This Kid Is Growing Up Without Gender Norms

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This modern dad is raising his boy admirably and we should be taking notes

One of the most hotly debated issues today is gender expression. Learning the difference between “girl” and “boy” things happens early on. From assigning a color to what kids should play with, it’s quite evident.

However, many parents are now challenging this ideal. Why can’t boys like pink while girls like blue? Who assigns gender to color, toys, and other activities? Should we also continue to teach our kids these gender norms? We should all take notes from modern dad, Aaron Gouveia, who is raising his son admirably, allowing him to express himself in ways that make him happy — regardless of what society thinks. 

In response to his viral tweet, Aaron wrote the book Raising Boys to Be Good Men: A Parent’s Guide to Bringing up Happy Sons in a World Filled with Toxic Masculinity. Here, he shares 36 parenting tips for battling gender norms, bringing down “man up” culture, and helping sons realize their potential. 

The Twitter thread all parents need to read:

Under his Twitter handle @DaddyFiles, Aaron expresses his anguish when his boy encountered #ToxicMasculinity for the first time.

The story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

He first explains how 5-year-old Sam is a rough and tumble boy who likes sports and trucks.

But he also points out that Sam likes “girl things.” He has a collection of purses and likes nail polish.

Contrary to popular belief, these two things can coexist and this beautiful boy proves it. So for his first day of school, Sam proudly wore bright red nail polish.

At first, this dad didn’t worry. After all, kids that age didn’t have a concept of gender norms yet—or so he thought.

Mocked for the way he expressed himself, Sam greeted his mom in tears.

Even after a call from dad, he still asked to have his nail polish removed.

At this point, Sam’s dad was enraged. He points out that gender norms are learned and passed down from parents. On their own, kids don’t know what makes things only for boys and only for girls.

He holds nothing back as he expresses his disappointment in other parents.

He also points out that he and his wife have spent years raising Sam the way he is. They’ve put in the time and effort to bring up an open-minded boy. However, in one day, that was all put to waste.

But of course, raising his son admirably, this dad doesn’t leave it at that.

He encouraged Sam to paint his nails an even brighter color for the next day. At the same time, he told Sam to ask them what they found offensive about his nails. Other than, of course, that they were supposedly only for girls to wear. This, I think, is interesting and something all parents should mull over.

Ultimately, his dad let Sam decide if he wanted to keep his nail polish on or not. At the same time, he reminded him that his favorites like Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Capt. Jack Sparrow wear it. Both of these stars are seen as masculine who also smash gender norms by putting on nail polish.


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A post shared by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on

In a campaign advocating against child abuse, Chris Hemsworth paints his nail and encourages other male celebrities to do the same. The #PolishedMan movement gained astounding support from men around the world. It aims to end all kinds of violence against children, quite like what Sam experienced.

Most of all, Sam was reminded that he should do things because it makes him feel good.

Continuing to squash these antiquated gender norms, Sam’s older brother Will stood up for him too.

We love that 10-year-old Will knew exactly what it meant, and getting teased didn’t matter to him. He was standing up with and for his little brother. Following suit, their dad asked Sam for a color to paint his nails in, too.

Sam not only decided to still wear nail polish, he also stuck with the bright red color.

He further proves that it’s pretty while it also shows support for his favorite football team, the Patriots. In closing, the dad has this beautiful sentiment to share:

You keep doing you, Sam! You are a beautiful boy who’s so brave for fighting these gender norms. In a world full of hate, we need more people like you.


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A post shared by Aaron Gouveia (@daddyfiles) on

Read the full Twitter thread here.