Having now had both a female and a male child, we have had opportunity to note their identification with traditional gender stereotypes. As a student of psychology, I am particularly interested to know how much of it is nature, and how much is nurture.
With Avey, we were surprised by how quickly she identified with princesses. She clearly showed interest in ballet and dance in general. She loved (and still loves) dress-up games, playing in her toy kitchen, and taking care of her babies (stuffed animals). She has always been sensitive to emotions, and freely shares them as she experiences them. These all tend to be stereotypically female traits and behaviors. Although we may have influenced them socially to some degree, we were often surprised as she grew by just how girly she truly is.
On the other hand, Avey also enjoys adventure. She appreciates the recent portrayals of princesses who are more independent and do not shy away from fights; She recently got into pretend Kung Fu fighting. She went through a long interest in The Nightmare Before Christmas, which has a romantic side story and is a musical, but is not exactly girly.
Carver, about as quickly as he could stand, seemed to be the archetypal “boy”. He loves any and all games that involve some sort of ball. He makes sound effects in his play far more than Avey ever did. He will occasionally turn on the television to find a football game, even though I rarely watch football, and never had watched with him before. He is much more competitive in his play with me than Avey was; Carver likes chasing, and other competitive games, such as where I steal something of his and he wrestles me to get it back. In an interesting turn, just this week he has requested to go driving around with me in the truck (as opposed to in our van).
On the other hand, Carver is also a big fan of dance, and enjoys singing in his soprano voice. Over the next few years, we may see his interests expand as well.
Although we note that they both tend to lean in their respective stereotypically boyish or girly domains of interest, we are glad that they at least do what they love, and appear to feel free to experiment with a range of activities. It will be interesting to observe how everything changes once Baby #3 joins us!