We don't just let our son play with a doll, we encourage him to play with a doll. Here is why every boy should play with dolls.
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On the day my husband and I found out that I was pregnant, we decided not to find out the gender of our baby. It was mostly my husband's idea, he thought it would be a fun surprise. I am a bit impatient so if it was up to me, I would have found out. But my husband doesn't ask for a lot of things, so I agreed to keep it a surprise.
And I am glad we did that. I didn't want the baby's gender to determine EVERYTHING that we would get as baby gifts. I didn't want drawers filled with pink frilly clothes if it was a girl. I didn't want tons of cars and firetrucks if it was a boy. So our decision worked out well: we ended up with lots of neutral clothes and baby gear. I am super practical and I am glad we'll be able to pass these things on to anyone in the future, whether they have a baby boy or girl.
Well anyway, 9 months after finding out I was pregnant, we had a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Surprise! That's when all the cars, trains, and firetrucks started appearing in our house. And I don't mind at all! In fact, I am intrigued about how my son seems drawn to the traditional "boy" toys on his own now that he is 2 years old.
My son can spend hours pushing his little cars around back and forth, lining them up next to each other, putting them in his dump truck, etc. He loves his airplane toy and is starting to pretend to fly it as he walks across the room. He loves pushing everything with wheels off the coffee table and watch the toys fall on the floor. He loves playing with his remote control truck even though he doesn't quite get the remote part: he always puts the remote control on top of the truck and then pushes it around.
But I wanted some balance in his life. And that's why we got him a baby doll to play with. We also got him a little stroller for the doll.
Here's why we got our son a doll and a pink stroller:
1. It would be cute
It's that simple.
My son gets excited every time he sees babies and starts yelling "baby! baby!" It is adorable. So I wanted to see if he would get just as excited about his own little baby.
He did! Just that alone was worth the cost of a doll.
And the pink stroller? Well the doll clearly needed a stroller, and the only ones available are pink. No surprise there, because it is meant to be a "girl" toy (see my thoughts on that below). So that's how he ended up with a pink stroller. And he loves pushing that thing around. Sometimes it has the doll in it. Sometimes it has a few cars or a truck. But either way it keeps him entertained, so I don't care what color it is!
2. To Learn Sensitivity
I want my son to learn to take care of things instead of only playing with toys that involve pushing, pulling, or puzzle solving. All of those toys are great, but I want him to learn to give hugs, pretend to take care of others, and learn empathy by playing with a doll.
3. To Learn Through Playing
In addition to cars, trucks, and airplanes, my son has lots of puzzles, blocks, books, balls, a balance bike, bowling pins, stacking cups, etc. Each of these toys is an opportunity to learn through play. Our son develops fine motor skills, gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and imagination through playing with different types of toys, so why not add another way to develop and grow by adding a totally different type of toy, such as a doll? Instead of imagining he is an airplane, he can imagine taking care of the doll: feeding it, bathing it, taking the doll on adventures, and whatever it is girls typically do with dolls.
4. I don't believe in "boy" and "girl" toys
All babies and toddlers should be exposed to as much learning, playing, activities, and people and experiences as possible. So why limit them to certain types of toys, certain colors of clothes? Or to whatever traditional society thinks they "should" be playing with? A 2 year old boy has just the potential to learn as much empathy and sensitivity as a 2 year old girl. And a 2 year old girl would have just as much fun pretending to be an airplane or pushing little cars around as a 2 year old boy. So why limit their imagination?
So we don't just let our son play with a doll. Saying you let your kid do something sounds like you are passively accepting it even though you are not too happy about it. We encourage our son to play with a doll.
My husband agrees that it doesn't matter whether our son plays with traditionally boy or girl toys. A few people in our family don't get it and keep asking why a boy would need a doll. They're the same people who say "he needs to eat! boys need to eat a lot and eat lots of meat".... as if toddler girls don't need to eat and don't need protein in order to grow. And as if we're the ones stopping our son from eating. (Hello, this is a blog about mostly about our picky eater toddler.)
I am glad that overall culture is slowly changing towards equality between boys and girls, men and women, and moving away from traditional gender roles. And one way to do that is to make sure that both boys and girls get a chance to play with all kinds of toys that teach them to be well-rounded little human beings. So why not add a doll and a stroller to my son's collection of toys?
What do you think? Do your kids play with mostly gender-stereotyped toys, or do they love all kinds of toys? Leave me a comment below and share this post on Facebook, let's get a conversation going!