And experts agree: Play is play.
This story was originally published on September 20, 2019
I think we can all agree seeing our kids feel loved and content is just about the best thing in the world. For Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green, that means they doesn't care whether their son's happiness comes from a “boy" or “girl" item.
This week Fox appeared on an episode of The Talk, and discussed how her 6-year-old son Noah is into fashion" and often wears whatever he wants to school, including dresses,
"Sometimes, he'll dress himself and he likes to wear dresses, sometimes," Fox said "And I send him to a really liberal, hippy school, but even there—here in California—he still has little boys going, 'Boys don't wear dresses,' or 'Boys don't wear pink.'"
"So we're going through that now, where I'm trying to teach him to be confident no matter what anyone else says," she expained.
This isn't the first time Fox and her husband have talked publicly about how they support their son's wardrobe choices.
Speaking to Hollywood Pipeline two years ago about his then 4-year-old son's decision to wear a dress on certain days, Green said it's a non-issue in his household. “I've heard from some people that they don't agree with him wearing dresses. To them I say, 'I don't care. He's 4 and if he wants to wear it then he wears it.'"
As the father of four, including three young boys with wife Megan Fox, Green seems to have a “path of least resistance" mentality—that is also wonderfully supportive of his children's individualities. As Green put it, “It's his life; they're not my clothes."
Fostering an environment of unconditional love and support is the best thing a parent can do, says Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, pediatrician and Chief of Digital Innovation at Seattle Children's Hospital.
“Parenting won't change a child's gender, but it will change their feelings of safety, security and trust in being just who they are," Swanson tells Motherly. “If a child expresses themselves in a gender that is culturally different than their sex we have to change our expectations, not our child."
It seems there is still progress to be made in that department: After Fox posted a picture to her Instagram showing her then 4-year-old son in a Frozen dress, there were some mixed responses. But Fox seemed rightfully unfazed, then and now.
That's just the right reaction says Swanson. As she explains, it's common for children to begin exploring and expressing their preferences in terms of play and attire around the age of 3. But considering research shows gender is established at birth, attempting to restrict those preferences only does harm—especially as research shows older children are less likely to commit suicide if their families were respectful of gender identities.
“Shaming a child, restricting a child or making rules against how they want to dress may cause pain and suffering," Swanson adds. “But it won't change who a child is, gender-identity wise."
At the end of the day, a boy's preference for princess toys or a girl's affinity for monster trucks isn't a big deal. What is a big deal is letting them know they are supported and loved.
[A version of this post was originally published September 12, 2017. It has been updated.]