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Friday, January 11, 2013

SL Letter of the Day: Daddy Day Cares

Posted by on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 4:15 PM

My wife runs an at-home day care for our kids and her brother's kids, two boys and two girls, all under 5. They play a lot of "boy games" and watch a lot of "boy shows" but they also watch some "girl shows" and play a lot of dress-up, sometimes as princesses and fairies.This could not bother me less. My son is the biggest and the oldest of the kids, and he often picks the games and activities through sheer "law of the jungle" stuff. Therefore, he is usually the one to say "Princess Time!" and everyone else plays along.

However, my brother-in-law is very old fashioned and has made critical comments about the fact that we let his son dress up as a girl. I'd stop short of calling my brother-in-law an outright homophobe or anti-gay, but he is a Neanderthal when it comes to gender roles—he's very much a woman-in-kitchen-man-go-hunting kind of guy. The whole thing has upset my wife and me since we see absolutely no harm in this and actually find it funny, cute, and healthy.

What can we say to our brother-in-law to get him to come around?

Proud Princess Papa

My response after the jump...

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Lead with "Our house, our rules," and end with "Child care sure is expensive, bro, and such a hassle to find, especially for two kids."

And for the sake of your wife's brother's wife, and your wife's brother's daughter (who could be queer—anyone's daughter could be queer), and your wife's brother's son (who could be queer—anyone's son could be queer), I hope your brother-in-law isn't homophobic or anti-gay. But someone with Neanderthal attitudes about gender roles (women cook, men hunt) is likely to have similarly retrograde attitudes about sex and sexuality (women suck dicks, men get their dicks sucked [and only by women]).

Homophobia is misogyny's little brother, PPP, and it's rare for a misogynist not to be a homophobe and vice-versa. So keep an eye on your brother-in-law and do what you can to make sure his kids know that, at your house at least, they're free to be whoever they are, free to be whoever they wanna be, and free to pretend to be whoever they wanna pretend to be.

 

Comments (30) RSS

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Sargon Bighorn 1
"Old fashioned" is such a cowardly term. Like it's a cute hold over of a more genteel and respectful time. "Oh look how old fashioned he is, ha ha he's beating that Queer, like real old fashioned men did."
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 11, 2013 at 4:31 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 2
Great advice, Dan! "childcare sure is expensive, bro, and such a hassle to find, especially for two kids." Too funny, and yet so true and a huge bargaining chip for any parent.
I sure hope nobody's queer in the brother's house- hearing misogynistic/homophobic comments and attitudes get picked up young in childhood, no matter how tiny and supposedly insignificant they may seem. Not good for a child growing up gay or lesbian or (FSM forbid!) trans-gendered. And those hurts last a lifetime; I'm still getting over comments made to my teen-aged queer self that occurred in 1972...sigh.
Posted by OutInBumF on January 11, 2013 at 4:43 PM · Report this
3
Good points Dan, I should just point out that I knew plenty of people who would be upset with their son in a dress yet voted for R-74.
Posted by Seattle14 on January 11, 2013 at 5:09 PM · Report this
4
So was anyone else confused by the "wife's brother's wife" and "wife's brother's daughter " terminology or am I just extra dense tonight? Are sister-in-law and niece not appropriate titles in these situations?
Posted by spoons on January 11, 2013 at 5:11 PM · Report this
5
"Homophobia is misogyny's little brother." That is so perfect, I'm gonna stitch it on a pillow.
Posted by Luckier on January 11, 2013 at 5:15 PM · Report this
6
That's possibly the most combative way ever to get across your point. Our house, our rules, childcare is expensive? How better to get up someone's hackles than to appear defensive? Instead, when he brings it up, deflect or make a joke. If he persists, say clearly, "We don't mind - we think it's cute and funny - and we're not about to stop them doing something harmless, as that's the quickest way to incite rebellion in a kid." If he's still not satisfied, tell him he can remove his child from your company if he likes (he's the dad, after all), but everyone will miss the kid and it'll be a shame.

