General Question

Aethelwine's avatar

Would you encourage your child to defy convention?

Asked by Aethelwine (41378points) July 5th, 2014

I was going to ask a question about girls playing tackle football, but the issue is much larger than what I first had in mind.

Should girls play tackle (American) football?
Should boys play the flute?

I think children should pursue their interests if they have the talent and enthusiasm to play, but is the ridicule they might receive from their peers worth it?

Our 10 year old daughter just signed up for JFL (junior football league.) The coaches at sign up looked very surprised. It may have been a first for our community. She wants to do this, but I wonder if there will be any backlash. This is the inspiration for my question.

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30 Answers

snowberry's avatar

My first thought would be toward her safety. Boys are required to wear athletic supporters for protection of their genitals. With all the physical contact, would she be able to wear something to protect her breasts? Those suckers HURT when they’re banged up.

As for “Should boys play the flute?” Why not if they want to? Playing a particular instrument is not gender specific.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

If it’s something she wants to do, and you’re okay with the safety aspects given there may be some size/power differences, I’d let my child play but I’d warn her about the potential backlash from other people including other players. Perhaps you can come up with some strategies she/you can use to handle any discontent from others. If you’re okay with the safety aspects, support her decision.

Women have been challenging imposed boundaries based on their gender for decades. What argument is there against her playing, apart from it hasn’t happened before? If it’s purely that it’s not happened before, I’d support her standing up for her right to play.

johnpowell's avatar

Luckily the bodies of 10 year old girls isn’t all that different from ten year old boys. Be glad she wants this now and not when the boys are massive in 5 years.

Her playing when the guys are lifting weights all day is just stupid. But right now she will probably not get killed.

Generally I am in the camp of any woman can play a male dominated sport. American football and rugby is going to equal broken woman.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was in the third grade I wanted to be a cheerleader and my dad said, “why not try out for football instead.” So, since the age of little I have had it drummed into me that there should not be gender rules on these things.

I would really be shocked if anyone in your community said anything negative about her trying out for football at her age. As a parents I would be worried about my child boy or girl, because of the information about head injuries that has been coming out and just in general the risk for any injury.

In the teen years as boys naturally get much stronger and larger than girls I would have concern for her safety, but depending on the girl, some can really hold their own. She won’t make the team if she can’t so I guess that is part of the deal, and helps evaluate if she is able to keep up with the boys.

The flute question does not even compute for me. I just went to the symphony last month and it does not even occur to me to think gender regarding instruments and music in general.

Aethelwine's avatar

Luckily the bodies of 10 year old girls isn’t all that different from ten year old boys.

This gives me peace of mind for the moment @johnpowell. She’s about the same size as most of the boys right now. Some of these boys will walk off the field in tears when they get hurt, but our girl is tough. It would take a broken bone before you saw tears in her eyes.

johnpowell's avatar

My point being that as she grows she will get hurt worse. She should hit a point where it is just to much and quit.

whitenoise's avatar

Isn’t there a girl’s league for American Football?

if not, then there should be one. Girls don’t stand a chance playing with > 16 year old boys.

JLeslie's avatar

@whitenoise I guess the closest we come is girls soccer. I actually think of soccer and football as quite different though. Netherlands looking good for World Cup, although not happy they beat Mexico

Aethelwine's avatar

@johnpowell I agree.

@whitenoise The only girls league I know of is lingerie. sigh

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Perhaps your daughter will be a ground breaker @jonsblond and will be one of the triggers that results in a girl’s league. Weirder things have happened.

We don’t play American football here (or not in any major way that I’m aware of), rugby league and rugby union are very tough games and I was very glad my son didn’t choose to play either of those games. I watched one of his friends play a game where a boy was seriously hurt and we’re learning so much more about the long term damage from repeated head knocks, so I would be concerned about that aspect of any game for my son OR my daughter. My daughter did play AFL but that was in a no-contact form. It’s tough. You want to let them be free and find their own boundaries, but you want to protect them too. It’s tough finding the line in the middle. I’m glad I didn’t have to make this decision.

snowberry's avatar

Our kids play flag football at our school and it’s co-ed. I don’t get the sense that it’s played in a league though. All ages play, but we also have a boys’ high school football team.

El_Cadejo's avatar

When I was younger and played ice hockey there was a brother and sister on my team. The girl kicked ass and took every chance she could to get in a good hit (especially against her older brother during practice) . I thought it was awesome.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Yes I would encourage my child to defy convention.

