An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Why I Allow My Son To Do Feminine Things

Monday, July 22, 2019

Why I Allow My Son To Do Feminine Things

I not only allow, I encourage my son to wear dresses for playtime, paint his nails and do other "feminine" activities. Here's why.

I'm a blogger. I make my living on the internet. That means I spend an unusually large amount of time on it, and also social media. Over the past few years, there's been a trend that, as a mom of boys, I simply can no longer ignore. Have you ever noticed how girls are encouraged to do anything - sports, typically masculine professions, dressing up like male superheros, etc (which I think we can all agree is GREAT!) - but boys are left out of being invited to join girls in "feminine" pursuits? Boys aren't encouraged to dress up like princesses when they go to Disney. They're not included in volleyball teams. Going with mom or dad to a nail salon to get their nails painted, too? No way. This trend of encouraging girls to expand their gender role that explicitly leaves out the same invitation for boys is NONSENSE. I'm here to tell you that it's absolutely ok for your sons to participate in traditionally feminine activities. Here's why I allow my son(s) to do feminine things and where I think society fails boys in a big, big way.

Getting his face painted so he could be a "witch cat" last Halloween

One of the most annoying things that's ever happened to me as a mom is my local early childhood education PTA group. Not the group itself, but rather an event they plan. See, I live in the South, which is still a tad decades behind the times in terms of being socially progressive. This group still plans a daddy-daughter dance. Both my older boys love to dance, and love to spend time with their daddy! So I asked if they'd be welcome to attend this dance, too. The group's answer? A resounding NO. I was pointed in the direction of the mother-son event, and to add insult to injury, was told I was, "welcome to plan the next mother-son event or volunteer at the daddy-daughter dance." If you think I want to volunteer at an event you outright told me my sons weren't welcome at, you're sitting first class on the stupid train!

Why does an event like this still exist? What about the girls who don't have daddies? Or the boys who love to dress up and dance? Why not make it inclusive and have it be a parent-child dance open to the whole community?

I'm also in a boymom group on Facebook. You can have daughters too, but you have to have at least one son to be a member. I can't tell you how many times I see moms post, asking if it's "ok" to let their sons play dress up with their sisters, or play with dolls, or dye their hair a certain color - all traditionally female activities. What's even sadder is how many moms will respond, "No, I wouldn't let my son do that."

You wouldn't "let" him?! What the heck does that mean? When we stifle our children's interests, we create an environment makes makes us as parents feel unsafe for them. They don't want to tell us what they're interested in, because they'll feel shamed for it. Then they bottle it up inside... They internalize that shame and guilt they feel for wanting to do "bad" or "wrong" things. Then they act on it, when they can't possibly take the pressure or the weight of that guilt and shame anymore. What does that look like? Have you ever noticed how all the mass shootings are done by males? Yup. Usually white males who have been suppressed in some way. Maybe they weren't allowed to take dance lessons, or maybe they got shamed for playing with barbies. Maybe they just never learned how to show or share emotions because they were too busy being told to "be strong" and "be a man" when they were too little to even know what that means.

Perhaps that's drastic. Not every little boy who is told he can't play with dolls will go on to shoot up a movie theater, or a school, or a concert. But it IS realistic to say that if a boy isn't allowed to explore his nurturing/artistic/empathetic/emotional side, odds are really good he'll be a terrible life partner. He'll fail his own kids. He might develop substance abuse issues as a coping mechanism. Worse yet, he might act out in anger towards his wife or partner, his kids, his pets or anyone else close to him.

Stifling traditionally feminine interests in boys doesn't do anyone any good. I don't understand why, in a day and age that we can all recognize girls can "do anything" and are encouraged to do so, boys are left out. In 2019, boys are still uninvited to daddy daughter dances and encouraged to play solely with trucks, wear blue, and play aggressive sports. Well, I call bullshit on that narrative. I'm flipping the script for my own sons - all four of them.

How happy is he to get his nails done?! He's loving life!

If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories, you know that I support Otto getting his nails done with me. My MIL and I took him to the nail salon for the first time just a few weeks ago, and you should have seen him beaming! He loved every minute of it, and I loved getting to spend some one on one time with him. He also wanted to be a witch for Halloween. Now, my kids are old enough to tell me what they want to be. So late last fall, I asked them, then we scoured Amazon until I found costumes they both wanted to wear. Henry picked out a ghost costume, but Otto selected a witch costume, designed for a girl. I had no problem with it. My husband had not problem with it.

But the most shocking part? The preschool the boys went to is Baptist. Not crazy conservative Baptist, because I'd never subject my children to that, but Baptist nonetheless. They have Halloween parties. Dress up for them in their costumes. And the teachers pulled me aside and thanked me for supporting Otto's choice to dress up in a girls costume. They said they feared most families wouldn't allow their son's to pick out a costume like that, but they were so glad we let three year old Otto have his own autonomy and pick out what HE wanted to wear. Oh, and that he had the best costume in the class, and all the other kids loved it to boot.

The full witch costume (and his ghost brother Henry)

Look, I'm a mom of all boys. While I cried the day I learned I'd never have a daughter, slowly I'm learning that it's absolutely ok that I don't have a daughter; in fact, I'm getting to enjoy the very things I thought I'd never get to do with my sons: feminine things. In a world where it's completely ok for girls to do "anything" and they're constantly encouraged to do masculine things, why are we failing our boys? Why are we telling them to "man up" at young ages, and then wondering why we keep having national tragedies like mass shootings - or even personal tragedies, like men who beat up women, hurt their kids, have addictions or other mental health issues? I can tell you why. It's because we're neglecting them. We're shunning any interests they may have that we, as a society, have deemed "feminine." Well, I'm not going to fail my sons. They're entirely encouraged to pursue any interest they want! Dance lessons? Yup! Painting their nails? Yup! Baby dolls and barbies? You, got it son. My son's will always be allowed to do feminine things so they grow up to be well rounded, well adjusted men. 


  1. We've been unschooling for 17 years, and for the most part we've been able to surround our children with like-minded families who cared more about supporting their kids' interests than reinforcing traditional gender roles. We live in a fairly conservative area too though, so setting reasonable expectations for how others might react has been important. Knowing there might be trouble doesn't usually dissuade kids from what they want to do, but it does prepare them for dealing with it. It can also help them make alternative plans, like packing a different outfit in their bag if they want to change or using temporary hair dye instead of permanent.

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  4. I totally agree! As long as our kids are happy who cares of boys want to do "girl" things or girls want to do "boy" things? Just let them be kids -- discover new things, learn about themselves, and be happy while they're doing it!

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