How many times have you heard a father tell a son, “No you can’t have a doll, boys don’t play with dolls!” In my house, I used to hear that a lot. My oldest is turning twelve next month and he grew up knowing that boys play with trucks and girls play with dolls. End of story. Now my six year-old? He ignores those rules, much to the dismay of his old school dad.
Carter and Brady (now three) have a bit of a stuffed animal obsession, or “Best Friends” as they are called in our house. At one point Carter had so many “Best Friends” on his bed at night when he goes to sleep, we couldn’t tell where the kid was! My husband would ask if he wanted to play with trucks or LEGOs and while he would for a bit, Carter would always go back to his trusty “Best Friends”.
Then came Littlest Pet Shop. Those toys changed the way both my husband and son saw “girl” toys. Carter loved them. He would beg and plead to get them at the store. Eventually my husband broke down and bought a bobble headed dog with a pink tattoo. Sure, some boys at school would ask why he was playing with “girl” toys, but Carter wasn’t swayed. “They’re just animals. Boys can love animals too!” I’m pretty sure we started a new shift in toy buying that year of preschool. Many of the boys would come to school with lizards, pandas and birds (all with that pink or purple LPS tattoo) hidden in their pockets to show off. Why not?! Just because they came in pink and purple, doesn’t mean boys can’t love these cute animals. Even my husband decided he was in a losing battle and started helping our son find the “manliest” ones at the store.
What makes a toy specific for a girl or boy? Is it the color, pink vs. blue? Is it the fact it’s a doll vs. an action figure? I see a huge difference in parents’ views when it’s a girl wanting to play with a truck and a boy playing with a doll. Personally, I think there need to be more dolls marketed to boys—or at least to both genders. My three year-old would love to take care of a baby, and in today’s world isn’t it a little old fashioned to think that only girls need—or want—to nurture? Today’s dads are expected to be much more involved than our parents’ or grandparents’ generations were. In our home, Carter already gives a pacifier and blanket to his stuffed animals. That’s good preparation for being a dad someday.
Would you buy a toy that would traditionally be for girls for your son?