As someone who is Team Green till my baby is born, the one question I can not answer is the most popular for people to ask me, is our child in utero a boy or a girl. As I wait to learn the answer to this, I’ve thought a lot about gender and expectations, so I eagerly chose “Parenting Beyond Pink & Blue” as this week’s book review.
One of the most important aspects of this book is that it was written by a developmental psychologist. As a result a lot of the book is technical in nature, citing studies of others, their results, how they should be interpreted and also flaws in studies of others including only having a few participants, bias on the part of the experimenters, aspects not being randomly set up, etc.
The information was interesting in a lot of ways, in others in felt really repetitious. Other times the information was interesting yet felt incomplete, as when she cited a study in which fathers were to play with their children with toys they found in boxes, sometimes boxes with toys stereotypically corresponding to their child’s gender and sometimes toys stereotypically corresponding to the opposite gender, and one father opened a box of cars and trucks and wouldn’t use them with his daughter declared they must be for boys in the study. It felt like so much was missing from that recap – was he the only dad who had that reaction?, did they ask him more about his thoughts and/or encourage him to play with the toys with his daughter? – did any other men have that response?
The author put in lots of information on how the concept of gender is prevalent in our culture and even how even as young children, we make assumptions based on gender such as certain jobs, roles or activities are for one gender only or the other. The book is full of ways to encourage raising children who are given a more balanced view of gender, a few chapters even have ways to help toddlers through teens, though most of the suggestions are for younger children. I do wish she had included ways to help with this throughout childhood.
As a mom of two children, the author can see the very real ways gender expectations effects them. Both children are daughters and each has some traits and behaviors that fit into what you’d expect from a girl and some from a boy. It’s fascinating to see how she does a great job encouraging this including making sure her daughters see that women work with men at the firehouse that her husband is employed at. At the same time, her having only daughters makes it so we can’t see how she or another educated mom would handle the same situation with sons. She does refer here and there to how a friend handles the same situation with a son, yet had she included a lot more of this, perhaps even with a coauthor with sons, it would have made this stronger.
I did learn a lot from this book, which often was an interesting read.
Rating – three and a half baby booties out of five