Best Father’s Day Gender Neutral Gifts For Grandfathers and Great Grandfathers And Using this Holiday to Explore the Issue of Gender Stereotypes and Gender Neutrality With Grandchildren

rfdgendertoysEach year, before this Grandma writes posts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I scour the newspapers, magazines, and internet for fabulous ideas for gifts for family members and to share on this blog.  This year, I noticed that most of the suggested gifts, whether in print media or on the internet, were gender specific.  Actually, it became more apparent for Father’s Day than for Mother’s Day.  All of a sudden, and after what is too long a time, I realize, when looking for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts, that I am guilty of being what I try so hard not to be in life and especially with the grandchildren – falling into gender stereotypes.  I think I should be beyond this, but I am not.  I apologize.  Therefore, I culled down my Father’s Day list to include only those suggestions that are gender neutral.

I then reviewed my 2017 Mother’s Day post.

I realized that all of what I recommended in that post are as appropriate for Father’s Day as for Mother’s Day.  I have two close family members, males and grandpas, who are the best cooks in their immediate families and actually do more of the cooking than their wives.  Why do we always refer to men as chefs and women as cooks?  I know that these two grandpas would love to own an emersion blender, and the soup socks recommended for Mother’s Day.

Then, I looked at my gender neutral list for Father’s Day.  I realized that the women in our lives for whom we would give Mother’s Day gifts would sincerely appreciate these too.

A digital subscription to both a “conservative” newspaper and “liberal” newspaper

In addition needing help with setting up Twitter and Instagram and helping with electronics (ideas in the Mother’s Day post), we Boomer grandparents are now spending more time each day on every news media outlet.  Statistics actually show that all of us are paying greater attention to news. Those of us who profess to want to be “fair and balanced,” and know both sides of an issue, cover both conservative and liberal media sources.

We are bombarded with news sources that claim to lack bias.  However, if we watch MSNBC and Fox stories on the same issue, we cannot say both perspectives are identical.  To know both perspectives, in this Grandma’s opinion, is important.  I think it is a consequence of my previous employment to want to be educated on all opinions, and then come to my own determination.

It is no secret, especially in an internet search, to find which newspapers typically have conservative editorial page bents and which have typically liberal editorial page bents. This Grandma suggests that a gift of one of each is wonderful for several reasons.  We need to support newspapers if they are to survive. Boomer grandparents are still into newspapers for news, and although we like holding the newspaper in our hands rather than read a digital version, we Boomers are becoming more open to digital, especially since we travel so much.  Also, giving subscriptions to both a conservative and liberal newspaper creates conversation topics with

Grandma and Grandpa.  When Grandma or Grandpa complains about a specific bent that is not one that is held by he or she, you can ask what the other newspaper in digital form or app form, or both, had to say.

So, consider a pick from the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Dallas Morning News, which are considered major newspapers typically with a conservative editorial page bent.

Then, for a second subscription, consider a pick from the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post which are considered major newspapers typically with a liberal editorial page bent.

If Grandma or Grandpa already has a subscription to a major newspaper with a bent in one direction, stir the pot with a subscription to the other viewpoint.  Yes, this too, will be grounds for conversation.

A Donation in Their Honor

My brilliant brother recommended that I watch the PBS Newshour and you can watch it on line.   He is right that there is more international news, more knowledgeable and impressive “talking heads,” more in depth coverage and balanced editorial commentary.  I also got the NPR app on my Ipad.  Both Grandmas and Grandpas might like the expanded one hour news coverage. You might consider suggesting this and adding both to their electronics.  Since it seems that government aid is being cut to PBS and NPR, whether you are now introducing this news source or they already watch and read these sources, a donation in their name for Father’s Day is a great gift.

Dear long (we never say old) friends and a dear grandpa friend started foundations and charities, and for special events, seek donations instead of gifts.  We don’t need to have our own foundation or charity to know what foundations or charities are near and dear to Grandpa (and Grandma).  So many grandmas and grandpas say they do not want a gift or do not need anything.  Consider a donation in their honor for Father’s Day.

New and Different Exercise Classes or Program

Again, this Grandma must apologize for gender stereotyping.  I held the belief that Boomer women were more likely to exercise than men, and more likely to partake in organized classes and programs.  Then, Grandpa proved me wrong, and was the impetus for this Father’s Day idea.  About five years ago, my Pilates studio offered an introductory special of five classes for $50.  Five classes of an exercise is perfect to start, because one knows after five classes if he or she really likes the activity.   I lamented to Grandpa that I could not take advantage of this because it was only for new participants.  Pilates, on the reformer and tower (equipment rather than mat) is an exercise that is cardio and not hard on the longer (we never say older) body.  Injured dancers and athletes and even healthy dancers and athletes know this secret.  Yes, you guessed it.  Grandpa tried it.  Yes, five years later, he and I go twice a week.  Last week, the class before us was all men.

Most exercise programs and gyms have a trial membership.  Give one as a Father’s Day gift from the grandchildren, not the parents of the grandchildren.  How can a grandparent not then go and try it if given by the grandchildren.  And your grandpa may end up with the flat stomach at age 70 as Grandpa has.

Experiences Rather Than Gifts

We Boomer Grandparents treasure experiences rather than physical gifts.  Think of an experience in grandpa’s locale, a museum exhibit, a sports event, theatre, or concert, as a gift for Father’s Day.  Think of a membership to a museum.  If the gift includes tickets for the grandchildren to attend with the grandparents, it is all the better.

Discussion of gender neutral gifts for Grandpa and leading into a discussion of “gender neutrality” with grandchildren is a win-win.  It is interesting to read about gender neutrality and children, before you have that discussion.  See, for example, this study: Social Interactions and Play Patterns of Parents and Toddlers with Feminine, Masculine, and Neutral Toys by Yvonne M. Caldera, Aletha C. Huston and Marion O’Brien in the publication, “Child Development,” Vol. 60, No. 1 (Feb., 1989), pp. 70-76.

We can begin the discussion even with early elementary age grandchildren, adapting the discussion to the grandchild’s age.  A Canadian website, Media Smarts, “Talking to Kids about Gender Stereotypes – Tip Sheet,” has suggestions for every age group to help grandchildren recognize and understand gender stereotypes in different media.

An article on line, in the April 14, 2015 New York Times,“Should Toys Be More Gender-Neutral?” by Michael Gonchar, does the work for us as it gives us an actual list of discussion questions to use with our grandchildren.

Gender neutrality and buying gender neutral toys is not without controversy too.  Our grandchildren should be exposed to all points of view as well.  See the New York Times article for points of view on the issue. See also, for example, this opinion piece, “The Ridiculous Crusade for Gender-Neutral Toys,” by Jonathan V. Last, on the website “Acculturated: Pop Culture Matters.”

And, beyond Father’s Day, if you are looking for gender neutral toys for grandchildren, there is the article on,* “18 of the Best Gender-Neutral Toys for Kids,” by Erin Mantz.

Happy Father’s Day!






*As an aside, I found the best enrichment tutor and babysitter for the younger grandchildren on  You can have a limited subscription for one purpose.


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