The norm says
Boys will be boys, especially the ones we love. It teaches us to let their poor behaviours slide, to accept them even, and not to take them too seriously because "they don't really mean any harm".
Will remind you not to let internalised patriarchy settle in. Set positive precedents for yourself and other women by loving the boys and men in your life so much so that you speak up when they are wrong.
Or, it will just empower the heck out of you. Hopefully both.
I was always a tomboy and I still think boys had more fun growing up; going on pirate treasure hunts or pretending to fly to the moon or be a superhero while girls would play-pretend, act like grown-ups raising families, paying bills on pink calculators, be princesses or hairdressers!
My parents were pretty modern, I guess, as I remember playing for hours building Star Wars’ Enterprise in Lego bricks with my sister… but then, I discovered Barbie and turned to the dark side of the force!
So, when I found out that I was expecting a daughter, I wanted to have the same approach that my parents had with me and my sisters which was that she would be whatever she feels comfortable being (but secretly prayed that she possibly wouldn't be too much of a girly girl and would preferably come back home with wrecked trousers from playing too hard in the playground!).
As it turns out, she showed us she was her very own person pretty quickly and I realised that I had no right to stop her from being who she was. And believe it or not, she's on the girly side. She currently loves unicorns, her favourite colour is lilac and she collects LOL surprise dolls! At the same time, she happily plays with cars and was Dracula for Halloween. So I feel like we have done a great job at making her realise that she can be all that she wants regardless of her gender.
Yet, she'll sometimes come back from school claiming that football is not for girls, video games are for boys and telling me stories about how she's basically pre-planning her wedding with her school crush Khaled etc… Utter bullsh*t I feel eager to put a stop to immediately. I spend time watching the Women World Cup with her, I tell her that she is under no obligation to marry anyone and that she should, if anything, be curious, study, travel... In a nutshell, live her life.
To help with breaking down gender stereotypes with my kids, my husband works from home and does the school runs, he handles the kids when they're sick and need to stay home while I go to the office and come home late. Of course, according to my husband, everything he does that involve the kids or the house chores is just another proof he's a SuperDad (Wow, look at him doing the groceries AND pushing baby in the pram!) while mums doing the exact same would not even be noticed, let alone praised. But I digress...
Despite all our efforts, I can see that my son is more adventurous and louder than my daughter will ever be… Etienne is more sociable than Eloise. He talks confidently to both kids and adults alike when Eloise sometimes struggles to feel comfortable with her peers! At the same time, Etienne is better at expressing his feelings and loves wearing dresses and dance with his friends (boys and girls) to the Frozen tune! Is this our doing? Have we somehow restricted our daughter from speaking her mind and encourage our son to have a voice?
It is an everyday fight to ensure society is not shaping my badass daughter into a damsel in distress and my sensitive son into a brute! What I want overall is for them to be happy and feel like they can be whoever they want.