Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Guest Julie Eberhart Painter Talks About Raising Gender-Neutral Children

And just when we thought it was safe to go out in a dress…
Julie Eberhart Painter

By Julie Eberhart Painter
“Mothers don’t let your girls grow up to be cow…PERSONS?”

If families encourage this gender neural inspiration—the latest fad— where does that leave us writers of romantic fiction?

Bob and Rae will be Bob and Ray? Or worse, Bobbie and Rae. It boggles the mind.

Unlike many flash in the pan ideas that have caught on, I hope with all my heart(s), cups, pens, tarot cards, stars and books that this notion of children choosing their genders dies faster than the Pet Rock.

But if that fails, should we romance writers yield to the current wisdom/cliche, get on board, go with the flow—ugh! We’ll have to rewrite Romeo and Julie-it? Daphne and Cloe-sit, or Tristan and Assaulted!

As the mother of three adult children, I watched my kids pick their gender from a clothes closet appropriate to their sex. Yet we have one of each. No one forced the children to consciously select a gender for their future. We dressed our girls as girls. One loved dresses. One hated dresses. Our son embraced baseball uniforms, and girls.

Our gay daughter owns her own accounting firm. She was 24 when she came out. It was new for us. We did not encourage it or discouraged it. Superimposing that kind of decision or indecision on children is a form of abuse.

Our oldest daughter is as feminine as it’s possible to be, and she, too, is a huge success in business. She and her husband (a newspaperman) chose not to have children.

Our son is a hard-working, girl-chasing, bike-riding chef. Wherever he lands there is good food and great wine, usually provided by—you guessed it—the accountant who is paid in wine, cases upon cases of wine, for recently laying a vineyard to rest. Travel to these soirees is provided by—right again—the businesswoman’s frequent flyer points.

Fads are a bad idea when it comes to raising children, just as they are a bad idea when it comes to choosing a genre because it’s currently popular. Fantasy is in. I’d be terrible at it, so I will be true to my voice. I write romantic suspense -- as a woman, also okay.

In this country we are obsessed with gender. It doesn’t take long for kids to “fall into place” gender-wise. Let them do it naturally. If not, the romance writers will have to join the Pod People and write sci-fi.

Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web, and Kill Fee. Her flash fiction can be seen on  Visit Julie’s Web site at to learn more about other her novels.


Vonnie Davis said...

Thanks for visiting the Roses of Prose. Thanks also for your take on the neutral-gender blip in our humanity timeline. I, too, hope it has a short lifespan. Kids face enough problems growing up. I commend you also for loving your children for the people they are. Unconditional love is a precious gift.

glenys said...

I couldn't agree more - bad idea. Why can't we let kids be kids? I heard a woman recently say that her son told her he was 'a girl in a boy's body' when he was just turned 4 years old - sheesh!The vocabulary he was supposed to have used made me suspicious, let alone his age. Experts say that around 95 per cent of apparently gender-challenged children revert to their physical birth gender at puberty. Let's leave the kids alone!

Jannine Gallant said...

Thanks for visiting our blog, Julie. Interesting topic.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Julie,
Sorry I am as little late here. Thanks for the post, very interesting and timely. I hate this gender neutral stuff.



Brenda Whiteside said...

Hi Julie, thanks for posting. No neutral stuff - keep the romance alive!

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