Why shouldn't little boys play with dolls?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  February 8, 2010 12:44 PM

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I was at a birthday party recently, chatting with parents while keeping an eye on the pack of preschoolers who had just finished "helping" the birthday girl open her presents. The baby brother of one of the party guests was toddling around, examining the toys and the discarded wrappings.

At one point, he picked up a well-worn baby doll, sat down on his diapered bottom, and began looking it over. And suddenly I heard, "Uh oh. Daddy will be angry if he sees you playing with that!"

I looked over at my own little boy, age 3, who was standing at the toy kitchen, happily making pretend tea for everyone, being careful to put tiny pink cups in front of the stuffed animals he had arranged on the floor. He does this at home, too; ask him what he's up to, and he'll say he's feeding his kids. Which pleases me, because how else can he learn how to be a good dad if he doesn't practice?

The division between "girl stuff" and "boy stuff" has always seemed arbitrary to me. Why is it that so many things that are traditionally considered "woman's work" in the home (like cooking, sewing, or child care) are seen as a respectable career choice for men as long as the job has a title and is done for pay (like being a chef, a clothing designer, or a professor)?

Even though numerous studies have shown that homosexuality may be a question of nature, not nurture, gender sterotyping starts early, and little boys are steered toward blue and guns and trucks while little girls get the frilly pink things and the play kitchens and the dolls.

But in 1921, groups like The Women's Institute Domestic Science in Pennsylvania were endorsing pink as the go-to color for little boys. And up until the 1940s or so, in Westernized countries, pink was considered a masculine color, since it' derived from active, agressive red; little girls were the ones who were supposed to wear light blue, which was associated with purity, passivity, and the Virgin Mary. Take a look at the early Disney princesses, for example:  Sleeping Beauty showed off a pretty pink ball gown when she woke up in 1959, but Cinderella, who debuted in 1950, is decked out in delicate sky blue.

So the whole "you can't play with that, that's a girl toy" issue seems silly to me. I'd much rather have my little guy gravitate toward the things that interest him than steer him toward only things that are typically considered to be for boys. Same goes for my 5-year-old daughter, whose best friend is a boy, and who happily races Hot Wheels cars while wearing princess gowns and loves stuffed animals but thinks dolls are "kinda creepy."

Parents, do your children have gender-specific toys? Why or why not?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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46 comments so far...
  1. I bought my son a doll, but he was never interested in it. He always happily played with the toy kitchen, though, and he does play with stuffed animals. His favorites have always been things with wheels and building toys, although he also loves dress-up and putting on 'shows' (and that has translated into getting involved in theater). My daughter has always had access to all sorts of toys, but mostly gravitates to things like My Little Pony and Polly Pocket (and her American Girl). I buy my kids the toys they enjoy. They have both generally gravitated towards toys specifically aimed at their gender, but neither of them has ever made comments about something being "for boys" or "for girls", other than public restrooms or clothing, so I'm not concerned. Both play sports, and both take dance lessons.

    One of the sadder things I saw was at the waiting room at a doctor's office where the only toy was a Barbie camper (and not even a pink one - it was orange, I think). A little boy of about 4 was driving it around, and his mom said "Stop playing with that, it's a girl toy!". Had my son not been napping in his stroller, I would have pointedly handed it to him.

    Posted by akmom February 8, 10 05:54 PM
  1. That sort of thing drives me nuts. I had a bunch of Cabbage Patch dolls from when I was little. My boys used to build airplanes out of the dining chairs and fly down to Guatemala to adopt them, or have them be customers in their restaurant, or passengers on their train, or whatever. They dragged them around, stripped them, changed their diapers, and slept with them. Eventually they grew out of it around 4 or 5 or so. But they still like stuffed animals at 9 and 8, and they are still very nurturing kids. Why not just let them have fun and enjoy themselves? I wouldn't be an engineer today if I wasn't allowed to play with 'boy toys' like chemistry sets and jackknives. Why shouldn't my boys learn how to sew and cook, as well as build and drive things?

