A bit ago I asked each of my kiddos what they want to be when they grow up. So far I have a chef, a computer engineer, a mechanical engineer, and a Mom.That’s right my 4 yr old wants to be a mom but through lots of explaining he’s willing to settle for being a dad. His first goal was a baby so off we went to the store and got him his baby. My husband supported this completely because like me he says let a kid be a kid and to heck with gender stereotypes. So here’s my son Alijah and his baby.
It did not phase any of us. He named her Luca, fed her, walked her, cuddled, and took her everywhere.
As he pushed her in her stroller a well-meaning older lady told him how cute he was and asked if he was holding the doll for his sister. My very confused son answered her ” No it’s my baby. I don’t have a sister. I have a brother and he’s Luca’s uncle.” The lady looked at him and said “oh” then walked away.
To say this interaction broke my heart a little does not begin to describe the depth of feelings I had. In a world of equal rights, equal love, and tolerance why is it still ok to gender stereotype? Why is it ok to try to fit children into a mold of what is deemed acceptable for their sex?
Why I buy my son “girl” toys
( I put quotes because quite frankly I don’t think toys belong to one sex or another)
- Playing with dolls or beauty toys doesn’t make my son gay. I had someone ask if I was worried him playing with makeup, getting mani/pedis with me, or playing with dolls would make him gay. My initial thought did you speaking make you smart??? Nope still stupid.. well ok then. Now I didn’t say it out loud but I thought it and I chose my words wisely. I told them that if helping change our babies diapers and being a dad and painting my toenails didn’t turn my husband of 14 yrs gay I’m pretty sure a baby doll would not affect my son. And I should mention while that lifestyle is not for me if he made that choice I’d still love him. My son enjoys being pampered and enjoys beauty treatments with mama this does not define his sexuality. And I’d love to mention he’s 4 so I’m pretty sure its a bit early in life to even be concerned with that. In the meantime, he and I will continue our relaxation days
- He is more than the toys he plays with. My son loves to play and he really doesn’t care what he plays as long as its fun. I have pictures of him in football pads ready to get rough and tumble with his brothers.I also have pictures of him getting dolled up by his little friends
What my son chooses to play does not define who he is. And quite honestly why should I let a toy limit his potential. He is more than his toys and honestly, I do not think him playing dolls or G.I Joe is going to make a difference in the big scheme of things
- Everyone says dolls and playing house prepares girls for parenthood or a new sibling. Last time I checked dads need prep too and so do big brothers. I have heard women complain their husbands don’t help with the baby or household things. Well, guess what maybe if they had played house they would have prepped to know how from a young age. On that note, we will slide right on to my next reason.
- It lets my son it’s ok not to be everyone’s idea of a manly man. In this world, it seems like for a man to cry or show a softer side they often get picked on, called a sissy or made to feel not manly. I happen to think the manliest thing is to be a good husband, father, or friend. Letting my son play with what society calls girl toys lets him know and foster the truth that it doesn’t make you less of a man to be sensitive. My son has friends that come to him for a hug because he is one of the most affectionate little people you could meet. He does not hesitate to ask if someone is ok, offer a hug, or just tell someone they are beautiful. He even knows the best times to give a girl flowers.
- My son does not see stereotypes. Many may feel as though what my son does is being a sissy. I would love to see someone say this to my 70lb 4 yr olds face lol. He is one of the toughest little kids I have met and has no fear. That is one of the reasons I love his softer side so much. I know him and I know his heart and to him, there is no difference in girl toys, boy toys, or gender neutral toys. My son does not see stereotypes. He does not identify a toy and say oh that’s a girl toy let me go to a boy toy. He does not see a women’s place or a women’s job. In fact, to him, girls and women are the best things in the world and he thinks we are all superheroes. Who am I to take that belief away lol? I hope he grows up and keeps this belief and if needed can be a strong masculine voice for whoever needs it.
- Its helps motor skills. When my son plays with his doll he buttons and unbuttons, changes diapers, and feeds his baby. All these require the use of his fine motor skills. Playing legos or blocks help these motor skills also. I like that he has a wide variety to choose from.
- He learns to empathize. He has one doll that cries until you cuddle it or give it its paci. This has helped him learn to respond to the dolls needs and yes in a childish way comfort the doll. He has taken these skills real life. My friend has a baby and my son is so incredibly responsive and gentle with the baby it amazes her and me. He can see someone upset and will ask what is wrong. There have been times he has asked me and I said nothing and he then asks well why is your mouth like that or your eyes look sad. My son notices when someone is feeling a certain way and responds. I don’t credit that all to playing with dolls or playing with girls but I know that it has helped foster this quality in him.
- And finally…..It’s just a toy. That’s right. It’s a toy, not a life-altering moment or a hand grenade. It’s a toy. Learning to embrace and be different will help my son in the long run. Learning to live in the moment and play with the toy whatever it is will help his self-confidence and help him learn to adapt as an adult. A doll is a toy the same way an action figure is. My son is a kid. When he sees a toy he wants to play. He happens to like to play dad and there’s nothing wrong with that. People put so much emphasis on what is socially normal they don’t stop to just enjoy life. I won’t make that decision for my son.
My Final Say on The Matter
I do not have him play with certain toys to prove a point. I have him play with whatever he wants and I’m comfortable in the fact it is not damaging him or changing who he is or will be. Regardless of what he plays with, I know my husband and I are raising him to think for himself. We are raising him champion those who need it, and not dwell on what other people try to fit in one box or another. He will grow up to be a friend, a father, a brother, a confident man. To me, that is a job well done and no doll baby or action figure is going to change that.
Personally, sometimes I wish that people could see the world thru the eyes of a child and see that labels and categories are not always necessary. I’m proud of my son for not make distinctions and for just embracing being a child and being secure enough to play with whatever he wants.