Highlight: How parents guide a child's gender

As modern culture is increasingly confused at the concept of gender, research continues to confirm innate differences and equal dignity of men and women. Family researcher Glenn Stanton says the design of the family, with both mom and dad, lays the simple foundations of gender in everyday life.

“What we find, and secular anthropologists talk about this, is that because men and women are different as male and female parents, they give examples to the kids to their children.

“(As they see) moms and dads, little girls realize after awhile, “OK, I’m more like Mom. I follow her example,” and “Dad, I love him, I love to be like him and want to emulate him, but I’m a different sex than he is.” And the same thing with a boy. Really early on, he identifies with Mom and every little boy has to have the ‘apron strings’ cut to be able to say, “Mom has been my caregiver, my life-giver, my trusted person, but I need to start interacting with and identifying with Dad because I’m a boy, just like he’s a boy.” Those are very significant distinctions.”

Stanton cautions against adoption of stereotypical guidelines for what maleness or femaleness must look like.

“We realize that there are lots of different ways to be a good man, a good boy, a good woman, a good girl. I bet you every parent has girls that don’t really like dolls. They like to sweat, to work, do hard sports, and be challenged. You can have boys that like the arts, they like creativity. They don’t like to go out and get dirty, or to break things.”

Stanton encourages Christian parents to resist those stereotypes about male and female behaviors, while recognizing the distinct dignity of their son or daughter’s gender as God-given.

“It’s really just a false construct that we build; a little boy should be this way, a little girl should be this way. In fact, scripture doesn’t even talk about that.”

“It has some direction for what men and women do in terms of life within the church, but you’ll not find a whole lot of scripture on this is how boys are and this is how girls are. There are not these tight, clear blue and pink boxes. But again, that doesn’t mean that we can’t speak meaningfully and truthfully about what it means to be male and female.”


Glenn T. Stanton is the director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs and a research fellow at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. Stanton is the author of five books about marriage and families, including Secure Daughters, Confident Sons, Why Marriage Matters, My Crazy, Imperfect Christian Family.

How parents guide a child's gender with Glenn Stanton
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