Gender Norms and Stereotypes with Dr. Nadine Thornhill

voices of your village Dec 17, 2020


151 - Gender norms and stereotypes with Dr. Nadine Thornhill

00:00:01    Speaker 1: 

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, this is episode 151. I got to hang out with Dr. Nadine Thornhill to talk about gender norms and stereotypes and how these play out not just in the short term, not just in early childhood, but how it plays out in the long term in terms of how we show up in relationships how we show up at work etc. And what we can do to be supportive, and mindful as we are raising these tiny humans and getting to know who they are. So many of us have biases that we are bringing to the table that come from our social programming and our childhood that we can dive into here and take a good look at and figure out what is this really look like in action. 

00:00:53    Speaker 1: 

Before we dive in I wanted to let you know that we had so much fun on the webinar this week that we're adding a second one. We're going to hang out on Sunday December 20th from 7:30 to 8:30 Eastern Time p.m. (Eastern time) and dive into this work again. So many of you wanted to hang out last week and didn't have the time to do so. So we're adding another date come join us to chat about what this looks like as adults. What self-regulation really looks like how do we do it? What are the steps to us being a regulated human so that we can navigate everyday life with a tiny humans or with our partners are setting boundaries and really getting to live a life that feels really true and regulated with more peace and calm. So head on over to to sign up to join us. It's totally free, we just get to hang out and have this conversation together. All right folks. Let's dive in.


00:02:06    Speaker 1: 

Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, sleep consultant, child development specialist and passionate feminist, Alyssa Blask Campbell. 


00:02:43    Speaker 1: 

Holy moly. Am I ever ready for a mama's getaway weekend. Woof. 2020 has been a doozy and I'm so looking forward to Mama's Getaway Weekend 2021. I will be there in tow with my tiny human as well as we dive into how to do this work. What does it look like to show up as an intentional, conscious parent and partner and person? And it can feel really overwhelming when you're scrolling through the 'gram, or trying to gather all of the information. Mama's Getaway Weekend is a time for you to step away and work on yourself. It's so hard to see these things and work on patterns in your day-to-day life when you're living in it all the time. Pausing to take a minute to to work on yourself is huge and goes such a long way. Mama's Getaway Weekend is my favorite weekend of the entire year and it's a time for us to dive into these workshops together in person in real time Mama's Getaway Weekend tickets for 2021 are on sale and they'll never be this low again. We have a limited quantity of our early bird price tickets. Head on over to to snag yours, and join us for the last weekend of September in 2021 in Watertown, New York to dive into this jazz. It takes a village and you don't have to have all of the answers on your own. We are here to support you. Come join us to snag your hot deal. Before those early bird tickets are gone. 


00:04:53    Speaker 1: 

Hello village, welcome back, today I get to hang out with Dr. Nadine Thornhill out of Canada, yeah? 


00:05:02    Speaker 2: 



00:05:03    Speaker 1: 

Nice. Welcome. Thanks for joining me today. 


00:05:06    Speaker 2: 

Oh thanks for having me. I'm really excited. 


00:05:09    Speaker 1: 

I'm jazzed for you to be here. Can you share with our village a bit about who you are and kindof what brings you to this work? 


00:05:15    Speaker 2: 

Yeah, absolutely. So I am a sexuality educator. And as you said I am based in Toronto, Canada. So what I do as a sex educator, there are a lot of you know different roles of sex educator can play. And sex educators work with a lot of different communities, but I specifically work a lot with families and also teachers. My area of focus and expertise is Child and Adolescent Sexuality. So I work a lot with folks to just really help them navigate conversations and to help guide them as they're teaching the young people in their lives about all all aspects of sexuality. 


00:05:56    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, that's so rad. I think it's something that I know at least when I was growing up. It wasn't as much of a conversation as it is today and I think it's rad that were evolving in that way and that there's progression and I think we still have a long way to go. And I know personally for myself so much of this I grew up in like a small Christian community where it was like 'we just don't talk about things' 'we're going to pretend periods don't exist'. You know and and so much of it was like me building a tool box and just an awareness as an adult to bring two kids and the discomfort that comes with that when it's not what you grew up with. 


00:06:39    Speaker 2: 

Yeah, absolutely. And that's a really common experience, you know, whether it's because of the religious cultures we grew up in or you know, even mainstream culture until very recently has been you know what we might call "sex-negative" where there's been a lot of fear and reticence around having these open conversations about sexuality, particularly with children and even teens because there's this misconception that A: sexuality only has to do directly with sex and you know little kids are not having sex. So, why would we talk about it? But also there's a lot of fear that you know, it could be harmful to them or that they're not ready for it. When really what we're doing is we're helping to give them a context and an understanding of a lot of experiences that start from the time that we're born and you know, a lot of you know, even like biological and social processes that are developing and evolving throughout childhood and adolescent. So we're really just sort of seemed like hey, yeah. This is a thing that's happening to you and these are things happening around you. Here's an explanation as to like as to what what this is. 


00:07:49    Speaker 1: 

Yeah. I think that's so huge just like the awareness right? And like building awareness of all the things it always comes back to awareness. As we're going to dive into some things here. Can you first break down for folks the difference between sex and gender as we navigate this conversation? 


