Cover image for Parenting beyond pink & blue : how to raise your kids free of gender stereotypes
Parenting beyond pink & blue : how to raise your kids free of gender stereotypes
Brown, Christia Spears.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Berkeley : Ten Speed Press, [2014]
Physical Description:
xi, 225 pages ; 21 cm
Outlines psychology-based strategies for focusing on a child's unique strengths rather than on gender expectations, counseling parents on how to avoid cultural inclinations that limit a child's potential.
Prologue: On being the weird daughter-in-law -- Gender differences: changing our focus. Noticing gender ; Why labels matter ; Why we focus on gender differences -- Gender facts: science and stereotypes. There are gender differences ; How different is different? ; Decoding neuroscience -- Raising unique (fun, well-rounded, smarter, and happier) kids. How children help create the differences we see ; Parenting a stereotype ; Accidentally shaping who children become ; Stereotype sneak attacks ; Separate but equal? An old problem is new again -- Epilogue: Dropping the stereotypes and picking your battles.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ755.8 .B763 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Parenting
HQ755.8 .B763 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Childrens Area-Family Place
HQ755.8 .B763 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Parenting
HQ755.8 .B763 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HQ755.8 .B763 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A guide that helps parents focus on their children's unique strengths and inclinations rather than on gendered stereotypes to more effectively bring out the best in their individual children, for parents of infants to middle schoolers.

When parents place less emphasis on gender, children are free to flourish in activities and ways that are authentic to them. Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue uses everyday language and relatable situations to reveal the cutting-edge scientific research behind our cultural acceptance of outdated gender roles and our cultural focus on gender differences. This book helps parents take notice of the dangerous ways a focus on gender differences can--without meaning to--limit our kids, such as leading girls to dislike math and increasing aggression in boys. Developmental psychologist (and mother of two) Christia Spears Brown, PhD, offers practical information on how parents can be a little less gender-driven in their parenting, presenting a fresh, accessible, even humorous perspective on raising a son or a daughter--it's not about ignoring or denying gender differences, but it is about not feeling relegated to one half of Toys-R-Us. Modern parents want to raise their children as unique individuals; Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue helps them break out of the restrictive pink or blue box.

Author Notes

CHRISTIA SPEARS BROWN, PhD, is an associate professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky. Her work on the impact of gender stereotypes on children and adolescents has been published widely in scientific journals and featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, local radio shows, NPR, and the CBS Evening News. She blogs regularly for Psychology Today in her column "Beyond Pink and Blue." She is also an expert panelist for the ACLU.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Brown, associate professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky and a Psychology Today blogger, has researched the impact of gender stereotypes on children and teens. Here, she presents her argument to parents, asserting that the differences between boys and girls are far less pronounced than the media and some other authors contend (most notably, Michael Gurian, whose Gurian Institute trains educators to approach the learning styles of boys and girls quite differently). Wading through and interpreting the gender studies, Brown concludes that the way boys and girls learn, play, verbalize, and think is far more similar than dissimilar, though some differences do exist; for instance, boys are more physically aggressive and their brains develop at a slightly slower pace than girls'. The mother of two girls, Brown urges parents to beware of studies that are flawed and overstated, and to place greater focus on the individual child. As Brown also explores her own feelings as a mother, she is not without humor, sharing for instance, a boy/girl pizza birthday party ambushed by the pizza maker's unsolicited gender-based comments ("Boys always like pepperoni"). Though her anecdotes and observations can be amusing, Brown's message is simultaneously a somber and far-reaching commentary on the ways that gender stereotyping needlessly limits and labels children. Agent: Linda Konner, Linda Konner Literary Agency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Brown (developmental psychology, Univ. of Kentucky; Psychology Today, blogger at Beyond Pink and Blue), a leading specialist on the impact of gender stereotypes, offers a review of the latest research combined with a guide to raising children free of the negative influence of gender expectations and limitations. She argues that children are "free to flourish" when gender is deemphasized and covers both the neuroscience and cultural influences of sex in language that is accessible and at times even humorous. Beyond the issues of "pink and blue," her assertions have a scientific rather than feminist flavor and will enlighten those even of the "boys will be boys" school. -VERDICT Much quality literature has been published over the last few years on gender studies, and this title juxtaposes other works such as Leonard Sax's Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need To Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. For all libraries serving parents. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



On Being the Weird Daughter-in-Law: I am the weird daughter-in-law. I know it and have learned to embrace it. I first realized it when I overheard my sister-in-law whisper to my niece, "Let's put that away. Aunt Christy won't like it." She was right. It was one of those light-up mirrors that girls use when they pretend to put on makeup. This pink plastic mirror came with plastic makeup and hair care products--and a voice. My skin crawled when it said, "You sure look pretty with that makeup on" or "Wow, your hair looks great!" I quickly told my niece, who loves this makeup mirror, that I think she looks pretty all the time and that she is smart, funny, and interesting, which is even more important. Although I have no memory of it, my sister-in-law swears I took the batteries out of the mirror so that it couldn't talk anymore. I am not saying I didn't do it, and that is kind of my M.O.--the subversive editing out of gender stereotypes. I used to do this often, quietly undoing as many gender stereotypes as I could in my children's lives. After a while, I wasn't so quiet. In my house, there is an explicit ban on pants with words written on the butt (I am not sure why someone thought it was a good idea for people to stare at the butt of a seven-year-old). My family knows about my hatred of Barbie (although she still sometimes sneaks in during Christmas). I often pull my older daughter, Maya, aside and say, "Just because Grandma thinks boys are stronger than girls doesn't mean it is true." When Maya got the latest Barbie doll for her birthday, I remembered the experiment that found that girls who were given a Barbie to play with had a more negative view of their body and weight than girls who were given a more realistic doll. When she got the latest Disney princess movie, I mentally replayed the documentary Mickey Mouse Monopoly . In it, a ten-year-old girl innocently states, in response to what she learned by watching Beauty and the Beast , that she should just be nice to her boyfriend, even when he is mean to her (statistics about teen dating violence flashed through my head). So several birthday presents get "lost" in the trashcan between the party and the house. Part of my problem is that I don't want to be the weird mom or daughter-in-law, nor do I want my daughters to be "the weird kids." I don't want to put "No Barbies" on their birthday party invitations. I know some people will give Maya Barbies, but I also know that Maya will get other toys she'll enjoy too, and that she's never once missed or asked about a disappearing Barbie. All of this has me walking the fine line between stereotypes and social acceptance. I also struggle because the biggest proponents of gender stereotypes, the biggest consumers of gender-typed toys, media, and clothes, are the caring, sweet women who love my children dearly. I have been blessed with parents and in-laws who are wonderful people. They are a challenge because they are kind people who mean no harm. One mother-in-law now just attaches the receipt with every gift in case I want to return it. So I try to edit out gender stereotypes without offending people. I can handle being thought of as weird, but I never want to be thought of as rude. To back up a bit, I didn't start out this way. When I first got married, I didn't pay much attention to gender. I was young and childless and a recent college graduate. I was working with at-risk children in inner city schools and trying to figure out what I wanted to study in graduate school. And then my life changed on a Saturday afternoon at McDonald's. I was in the drive-thru ordering a Happy Meal when the speaker blasted, "A boy or a girl?" "Huh?" I said (I'd been expecting a question about ketchup or napkins). She repeated her question, clearly irritated that I wasn't going along with the script. "Why does it matter?" I asked. "So we know what toy to put in it," she said. At that moment, I was struck by what a pointless question this was. I drove home with my mental wheels turning: "How does knowing if it's a boy or girl tell you what toy a kid will like?" "Why can't you just ask 'Do you want the My Little Pony or Legos?'" "How often do we base our decisions on someone's gender?" And most importantly, "Does this affect who children turn out to be?" So, for the price of a Happy Meal, I now had a career goal. I needed to answer those questions. I went to graduate school, earned