I would also teach her to choose her battles.

ucme's avatar

Of course, all day long. My daughter played in goal for her school football team & trained with the rugby team for a while. When asked which musical instrument to take home & practice she rolled up with a trombone.
My son enjoys playing the guitar & kicking my arse at chess, both activities considered as “sissy” amongst the neanderthal pack of dumb shit boys.
Defy convention? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I’ve known some girls that are twice as tough as any boy you want to put them up against. Most girls aren’t the dainty little flowers people want to paint them as.

kevbo's avatar

It would be a gift to simply let her be who she is and follow her bliss. Unless defying convention is what this is about for her, then I’d relegate that aspect to the background.

If ridicule comes, it can be a formative lesson for her to learn to be herself.

livelaughlove21's avatar

She wouldn’t be the first. My husband’s high school had a female kicker on their football team. He said she was treated just like everyone else. He was on the wrestling team and another school had a female wrestler in their 195 lb weight class – she beat their school’s 195 lb guy’s ass. I think saying girls wouldn’t “stand a chance” after boys start getting bigger is just stupid. They’ve done it before.

Not sure I understand the flute example, though. Instrument playing isn’t gender specific.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@jonsblond some questions to think about:
Do the players change clothes or shower after a game?
Will the school require her to shower in the girls locker room?
If she is the only female will she be able to use it alone?
Will her participation require a female adult be present at all times?
Are you willing to be that adult?
If she gets hurt on the field (like boys do every day) will she, and you, be ok with the adult male coach checking her out for injuries? Will you be willing to do it?

I know this sounds sexist but if I were the coach I’d be petrified of anything happening to her or anyone being accused of inappropriate behavior. I’d make sure there were about a dozen witnesses, including you!, if I had to handle any of her injuries.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Everything LuckyGuy said above.

No. I would never advise my child to defy convention. I would explain convention and give examples of the many pitfalls, the fallacy of argumentum ad populum, the caveats, the confinement of convention, and at the same time would encourage them to pursue their individualism. I would want to support all my child’s decisions, whether conventional or unconventional, if it was important to them and I could see true benefit. I am their guardian and must have the last word.

They must find their own peace in this world, I cannot do this for them. I would look after their safety in all endeavors, even insist on it—and expect some resistance (I would expect a chip off the old block and find it difficult to argue in good conscience)—and gently try to guide them and give them the advice and tools for a long, healthy, happy adulthood—as conventional as that may seem. This from a man who never had children.

LostInParadise's avatar

Yes, children should be encouraged to defy convention.

There are two related aspects to this.
1. They should be encouraged to pursue whatever interests they have
2. They should be encouraged to think outside the box, to examine all sides of any situation and look for creative solutions

Retreating is always an option, but you should at least have the courage to try something. If it does not work out, first try to look for a workaround and only if none can be found then you can retreat to how things were before.

bomyne's avatar

I think that as long as she can safely do something, she can do it if she wants.

Times are changing and gender roles no longer apply. Girls/women play video games. Boys/men cook for their family. Girls/women play sports and are into cars. Men raise the children while their wives work.

Your daughter may face some strong opposition. Any female gamer or mechanic will attest to that. Many still think in the old ways, but it’s a new day and your daughter should stay focused on her goals. I wish her the best of luck.

zenvelo's avatar

I encouraged my kids to do whatever they chose: sports (la crosse, soccer, basketball), arts, clubs.

Football? I wouldn’t let a son play football.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

I don’t know about defying conventions, but I would definitely encourage my child to be passionate and confident about his/her interests.
And also not to be a total wimp

Aethelwine's avatar

Not sure I understand the flute example, though. Instrument playing isn’t gender specific.

@livelaughlove21 Some people do feel this way, unfortunately. That’s why I used it as an example.

jca's avatar

@LuckyGuy brings up good points about how you have to really think it through (the football issue).

I was thinking also of a recent news item from about six months ago, about a male student who was bringing a “kiddie” lunch box to school and getting harassed over it. The school banned him from bringing the lunch box because of the hassle it was causing. This was the wrong approach, and definitely, harassment of any type is inappropriate and should be banned, but on the other hand, maybe the kid could have that lunch box but not take it to school. I don’t know, it would be a hard decision if I were the kid’s mother. Yes, I would want him to have and use his stuff, but yet I would not want him subject to ridicule and harassment.

FlyingWolf's avatar

I encourage my children to find something they are passionate about and go for it. I don’t give much thought to gender norms. If they are hassled it can be a good opportunity to teach them that not everyone is alike and sometimes they are going to have to deal with ignorance.

I wouldn’t let my kids, boy or girl, play tackle football though. The risk of concussion is just too high.

syz's avatar

If by “convention” you mean “gender expectation”, then yes, absolutely.

JLeslie's avatar

If she is the first girl, eventually there will be a second and a third and then she won’t be alone in the locker room.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I would encourage my child to pursue anything they showed interest enough in to share with their parents. I would have a clear conversation with them discussing the potential benefits, and potential accountabilities. I would make it clear that they had the support of their parents.

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