parent). I like red, so my kid decides to like red, too. Again, more matching, but not through parental adaptation.

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  7. M.Barnes

    A few thoughts: I definitely think the topic of how the gender of one’s children affects their parents has not been given enough attention. As a mother of only sons, my behavioral patterns, activities, and worries are often very different from my friends with only girls (ex. I can talk fantasy football but know nothing about toys for girls.) My kids’ gender has a very significant influence on my life.
    As far as the linked article is concerned, it would have been interesting to know more about the gender ideologies of the parents. The conclusion is that having a boy reinforces gender distinctions among parents—is this more likely to happen among parents who hold more “traditional” views of gender or is it unrelated? As a mother of sons who does prefer blue, what does this say? That I reject that blue is only for boys? (Which I do–as well as pink only being for girls) Or is that I am comfortable in a male environment?

    PS- I have also definitely noticed that sometimes I will unconsciously pick out similar colors for me and my son to wear the same day (it just feels like a “red” sort of day, maybe?).

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  8. Linda Quirke

    I’ll let you know if I start wearing Star Wars T-shirts to match with my sons’ clothing preferences. Maybe once tenure comes through, I can let loose.

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  9. I wonder at the variability, since while I wear reds & blue w/ khaki, my wife and children wear multiple colors (when not in school uniform). In fact, I don’t think I can ever remember them (even the girls) wearing matching clothes.

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  10. Child behavior any how more depicts in their school going age and that is the time when parents need to fully understand them

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