a PhD in developmental psychology, and specialized in how our obsession with gender and the differences between boys and girls affects children and their development. My eyes were opened to the many ways our society focuses on gender, even when it is irrelevant. I learned about how children socialize themselves to fit in with their same-gender group. I studied and conducted research on the damage gender stereotypes exact on boys and girls. When I became a mom, my studies took on a whole new level of importance--and complexity. When my first child, Maya, was very young, it was easy to focus on my goal of having a stereotype-free home. Lots of time and energy went into editing out the gender stereotypes around us. I would substitute the word "kid" in books when the author wrote "boys" or "girls," I would tear out "Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her" from the Mother Goose books, and I would only buy blue and green clothes to balance out all the pink clothes given to us. My parenting style has relaxed a bit now, mainly because I also wanted to avoid making Maya the freaky social outcast who had never heard of Disney movies. My desire to raise a child without gender stereotypes was balanced by my desire to raise a child with friends and good social skills. Also, these struggles became more complex as Maya's very stereotypically girly friends started to have a powerful influence. I remember the painful day she marched home and proudly announced that her favorite color was no longer green but pink. This change was driven more by her desire to be like her best friend, Dakota, than anything else. With my second daughter, Grace, my commitment to gender-blind parenting took on a different flavor, mainly because Grace was so different from Maya, and the unique characteristics I wanted to foster were different. I am reminded daily of how much variability there is between children, even when both are girls. Despite their similarities, they are different at their core. But I also suffer the same kind of fatigue everyone feels with a second child. I have less energy now to edit out every stereotype I find in a book or toy. I pick and choose my battles more often. This book bridges what I know as a developmental psychologist with what I face trying to raise children in our society. It is a look at our cultural obsession with gender. I describe the science behind why we form stereotypes, how to know when those stereotypes are accurate and when they are misguided, and how those stereotypes affect boys and girls. I also describe the difficulties--and rewards--of parenting against the norm and why I think it is ultimately worth the fight. The book is organized in three parts. Part I describes how we use gender constantly to sort, categorize, and label children and how that affects our thinking about people, including our own kids. Part II describes how that gender focus is, more often than not, inaccurate, and how most of our presumed gender differences are really more stereotype than science. Part III describes how our focus on gender differences can actually affect our own kids in the real world, how it can limit their strengths and abilities, and how you can realistically parent with a little less focus on gender and a little more focus on your individual children (without making your mother-in-law think you are a total nut job). With this approach, children can be more secure, happier, more well-rounded, and better able to reach their full potential (and it can be a lot more fun for parents). My goal in this book isn't to convert everyone to my exact way of parenting. My goal is to help parents know what science really tells us about gender differences; to think about the ways parents understand and explain their children's behavior; to spend a few extra seconds before making a decision about what activities to enroll their children in; to think twice about believing that any difference between their son and daughter is entirely due to gender; to not always say, "You know how boys are." Basically, I hope this book can help parents recognize and foster their children's unique strengths, even in a culture obsessed with fitting everyone into a pink or blue box. Excerpted from Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes by Christia Spears Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledmentsp. vi
Prologue On Being the Weird Daughter-in-Lawp. vii
Part I Gender Differences: Changing Our Focus
Chapter 1 Noticing Genderp. 2
Chapter 2 Why Labels Matterp. 12
Chapter 3 Why We Focus on Gender Differencesp. 35
Part II Gender Facts: Science and Stereotypes
Chapter 4 There Are Gender Differencesp. 52
Chapter 5 How Different Is Different?p. 72
Chapter 6 Decoding Neurosciencep. 86
Part III Raising Unique (Fun, Well-Rounded, Smarter, and Happier) Kids
Chapter 7 How Children Help Create the Differences We Seep. 114
Chapter 8 Parenting a Stereotypep. 140
Chapter 9 Accidentally Shaping Who Children Becomep. 156
Chapter 10 Stereotype Sneak Attacksp. 172
Chapter 11 Separate but Equal? An Old Problem Is New Againp. 187
Epilogue: Dropping the Stereotypes and Picking Your Battlesp. 206
Notesp. 210
About the Authorp. 220
Indexp. 221