Having grandparents who are involved in our children’s lives can be a huge blessing, but it can also present challenges, especially when antiquated ideas about parenting, gender norms, and more rear their ugly heads. One Reddit poster, a 39-year-old mom, recently posted about an unfortunate situation with her mother-in-law refusing to buy her 6-year-old daughter “boy shoes.”
What are “boy shoes” exactly? Mom tara_the_terrible explained on the AITA subreddit: “So my daughter went shoe shopping with her grandmother, my MIL (71F) to pick out new shoes. She initially picked out a pair of Spider-man shoes, as Spider-man is currently her favorite superhero after watching Into the Spiderverse a few times. Her grandmother said no, told her they were ‘boy shoes,’ and forced her to go the other section to choose another pair.”
Yikes. What a bummer. Spider-man is for everyone! And even if there were some (we can’t think of what exactly) reason, why Spider-man were only meant for boys, shoes are, well, shoes. For feet. Which both boys and girls and nonbinary kids have.
Because tara_the_terrible is actually not terrible, and really a pretty awesome mom, she and her daughter had discussed this gendered clothing topic previously and her kiddo had just the right response to her out-of-touch grandma.
“My daughter told her (and myself after she got home) that clothes are not for boys or girls and that anyone can wear whatever clothes they want — she was upset she couldn’t get the shoes she actually wanted,” the mom wrote in her Reddit post. “Which is something I’ve taught her and told her more than once.”
Nice job, mama! We love feminists raising little feminists. It’s how we change the world, right?
Fast forward to when the mom and daughter were back in the same store, and mom decides to get her the Spider-man shoes she really wanted. “I figured, if I am going to teach her these things, I better be willing to back her up when she takes a stand on them,” tara_the_terrible wrote.
Of course, when Grandma saw her granddaughter with the shoes she had refused to buy, she was not pleased about it. And she “called my wife (47F) to say that I was caving into a child and said she wouldn’t buy my daughter shoes again,” the feminist mom wrote, in what also revealed a subplot to this whole story. There are two moms in the family, and maybe this detail is what is behind a lot of Grandma’s fear?
Turns out, the answer to that is a big yes, as in a later comment tara_the_terrible reveals, “I was only allowed into [my mother-in-law’s] house after we had children because her desire for grandchildren was greater than her distaste for a same-sex partner.”
Whoa. This mother-in-law has a lot of issues. We don’t know her whole story, but at age 71, we’re sure culture has changed over her lifetime, and it can be a challenge to update our beliefs. But, Grandma, this is your daughter and her family! Love and understanding are all you need.
Needless to say, Reddit commenters supported tara_the_terrible, because she is not terrible or in the wrong here. As FirmlyThatGuy said, “You reinforced your parenting choices; you didn’t cave to your daughter.” To which Zhoenish followed up with, “Beats caving to a grandmother with internalized misogyny.”
Sounds right to us! Interestingly, a person who sells shoes as part of their job chimed in about her experience with this type of gendered shopping. “The amount of time I spend saying that black and white shoes/trainers are unisex…,” wrote Typos-expected. “The amount of mothers especially, that freak at a little line of pink for their son. It’s insane, they’re trainers, no gender required. On a plus side it warms my heart seeing parents buying their little girl Batman/Spider-man trainers. Oddly don’t get the same amount buying princess trainers for there son.”
That’s a bummer to hear this is a pretty common thing, but not all that surprising. We have a loooong way to go on gender neutrality. And sexism. And racism. So many -isms.
We’re so happy the vast majority of Reddit commenters supported tara_the_terrible and her non-gendered shoe shopping for her daughter. There were so many wonderful replies, but our favorite may be from TequilaMockingbird80 who offered this suggestion:
“I’d have picked those [Spider-man] shoes up and inspected them with a super confused look on my face. ‘MIL, where does the penis go?’”