00:08:11    Speaker 2: 

Absolutely. And so I think what's important to understand is that both of both sexes, and in this case, we're talking about, you know, biological sex it set of characteristics. And gender which is sort of you know, those are more we're talking about, you know, the way we self identify, the way that identity informs the way we move through the world and the way that identity may inform the way people relate to us. Both those things are constructs. There is this sort of misconception that, well because the word biological is in front of sex and because it's you know rooted in a scientific framework that it's immutable and that there is no construction in science and there is. So biological sex, as you know as defined, you know currently is often considered to be a set of five characteristics. So that genitals, gonads, which are ovaries or testicles, the what we call "sex hormones" so, broadly speaking estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which exist in the body in like different combinations in different people, chromosomes, so those could be XX, XY, XXY, there are all different actual combinations of chromosomes, and then secondary sex characteristics which are body changes that often emerge during puberty. And so that is like again, it's a simplification but broadly speaking that's often what we use to define biological sex. And then we have gender which is you know, it's much broader. It's much more nuanced people experience it all sorts of different ways, but yeah gender is sort of your understanding of who you are. I would say, I don't even want to say within the spectrum of male and female, because there are people who identify outside of that binary. But an example of gender would be, I identify and understand myself to be a woman. That's the simplest way I can think of to describe gender right now. 


00:10:17    Speaker 1: 

That's so helpful and what I'm really interested in focusing on today is the gender component. In that, I love that you noted that it'll also affect how others respond to us in the world. Right? And that's what I'm really interested in diving into today. Is that not just how do we perceive ourselves in the world? But then how does that lead to how we show up and how others may perceive us and show up in relationship with us, whether it's in a classroom setting like who's getting called on, who's raising their hand, how are they being treated? How are they being responded to, what's the expectation through workplace and partnerships and and that jazz and I think we don't give enough credit to how young this starts. 


00:11:06    Speaker 2: 

Yeah. Absolutely. 


00:11:07    Speaker 1: 

Yeah. So when we are looking at gender, I think what has been at least what was it most common in my childhood and I would say in my experience are in my village is still most common today. Although there's more variance, is that based off of sex organs gender is applied at birth, right? 


00:11:30    Speaker 2: 

That's right. We call that the 'gender assignment.'


00:11:33    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, exactly. Right and then there's, my very first I would, my Master's is in early childhood and I was teaching at a school and I remember my first time that like in school we had professional development where someone came in and was like, "So you might have kids who you've been referring to as boy, that say like actually I'm a girl" and like how to navigate this. And I remember like sitting there and it was like one of my first exposures to this conversation and I was like, I don't know where to start with my questions, right? Like I have so many questions. And then this time went on and I like dove deeper into this and got to experience kids navigating gender and figuring out where within a gender spectrum they fall and how they identify it became clear. I think there are so many folks who walk into this, somebody the other day just said to me like my three-year-old is only the second three-year-old I've really ever been around, you know, and so I want to break this down for folks that might be navigating these conversations or getting curious about like how I interact with my tiny human now and how that can inform how they will show up in the world and how others might perceive that. And I think often when we're talking about gender, we'll talk. Like there's a very surface conversation of like what toys we say are for boys or girls or even what's marketed to us as for boys or for girls. And I was just in a second hand clothes store the other day and it was like the boys section and the girls section and I was like they're babies, right? This is wild it starts so young. It's a newborn. It doesn't matter which onesie it's in and but then down to like, all right, now what are we expecting from them? How are we expecting them to show up in the world? Like the idea of like boys will be boys or oh she's so emotional. She's so dramatic. Like those are things that I started to hear come up more and more in the village, and I was like we got to have this conversation. So let's do it. So what are, can you chat a bit about like, what are some of the longer-term impacts of gender norms and stereotypes? Like how do those those norms impact how folks are showing up in the world and people might perceive them? 


00:13:59    Speaker 2: 

