Every parent has certain expectations and goals for their children. And these are formed from unconscience ideas, past experiences, cultural ideals... But hopefully parents can also allow their children to bring their own selves to the picture. I, of course, have high expectations of my children. Although I make my opinions and ideals clear to my children, I also nurture whatever my children bring to the table. One aspect that I am very open about ideals about gender.
I get very annoyed when people make comments, etc. about gender-specific ideals towards my children. For example, my 3yo son likes to wear his sister's purple, sequined belt to school and pretend to put on make up. Then people say, oh...he will be so embarrassed when he is older or you shouldn't let him out like that. People ask my daughter if she has a boyfriend at school. I can't stand when people tell me that their son won't play with barbies (Free to Be You and Me's William's Doll!). Not to mention the slew of stereotypical-gender gifts for the kids (my sons have so much blue, its unbelievable).
Now, gender-based stereotypes are embedded into our culture and so many of us develop them without even knowing it. Why do I think this is a problem? Because our society has changed and we need to understand and support our children in whoever they are. You cannot assume what your children will be. This means that children may be and can be interested in anything they like. Boys can like to wear pink, girls can play with trucks. Additionally, you must be open to the idea that your child may be homosexual or even transsexual. In our house, our children are well-aware that people and families come in all different varieties. Although we are a heterosexual couple, they know same-sex couples. (Our daughter is very clear that she thinks same-sex couples should have the right to legally marry) From a very young age, we talked about how you can love anyone and it is ok. On Friday, I watched a heart-breaking story about transexual children on 20/20 (see http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3088298&page=1). It was amazing how children so young we so clear on who they were. And their parents accepted and supported them as they were.
You have to be open to who your children are and let them be. Try not to push any prejudiced ideals on your kids...give them information, have discussions, allow them to express themselves and explore...starting young.