Stereotyping Brothers and Sisters

While perusing Facebook this morning, I came upon an ad from Pottery Barn Kids for sibling plaques. I couldn’t read what was written on each of them, so I googled.

For the sister plaque:

  1. A best friend for life. 2. Player of dress up. 3. Teller of stories in the dark. 4. Keeper of secrets.

For the brother plaque:

  1. A best friend for life. 2. Builder of forts. 3. Teller of stories in the dark. 4. Player of catch and shooter of hoops.

The reason why the plaques caught my eye in my Facebook feed is because I have a daughter and a son. Unfortunately, they don’t fit the generalizations so neatly woven into the shabby chic decor. (It’s also why I’m not linking to them.)

My son plays dress up–superhero, astronaut, magician, firefighter; but most frequently a thoroughly unique combination of a number of costumes–more than my daughter.

My daughter, who plays softball during the fall and spring, can catch, throw and hit better than my son can. (She’s in an instructional league; we encourage both children to play sports in the fall and spring to help build self-esteem, learn teamwork and take direction from a coach.) She builds forts and is way more interested in science than my son is.

Despite my goals to raise them the same way, my children have very, very different personalities and in conversations with their school counselor I learned there are anatomical differences during brain development that can legitimately lead to stereotyping. (For example, the part of the brain that governs self-control develops later in boys than in girls, so boys have a harder time sitting still in school.) (Also, I think birth order can have an effect on their personalities, too.)

I know Target’s recently abandoned the attempt to categorize toys as belonging to girls and boys. Toys are toys; they are girl toys if girls play with them and boy toys if boys play with them. I prefer the term “children’s toys.”

Pottery Barn Kids charges $69 each for its sibling plaques. One would think it could invest a little more time and energy into including copy that wasn’t so stereotypical.

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Stereotyping Brothers and Sisters

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