    Posted by BMS February 8, 10 06:50 PM
  1. For boys and girls both, go to a teaching supply store or order from one online. They have dishes and other play house items in primary colors. The stuff is usually more practical and sturdier than the toys from the department or toy stores, since it's meant for a classroom of two dozen preschoolers.

    My son loves to cook for his stuffed animals, but I am not going to give him a pink Pretty Princess tea set to do it with. You shouldn't make your kid look silly in front of others just to prove a point, especially when there are good alternatives.


    Posted by di February 8, 10 07:04 PM
  1. Di, who is talking about making a kid look ridiculous "just to prove a point"? It's rather the opposite -- not *making* the kid into any specific vision, but instead, just letting the kid be who he or she is, and not making him or her feel ashamed of it.

    Posted by jlen February 8, 10 08:34 PM
  1. Hi, It just seems pretty obvious to me that you have answered your own question very well with your own comments. You have made an observation which seems to indicate that there may be something not quite "natural" when a boy wants to play with dolls / toys / buggies / cots by which you mean girls' dolls / toys - bearing in mind that there are boys' dolls / toys (Action Man etc). You seem to have instinctively avoided asking the opposite question as well - whether it is OK for girls to play with "boys'" toys, (guns, trains, tractors etc). In larger groups these problems have a way of sorting themselves out, it is called peer pressure - which is not always a bad thing in spite of having a bad press.

    Thanks for your comment, Allan. I didn't think to ask the opposite question, because a.) the "Daddy will be mad!" comment was made to a little boy and b.) I've never witnessed anyone getting upset/worried/concerned when their daughter picked up a truck or a hammer. No one questions my daughters wearing denim overalls, having short hair, playing with matchbox cars, or playing touch football. But if my sons wore lavender, had long hair, carried a doll, or wanted to play field hockey (in the US, at least) there would be tons of questions.

    Readers: Have you ever been questioned for letting your girl play with "boy" toys or wear "boy" clothes? -- LMA

    Posted by Allan Cartlidge February 8, 10 09:34 PM
  1. Di - my 10 year old son has absolutely no issue with playing with his sister's pink Disney Princess tea set, and neither do I. I wouldn't force him to do so, but if he chooses to, so what? Assuming you're responding to my comment about the ORANGE barbie camper that was the only toy in the room...

    Posted by akmom February 9, 10 08:56 AM
  1. Technically, Sleeping Beauty's gown alternated between blue and pink, because her fairy godmothers couldn't agree.

    So maybe it's a greater example of this struggle than you even realized!

    Posted by A February 9, 10 09:37 AM
  1. I think about this issue all the time and how wild it drives me to look through some of the more mainstream toy catalogs and you virtually NEVER see girls playing with the automobiles, or wearing the firefighter or police officer costumes, etc. I was so outraged when I saw the same catalog offer two doctor's kits: one in royal blue, one in pink. Guess which one had the red cross on it, and guess which one had kittens intead? Last time I checked, NO doctors at Mass General have kittens on their gear, so why create this type of dichotomy for children? Same thing with the dolls--you never see boys playing with them in ads, on boxes, etc. Yet in my experience when kids have access to all types of toys, they usually play with all of them for a bit, and then gravitate toward what they prefer (or whatever the other kid has if they're toddlers!). But I agree--give them the OPTION to play with everything. And that's what we do in our house. Our daughter has dolls, trucks, balls, blocks, "camping" gear, etc.-- whether and how she chooses to play with any of it is totally up to her, and that will be true even if we have more children that include boys.

    Sleepymama, that drives me crazy, too. And it extends into products for adults, also -- check out tomboytools.com. A hammer is a hammer -- making it pink doesn't make it empowering. -- LMA

    Posted by Sleepymama February 9, 10 10:39 AM
  1. Gah, the pink stuff.

    We went to Legoland in the Chicago area on vacation. The 'girl's corner' was a cramped little pink castle crammed with stuff to make pretty pink princess stuff. The fact that they felt that the only way girls were going to build stuff is if they made it pink and separated it from the boys just irritated me. God forbid the girls build with blue or black. God forbid the pink legos should touch the red ones. Just really irritates me. On one hand you have all the Girl Power types shouting "You can do anything!" and on the other hand you have the advertisers saying "But only if it's pink and fluffy." Gah.