Absolutely, and you know as human beings, you know, we have a need to connect to other human beings and so, you know part of how that happens for us is that we're sort of hardwired and some people are I guess "harder-wired" with this tendency than others, but there is you know this sort of hard wiring and this tendency to watch other people and to gauge sort of you know, what are they doing? And what can I do to sort of like to get their attention to gain their acceptance, you know, who is my tribe who are my people and we need to connect with each other in that way to survive, you know. Even a baby, like a baby is not going to survive all by itself. It needs other humans to you know, protect it to raise it to make sure that grows up. But then even once we are adult, we need each other and so part of what happens there is that, gender is a construct that sort of you know gives us a shorthand and we can use that shorthand to sort of say like, okay, you know, yeah, like I was born with these body parts, I was given this assignment, I was told like, you know, here's a word that people ascribe to me, you know, girl, boy, male, female, again it exists in this like very narrow insufficient binary. But there is a natural tendency, you know again when we're young and we're children be like, okay, I have this word. I have this label ascribed to me. And so what does that mean and how do I use that? And how do I perform this role in a way such that I can gain acceptance and so it's I think very natural and understandable that a lot of us even from the time we're little we'll sort of think like okay, let me watch other people who have this label and try to figure out you know, how I can emulate that or how I want to emulate that but I think the issue is that again there, it's a construct, it's a thing we made up. We're humans, we're flawed and a lot of our constructs are you know, they're flawed, they're lacking, they're insufficient. They don't have the nuance, because they're designed again to give us the short hand. They aren't designed so like yeah, let me sit here and think about this and analyze all the actual data that's in front of me because oh my gosh, it's just so much like if we're doing that with all of the input we get from every person, and every encounter, we would never get anything done. So they aren't, you know gender like a lot of our social constructs are not complete whole like sort of holistic constructs, they're limiting. And so I think yeah what winds up happening is people bump up against those limitations and then you know again, especially I think for children because we're not always having these conversations. We don't have to necessarily always know we need to have the conversations we did because you know, we don't know that maybe kids are sort of inside their own heads trying to sort this stuff out there like, oh, okay, this isn't quite working for me. What do I do? And sometimes as a tendency to just say, okay. I'm just going to copy other people. So, you know if I'm a little girl and I've been told well, little girls are supposed to behave this way, but there's a part of me that's saying like, I don't really want to, or that doesn't sit well with me or doesn't appeal to me. But also I want the other girls to accept me, and I know now that you know as a girl someday, I'm going to be a woman and so I want the women in my life to accept me. So I'm gonna try to maybe repress this or refrain this or something, you know, and that carries over into like throughout our lives and then at a certain point, it can start to feel just very normal to fight against, you know, some of our just natural personal individual inclinations. If they don't align with what we feel we have to do to perform our gender and again that experience is going to be very different for different people. So for some people, you know, that desire to sort of repress and fit in is going to be stronger for other people the desire to you know, really honor who they are as individuals is going to be stronger which I think is why you see some people who are like, look I know who I am and I will fight tooth and nail to be that person in the world. Where as you see other people where it may be like it may be very late in life or never before they are really able to embrace who they are and explore that. 


00:18:43    Speaker 1: 

Yeah. Well, and I think like, you know, you mentioned the all right if I'm a girl and I want to fit in with the other girls and then eventually the women I think part of that also is that desire for success in whatever that looks like right? Like how do I have to perform in this role that's expected of me in order to be successful in whatever that is, successful in relationship, successful in work, successful across the board right? In my experience as a woman in the world when I have used my voice in a meeting to disagree with something or been what I would consider like confident or powerful or strong it hasn't always been received well and it hasn't helped me be successful necessarily. And so I think part of it is like I want to give kids the tools to be fully who they are. And like I'm thinking right now of this little boy. I was giving a workshop to just dad's last fall and this dad was sharing like yeah. I want my little boy to be able to cry and to let me know how he's feeling and to express, he's like but also I don't want him to get made fun of and like right? This expectation of like because he's a boy, how's he supposed to show up in the world? And then what how will he be perceived by others? And then what are the effects of that right that it's like these dominoes that were afraid will fall. And so I think beyond like I want to be accepted I think part of it is the fear of like if I'm not accepted, what's at risk? 


00:20:20    Speaker 2: 

Absolutely, and that fear is, it's real. And I don't want to diminish or be dishonest and say that you know, there aren't real consequences for defying those roles. So for example, it's a podcast so I know people can't see me but I am a Black woman and I grew up as a Black girl. So even you know, being Black in moving through the world, you know that added another layer to my experience of gender because I grew up in a society where not only are there, you know expectations of me as a as a girl and a woman but then you know you layer something like white supremacy over that which says that, you know femininity in particular and I do I think have a lot of like natural tendencies to be to want to be what we would define as feminine in certain ways just because of the body I live in I can't embody femininity the way I was taught that it should be embodied because you know, for example, you know the natural texture of my hair is kinky and it's curly and it tends to like shrink up. So I have this like really kinky kind of short hair where you know, the feminine ideal is long flowing hair. You know, Blackness in our society is very much acquainted with strength like this kind of brute strength, invulnerable, you know and as a person who is very like emotionally sensitive, people do not, often don't perceive that sensitivity and that you know, I don't want to say emotional fragility and so I'm just going to say yeah emotional sensitivity in me just because of the body that I live in and so, you know, I grew up and continue to move through society in a way where a lot of people are just like just because of what I look like, and the body I'm in, the color of my skin, because of the features of my face, the type of hair I have, I can never achieve femininity at the level that is expected. Like I can't do it and they were real consequences for that and there have been real consequences for that throughout my life where I've experienced harm where I've experienced prejudice where yeah, it has been you know, and yeah where I do experience barriers to success because of that where I've been, you know threatened or put into danger because of those things. And so I'm like, yeah, the fear is real. It's not that people are just making it in their own heads. When you were talking about, you know, this father who wants his you know little boy to be able to be sensitive and to express those emotions and then there's this fear that he might get picked on, you know, depending on where they are, you know, you might get physically harmed because of that and so yeah, those are real fears that we have to navigate as parents and that we have to you know deal with. 


