Why Is Raising a Child So Controversial?


It seems like it is impossible not to do something controversial when trying to bring up baby. Something as simple as letting a 4 month old sip water can cause some people to threaten to call child services. Personally, I think it’s dangerous to assume that parents always have their child’s best interests at heart, and it’s even worse to think of a child as their parents property. That said, does everybody need to have an opinion on what I do from now until baby is…when do people stop analyzing everything?

But Withteeth and I already know we’ll be raising baby in ways that’ll make some people cringe. For starters, we won’t be taking baby to church. We aren’t Christian. We want baby to choose their own religion, or no religion, when they are old enough. We also intend to cloth diaper and won’t be waiting until baby is six months to start them on solids. If the baby is male, we won’t be circumcising either. And then their is the Homeschooling thing. But that isn’t the most controversial thing we plan to do.

The most controversial aspect of our parenting will revolve around baby’s gender. We don’t know the sex, though I could have found out weeks ago. We don’t want to know. For one thing, it’ll tell us nothing more than what’s between baby’s legs. For another, it prevents others from enforcing their own stereotypes on baby before baby has even entered the world. In other blog posts I have discussed my being genderqueer. That hasn’t changed. In fact, pregnancy makes my own gender more obvious to me. Because of my own gender, I want any children I have to feel safe expressing themselves however they prefer. For that reason, Withteeth and I have chosen to refer to baby as “they” until they choose a preferred pronoun. We have also collected an assortment of gender neutral clothes for the first two years (most of which were given to us by friends). Studies show that gender begins to develop between age 2 and 5, so we plan to allow baby to pick their own preferred clothes at that point. We also won’t be cutting baby’s hair until then. What baby wears and what they do with their hair will be their choice. After all, it’s their hair and their body. So what if they don’t look fashionable? I was too busy getting dirty to look fashionable at that age, and I can’t imagine my child will be any different.

As for how they identify, we don’t really care about that. We may have a masculine child, or a feminine child. More likely our child will fall somewhere in the middle. If they pick pink Disney princess everything, great. If they prefer trucks or dinosaurs, great. Many parents worry about such things. They think the child will be confused. Confused about what? What they like? Has anybody tried to divert the attention of a toddler away from what they want before? It isn’t exactly easy. Isn’t it more likely to confuse them if you keep forcing them to play with things they don’t like? Or wear clothes they hate? It’s certainly not going to cause me anything but a headache. No, when it comes to things like clothing, hair styles, and toys, I’ll let baby lead. I’ll save the battles for the things that matter: health, food, spending, education, etc.

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14 responses to “Why Is Raising a Child So Controversial?

  • deaconmike51907

    Reblogged this on News With a Catholic View.

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  • Swarn Gill

    Congratulations to you both! It sounds like there is a lot of love and thoughtfulness here. Thus it’s a very lucky child. You both will be great! πŸ™‚

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  • paidiske

    Have you started thinking about names yet? Choosing a name for our daughter was one of the hardest decisions we had to make while I was pregnant.

    As far as gender-neutral names, I have a very soft spot for Sage… but you’re in Canada, aren’t you? Maybe that won’t work so well in an environment where many people speak French.

    And as for hair styles, I’d be happy if my four-year-old would let me do anything with it (like, washing it occasionally) without it turning into a major drama!

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  • Ros

    Do what feels right to you. Whatever you do, there will always be someone who argues with it. Interestingly, all babies wore dresses a century or so ago, so what you’re suggesting for the first two years is hardly anything new πŸ˜‰

    With regard to religious educaton, I fully respect your decision not to take your child(ren) to church. It would hardly make sense to do so if you are not Christians. That said, it’s quite common over here for school children to be taken to look round a church, synagogue, mosque and/or pagan/goddess temple as part of their religious education and, from what I’ve heard, they get a lot more out of such experiences if they get the opportunity to participate for a few minutes in worship and hence see what actually goes on. It’s like the difference between ‘hands on’ learning and learning stuff from a text book. It provides a much fuller understanding.