    Posted by BMS February 9, 10 12:35 PM
  1. Obviously a misunderstanding somewhere...It had nothing to do with the camper. If that's what's there, that's what's there and I would have given it to him to play with too.

    My son plays occasionally with some of the pink frilly stuff that belongs to his sisters, which is OK with me. The flowery tea set and dishes were a gift and we accepted them, although it was not what I would have chosen for my daughters because I don't think everything they own needs to be pink either. I bought other things to go with it so he wasn't playing with *only* the girly stuff, and I am not going to purposely purchase those things for him. They all like the toy pizza set best anyhow.


    Posted by di February 9, 10 01:18 PM
  1. My grandsons favorite color is pink, he is 9 and his mother gets so upset with him when he chooses a shirt in pink. I tell her all the time that its ok and her making a big thing out of it will only make him think he's doing something wrong

    Posted by Meme February 9, 10 02:07 PM
  1. LMA, your observations (concerning girls doing boy things vs boys doing girl things) are interesting and I think in part stems from gender perception in society in general. The woman's rights movement teaches that it's OK for women, and by extension little girls, to do things that are typically associated with men because it's all about gender equality. However, less emphasis is made on stating girl activities are just as important as boy activities. Note that everyone so far has complained that girls are stuck with pink... no one is complaining that boys have to play with blue and black and aren't allowed to play with pink. What we inadvertently teach society by doing this is that "boy activities" and things associated with boys are better than "girl activities" and things associated with girls. So, when a little boy does something that is meant for a girl it is perceived as a demotion of sorts.

    As for me, I have a son who loves trucks, cooking, drawing, and Kai Lan. He loves his hot wheels and brushing his hair with mommy. His day care has girls and boys that do all activities together and we try not to pressure him into anything.

    Posted by Changecat February 9, 10 03:02 PM
  1. My 3 year old granddaughter happens to like Spiderman so we got her a pair of Spiderman Slippers for Christmas. In todays age of working parents or grandparents in my case, husbands and wives share the duties of the household so why should children boy or girl be told that playing with trucks or dolls is not right for them. Please people it is 2010 get with the program and evolve.

    Posted by Laura Matarazzo February 9, 10 03:08 PM
  1. "In larger groups these problems have a way of sorting themselves out, it is called peer pressure - which is not always a bad thing in spite of having a bad press."

    Allan--Peer pressure is very dangerous--its why gays and lesbians have been closeted for so long--its why gender non-conforming children often have difficulty making a lot of friends and difficulties later in life--because the struggle to be true to themselves while conforming to the sexist/gender-specific attitudes they learn through "peer pressure."


    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar February 9, 10 03:46 PM
  1. I find the whole "girl stuff" versus "boy stuff" really annoying. My boys never worried about that until they started to hear about it in school. My son went to preschool one day wearing a pink necklace he liked and a girl teased him that pink was a "girl color." He never wanted to wear it again. On their own, they gravitate toward trucks and spaceships, so that's what they play with, but I gently redirect them when they say something is a "girl color" or a "girl toy" or that long hair is "girl hair."

    Posted by anita February 9, 10 04:05 PM
  1. This kind of behaviour can only lead to heartbreak and loneliness. It must be nipped in the bud or the children will become perverted.

    Posted by monique vandesoaker February 9, 10 04:12 PM
  1. While we're on the subject of gender role stereotyping, maybe we should all take a look at the title of this very column. At the top of this page it says in very bold, red letters "Moms". Hmmm... maybe some of those wise, open-minded boys who played with dolls have grown up to be wise, open-minded men who actually share parenting responsibilities with their partners. Excluding them from the title of this column is just the adult extension of excluding them from all the rest of the "girl stuff" - and it's not good for anyone. Let's get with the times and include them, shall we?

    I hear you, A Modern Mom! Actually, the title of the column is "Child Caring," but the site itself is Boston.com/Moms, and it was chosen by the all mighty marketing department. Those of us who create the content for the site have been arguing that it needs to be changed pretty much since it launched! My new column, which debuts here next month, is "In the Parenthood" -- gender neutral! -- LMA

    Posted by A Modern Mom February 9, 10 04:17 PM
  1. @BMS...I think it's weird how they have all pink stuff as well, and if I had a girl, I wouldn't want everything pink. But at least you had the option to buy the regular colors for your daughter if you wanted.