Kindness and empathy set an example for a homophobe. Hostility only drives him and his kid away.
Posted by dchari on January 11, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
The Max 7
Does anybody else think that referring to a person guilty of outdated, socially unacceptable behavior as a "Neanderthal" is uncomfortably close to speaking ill of the dead? Especially considering that so many of our earlier assumptions about these vanished people have been proven so wrong?
Posted by The Max on January 11, 2013 at 5:33 PM · Report this
Charles Maguro 8
@5

This one's good too:

"Homophobia: the fear that gay men will treat you the way you treat women."
Posted by Charles Maguro on January 11, 2013 at 6:10 PM · Report this
9
Ms Luckier - Snappy but not perfect. It practically states that homophobia is a subset of misogyny. I'd call them equally powerful and unpleasant cousins. Misogyny just gets "better" press.
Posted by vennominon on January 11, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
sirkowski 11
Give your niece and nephews My Little Pony DVDs to bring back home.
Posted by sirkowski http://www.missdynamite.com on January 11, 2013 at 6:24 PM · Report this
12
Amen. The child's father is free to seek child care elsewhere if he disapproves. At the age of five, this is not likely to cause this boy any lasting gender confusion. @6 has some nice suggestions about how to say this to the guy so that he'll actually do it (although they're far less fun to read than "childcare is expensive, bro."

@1 Many good things are old-fashioned. Being a jerk is timeless.
Posted by DRF on January 11, 2013 at 7:13 PM · Report this
13
@7 There's a pretty good case to be made for Neanderthals being fairly creative, peaceable and spiritual, considering how they buried their dead, engaged in pretty ornamentation with shells and cosmetics, and jump-started technology from nothingness. (Was watching an annoying PBS Nova program the other night. They were busy sensationalizing old stereotypes before they would challenge them, and the script was really grating. The one new thing I learned was that Neanderthal Man had perfected vapor-distillation of birch pitch, and we have no idea how they did it on a large scale with the limited materials we think they had available.)

The one surer indicator that they were peaceable was that Cro-Magnon Man pretty much supplanted them over time. Probably raped the women and killed the men. "Modern" Man, i.e. us, retains 1% to 4% of Neanderthal DNA. I'd speculate that our aggressive instinct to fight "people unlike us" probably came more from our Cro-Magnon ancestors than our Neanderthal ones.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on January 11, 2013 at 8:23 PM · Report this
14
No objections to any points of view from Dan or my fellow Sloggers so far but for your amusement consider this:

@7 & 13: yep, Neanderthals walk among you: my brother had his DNA done and you're talking about our people. My bro and I are quite pleasant, pretty bright, and open minded, btw.
Posted by SifuMark on January 11, 2013 at 9:51 PM · Report this
seandr 15
Neanderthal is stupid.

Stupid for getting worked up about the possibility of having a feminine son.

Stupid for thinking that playing princess as a 4 year old could turn an otherwise masculine boy into a fem.
Posted by seandr on January 11, 2013 at 9:52 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 16
Free to be, you & me!
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on January 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM · Report this
seandr 17
@7: Pardon you. The term "Neanderthal" is an insulting, homo-sapien-centric designation that implies these noble people were concentrated in the Neander Valley simply because that's where homo-sapiens happened to discover them. In fact, they ranged all across Europe and western Russia.

Please, stop using this offensive term and refer to them instead by their chosen name.
Posted by seandr on January 11, 2013 at 10:05 PM · Report this
DAVIDinKENAI 18
@6: Yes, it's combative to say, "You and your spawn can't be bigots in the presence of my children. Get over it or get out." But is that not an appropriate time to be combative?

Could a young Adolph, circa 1930, while presenting ideas to make Aryans feel better about themselves and to combat certain socialist trends; have been swayed by a confrontational, "Dude, that's not cool! Quit being such a dick!"? We'll never know. And nor will the 6 million who died because no one stood up to a homophobic, anti-semitic, insecure, small-dicked asshole.

I live in a rural, conservative, Alaskan town. I stand up to bigots when they open their fool mouths. You folks in the big city can do that even more easily, with very little risk.

Posted by DAVIDinKENAI on January 11, 2013 at 11:01 PM · Report this
19
@18: It's not a question of whether it's "appropriate" to be combative when confronted with a bigot. Of course it's appropriate. It's a question of whether it's effective.

Think about it: All we know is that the father "made critical comments". We don't know that he's ready to yank his child from the house. Wouldn't a calm chat or two be more likely to expand the bigot's mind than a defensive crouch? After all, it's always possible to turn to aggression when graciousness fails, but it's not always possible to do the reverse.
Posted by dchari on January 11, 2013 at 11:39 PM · Report this
20
Tell Phobo-Dad that the surest way to turn something into a fetish is to shame the kid for it and make it forbidden. If you show benevolent disinterest, so will he once he gets bored of it. Give it a lot of personal juice, and it becomes a power object.

