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08/12/2010

Do We Harm Our Children By Naming Them “Pop”?

Sometimes parents can over-think things. Then sometimes parents are just crazy. Then sometimes parents name their child “Pop”.

According to the University of Oxford Practical Ethics Blog, a Swedish couple has decided to keep the sex of their toddler a secret as to avoid the pressures placed upon children from having to grow up as one gender or another.

Toddler.jpg

As reported in the Guardian, “We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset. It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.” Oddly, I didn’t know that we were doing that to babies these days. Maybe only in Sweden.

Personally, I think it is cruel to bring a child into the world and to force a parent’s wild-eyed expectations that the world could somehow be gender-neutral upon him/her. What happens when little “Pop” (who quite frankly is going to get popped in the nose regularly in grade school for having such a ridiculous name) has a penchant for playing with dolls or Transformers over more gender-neutral blocks or sock puppets?

What happens when “Pop” wants to wear pink for 7 days in a row (as children often do)–won’t “Pop’s” ambiguous sex cover be blown? Or will his/her parents force “Pop” to wear only khaki for the next 18 years?

Frankly, this sounds like more of a publicity stunt to me than anything else. But it raises important questions about how we think about raising our children as well. Could we ever be truly neutral in what we expose our children to–and would we really want to be? Would we really want our children to be without gender? The position of “Pop’s” parents deny something wonderful about being a little girl or a little boy.

I say let “Pop” be whoever he/she is going to be–if that is a blue clothes wearing, Hannah Montana singing boy, then so be it. Shrouding a boy or girl in gender-neutrality will only result in a child who grows up wondering–“Why were my parents hiding my gender and my male/female-ness all this time? What were they ashamed of?” Quite frankly, I’d like to ask them that myself.

Free “Pop” from her bondage and let him/her be a toddler who can be anything he/she wants to be.

Summer Johnson, PhD

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