    I have two boys, who loved Dora the Explorer and Disney Princesses, and at age 7 and 9 like Littlest Pet Shop, but almost ANYTHING related to those characters is pink and flowery, clearly not designed for boys at all. We still have some of these items, as they still wanted them, but it's annoying that they assume boys wouldn't want to play with any of those things.

    We just put our play kitchen set away in the basement two weeks ago. It got so much use over the past six years. I have a friend who, when her son played with it, would say, "Good thing your father's not here". SO annoying.

    Posted by Michelle February 9, 10 04:27 PM
  1. MONIQUE...I first thought you were referring to the MORONIC parents who tell their kids they are wrong for playing with "girls" toys, then I realized you might actually be referring to the kids! If I misread it, I apologize. If I didn't, PLEASE say you don't have children!

    The behavior that would lead to heartbreak and loneliness is the loser parents telling their kids that what they enjoy is wrong. Fools.

    Posted by Michelle February 9, 10 04:35 PM
  1. One more thing that is annoying is how many people I know who have sons and daughters yet they only take their daughters to the theater. Annie, the Nutcracker, etc. Maybe they're a lot different than other kids, but my two boys enjoy all kinds of shows immensely, as well as sporting events. Why do so many people dress their daughters up and go to the theater but not entertain the thought of taking their sons?

    Posted by Michelle February 9, 10 04:38 PM
  1. Reprimanding a girl or boy for engaging in play that is supposedly of the opposite sex is cruel. When my children were young, 2 girls and a boy (he was sandwiched between the girls) they played together with toys. Any toys. They are very close in age. My girls loved playing with the fleet of Tonka trucks in our backyard sandbox (sometimes Barbie would drive) and my son had dolls, except they are called action figures to appease parents that would worry about boys playing with "dolls". My son also went through a phase when he was 3-4 years old of wearing his older sisters tutu from ballet class and dancing with his sisters (We have videos!) Not to worry, he went on to star on his high school baseball and football team. Now in college, he plays rugby, the roughest of sports. And if he didn't grow up to be a tough guy, that would be ok, too. Let children choose their toys and manner of play - it's ok, really. Have we not got beyond this issue?

    Posted by portiaperu February 9, 10 04:43 PM
  1. At 1 and a half my son would put on his sisters' play princess shoes and push the baby carriage around and around, usually with a purse on his arm. 2 years later, he loves cars, trucks, trains, dinosaurs, Dora the Explorer, and stuffed dogs. I never stopped him from playing with anything and every once and awhile he'll pick up his sisters' dolls. These are the things he naturally gravitates to and I love that his likes are so different. Meanwhile one of his sisters loves all things pink and girly and the other loves the color blue and Pokemon. They like what they like and we let them play with what they want.

    Posted by Momofgirls&boy February 9, 10 04:55 PM
  1. Good Lord people! My daughter used to ask for the Hess truck every Christmas. Now she thinks Chaz Bono is da bomb. Please be careful.

    Posted by monique vandesoaker February 9, 10 06:09 PM
  1. I think part of the proliferation of pink stuff for girls is about marketing. If your first child is a girl and her blocks, art supplies, dress-up clothes and cooking set are all pink, what are you going to do when the next kid is a boy? Buy!

    What bothers me the most is that it's not okay for boys to play with "girl toys" because of an implication that girl toys, and being a girl, are inferior. Similarly, I remember reading that kids' TV shows are more often developed with boy characters because little girls will watch boys on TV but little boys won't watch girl characters. They are responding to the implicit message that girl toys and female characters are less desirable. This is harmful for everyone.

    Posted by Joanna February 9, 10 09:44 PM
  1. Yo Monique Vandesoaker---What's wrong with your daughter liking Chaz Bono? There is nothing wrong with children playing with whatever toys that make them happy, nor is there anything wrong with liking Chaz Bono or any other transgender person.

