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Parents Are Advocating To Ditch The Term 'You Guys' When Talking To Children

Jordan Claes

In the past two decades, our global society has made leaps and bounds when it comes to gender equality. Now more than ever before, men and women are operating on a level playing field. It's not perfect, but we're getting there.

Ideas of equality have also left us striving for ways to implement gender neutrality, especially when it comes to raising children. This is why some parents believe it's high time that we ditch the term "you guys."

The vast majority of us have grown up our entirely lives collectively being referred to as "you guys."

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Teachers, parents, coaches — basically any kind of authority figure — have historically referred to a group of children as "you guys."

But over the past decade, as we move toward a more gender-neutral society, many people are starting to feel that the word "guys" isn't just outdated — it's offensive.

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"Words are particularly powerful when said by a parent or a teacher to a child," writes author Karena Cronin — via Scary Mommy.

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"Words influence our sense of self-worth and signal whether and to what extent we belong in this world."

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Evidence of the movement toward equality can be found in our emphasis on preferred pronouns.

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Gender-neutral pronouns are becoming more and more common these days.

The majority of schools and retail establishments now offer gender-neutral bathrooms and even social media giants like Facebook and Instagram are beginning to take notice.

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In theory, this all sounds great.

Giphy | Late Night with Seth Meyers

Yet with all of this positive change and momentum, for some reason, we still will often revert back to the colloquial outdated "you guys" — almost out of instinct.

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Author Karena Cronin says that it was her daughter who first made her realize that something was wrong with "you guys."

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Karena explained that due to the pandemic, she had spent the majority of the past year working at home, along with her daughters.

Early on, Karena began noticing that she often used male pronouns when describing things out in the world.

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"A cute dog walking down our street was a 'he.'"


"A deer in our front yard, again he. Even a butterfly visiting our garden, was a “he.” And they were also saying “you guys” to refer to people. I was disheartened to put it mildly."

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Now, more than 200 years after the term "you guys" came to be, parents like Karena believe that it's time to retire the phrase and move on.

Recently, @ScaryMommy tweeted out a call to action, urging their readers to stop referring to their children collectively as "you guys."

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Author Karena Cronin argues:

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"'You guys' not only reflects the pervasive gender inequities in our society exacerbated by race, class, nationality, and religion, it also perpetuates the gender inequities that still permeate our society."

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Karena continues by suggesting that the term "you guys" is muddy and confusing.

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"At worst, it sends the wrong message," Karena explains. "It tells any child who doesn’t identify as a “guy” that they are invisible. It is somehow acceptable to subsume their existence under the male gender."

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Still, in spite of Karena's argument and well-intentioned attempt to introduce more gender-neutral terms into our common language — there are those who still remain unconvinced.

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In fact, there are a lot of people who are straight up against changing their language for anyone.

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Some parents seemed to resent the implication that they were referring to their children as "boys."

Twitter user @owens_kd1 replied "Sorry but being called “you guys” in my house with three daughters was not calling them boys." They went on to say how "I’m not from the south so saying ‘all y’all’ would sound stupid coming fro[sic] me. This is making a thing out of something that is not a thing."

I bet you're wondering. What word should we use then?

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Luckily, thanks to @nozinbook, we have our answer.

Some of these words are already a part of our vernacular, like "kiddos" and "folks." Either of which would be more than suitable replacements for the word "guys."

But as suitable as they might be, you have to admit that they're kind of boring.

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I would much rather prefer that we implement "rad jazz cats" or how about "peep-a-doodles"?

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Do you think that we should move on from "you guys" and if so — what word should replace it? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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