00:23:16    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, and I think so much of that does come back to gender of like, if that little boy was a little girl and they were crying at school, the reaction from their peers would likely be different. The expectation would be different right? Because of the gender constructs within which we live and so I do want to I guess like I think the hard part for me to like balance with all of this is like the world I want to live in and the world that we live in. Our brains are designed to be like familiar/unfamiliar right? Like categorize in a binary sense. And so when things come up for us and were like okay this starts with kids from so young where they'll be like, are you a boy or a girl like this question has come up with kids in my world so many times where kids are asking. Is she a boy or a girl? Are they a boy or girl? Are you a boy or a girl? Like they want to know, this is categorization in a binary sense, and I think our, we're, like you said if we were constantly analyzing all of the things all of the time, getting anything done or moving through the world to be very difficult. And so we're taking in information and sensory input all the time and just filtering it out, we're categorizing, we're filtering right? Like I just heard a car go by and my brain as I'm chatting with you is like "not important, don't pay attention to it" right? And like filtering information all of the time and so when we're walking through the world like this and we come into a space. We're like, okay what I know to be female or male in a binary construct. Now, this is being challenged or is different the brains going to take a beat and needs to take a beat to be like wait. I need to understand this like but which category do you fit into because I have two, and you don't seem to fit into either, you know, and so I think part of this is both like reckoning with the like, how do we support this from a brain development perspective as we are so designed to categorize yeah, let's start there. What do we do with that? 


00:25:22    Speaker 2: 

Okay. And so I think that something we can do is work on accepting the messiness and accepting it ourselves and also helping our children learn to accept the messiness and I think part of the messiness is, it's not going to be a thing that's going to happen for our kids like right away. Like we're not going to sit down and have like one conversation with them and they'll be like, okay, I'm super comfortable with like, you know not being able to categorize things and you know not being able to make these shortcuts because you know as we've been saying, you know, I believe that that really is a natural inclination of the human mind and so it's sort of, and I don't even think we have to get comfortable with it, again, I think it's just accepting like yeah, sometimes we can't and that doesn't necessarily feel good. But that doesn't mean that it's wrong and so, you know, like you were saying that you know right now we still live in this society and in these cultures were gender binary is, you know foisted on us from day one. Like if you have a baby who's born in the hospital, they're going to get wrapped in a blanket or like a little hat put on their head that's pink or blue to you know, let everybody know what their gender assignment is. I don't know what happens when a baby is intersex. But yeah, so I'm like this has been ingrained in kids from like the like like from their very first day on Earth so like so it makes sense that by the time they're verbal or by the time they're able to communicate, they're already like who is this person? Who is this person? Boy, girl, boy, girl. And so something we can say to them is "I don't know. I don't know that person. I don't know if they're a boy or a girl" and they may keep asking and they may think like I want to know, I need to know, and we can say to them you actually don't need to know like, you know, it's okay because that's a human being and we can you know, treat them kindly and treat them with respect and we can get know them. You know, if it's someone that you're actually going to interact with then, you know, we might instruct them that you know, we can talk to them about what our gender is, so when we you know, getting them used to introducing themselves and saying like, "Hi, this is my name. These are my pronouns." and creating that opening but also I think making space for acknowledging like yeah, you know what sometimes it can feel kind of confusing if we don't know what somebody's gender is if we don't know if there are a boy or a girl If they were girl, or you know, some people sort of, you know, feel like they're kind of a mix of both. Some people really aren't boys or girls. There are a lot of different ways that you know, we might feel about those parts of who we are and we don't always know with other people. So the best thing we can do is, you know, if it's someone that we're not going to talk to you know, like if it's just someone walking down the street, it's okay if we don't know. Because that's not really a person in our life and if it is a person in our life, the best thing we can do is just listen to them and whatever they tell us they are we just say, okay. And to keep reiterating that like I said, that's not a one-time conversation. So to talk about it, model it as best as possible. And you know, it's I think it's okay to talk to kids sometimes and say like you know what I'm not sure, you know about people's gender and sometimes that makes me feel I feel kind of odd about that, but it really it's okay.


00:28:47    Speaker 1: 

Yeah. I love that you also noted in there that it is, that we can we can acknowledge that they're a human and continue to bring it back to, that we can treat them with kindness and respect and get to know their interests. My niece, a couple years ago, she had joined a new soccer team with her twin brother and they come back from their first day and they are just like two vastly different humans in terms of how they connect with the world and she came home and she was like I learned this person, I learned about this person, I learned about this person, and this is what their interests are like she was so excited to share like here's what they're interested in because for her she's constantly looking at like how do I connect with humans based off of their interests? So she really wants to know like, and I would share stories of kids in my classroom and she would say like, well, what does she like to do or what do they like to do like constantly asking like, what are they interested in? And I think that that's so rad. Because what she was really saying is like oh anything is on the table that they can be interested in anything and I just get to find out what their unique interests are and treat them as a human and I have like taken this with me of like, how do I continue to instill this in kiddos? And I think you just broke it down so nicely in there like wound up right in there, but that it doesn't really matter what their gender is. We can treat them as a human and knowing their gender wouldn't give us more information about them as a human.


00:30:21    Speaker 2: 

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. 


00:30:24    Speaker 1: 

But I think there is this perceived notion right now that if we knew their gender, we would know more things about them. 


