Our roles as parents aren’t just to teach our children, but also to learn from them—which is something the singer Pink said she recently did when her daughter showed her the importance of growing up in a gender neutral environment.
Speaking to The Mirror, Pink said the lesson came when 6-year-old Willow expressed her desire to “marry an African woman” someday. Rather than turn it into a question and answer session, Pink said she responded, “Great, can you teach me how to make African food? And she's like: ‘Sure mama, and we are going to live with you while our house is getting ready.’”
(After the exchange, Pink said the biggest question in her mind was who was supposedly going to pay for Willow’s new house.)
While the little girl’s comment may very well have no bearing on Willow’s sexual orientation, Pink’s judgment-free response does have a demonstrably positive effect on her daughter’s well-being should Willow want to date women: According to research from the Family Acceptance Project out of San Francisco State University, LGBTQ adolescents from accepting families had better health and mental health outcomes.
As licensed clinical social worker Darlene Tando wrote in The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Gender Identity: A MindfulApproach to Embracing Your Child’s Authentic Self, parents of young children can implement that kind of non-gender assumptive environment much in the way Pink did with Willow.
“In order to provide a blank slate for your child so that they can be free to display their authentic self, you must be mindful of your own projections and assumptions. Such things impede the ability of your child to have an actual blank slate on which to create,” Tando said. “Your message to your child, both implicitly and explicitly should always be: ‘Any way you are is okay.’”
For Pink and husband Carey Hart, being gender neutral means having a “very label-less household.” She added she’s glad to see that become more of the norm elsewhere, too.
“I was in a school and the bathroom outside the kindergarten said: ‘Gender Neutral – anybody,’ and it was a drawing of many different shapes,” Pink said. “I took a picture of it and I wrote: ‘Progress.’ I thought that was awesome. I love that kids are having this conversation.”
And it’s not just kids who are having these conversations.
As Pink’s comments and the subsequent responses have shown, it’s pretty great that we adults are talking about how to be more loving and accepting, too. The world could sure use more of that—sometimes it just takes a simple comment from a child to remind us of that.