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So you think boys can dance?

Saturday my 5-year-old daughter celebrated a friend’s birthday at a cooking party. While waiting for the chicken fingers to bake, all of the boys and girls gathered for a living room dance party. Now tell the truth: how many of you have enjoyed a kitchen dance party with your own kids while waiting for dinner to cook? I know I have.

Also last week, my 7-year-old son came home with an account of recess. According to my first grader, the boys went to one side to play football while the girls sang and danced. My son watched the girls for a while before joining the boys. To be clear, not every boy played football and not every girl sang and danced. But there were no girls and boys playing together. No girls throwing the ball. No boys singing and dancing.

Why? This was recess, not a teacher-directed activity. The children themselves divided up for these activities. And at seven years of age, apparently singing and dancing are “girly” activities.

Most of my son’s friends are other boys. But he sings in the choir at church and really enjoys it. He likes to dance around the house even though he’s not involved in any kind of organized dance class. And if we think about men and women making a living singing and dancing, many of them are men! Think about your favorite singers—there’s a good chance they dance too.

I hope my son and daughter grow up to feel comfortable using their bodies as gifts: staying active by throwing and catching, running and jumping, and yes, dancing. I hope they use their voices to sing as well as talk. God has given them many interests and gifts unrelated to gender.

Let’s reclaim singing and dancing as something all our kids can do. Let’s encourage all our kids to throw a football. I’m fine with girls wanting to play with other girls and boys wanting to play with other boys. But as soon as singing becomes something only girls do, what does that mean for our worship services? Should only girls and women sing to the Lord? No, we all have voices to raise in worship. We all have hands to clap and feet to tap. Let’s encourage our kids to sing, to dance, to throw, to catch.

In two years when my daughter is seven, I hope she’ll still be dancing alongside boys at birthday parties and recess alike.

Anna Moseley Gissing

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

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