00:30:30    Speaker 2: 

Absolutely and I mean, I think even about you know people who have gender reveal parties and you know, I don't want to crack down too hard on anyone, you know who might be having a gender reveal party because I think part of what motivates that is this idea that if you know the gender, and I'm always like, what you're finding out is what kind of genitals your baby has. Like you don't know anything about that person but it makes us feel like we know something about the person who's coming into the world and again, like I don't think the impulse to want to know about, you know, the baby that is going to be you know, living in your home or the baby who's going to be part of your family, or a baby you know, who's going to be so important to someone who may be a close friend that you love I don't think that the impulse to say like I'm excited and I just want to feel like I know something more about this human who is now kind of concealed within a uterus, is a bad one. I think that actually often comes from a very kind, loving place of just being really excited about a new human who's coming in the world. But also like you don't really know anything about them as a person. You don't know anything more about them as a person then you did before you cut the cake or burst the balloon or whatever. This is just something that kind of will allow you to sort of enhance whatever the fantasy is that you have of who this person might be and some like I don't want to take that fantasy away from you. I think that's one of you know, that can be such a fun and important part of you know, waiting for somebody new to come into your life is, you know, sort of dreaming and having hope and anticipation, I think all of that is wonderful, but I'm like, you know, I think it maybe is also okay to say this is these are just like hopes these are like right now this is just fantasy. Some of it is going to come true and some of it invariably is not, I don't know. And again, I don't, I think we're just very uncomfortable as humans with "I don't know". Yeah. I don't know. I'm not prepared. And the thing is, you know, any of us who have had children no matter how they come into our lives, and like I will put significant money down on the fact that you were not prepared. Even if you did a lot to get prepared you weren't prepared and that kid threw a bunch of curve balls at you. 


00:33:03    Speaker 1: 

Absolutely, yeah, we were just having this chat, we had a team meeting yesterday and someone on my team has two kiddos and she was like, you know with my first kid, I was like I've got this I am rocking this and then my second kid came and is vastly different than my first kid in terms of how they show up in the world and how they navigate the world and their interests and all that jazz and she was like and it turns out it's my dose of humble pie. Like I was not prepared for this! Right? And so I think like even if you have kids like it could be your fourth that you're like, ooh, this one's different like yeah. 


00:33:48    Speaker 2: 

And maybe by your fourth or fifth you're sort of prepared for the fact that you're not prepared,  but you don't know. But again, you know going to get back to the idea of it's okay not to know things and it's okay to feel uncomfortable because you don't know things, but I also think that we can do a lot of harm when we try especially when we try to force other people. To conform to the preconceived notions that we came up with because those preconceived notions made us feel more secure, more prepared and more in control of an uncertain future. 


00:34:30    Speaker 1: 

Totally. I think that that's huge. Yeah. I love that. 


00:34:38    Speaker 1: 

I love hearing about what you are snagging from our gift guide. If you haven't snagged that gift guide yet head to and snag your free guide to take you through the holiday season and purchase with intention. 


00:35:05    Speaker 2: 

Someone asked me recently in one of my Q&A's on Instagram, what I was most excited about for this growing human and I was like I just am excited to get to know them and I really am like I just want to get to know them and that's it because I have no control outside of getting to know them. And in responding to who they are. Let's find out of this is one size fits all. One thing that I'm curious about how to build I know like growing up. I was so unaware of messaging, whether it's like media or social messaging Etc. That was affecting how I was showing up in the world, how I felt about myself. What are your thoughts on like, how do we build this awareness from kiddos from the beginning like we'll watch a show and a commercial pop up and I'll leave with like a feeling and I'll go to talk about to my husband. He was like well Lyss, that's like what they wanted you to feel. Right? like you were just being sold to and they did their job really well and now you think you need this thing or you need to change this thing to feel differently, but they made you feel this way in the first place. And he's just like, aware of the messaging in a way that like takes me a beat that I have to do more work to like be aware of like, oh, I'm comparing myself to this thing or now I don't feel like I'm enough of whatever. I have four brothers, I'm the only girl and I would say like in the span of femininity, I'm a not very feminine but like had that pushed on me as the only girl in a family of boys like could only wear dresses to school until a certain age except for gym days and whatever and now like have fully gone the other side and I'm like, I don't know how to do feminine things but like will find myself in comparison, you know and like and even and I think that so much of it is also the expectation of like what is professionalism look like as a woman? How are we supposed to show up in the world? And this is messaging that I think we're being fed all of the time and I want to know how do I support the tiny humans and building awareness of this messaging from a young age. 


00:37:22    Speaker 2: 

So something that I'm a really big fan of is just asking children questions and letting them, you know letting that be the catalyst for them mulling things over and again, children are very different so some kids are going to respond to a question with like "I dont know" some kids will you know give you an entire dissertation but just I think even by prompting them with a question, you're still encouraging and modeling that inquisitiveness. So I love the example you gave of an ad. So let's say, you know, you're with your kid and you're watching TV and an ad comes on or you're streaming something or an ad comes on and let's say it's an ad for toys and let's say it's an ad for dinosaur toys and you note to yourself. Well, okay in this ad for dinosaur toys all the children who are playing appear to be masculine. They have like a masculine gender presentation because again, we don't know what their gender is specifically but you know, we can be real with ourselves and be like, okay this seems like they're really pushing this towards kids to identify as boys. And so something you can say to your kid is, you know, you might just start off with a question of, you know, Do you think all those kids were boys? and they might be like, yeah, and you could say why do you think there were only boys? And just let them like like just let them talk or theorize they may not know they may have their own theories. So if they're just like, huh, I don't know you might fill in for a minute and be like, yeah. I was wondering if they think it's because only boys like dinosaur toys. Do you think only boys like dinosaur toys? Like what if girls want to play with Dinosaur toys? And again, like if they're not super receptive to the conversation like you can let it go because you've already sort of planted that nugget in their head of like, oh, okay when I'm watching stuff I can ask questions about it. You know, you could ask like, who do you think that ad was for, like you think it was for kids or adults? Do you know what kind of kids? etc etc Just to like sort of help them to be aware that A: this is like, these are choices that someone made for, that somebody made, you know, this isn't just what's happening in the world like these kids didn't just show up on TV playing with dinosaurs toys because that's the natural order of things those were decisions that were made but also that yeah, you can just question those things and you can be curious about those things, you know, and then they can sort of start to think about how they feel about it, you know, because you know, if you happen to have a  child, who's not a boy who's watching the dinosaur ad, who might be like, hey those dinosaurs look really cool, but I don't know if this is for me, then that might get them thinking of like, oh just because I saw that in the ad that doesn't mean that I can't also like dinosaur toys. Or you might have a kid who is a boy who's just like, yeah dinosaur toys. Like I don't care who else is playing with dinosaur toys and that's fine too. But again that questioning can just sort of train them to think and to question and to hopefully start to understand that like, hey, I don't have to just go along with this because this is the thing I'm being shown. I can challenge it, I question it, and I can make different choices if I want to. 