    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar February 9, 10 10:45 PM
  1. This is becoming a topic for me to think about at home too. Recently, our daughter asked for stickers (not that she even knew what they were, but they were shiny...). My husband let her pick a pack and out of every option, including her beloved Winnie-the-Pooh, she chose...Disney Princesses?!

    We don't keep princess stuff at home. She's not exposed to princesses in her media consumption (books or TV). She was only 20 months old.

    To make me think even harder, yesterday, she found a tea party set that we'd put away. She's never "played" tea party (at almost 22 months now, we thought that might still be a bit "old" for her), but according to DH who got trapped at her party and wasn't allowed to leave, she knew exactly what to do, without prompting. He said she was a gracious hostess to him and Elmo (also in attendance). I can verify that. When I got home, she treated me to coffee (not tea since she's never seen me drink it and when I asked if it was tea, she frowned and said, "Mommy coffee!") and a plastic chocolate chip cookie.

    She poired my coffee, added sugar and milk, put a cookie on the plate for me...then poured herself some, added sugar and milk and took her plastic cookie and sat opposite me at the table.

    Knowing that this behavior wasn't necessarily "learned" (or was it through watching me prep meals?), I was a little stunned. She's too young to know girl toy from boy toy and has lots of trains, trucks, animals, a couple of dolls, books...all generally non-gender specific in coloration - and she doesn't watch commercial television. So how did she know that she wanted a tea party and how to host one?

    It's going to be interesting to watch her play unfold. But I've known boys who play with dolls...and who cares?

    Posted by phe February 10, 10 10:19 AM
  1. My heart breaks for a child who is shamed by his father for "being a sissy".

    One of my neighbors' kids is an 8-year-old boy who is the gayest child I ever met. His dad loves him unconditionally and encourages him to do whatever he enjoys.

    Men who try to "macho-up" their little children are telling them that it's NOT okay to be themselves. And, no, just because a kid likes playing with a tea set, it doesn't mean he's gay. But he might be. So what!

    Posted by cosmogirl February 10, 10 12:32 PM
  1. Now that my boys are older and have moved beyond toys, my pet peeve is when they call each other "ladies" or "girls" to get a rise. I've heard coaches do this too and it really grates on me, "Come on ladies, get a move on, three laps around the field." I always stop my son and tell him that being a lady or a girl is NOT an insult.

    Posted by cordelia February 10, 10 02:43 PM
  1. As a 1950s girl who was an unabashed tomboy and who was always having dolls shoved at her and trucks and cars and basketballs taken away, I am disappointed to see that the Procrustean Bed stereotypes are still alive and well. Only this past week I heard women in our firm jeering at the Canadian Womens' Hockey Team, who had just won gold medals, for not standing on the podium in Ladylike Postures and for celebrating with beer and cigars instead of sippy cups of juice and straight to bed to be pretty in the morning! Ye Gods.

    Posted by Appleby Mennym March 3, 10 11:21 AM
  1. that this is a good suggtion to help peple with

    Posted by Lindsay hees March 24, 10 10:04 AM
  1. Most comments about the dolls have been about 1 or 2 year old boys. My son is 4 1/2 and I've jus noticed him choosing barbie dolls over trucks, which is wat his twin brother automatically goes for, his father has noticed it and he got real upset. A couple weeks ago he got a happymeal with a mermaid in it by mistake which was his first doll, he loved it but as soon as his dad saw it he threw it away, which upset our son. We have all boys so its uncommon to see a doll in the house. Im more concerned about what his interests are as him being his own person and for whatever reason our son has took a definite interest in barbies. At his age is it normal for him to have this interest and how do I get his father to be more open-minded?


    Posted by MyThreeSons May 18, 10 11:06 PM
  1. I would like to offer a solution to this problem - My Sibling and My Pal dolls are boy dolls that come with a story booklet. Besides providing high quality dolls for boys to relate to and play with, our company has a mission to advocate for the developmentally disabled, providing work experiences for teens and adults - they dress and accessorize our dolls. Not only do I believe in dolls and stuffed toys as a great way for little boys to grow up to be well adjusted and kind young men, I also think that boy dolls can be a great teaching tool.

