How To Defend Your Child’s Non-Gender Conforming Activities
We have all been there. Our son or daughter pick up a non-gender norm activity and someone has to put their two cents in. We know it is fine that our daughter prefers monster trucks over dolls. We know it is fine that our son likes the play dress up.
The neighbors, not so much. Our neighbor thinks it’s her place to tell us how damaging girls playing with trucks and boys playing princess can be.
The time has come for defending our nonconforming kids.
Most of us encourage our children to be different and express themselves. Let’s face it, they are creative little creatures. If our children were like everyone else they would bore us. So instead of oppressing that creative spark, we let it grow.
But what are we telling our children if we’re not defending them?
I get it. We don’t like conflict. It’s safer to roll our eyes and walk away, but is this the right thing to do? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like bullies. And judging kids for not conforming to their gender stereotype is bullying, plain and simple.
Instead of allowing your neighbor to put down your child, or you because they don’t agree, why don’t we appeal to her better side? Try to help them see things in a new way?
Why don’t we try to break down the stereotypes? [Read more on talking about LGBTQ with kids here.]
Here are a few tips on how to stand up for your child’s non-gender norm activities.
1. Know what voice to use.
This one is super important. We don’t like conflict remember? There are two kinds of voices, passive and aggressive. Pretty self-explanatory right? Well, in case you need a little more help dealing (don’t we all from time to time?):
Passive voice is that nice quiet voice your mom used to use when she tried to trick you into chores. It is non-threatening and patient. When using passive we aren’t telling the person to do anything, but instead, we convince them they want to do it.
For example, instead of telling your neighbor to pick up their dog poop because you are sick of it, suggest that their house so beautiful it is a shame the yard doesn’t match. See, that passive voice. Make sure to use that super sugary tone, too.
The aggressive voice is exactly the opposite of passive. I suggest saving this one for the end. Not a lot of people respond well to aggressive voice. No one wants to be told what to do, but sometimes it is necessary.
If telling your neighbor her yard would look so much better without the dog poop didn’t work, then you inform her you’ll notify the homeowners association of the violation. That’s how you perfect the aggressive tone.
2. Invite them to a non-threatening environment.
Now that we know what tone to use (and when to use it), it is time to trick them into coming over. Now we are about to talk about something very unpleasant. They are doing something that we don’t like, and we are about to ask them to stop.
The trick to getting them on our side it to make them feel as non-threatened as possible. Don’t confront them when there are a lot of people around. Instead, wait and invite them into your home for tea or lunch. This will make them feel like it is a social call.
Everyone like social calls, right?
3. Offer them something for hearing you out.
This is an extension of inviting them to a non-threating environment. If you invite them to your house make sure you actually offer them that lunch or tea.
Go the extra mile and offer to watch your neighbors kids one day so her and her husband can have a date night.
If that doesn’t get her on your side then nothing will.
4. Tell them how it makes you and your child feel.
This one works best with family members. Defending nonconforming kids often starts at home.
We get a grandparent that is so set in their ways. They only have the child’s best interest in mind, but sometimes they do not realize how their opinion hurts the child.
With this situation including the child in the conversation might help. Let them tell grandpa how his words make them feel, and why they like their activity.
Sometimes all a grandparent needs is to see that they have hurt their grandchild to change their ways.
5. Prepare yourself (and your kid) for failure.
Now not everyone is going to agree with you. It is bound to happen. Sometimes people refuse to change.
You started off asking and then told them where they could shove it if they didn’t stop, and they still refused to see it your way. It happens.
Instead of getting upset, try using this time to teach your child that not everyone is going to agree with them and that’s okay. Sometimes we have to teach our kids to be tough and shoulder on.
The Long Game
It’s not easy when someone insults our children, but take the right steps and you might win them over to our side.
Defending nonconforming kids is a worthy cause to get behind. Choosing the right tone of voice and words is important, and starting with a passive voice can help explain your position. Setting the scene is a warm and friendly way will hopefully relax the person you’re trying to make see reason. No reason you can’t have coffee and a conversation, or deliver some freshly picked flowers with your request.
Telling someone who isn’t used to non-gender conforming ideas is always tough. Hopefully, they’ll be open to change. But if not, it’s important to prepare yourself, and your child, for the fact you might not change that person’s mind.
But tackling the subject head-on guarantees one thing:
Your kid will thank you.