00:40:47    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, I love that. Like does that actually bring you joy? What does bring you joy? What do you want? Yeah. 


00:40:55    Speaker 1: 

You know that could also be a question too that isn't necessarily rooted in gender of like what do you think of those toys? Is that a thing you would want to play with and again, you can ask that sort of regardless of gender because it just, you know, especially when it comes to like play and pleasure and joy, you know, I'm very anti trying to push kids towards or away from the things that bring them joy. I've certainly spoken to a lot of people particularly who are parenting girls who become very concerned when they're like, uh, like my girl is just there into pink things and they're into princess things and oh my gosh, like I don't want to I'm not trying to raise this like super girly princessy kid, and I'm like, but if that's what they like right now, I'm like there's nothing inherently wrong with pink. There's nothing inherently wrong with sparkles and dresses and feeling pretty like we don't have to denigrate or devalue things that are connected to femininity. And I'm like if that's bringing your kid joy, that's fine. Like they can enjoy that what we don't want to do, what we want to be conscious of is not limiting them and just sort of checking in and making sure that it's not. Oh I'm wearing a pink sparkly dress on I hate it but I just feel like this is my only option so fine. But I'm like if they're like, if they light up when they put on like a little plastic princess crown. Let them light up man. 


00:42:25    Speaker 1: 

Totally totally. Yeah. We were, Zach and I were just chatting about this in terms of like clothes, as I love to shop and very much like secondhand browsing right now as a nice coping mechanism and we were chatting about clothes and he was like I don't think it makes sense to put any human in a dress between like once they're crawling and until they like mastered walking unless they choose to, he's like it just seems like it would be in the way like, they're trying to move. It's not going to support their movement and I was like, first of all I like that this is where your head's at. But also I was like, yeah, no that makes total sense. I was like, but then if they want to wear a dress, they should be able to wear a dress, that he was like, oh totally if they want to wear a dress totally, they should be able to, he's like, but I just don't think it's practical for them as they're trying to move. And I was thinking of this human who I had in my classroom. I had herand her twin sister and they were like largely just like gender-neutral clothing, whatever there were three kids and kids were just sent to school in whatever they were wearing at that point and, three under three, like you survived, you're here in school, cheers! And she would come in and would go right ove, we had like a bin of clothes and things that they kept scarves and things like that and she would go over and she put on a dress and she'd wear it all day, every day. And so finally I said like hey, she keeps coming in and like putting on this dress and just wants to wear it all day. I'm wondering if you have any dresses at home that she could use, explore with, etcetera, try on wear, and they were like, oh my gosh like yeah, we never even thought of dresses for our kids. Yeah, we can do that like she initiated this and I think there was this inclination. One of the moms was like, I don't know what to do with a girl with dresses like this isn't my thing and I was like just let her do her thing. Right? It doesn't have to be your thing. She can do her thing here. 


00:44:33    Speaker 2: 

And I always say, all clothes are gender-neutral like the gendering of clothes again is a thing that we made up. You can put a dress on any body and it's fine. The dress does not inherently change their gender. It's funny that your partner said that because, I feel personally and this may be just how like my own body. I find dresses less constrictive than pants.


00:44:58    Speaker 1: 

Oh interesting. 


00:45:00    Speaker 1: 

And my kid when he was little very much like dresses and skirts because I think having like the fabric sort of away from the legs doesn't impede you, where as pants depending on the fit especially around the knees, I find are a little constricting. So much like bending and stuff like that. Whereas I'm like, yeah, like if I'm wearing a skirt. I can kick my leg like as high as I want too and I understand again like, you know as an adult who you know still does adhere to the rules of society sometimes and like yeah as a grownup if I'm conscious about like, oh don't flash my underwear. Yeah. It's a little restrictive but it's like when you're a kid and you're running around if you don't care I was like, yeah, you can move your legs all over the place unless it's like a body conscious dress but I'm like who is getting body conscious dresses for like two year old's?


00:45:50    Speaker 1: 

No this was mostly for like crawling kids, that if you're on your hands and knees he was like, I feel like it's going to get in the way and be annoying and I was like,


00:45:57    Speaker 2: 

It might yeah because it could like fold up under your knees. 


