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Question
Posted by: Cheryl | 2011-05-31

My 3.5 year old son

Dear Expert,

I would like your opinion on a statement that my 3.5 year old son has made a few times. One of them was last night when we arrived home from school he said out to no one in particular " when I grow up to be a girl and wear dresses" . I would like to know if this is just a phase that all boys and girls go through or is he confused in understanding the difference in the sexes or is he becoming curious in the opposite sex. I also have a 1 year old daughter who he is infatuated with and totally adores.

Kind regards,
Cheryl

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Am I remmbering correctly that this is a further deelopment in the tale of the dress-preferring lad we heard about last week ? Or is there a small epidemic starting up ?
Anyhow, it's not a phase ALL kids go through, but its more common than one might think. I suppose for some kids, they find boys usual garb to be drab and uninteresting, compared with the "pretty" dresses that tend to be offered to girls. At such a young age, gender norms are not yet fixed, and he is unlikely to understand what signiicance such remarks might have to an adult. He may, as more than a few kids think, assume that sex and gender is optional, and has so far formed a much more positive view of girls and women. And we generally don't take the time to explain societal norms about gender behaviours and markers to kids, assuming they'll just work it out for themselves. Maybe your lad is unusual more in sharing such thinking with you, than in thinking any such thoughts

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: Lee | 2011-06-02

Dear Cheryl
It is fine for your son to want to wear the pretty clothes women wear especially if he identifies more positively with female role-models. This does not however mean that he will not be a boy or man later. My own son was also fascinated with dresses as a baby and adored his younger sister too. Now things are ''normal'' (whatever that means to society) because he is 14 and plays sport and is quite macho but is raised with love and respect for everyone. Although, if he had turned out to still fancy dresses and girly stuff I would love him unconditionally so that he can know that he is accepted no matter what.

Reply to Lee
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-05-31

Am I remmbering correctly that this is a further deelopment in the tale of the dress-preferring lad we heard about last week ? Or is there a small epidemic starting up ?
Anyhow, it's not a phase ALL kids go through, but its more common than one might think. I suppose for some kids, they find boys usual garb to be drab and uninteresting, compared with the "pretty" dresses that tend to be offered to girls. At such a young age, gender norms are not yet fixed, and he is unlikely to understand what signiicance such remarks might have to an adult. He may, as more than a few kids think, assume that sex and gender is optional, and has so far formed a much more positive view of girls and women. And we generally don't take the time to explain societal norms about gender behaviours and markers to kids, assuming they'll just work it out for themselves. Maybe your lad is unusual more in sharing such thinking with you, than in thinking any such thoughts

Reply to cybershrink

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