It’s a foreign concept to many but one that is gaining in popularity mainly with progressive parents.
“Theyby” child-rearing is more than just not revealing your child’s gender during a gender reveal party or opting not to know your baby’s gender before birth. It’s much more nuanced than that. It’s the practice of raising your child without any gender classification until they themselves choose to label their gender, or not.
It’s a complete void of gender identity. Pronouns such as he, she, him or her are replaced with gender natural pronouns: they, them and their. It’s not a concept all too foreign for some in the LGBTQI community as we tend to interact with people that characterize themselves as gender fluid in our community, thus foregoing male and female pronouns.
But for the heterosexual world, the notion of nonconforming child-rearing (and even for some LGBT individuals) could be something of a shock and confusing. However, the idea of “theybies” is quite a simple notion – raising your baby from birth and on with no gender constructs. What is truly difficult is putting the idea into practice, actually raising your child completely void of gender norms.
We all have been taught and learned, in some aspects knowingly and other unbeknownst to us, societal gender constructs throughout our lives from a sub-conscience age to adulthood. Before we are even born, gender norms influence our lives from what color clothes we selected for our first outfits (usually blue for boys and pink for girls) to, in most cases, the type of toys that were picked out for us.
As mentioned in a nbcnews.com article, “‘Boy or girl?’ Parents raising ‘theybies’ let kids decide” Chistia Speas Brown, a developmental psychologist says that large-scale research has indicated that gender is heavily influenced by children’s environment and not necessarily because of their sex. The article also mentions that yes, traditional babies are assigned a sex at birth but gender comes along later around the age of 4.
Studies have shown that these gender constructs that we as a society ingrain in our psyches alter our behavior in life and leads us to think in specifics when it comes to the role and characteristics of women and that of men. Theybies are raised outside of these societal gender confines and thus are able to make sense of the world and their individual selves without feeling drawn to society’s view of feminine and masculine.
It is important to note that it has been said that raising a gender nonconforming child can lead to bullying since other children can’t make sense of the notion. But that isn’t always the case and it’s up to the parent to teach their child how to navigate through life as who they are as a child rather than a boy or a girl. Eventually, they will come into their own and make their own decision, which is ultimately one of the core objectives of the parenting style.