00:46:00    Speaker 1: 

Yeah and get tucked. Yeah, so it's interesting to think about and earlier when you were trying to get thing popped up, my husband grew up in a home with two moms and when he would share, he has shared with me later that like, they'd be watching a movie or watching a show and they were just be comments made like, Interesting, there isn't a female lead in this, or just like little notes that would come up that like helped, I think build that awareness for him that like I wasn't getting that I was just like, oh, I love this show, never taking in like, oh, yeah. I'm not, there is no female lead in that or representation in any manner across the board, but just like that awareness. I think just bringing awareness to it without more conversation. It would just be like a one-liner of like huh? Interesting. 


00:46:49    Speaker 2: 

Absolutely, absolutey, because yeah like you don't want to like ruin the show for your kid and yourself, you know, you don't have to be doing like a play-by-play which sometimes I will lapse into and then you know, my kid will turn and be like, can I watch this please? Oh my gosh, you know and my kid now is 13 and what's really cool is that, you know, even though yeah my child personally was never one of those children where I would ask, you know, an open-ended question and we'd have like this whole long conversation. I get like a 1, 2 word answer but now like recently we were watching The Simpsons together which thrilled me to no end, but he would turn to me like he'll turn to me every once in a while when we're watching, you know, and he'll observe how like Homer and Marge are reacting to the kids as parents and be like, do you ever feel like this about me? Hmm. Do you ever think this? You know and we'll talk about the relationships and the dynamics between the characters and things like that. So I was like, oh that and I mean it's not all the time but I was like, oh, okay. He is like thinking and analyzing and questioning. Like how does this relate to you know, my experience in real life and what not. So that's sort of yeah, it's cool and encouraging to see and then it gives us an opportunity to have conversations. Again, they're pretty short because he's 13 and talking to his mom is like not high on his list of priorities, but it's happening. You know, the conversation is happening. 


00:48:19    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, and I think that's rad and it's just again demonstrating that like, he's aware of some of these things. A little girl in my life said, we were having a conversation and she said Oh girls can't be president, and I was like that makes sense that it feels like girls can't be president. Right? Like yeah, it hasn't happened yet. It does feel like girls can't be president. Right now I don't know that a girl can be president, legally, yes, I don't know that practically that would happen in our society right now and like that's a bummer. Like I want, there was a part of me that wanted to be like, yes, they can like and really that was just, I was like, yeah, I'm gonna,  I'm going to regulate that part and acknowledged for her that it does feel that way. 


00:49:04    Speaker 2: 

It doesn't feel like that. Yeah, absolutely and you know and again, you know, and it may not be in that moment. Maybe later could be like, you know, why do you think that you know, it doesn't, like yeah, why do you think girls can't be president? Like what might happen if a girl was President? You know, and again just sort of layering in those possibilities and exploring that. Because I think yeah, you can acknowledge like it may feel like that right now and it hasn't happened. So like valid that that's your observation, but there's also room to explore like what's that about? Because you know and and exploring and eventually opening up the dialogue about it like it's not because there's anything about being a girl that is inherently disqualifying. There's nothing about the job of President that someone who's a woman couldn't do it. And that can be an opportunity to start opening up conversations about, you know, some of those realities like, you know, there are prejudices and there's oppression and all of that stuff is really crappy. It exists, but it's crappy and it's not fair and it's not okay. And to go like way back to the conversation with you know that one father with his son, you know, like you don't have to pretend that you know getting picked on for being different is not a thing that happens. I think you can you can do what you can to make your home a safe space and I think you can support your kids in being who they want to be out in the world and then if something bad happens, I think you can again because if you've made your home that safe space in that same container, have the discussions and the acknowledgement and process like look, you know if those kids made fun of you for crying, that's awful and I'm sorry and let's talk about why it's not okay that they did that to you. And that, you know that may not feel good for you and we can talk about you know, how you want to show up at school tomorrow, but also there's nothing wrong with who you are. But there are things that are wrong with the world. Yeah, you know, and there are some things wrong with how we're taught to engage with other people and you encountered that and yikes. 


00:51:26    Speaker 1: 

Yeah for sure. Well, I you know you're talking about how race plays a role here too earlier and that the reality is that right now the world that we live in isn't necessarily safe for you to just show up as you are or as a vulnerable human or with your messy self in different spaces. And so glad you noted that like you can create a safe space at home for these kiddos to be who they are and also have conversations about what it might look like to be safe in the world right now. 


00:51:58    Speaker 2: 

