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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Outside Influences

Much is often made about the nature vs. nurture debate. To be honest, some of it I find not only a stretch but downright amusing. I have head and read from people that if their daughter was to get a Barbie doll, well then they had to also give her a Tonka truck or some other overtly "boy" toy to "balance things out." TheWife, while not quite as obsessed as many with this idea, still flirts with the general concept. Two years ago, LatteGirl showed the slightest (and I mean a passing, "What's that?" SLIGHTEST) interest in a Home Depot toy workset. TheWife couldn't get that present home, wrapped and under the tree quick enough. It was played with, for about a 1/2 hour on Xmas morning, and never saw the light of day again.

Now I am not claiming that nature dictates everything, nurture certainly plays a role. If you don't allow your daughter the opportunity to delve into things that are "for boys," or not allow your son to do things that are "too girly" you certainly will have an effect, and not necessarily a good one.

The one thing that I did not however expect was the amount of nurture, the outside world would have. I mean of course, there is going to be SOME influence. Commercials are always there to try to influence what the next "must have" toy will be, fashion is a concern for little people because nobody wants to wear the outfit that everybody is laughing at in the schoolyard, and other such things. What I didn't expect was... I don't want to call it peer pressure (but it is certainly bordering on that), the influence that her friends have on LatteGirl.

Now, I have mentioned before how LatteGirl is definitely a girly-girl. She would prefer to wear a dress or a skirt to pants or jeans, which is in complete contrast to TheWife, so it is clearly her "nature." However, this never prevented her from playing and running around the playground (and the ensuing bruising), nor did it deter her from things that were of interest that weren't necessarily girly things.

It started out with what she would watch on television, or more specifically what videos she would choose from our DVD collection. She refused to watch certain movies any longer, movies that she had previously loved, such as Finding Nemo, The Lion King and Ice Age. When I finally quizzed her as to a reason why she would no longer watch these films, the answer came back, "because those are 'boy' movies."

Recently I took her on a tour of the toy aisles at Target, to start getting some ideas of what would interest her for her birthday. She had some new things she was interested in, but also started pointing out some toys she already has. When I reminded her that she already had those toys, she informed me, "Yeeeaaaah, but they are not PINK!" "So what is the difference?" I inquired after she pointed out the Barbie MagnaDoodle (pink of course). "Well so-and-so says that only boys use the other MagnaDoodle." "That's not true," I attempted at reasoning with her. "Yes it is, so-and-so says so."

So not only is nurture starting to take a role. And not only is the source from outside our home. Apparently, now her friend so-and-so is a more trusted source of information than either me or TheWife. Any attempt to explain otherwise to her, only seems to "prove" to her that we do not know what we are talking about, and that if she wants to know what is "right or wrong" (which in this case is girl vs boy), then she needs to rely on so-and-so because she is seemingly 5 going on 13, and already I have become the parent that doesn't know "anything."

Note: I used "so-and-so" as to not nail this down as the influence of a single person. So-and-so can be one of several friends... or day I say a member of her "clique".

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