Your Parenting Mojo

031: Parenting beyond pink and blue


Today I join forces with Malaika Dower of the How to Get Away with Parenting podcast to interview Dr. Christia Brown, who is a Professor of Developmental and Social Psychology at the University of Kentucky, where she studies the development of gender identity and children’s experience of gender discrimination.

Dr. Brown’s book, Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue (Affiliate link), helps parents to really understand the scientific research around gender differences in children, which is a harder task than with some other topics because there’s just a lot of bad research out there on this one.  I ask about theories of gender development while Malaika keeps us grounded with questions about how this stuff works in the real world, and we both resolve to shift our behavior toward our daughters just a little bit.

Related Episodes

Interview with Yarrow Dunham on how social groups form

Interview with Kang Lee on children’s lying (yep – your kid does it too!)



Brown, C.S. (2014). Parenting beyond pink and blue. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press. (Affiliate link)

Taylor, M.G., Rhodes, M., & Gelman, S.A. (2009). Boys will be boys and cows will be cows: Children’s essentialist reasoning about gender categories and animal species. Child Development 80(2), 461-481. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01272.x


About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (, which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

Her Finding Your Parenting Mojo membership group supports parents in putting the research into action in their real lives, with their real families. Find more info at

She also launched the most comprehensive course available to help parents decide whether homeschooling could be right for their family. Find out more about it – and take a free seven-question quiz to get a personalized assessment of your own homeschooling readiness at

And for parents who are committed to public school but recognize the limitations in that system, she has a course to help support children's learning in school at


  1. Annika on May 17, 2017 at 5:11 AM

    I have been listening to your podcasts for a number of months now and very much enjoy them. My parenting leans towards RIE and AP but I am not perfect at all.
    This episode might be among my favorites also because it is such an important topic.
    I had one problem with it though and it might not have occurred either of you but the focus was very much on girls – how to point out all the women in male dominated jobs etc. that’s important of course. But I missed strategies for boys. I have a son (as well as a stepson and -daughter) so it’s important to me to fight all the boy related stereotypes. I was at a children’s event recently where face painting was offered. The girls got to choose among a variety of pictures (flowers, butterflies, cats etc) while for the boys it was pirates or action figures. Anyway, just wanted to let you know my thoughts and have been meaning to do that for quite a while already. Thank you for your work!

    • Jen Lumanlan on December 9, 2017 at 6:25 AM

      You’re welcome, Annika – hope the episode on raising emotionally healthy boys helped you! (

  2. Rachel Ryan McMillan on March 29, 2018 at 3:17 PM

    I LOVE you podcast, Jen! — It has been exactly what I was looking for: academic but human, and you introduced me to RIE which has been a game-changer in my relationship with my two-year-old son. I am an art therapist, so the episodes on creativity and learning hit on my artistic side, and the episodes that delve into gender and culture help me plug my my social-justice/therapist side into parenting.

    One thing that struck me with this episode: Malaika mentioned how she tends to dress her daughter in clothing from the boys’ department, describing how she feels like this fits her daughter’s high activity level. I find myself doing the opposite action for what I thought was the same reason: I tend to buy him leggings and “jeggings” from the girls’ department because they’re stretchier (easier to move in) and less baggy (less likely to get caught in things that he’s tumbling on), thinking that girls’ pants are easier for my son to be active in … but now I’m wondering if I have been using that rationale to avoid pushing him into clothing that I associate with masculine stereotypes. And I’m thinking as I type this that we often have multiple reasons for the choices we make, many of them unconscious… which fits into this episode’s message of talking about these underlying beliefs in an open way.

    Thanks for doing the research for me, and prompting me to think through the many, many choices I make each day that affect my vibrant, adventurous, creative child!

    • Jen Lumanlan on July 11, 2018 at 8:36 PM

      Sorry for the slow response on this one, Rachel – funny you should mention it, but I was actually struck by the same thing while Malaika was talking. We dress Carys in leggings and t-shirts (when we can get her out of pajamas!) because to us it seems as though they allow freedom of movement. But yes, I think the ultimate goal is not to determine once and for all whether leggings or baggy pants are best for our child but to see what kind of clothes our child is most comfortable in, and to examine our impressions of and assumptions about that style of clothes if it veers away from traditional gendered clothing options.

      Glad you find the show useful!

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