Teaching Kids Proper Gender Roles

I recently came across a few blogs that are all about raising your children with unbiased gender roles.  Written beneath a cultural and feminist worldview, these women audaciously claimed that boys should be able to wear dresses, paint their toe nails, and wear pink.  I was shocked!  They made the claim that girls are allowed to play sports, play outside and get dirty, and play with toys made for boys so why can’t boys play with dolls and where dresses?

This might sound a little crazy but this is actually a great question for Christian parents to think through.  

Let me start with a pretty embarrassing story that is so ridiculous that I am actually cringing my teeth as I’m typing.  

When I was eleven years old I had the great idea of painting my toe nails red.  Well, it wasn’t a preconceived thought – it just happened – and I’ve never actually come out in the open and confessed all this before… ever!  It actually feels kind of nice!  I did tell my wife but she just laughed and thought it was funny and cute all at the same time.  

I was spending the day at my grandparents house in the country of East Tennessee.  Maybe I was bored or maybe I was crazy, or a combination of the two, but I went into their bathroom and I painted my toe nails red.  Little did I know that it would dry and to my 11 year old brain there was no way to remove that stuff!  I tried scraping it off with a fork.  I tried soap.  I tried rubbing my toe nails on concrete!  Nothing would get this crap off my toes.  So, with a sheepish, head tilted down, and eyes on the floor look, I approached my mom about my problem (I would never have told my dad about this; this was way to embarrassing).  Oh man, she laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed!  I made her promise to never EVER tell my father.  Well the secrets out and hopefully he never reads this post!  

Why was I so embarrassed?  Why did I hide it from my dad?  Why couldn’t I have just flaunted my pretty little red toes like it was normal for a boy to wear this stuff?  

The answer:  painting one’s toe nails is strictly a feminine action.  

Let me be clear, toe nail polish, dresses, and tight pants are not necessarily feminine in and of themselves.  The object is neither feminine nor masculine.  It is an object.  It is a thing.  Though the action behind these objects and the way we use them are strictly feminine in our culture.  In our culture dresses are feminine objects.  Toe nail polish is a feminine object.  

As Christian parents, we must teach our children at an early age what biblical femininity and biblical masculinity are.  We must teach our little girls about the essence of what makes a girl beautiful.  We must teach our little boys about the roles of men and what makes a man masculine.  Sports are not necessarily a ‘boy’ thing either.  Girls can still play sports and have a feminine persona about them.  Girls can be helicopter pilots and still be feminine.  Guys can cut hair and still be masculine.  Girls should not try and act like men, and guys should not act like women.  

As men and women we are made in the image God.  Both male and female.  We have been given gender roles to reflect the communal aspect of the Trinity.  When boys act like boys and girls act like girls they then most reflect God’s intended design for his most prized possessions.  

When boys paint their toe nails they reflect femininity, which by logical comparison is not what boys should be learning about God’s design for them.  

Thankfully, my parents never painted my toes.  Only I was that stupid!


  1. Great post Greg. Thanks.

  2. What makes a dress or nail polish feminine? Where in the Bible does it say women are to wear dresses and men don’t? In Biblical times, all people wore robes. Clothing and fashions are dictated by current society, not by Biblical teachings. Christ loves everyone and accepted and spent time with people who were outcasts because of their life choices. I don’t believe HE would condemn any of my sons for wanting to paint his nails or wear a dress. All of my children have been raised to be loving, caring accepting people who do not judge others. My children were offered toys that are not gender specific. I am an Early Childhood professional and allowing boys and girls to both explore all types of toys is important for them to have this option to explore to develop their sense of self. Boys grow up to be fathers so playing with dolls is practice for the future. Young children are not wanting to be who they pretend to be but are imitating things they see and admire.

  3. Greg Gibson says:

    Great comments Allra!

    You are right the Bible doesn’t say that specific ‘toys’ are feminine, but our culture does. In our culture dresses and toe nail polish are feminine. Men must teach young boys appropriate emotional responses. I would say that it is best when you’re not blurring the lines.

  4. If I may suggest…biblical (bi-polar) femininity and masculinity exist at an ontological level of being, according to God’s original design (Gen. 1:27c) for sexuality. While neither gender nor sexuality exist in the Godhead, they do allow us to experience mutual communion and relationship (“communal” as mentioned by Greg) as a inherent part of our humanity. With children, such deeply-rooted, complex gender distinctions are more often ‘caught’, rather than ‘taught’. Christian families may assiduously avoid uni-sex clothing or appearance, yet the attitudes and demeanor of both father and mother may reflex dysfunctional gender inversion. 1 Samuel 16:7b

  5. I have four children, 2 of each. They all played with cars, trucks, dolls etc. When they were young, both my sons wanted their toe and finger nails painted, they also dressed up in girls clothes and at times requested to wear make up. My youngest wanted a baby doll for christmas when he was 3. All these things they did, and they’re not confused or troubled adults. Interesting how strongly society reacts to boys wanting to try what is perceived as a female activity and yet we have no qualms when it comes to girls playing with trucks, riding dirt bikes and dressing in dungarees and flanno shirts. Get a grip people and let children explore their environment. An ongoing problem is usually caused by societies reaction, not the experience. Boys engaging with female activities has never proven to cause gender confusion. The botched circumcision of a baby boy a couple of decades ago and the parents raising the child as a girl did not change his gender identity, he always knew he was a boy, that should prove that you can’t make a person gay, tranny or change their perception of their gender. Get a grip people.

  6. BTW, they’re in hetero relationships, but I’d accept and love them none-the-less if they’d been otherwise. Having values that promote a peaceful, caring and loving society it far more valuable in society today than the sex of a person’s life partner.


  1. […] Raising Kids With Proper Gender Roles: Why Boys Should NOT Paint … […]

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