Can't find a guide in the bookstore on how to really, really screw up your children? Then just follow the lead of one Canadian couple who have decided to raise their baby without a gender.
Four-month-old Storm Witterick, of course, has a gender. But except for a select few, the Toronto parents, David Stocker and Kathy Witterick, are not telling anyone.
When Storm was born, the couple sent an obnoxious email to friends and loved ones:
We've decided not to share Storm's sex for now — a tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become in Storm's lifetime (a more progressive place? ...).
"When the baby comes out, even the people who love you the most and know you so intimately, the first question they ask is, ‘Is it a girl or a boy?'" Witterick told the Toronto Star, according to a report in the Daily Mail
Stocker added, "If you really want to get to know someone, you don’t ask what’s between their legs."
They say the world is full of stereotypes as far as gender roles go -- which probably has some truth to it -- and they want Storm to be able to make his or her own choices in life. All well and good, but this is where the couple goes too far.
They believe they are releasing Storm from the constraints society imposes on males and females. They say that parents who make decisions for their children are "obnoxious" (of course, they are making this decision for Storm, but whatever).
They are already conducting similar social experiments with their other two children -- five-year-old Jazz and Kio, 2. Both are openly boys, yet they wear their hair long. Jazz loves pink and sometimes wears a dress because it "feels so nice."
So now everyone thinks they are girls, a notion Witterick does not correct. She leaves that to the boys if they so desire. When asked if it bothers him that people react oddly when they see him, the Star reports that Jazz nodded his head, but said no more.
So the grand experiment seems to be working out well.
But the couple is undeterred, shrugging off advice from friends that they are setting up their children for a lifetime of bullying.
"When faced with inevitable judgment by others, which child stands tall (and sticks up for others) — the one facing teasing despite desperately trying to fit in, or the one with a strong sense of self and at least two 'go-to' adults who love them unconditionally?" Witterick asked. "Well, I guess you know which one we choose."
The Stocker and Witterick child raising theories do not stop with gender. Jazz chose not to go to school, and is being home-schooled -- or rather "unschooling" as Witterick calls it -- home schooling driven by a child's curiosity rather than a schedule or tests.
And the family "co-sleeps" on two mattresses pushed together on the floor of the master bedroom.
The parents say they will keep Storm’s gender a secret for as long as Storm and his brothers are comfortable with it.
"Everyone keeps asking us, ‘When will this end?'" Witterick said. "And we always turn the question back. 'Yeah, when will this end?' When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?"
Can you hear the siren from the Child Services vehicle rushing to the family home?