Tuesday, May 24, 2016

When My Daughter Said She Wanted To Be A Boy and How I Handled It

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                                  Original photo from www.pixabay.com

"I wanna be a boy," said my toddler girl years ago.

Hmmm, I thought to myself. I'd waited almost 6 years to have a girl, and now she's saying she wants to be a boy! Really?

Surrounded by fairy pink walls, pink decor, and pretty much pink everything, my baby girl insisted that her favorite color was now blue. Not that there's a thing wrong with a girl liking blue. I love certain shades of blue, but after having two little boys, I was blued out to the max!

It might sound like I'm making a big deal about the color blue. I'm really not. Of course I was a little sad that my sweet baby girl wasn't crazy for pink like me, and maybe my feelings were a little hurt by the fact that she wasn't appreciating all the time and effort I'd put into making her room as pretty as I could. But this whole matter really wasn't about a color at all. In fact, all by itself, my daughter's blue phase wouldn't have been a big deal, but she started telling me things like, "When I grow up, I'm going to turn into a boy." Oh, mercy.

Okay. I knew at this point it was time to address the issue even though my daughter was still so young and even though I had an inkling that it wasn't a true "identity crisis." 

I observed what was pretty obvious: I had a little girl who had two big brothers who got to do some things she couldn't do yet. Plus, I'm sure she felt left out at times when the boys would get to play outside with their friends while she had to stay inside with mama or when they just wanted to play in their shared room without a little sister bothering them. Even though she couldn't articulate her feelings, I figured that she'd worked it out in her little mind that being born a girl was the reason she couldn't do certain things.

So, how did I handle my toddler's phase of wanting to be a boy? Well, first of all, I tried not to make a big deal out of it, and I tried not to act shocked when she brought it up. When she'd say she wanted to be a boy, I'd respond with statements like, "Well, God made you a little girl," or "I'm so glad God answered my prayer and gave me a daughter." I'd tell her that girls were special - that she was special - and that one day she'd get to do big girl things.

When she'd say that she was going to turn into a boy when she grew up, I'd correct her on it. I'd say, "No, you were born a girl, and when you grow up, you will still be a girl." I explained that God made us male and female and that ultimately He was the one who decided what gender we would be. I'd tell her that God made boys and girls differently and that she'd turn into a woman and be like mama when she grew up. I kept it pretty simple and talked to her on her level. Each conversation was short and sweet. Toddlers don't seem to stay focused on one thing for too long. ;)

I prayed about the issue. That the phase wouldn't last long, for one, and that she'd be content being the girl God made her to be.

I made sure to spend time playing with her each day - whether it was playing dolls, having tea parties, or reading wonderful books and making cupcakes! I would've done these things anyway, but I hoped that in our everyday life she'd see just how fun it was to be a girl!!

I let her like the color blue and let her play with her brothers' toys, but I didn't start dressing her in boys' clothes or stop putting bows in what little hair she had. I didn't change her room; I couldn't afford to. But even if I could have, I wouldn't have. Because toddlers don't get to decide everything they want when they want it. I didn't stop treating her like the girl she was.

Basically, I didn't encourage her I-wanna-be-a-boy phase, but I didn't make a big deal out of it either. We just continued to live our normal, everyday lives which did happen to include lots of boy stuff. Kinda can't avoid that with two big brothers who loved all things boy!

It's been about 7-8 years since my daughter went through that phase, and thank goodness, it truly was a short phase. I couldn't help thinking about it, though, with the whole transgender thing flooding the media right now. It prompted me to ask my daughter if she even remembered wanting to be a boy at one point. She says not really. When I asked her if she was glad that God made her a girl, she smiled and said, "Yes." But, I knew that already. :)

Christian mamas, never be afraid to raise your children up in the fear of the Lord. Never let media and the ways of this world dictate how you raise your kids. Teach them that they can love others without compromising the Truth. Immerse yourself and your kids in Scripture every single day, and pray that your kids will grow up to be strong men and women of faith.

Thank you sweet daughter for giving me permission to share this post. I love you and am so blessed by the precious young girl you've become.

This post is shared at Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Tuesdays with a Twist. WFMW, Titus 2 Tuesday, Thoughtful Thursdays


Becca @The Earthling's Handbook said...

Thank you for sharing this story! I am a Christian in a denomination that accepts LGBT people--and still I think your approach is just right. I meet many parents these days who think that if a child of any age expresses doubt about gender, it must mean that the child is transgendered and ought to be encouraged to express the gender identity that feels right. I think this is a dangerous direction to take. Children before puberty are still forming their understanding of what gender means and what sexuality is, and even into their early twenties most people are still working on their understanding of what being a man or woman means to them specifically, so it's too early to make the very drastic decision that you must have been born in the wrong body! Although I believe that gender dysphoria is a real thing that truly does affect some people, it is rare, and we shouldn't let the current trendiness lead us into seeing it where it doesn't really exist.

My son is 11. When he was 3-6 or so, he really liked purple and pink, flowers, kittens, butterflies, and other "girly" things and did not like to play sports or fighting games. At times he wanted to put on a skirt and twirl. Sometimes in play he would portray a girl character. But he NEVER said that he thought he had the wrong body parts, although he was aware of the different parts girls and boys have. When he wanted to buy "girly" items, his dad and I would explain that kids at school might tease him about it; we encouraged him to think about whether he liked the item enough to accept teasing, and we let him make the decision. One of his preschool teachers taught him to say, "Mostly girls wear this kind of shoes, but this pair is mine, so these are boy's shoes." We encouraged his "boy" interests like trains and Legos. As he got older, he shifted to preferring clothes more like what the other boys wear and started to get interested in computer games, books, and movies that involve fighting. It's still true that most of his close friends are girls, but he doesn't want to BE a girl. He's just a boy whose tastes and interests are closer to the middle of the spectrum.

Brandi said...

You are welcome. Thanks for commenting and sharing your story as well. 😊


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