    I’m not in any way saying you *should* do this. There are no ‘shoulds’ about it. But since you have shown a willingness to teach religion, I just thought it might be something worth thinking about…

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      I’m not sure what we’ll end up doing as far as hands on religious education goes. I would love to take my children on tours of various religious sites, but that kind of depends on what’s available when they are old enough to grasp the concepts.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Ubi Dubium

    Yay on letting your child pick what they want to wear! It’s just clothes. We also made sure that our girls had all different sorts of toys to play with. Since family tended to give them girly stuff, we made sure that there were also trucks and matchbox cars and such. Don’t forget a good set of building blocks, that’s one of the best toys ever. That, and large cardboard boxes, those are great. (I’d avoid Legos until they learn to pick up their toys. Legos really hurt when you step on them at night in the dark.) They wound up mostly gravitating to the girly stuff anyway.

    I’ve always told my kids that it was up to them how they wore their hair. They could have it short or long, dye it blue, shave it into a mohawk, whatever. Any crazy stuff would grow out eventually if they didn’t like it. But neither of them ever wanted to do anything weird with it, perhaps because I gave them permission.

    I thought about cloth diapers. But those require laundering, so I’m not convinced that they are environmentally better. Especially since my jurisdiction burns all our trash to generate electricity, so nothing goes in a landfill. But do keep some clean cloth diapers on hand either way, because they are soft, washable, and freaking useful. Burp cloths, emergency changing pads, improvised bibs, they’re great. My kids also latched onto them as security blankets, and since they’re interchangeable and come in packs of a dozen we never had the “lost blankie” emergency.

    We took the cue from our kids’ development as to when they were ready for solid food, rather than just setting an age. But we kept nursing as long as they were interested, even once they were on solids.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hessianwithteeth

      Withteeth is convinced our kids must have lego. It helps that his dad kept all of his from his childhood, so we already have about three totes full (not small totes either). But I want to start them with some nice foam blocks.
      We’ve chosen cloth diapering for the cost more than anything. While cloth diapers aren’t cheap, they are cheaper in the long run, and can be used for multiple children. I’m not sure if they’re better for the environment, but that would certainly be an added bonus ;).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ros

        Foam blocks are great for very small people because they are soft. However, they can be frustrating for small hands to try and build with because they are also bouncy! Wooden blocks are better when they get to this stage.

        Duplo – the ‘pre-school’ version of lego – was easily the best toy we ever had for our girls. They had lots – bricks, bases, windows, people, animals, vehicles etc. – and they spent hours with it from about age 2 and up. Most of it was second-hand, but they enjoyed it so much, we bought some new as well.

        We also used cloth nappies. This was partly for environmental reasons, but it still worked out cheaper, even with having to buy a new washing machine at the end of it! (Not so environmentally friendly after all, then ;-)).

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      • Ubi Dubium

        You’ll have to wait on the Lego for a while, because they are a choking hazard for small children. But I think they make larger preschool blocks too.

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  • Celeste

    I think raising a child as gender neutral as possible is great. Mine is a teen and he does identify as male, which was his assigned gender at birth. I think people will always have opinions on how we choose to raise our children. We aren’t religious, unless we could combine paganism with atheism, we don’t celebrate traditional christian holidays, opting instead for pagan sabbaths as it fits in with our belief system more than anything. The early years really helped me become more of myself as a person, and helped me realize just how important it is to follow our own parenting path, even when it’s not a common one. There are some things I worried about that I realize I didn’t need to worry about. My son goes to public school, he is so counter culture it actually makes me feel as though I’ve done a great job. He is highly intelligent, easily getting good grades and going through the dreaded system (homeschooling has been done in the past, this is his choice) and he has found his group of similar minded people. It can be hard though…and I’m writing a blog post pretty much here, lol. I just have to add that people assumed my son was a girl (still do at times) and he had dolls and still has long hair (though back then his hair was super long) and he liked dresses and people often commented on these things, in front of him, and it just made him annoyed and he realizes today that the people who judge are not worth even getting into it with.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Withteeth and I have been talking about celebrating the solstices and equinoxes instead of the Christian holidays. We aren’t pagan at all, but we feel as though such events are more concrete and would make more sense for us.
      When Withteeth and I met, he had the long hair. Now we both have short hair. It’s impossible to imagine anyone thinking Withteeth is female (he has a very intimidating presence thanks to his size), but he definitely went through his counter-culture phase. I did too, and I still confuse people about my gender (though far more purposefully than most people do).

      Liked by 1 person

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