A mother who worries other boys will stigmatize her 15-year-old son because his friends are only girls submitted the latest question that The Parents Project asked me to answer. My reply to this mom is based on my experiences raising a boy who moved flexibly among characteristics that much of society deems either “masculine” or “feminine.”
I remember my own concerns as a mom under the influence of prescriptive gender stereotypes during my now-24-year-old son’s youth. And while outdated beliefs and labels still exist, I think their frayed edges are peeling back more quickly than many parents can imagine. Some of the facts I share with her bear that out, as today’s younger generation pushes for new ways of thinking about gender and its attributes. And for that, I’m hopeful that all parents can worry less, and be enthused more.
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