Yesterday, I talked about how the Blank Slate theory didn’t pan out for me in real life. Today, I am writiing about another theory I was taught in college.
I don’t remember the cool name of the theory, but I was taught that boys behaved the way they do only because that is what they were taught. They were taught to love cars, trucks, blocks, sticks and mud because those items were presented to them and it was expected that they play with them.
That also meant girls were only girls because they were taught to be girls. They were given dolls and dishes and dressed up in dresses, lace and ribbons.
Each gender was only responding in the way that was taught and expected of them. Like the Blank Slate theory, everything was by nuture and not by nature.
I thought it sounded a bit odd. My parents hadn’t made a big deal about what toys we could play with. My brothers were never discouraged from playing with my toys, and I wasn’t forbidden to play with their toys. We played and shared. There wasn’t men’s work and women’s work, there was just work. But, my brothers turned out very differently from my sisters.
By reading the Bible and raising my own kids, I decided this theory was bunk, too. I never taught my first daughter she HAD to only play with dolls, she wanted to. Our first Christmas together Scott bought me a Cabbage Patch doll and I bought him a Stomper truck. Our daughter grew up playing with both, but loved the doll. She played with the truck only occasionally when she could play with her Daddy, or if she put dolls in it.
I didn’t teach her girls shouldn’t get dirty when they played, she automatically hated dirty hands. She would play outside, then come to the door fussing with her hands out, wanting to be wiped down before she would go back outside and play.
Three more times I was blessed with a baby daughter. Three more times they showed preference for dolls over cars, dress-ups over Legos, dishes over sticks and cleanliness over mud.
You guessed it. My two sons intentionally looked for every puddle. They couldn’t jump enough or splash enough in the mud. They were addicted to sticks and could transform them into anything their active imagination could create. They instinctively knew how to make car noises, which are different from airplane noises. They loved tools, sports and anything dangerous or with moving parts.
I bought Cabbage Patch dolls for each of the kids when they were born. My son had a homemade hockey uniform, complete with a little plastic hockey stick, a baseball uniform, cool very-boyish things. He tolerated the doll on his bed for a few years while very young, but never really played with it. He just wasn’t interested.
My kids’ toy preferences may not be enough to give credibility to my tossing out an accepted theory, but let’s look at the adult model. How different are you from your husband? Are those differences there just because you were each TAUGHT to behave a certain way?
If that was true, then women long ago would have changed that. You don’t have to be married very long before you realize the great differences between men and women. After living with their husbands, they would have DEFINITELY and DESPERATELY taught their sons to be different. I’ve tried this. I have tried to tell my sons I am raising them for their future wives, but it just hasn’t sunk in yet. Yes, behavior can be learned and changed with effort, but you can’t change the nature of their gender.
It’s been ingrained in our hearts, minds and souls, from the beginning of human life on earth.
We weren’t taught to be different, we were created to be different, by a great and glorious God who knew it would be of our best interests to have a spouse that is so opposite and so able to complement us.
The other thing I don’t appreciate about this theory, is that it is wrong for us to teach gender “stereotypes” to our children.
I have adopted my parents’ great theory in raising all kids capable and able. All of our kids learn to cook, clean, sew, garden, use tools, budget their money, paint, babysit and take care of cars. We want them all to be helpful and functional when we send them out into society.
But, I also have distinct ideas of how I want my sons to act. I have distinct ideas of how I want my daughters to act. My distinct ideas are based on the Bible, with convictions I have gained through the years of reading what the Lord desires from men and women. I am teaching behavior, yes, but only to enhance their natural differences.
I want to embrace, appreciate and glorify the beautiful way that the Lord created male and female as distinctly different genders.