And I think and this is something that I know it's scary for me to consider as a parent and I think and I it may be scary for other people who are listening. I think that you can let your kids take the lead in what they feel they need to do with their safety, oftentimes like unless we're talking about a situation where their literal life is in danger, so I'm thinking about it thinking like, you know for me I can relate it to have an encounter with the police, you know and conversations that we have in Black families about how to interact with police. You know, that's something where I find like parents are like imperative about, this is how you need to behave because it literally feels like life or death like this could be the difference between you getting shot and you coming home. So this is a non-negotiable but with other things like, you know being accepted in a friend group, you know just navigating those sort of social situations. I think it's okay even with little kids to say like to encourage them to think about what they want to do because, and if we're talking about things like say gender expression or taking on a gender role. So let's say, you know, you have a boy who's like, I just like pink sparkly dresses and I want to wear them. I think it's okay to say like, okay. So what do you want to do when you go to school tomorrow? Like if they go and they've had a bad experience if somebody picked on them or somebody called them a name they come home  and they're upset and we unpack it and we do some processing and then I think you can say, okay, like what do you want to do tomorrow and let them decide and if they decide like okay tomorrow I'm going to go and I want to wear pants because I don't want to get picked on. You know, I think we can we can affirm that and say like, you know, what if that's what you want to do. That's okay. I just want you to know once again like it is totally okay if you want to wear dresses you are welcome to wear dresses in the house you are welcome to wear dresses any place you want to but if you don't want to wear a dress to school, you don't have to if they decide like I'm going to go back tomorrow and I'm gonna wear my dress. I think it's also okay to be like, okay. Okay. I'm here for you. Like I've got your back. What can I do to help and sometimes you know, you might intervene you might like, you know, if they have a receptive teacher, you know, you might go talk to the teacher or to the staff at school. But if you know, it's kind of like I know that they're going to go to school tomorrow and they're going to be kind of on their own with this and you can be like, okay, but you know, I've got you and I know I love you because I don't think it's ever actually helpful to try and repress who someone really needs to be. Because I'm like that's just added pain and if they are that compelled like, you know, if you have that kid who's like, I'm sorry. I am just a dress wearing person. Even if they don't wear the dress, it's going to come out in other ways and the other kids are going to pick up on and instinctively and it's whatever is going to happen is still going to happen. Like I really don't think that we're at actually good at hiding who we actually are and other people even if they're like, I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about them. Like it's like they pick up on our energy or something, you know, and as a girl who like grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, obviously, I couldn't hide the fact that I was black, but I was just I was very different from a lot of my peers not only racially but in other ways and I tried so hard to fit in like I was trying to protect myself and it was like, they knew. They knew that I was like they were like that's like that really we can tell and so the kids who were sort of driven to ostracize me or pick on me or make fun of me. They did it anyway. 


00:55:35    Speaker 1: 

Yeah. Yeah, and it's so scary right like we've talked about this a bunch in the village, the goal isn't that our kids don't feel hard things, it's that they have a toolbox and a place to turn when they do feel and experience hard things. But man, that desire to prevent it from happening is so strong and it's so real. 


00:55:59    Speaker 2: 

Yeah. Yeah and I fight it all the time and there are times where I really failed at it, you know, and I will and I always regret it like when I think back on times where I've tried to force my son to go against his nature because I was afraid of what would happen to him and I was afraid of how other people would react and I look back and I'm like, you know, all I did is I just took myself out of you know, the list of safe people and places that he could turn when he was already having a hard time because he wasn't being accepted other places and I like that breaks my heart and I really like those are amongst my biggest regrets as a parent, you know, and I'm like if I could turn back time, I would make a different choice and be like, yeah, like, I'm sorry you had a hard day. I'm sorry people were not cool with you, I love you, you know, you're home. Now you're safe here. So I think the more we can do that the better off our kids will be. 


00:57:00    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, I love it so much and it's so hard to do. 


00:57:06    Speaker 2: 

It's so hard, because you want them to be okay all the time, it's so painful when they're not okay. It's so painful. 


00:57:12    Speaker 1: 

Yeah. Yeah for sure for sure. I love this and I'm so grateful to get to learn from you and I hope that folks will come and follow you and continue to learn from you. Where can people find you, Nadine. 


00:57:27    Speaker 2: 

So people can find me on my website. I also have a YouTube channel, which is Nadine Thornhill and then I am on Twitter and Instagram at Nadine Thornhill if you just Google Nadine Thornhill, then you can find them. 


00:57:44    Speaker 1: 

So helpful. It's all the same.


00:57:45    Speaker 2: 

Yeah I keep it like really straight forward with all of my social media handles. 


00:57:50    Speaker 1: 

I love it. I love it. And I've loved following you follow you over on the gram and find your content so helpful and useful and also a breath of fresh air. I think so much of this it's triggering for us as we're navigating it as adults and figuring out what this means for us and if we're doing re-parenting work and learning and unlearning and all that and then to everyday be responsible for another human that we're doing this with it can feel so overwhelming and I find your Instagram to be really comforting and helpful and not shameful and I appreciate that. 


00:58:22    Speaker 2: 

Thank you. Well, I mean, you know, I'm in it too every day and like you said that unlearning and relearning and like re-parenting yourself while parenting it is a lot. And like I said, it's messy, so I'm just I too I'm just trying to be like except the mess, except the mess. Yeah. 


00:58:43    Speaker 1: 

Yeah, rad. Well, thank you so much for joining me we'll link to everything in the blog post for those who are tuning in and maybe on the go, they can access all your things in the blog post. Thank you so much. 


00:58:55    Speaker 2: 

Oh thank you so much for having me this was amazing, and I love your podcast. 


00:59:00    Speaker 1: 

Thank you. 


00:59:01    Speaker 1: 

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village! Check out the show notes for this episode and all past episodes at Did you know that we have a special community for all of you to be a part of so that we can all gather together to raise emotionally intelligent humans? Head on over to Facebook, search Seed and Sew: Voices of Your Village and dive into that Facebook group. We cannot wait to hang out with you and collaborate on raising these tiny humans. If you're digging this podcast, head on over to Apple podcasts scroll down, click those stars and leave a review. It really fills my heart to hear from all of you.  


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.