An easy answer, right?
I did not realize that we live in a world where boys playing with dolls or girls playing with trucks is not acceptable. I thought society had moved on from this type of thinking. However, I still read about parents criticized for allowing their children to play with toys that are not appropriate for their gender.
How can you let your son play with a princess? What kind of parent allows their daughter to play with action figures?
When did toys become gender specific?
It is the marketing and the pre-conceived notions of parents that foster the idea that certain toys are only for certain individuals. As a society, we need to move on from this thinking. As parents, we must lead by example and demand change.
We need to educate ourselves and others that toys are not gender-specific.
Toys are Not Gender-specific
First, we must ignore the idea that toys are only for boys or girls. Despite the design, the color, the packaging or the ads, if a child shows an interest in a toy the parents and community should support their interest.
Playing with dolls teaches empathy. If you want your child, girl or boy, to learn empathy, then let them play with dolls. A boy who plays with dolls just might grow up to know how to care for a baby and be a great father. This is a trait I would not mind my son having and if that means encouraging his interest in dolls then I will.
Why can’t boys cook? Cooking teaches kids how to follow directions, math, and creativity. Are these not skills we want boys and girls to have?
What is the difference between a girl playing with a doll or an action figure? Is Barbie a better role model than Superman? To me, a pink sports car is the same as a red sports car.
We need to encourage girls to code if they show an interest. Coding teaches kids to think and creativity. It teaches them to problem solve and to feel empowered. These are all skills I wish for in my daughter.
How to Handle Negative Comments
Allowing your child to play with any toy they choose is much easier than the negative comments you might hear about your parenting. Everyone has their opinion when it comes to raising children and people are not afraid to share it, be it the family member, friends or strangers.
When you are criticized for your parenting choices, speak up and let the other person know that this is a decision you made and are comfortable with. Tell them why you are allowing them to play with the toys and ask them for their support, even if they disagree.
Then there are times when it is best to ignore the comment altogether.
If your child is teased, then teach them how to handle it. Some suggestions are to have them speak up for themselves, ignore it, tell an adult or use a one-liner as a response. Do not dissuade them from playing with certain toys because their peers teased them instead continue to encourage them.
The answer to the question to allow kids to play with gender-specific toys is simple, but it seems like there is still some education that needs to take place.
So the next time someone questions why you let your child play with gender-specific toys you can tell them toys are not for boys or girls and that your child is learning valuable skills.
Should your son play will dolls? Only if you want him to grow up to be a good father and man.