Should Pre-School Playdates Be Segregated?

April Peveteaux
3

boys and girls playdatesSome stereotypes are true. You can ban toy guns from your house, but most little boys will turn a magic wand into a weapon. Most little girls will go through a princess/frilly dress stage no matter how many times you read them "Free to Be ... You and Me." (Believe me, I tried my hardest.) But the one stereotype I'm trying to bust is the one that once pre-schoolers hit a certain age, girls pair off with girls exclusively, and boys pair off with boys. It just might be an uphill battle, and one that I'm not even sure I'm supposed to be fighting.

My daughter has had a little boy best friend since she was 6 months old. It's true when they were around 3, she would be playing "family" while he was playing cars. But when asked, they both always wanted to play at each other's houses. Granted, all of the parents involved in this adorable twosome believe the kids have a special bond, and gender doesn't matter.

While I do believe that to be true, my daughter is still hanging with the boys at her new school, one she joined when she was 4 years old. Which is well into the girl club time. We have more boy-girl playdates than girl-girl, based purely on mutual requests. Of course there are mostly boys in her class, so that's a big part of it. Still, I love that she can hang with her best girl friend, and they can both keep up with the boys at the park. We don't have the only girl in the class who can throw down with the boys, and the boys seem to enjoy backyard scooter riding and dress-up just as much as the girls.

Again, I like to see this as a very enlightened group of kids, but when I read -- on a PBS website, no less -- that this is the time for girls to form girly bonds, and boys to do their boy thing, I wonder if I'm screwing up her socialization by trying to avoid gender stereotypes.

More than one parent has mentioned that sometimes there are playdate challenges when the kids want to do different things. Usually those things do involve traditional girl activities such as playing prince and princess versus going outside to throw a basketball near a hoop. But I'd like to think those challenges create room for compromise and mutual understanding between the genders. I also like to think that I'm overthinking this, and it truly doesn't matter who my kids play with, as long as everyone is kind. (Yes, my mother read "Free to Be ... You And Me" every night.)

Do your kids have opposite sex playdates?

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