Raising My Girls

When my wife was pregnant with each of our children and more so with each girl we had, a lot of people assumed that I really wanted to have a baby boy.  To me though, that was never important.  I had no preference either way; I never had any preference to begin with.  To me, I still planned to share with them whatever I could, to show them my interests and my dreams, and share in their interests, hopes, and dreams.

Now, that’s not to say they don’t naturally gravitate towards certain things that I am more than happy for them to do on their own or with their mom.  The first toy that each of them played with was typically a baby doll and a baby stroller.  We also own way more Barbie dolls and Disney Princess merchandise then I could have ever imagined.  But in that dress-up box, just below the Rapunzel dress is a Clone Trooper costume.  In addition to a Barbie playhouse, we also have a Dragon Castle.  We have Barbie’s corvette, but also a Jurassic Park electronic T-Rex.  We have GeoTrax train sets, Legos, Matchbox Cars, Star Wars toys, Transformers, and Nerf guns in addition to the Step 2 Kitchenette and Diner.

I want them to have the same opportunities as any other kid, regardless of being a boy or girl.  We’ve signed up our oldest to play on mixed tee-ball and soccer teams.  There was one instance, during the tee-ball practices, where I saw one of the other dads expect less from my oldest just because she was a girl.  I was a bit surprised at how sensitive I was to that.  It sounds odd, but I talked to her about doing a better job and trying harder, because there was no reason for her to not be as good as any of the other kids out there.

My girls also like to play video games.  The first game I played with my oldest was Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii.  She loved to sit on my lap and be the helper, collecting different things through the game, while I played through each level.  Now, she and her slightly younger sister like to play through games.  I’ve read several articles that talk about the rise in “girl gamers”, but that’s a term I hate.  Yes, my kids are girls who like to play video games, but they’re no different than any other kid who plays games.  Yes, Disney Princess games interest them more than racing games, but they also happily play Lego Star Wars or Wii Sports or Super Mario games.

About a year ago, I introduced my oldest, now 6, to the old 1985 Transformer Cartoons, and I gave her a box of my old toys.  Yes, the cartoons are cheesy, silly, and devoid of much of a redeeming story, but she likes to watch them.  My middle daughter likes to watch the Clone Wars cartoon and the Star Wars movies with me.  She’ll often ask for me to play Star Wars with her.

Granted, our approach to play is different.  When they play dinosaurs, the dinosaur family goes on vacation; when I play with them, the T-Rex is on a rampage.  For them, the Transformers are taking the kids to school; for me, it’s all about robot battles.  So I recognize that there are plenty of psychological differences in how we view the world.  This isn’t about people being the same; this is about people giving them the same opportunities.

My wife feels that the girls want to play with Star Wars, Transformers toys, and the like because they want to do something with me.  For me, I want them to play with whatever they want and they aren’t limited to dolls or things that are pink just because of their gender.  Will this help them be better people when they grow up?  I don’t really know, but I do know I will have given them an opportunity to be interested in whatever they want, not what someone else wants them to be interested in.

Their role and their place in society is not defined by their gender; their role is whatever they choose it to be.  Am I confusing their gender?  Will they be psychologically scarred by this?  I doubt it.  They do plenty of “traditional” girl things.  I’ve just exposed them to things that they might not normally gravitate toward.

So what is the end result of my influence on my girls? In answer to that, I present this video of my daughter as Darth Vader.