But if he wants to fuck up his relationship with his kid and make damn sure his kid will need therapy, he can start by making sure that his kid is made to feel ashamed of his own interests and curiosity.
Posted by avast2006 on January 12, 2013 at 12:32 AM · Report this
SRJ 21
I have always believed that kids benefit from acquaintance with adults who are not their own parents, to broaden their own perspectives and to recognize that their parents aren't gods. Kudos to the LW and his wife for providing a loving, safe place for these kids and an alternative attitude to their dad's.
Posted by SRJ on January 12, 2013 at 3:51 AM · Report this
22
Another factor in this story: I've worked with kids before, and some young boys like dressing up as princesses when they're 3-9 years old, which has no bearing whatsoever on whether they like dressing up as princesses or being treated like a princess once they hit puberty.
Posted by Thexalon on January 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM · Report this
sissoucat 23
@8 Lovely. I'll use it.
Posted by sissoucat on January 12, 2013 at 4:08 AM · Report this
raggeddog 24
My son started kindergarten this year, and early on gave a new friend a hug at school. This little boy pushed my son away and said "I'm not your girlfriend!" It broke my heart to see how upset he was when he came home that day - he could barely tell us about it and was deeply embarrassed. I wondered what kind of home this kid came from, that a 5 year old could already have internalized that kind of homophobia, now I know.

What a great pleasure it then was at my son's 6th birhtday party last month to see him and 6 of his best friends greet each other, say thank you for presents, and say goodbye with big enthusiastic hugs and broad smiles. It warmed my heart and restored my faith in the humanity of the small, midwestern town I live in (at least for now).
Posted by raggeddog on January 12, 2013 at 5:53 AM · Report this
Rotten666 25
I'm getting to the point where I have to tell the grandparents no more pink shit for the little girl. I am happy that my son loves to play with her toys.

Either way, there is no such thing as playing wrong.

@7 you're kidding right?
Posted by Rotten666 on January 12, 2013 at 7:42 AM · Report this
26
Any half decent daycare centre is going to let the boy dress up as a princess, anyway, if he wants to - imposing unnecessary limits on imaginative play is not what quality child care looks like.
Posted by agony on January 12, 2013 at 8:46 AM · Report this
27
There's a strong link between this kind of play and cognitive development and later school performance ( http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/bergen.html for an overview) and a good part of the benefit comes from the kids themselves working out the limits and rules of their play. For maximum benefit, parental involvement should be kept to a minimum, with parents only stepping in and imposing limits if necessary for safety's sake.

Anyway, very soon the kids themselves will be enforcing gender-conformity - young school age is the most rigid age when it comes to enforcing gender roles - so BIL can relax. Six months from now, they'll be playing something different.
Posted by agony on January 12, 2013 at 8:58 AM · Report this
28
I've met a decent amount of gay guys who are misogynists. They pretty much assume that women have nothing to offer them, and so treat them like shit. So, I don't think I agree with the assessment that misogynists who aren't homophobes are rare. I would entertain the idea that I might be reading too much into the behavior I've observed, except that I'm not the only one who's noticed this phenomenon. Other (less dickish) gay guys have observed it, as well as other women who hang out with gay men.

I suppose they could have just assumed I was a hag, rather than a fellow queer, and disrespected me because of that, but I don't think that's a very valid excuse, you know?
Posted by DarthKelly on January 12, 2013 at 1:45 PM · Report this
29
My hypermasculine cousin, who is basically everyone's idea of what a "manly" man should be, enjoyed playing dress-up with me and his other female cousin when he was young. He is a sports-loving, triathlon-competing man's man. Most of the "tough guys" I know are in awe of him. He is also a very loving and hands-on father.

Further, my biker ex had a favorite toy as a child: His EasyBake oven. Today he's a skilled mechanic, the terror of any barroom brawl and a collector of AK-47s. Not all positive traits, but no one's going to think he's "girly."

Tell your BIL to go fuck himself. Manly men don't get all prissy about this kind of bullshit - he's just revealing how weak he really is.
Posted by JrzWrld on January 12, 2013 at 6:28 PM · Report this
30
Surprised no one (in the midst of fawning over Dans response) pointed out the (IMO critical) point that the writers son is "older and bigger" and so gets to choose the games by "law of the jungle"

While I have absolutely no issues with my 4 y/o son playing dressup as a princess if thats what he wants to do. I woukd however have huge problems with an older and bigger child forcing him to do this against his will, or even if my son just went along with something he wasnt comfortable with in order not to upset the "alpha" child.. Not sayibg thats the case and maybe they all actually want to do this, in which case I would have no issues.

But there really isnt enough info to say either way and the "law of the jungle" line seems like a red flag to me.
Posted by armyguy26 on January 14, 2013 at 8:07 AM · Report this
SiSiSodaPop in Vegas 31
There's a million ways to be... you know that there are.
Posted by SiSiSodaPop in Vegas on January 14, 2013 at 3:28 PM · Report this

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