    Posted by Loretta D. Boronat July 16, 10 02:05 PM
  1. This is interesting to me because I have two boys now, but I grew up in a female dominated family. Many of the women took on "male" roles, especially for those earlier days. When I was little, I had toys from every spectrum of gender specific toys. My sister was known as the "tomboy" and I was a little lady. Now that we are grown she is more feminine and I am more rough around the edges.
    Now as a parent I offer all sort of toys to my boys. They also play with their cousins' toys, but one son prefers the toys of the males (however both of them will play with any toy they get their hands on). My boys favor different toys, but neither of them avoid a specific type of toy based on cultural gender standards. The one who seems to slightly favor "male perceived toys" while in a group of girls, would choose pink because they do. I don't care, it's ok to like pink. Why is it ok for girls to be tomboys and males not to be feminine? Being what we consider womanly is not a bad thing.
    My husband of course wants our sons to be masculine, but I quickly reprimand him for making our sons feel anything but confident about their choices.
    So lots of girls like pink, it's ok. Marketers do whatever they can to make money. If they had many items in my favorite color, I'd buy them up too. Think of baby clothes, it's so hard to find gender neutral clothes. That way if you have a different sex on the 2nd child, you have to buy new clothes. I would dress my boys in blue football clothes and people still thought they were little girls (price you pay for being so daggone cute). Maybe this is why they started this, to tell babies apart.

    Posted by Rachel October 1, 10 10:34 PM
  1. I have to say to read all of your comments has been a blessing from God. My daughter recently got a Dora doll for Christmas with long hair and my daughter is one and my two year old son loves it. In fact my son gets mad at her when she tries to play with it. It was causing so much turmoil in my house, I took away from my son, because it made me feel shameful that I wasn't being a good father to my son for him to want play with dolls instead of the normal boy toys. When I took the doll from my son, I could feel the pain of his cries because he no longer had his favorite toy, but I took it away anyway because I thought I was doing the best thing for him, when I was really pushing him from me. I've realize my son is going to learn how to be a man by watching me, not by what toy he plays with.
    So fathers love your son and show them how to be a man, because if you don't everybody in the house is going to feel your discomfort and then your son gravitate to the one in the house that is most caring(mother).and single women find a good male role model in your son's life. So for this women out there that say they're the mommy and the daddy, the devil is a lie; you can't teach a man to be man only a man can do that. May God Bless You Real Good

    Posted by armourbearer February 22, 11 01:41 PM
  1. Because there is nothing confusing at all about a man who cares for a baby but refuses to let his son mimic him...

    That's the part no one understands. Does dad not play any part at all in caring for his own children? And if he does, how can he reprimand his own son for following his example? It's disturbing.

    Posted by Sarah March 2, 11 11:49 AM
  1. When our son was little (40+ years ago) we lived next door to a retired Yugoslavian sea captain. He was a big, rugged, imposing man -- but very soft and sweet and dear. One day he appeared at our door with a baby doll for our son saying "Every boy should have a doll; this is for Paul". Paul was the "Dad" to that doll and treated it and cared for it just the way his Dad treated and cared for him and his brother. Today his "kids" reap the rewards from the captain's doll - Paul is a caring, sensitive, good "Dad". Give your son a doll!

    Posted by Gail Bernstein April 13, 11 07:57 AM
  1. I think it's funny that so many posters are adamant about insisting that kids be allowed to play with whatever they want and simultaneously insisting that certain other parents must be educated to agree with the posters! Sounds contradictory to me. It's no one's business what my kids play with. If I choose to allow guns, etc., and other violent toys, fine. If I insist everything be sweet and green and p.c., also good. They're MY kids, not yours, ladies. And if I want my sons to have access to dolls, fine; if I forbid them to play with dolls, also fine, and MY business, not yours.

    Posted by joanne May 14, 11 01:39 AM
  1. I saw a 5 year old boy at my daughters school the other day wearing boy clothes but had a Pink Barbie book bag! I have a son who is 2, that does play with the kitchen and plays with his sisters babies when they like to play house! He does have his own toys, like tucks, tractors, trains, and 4-wheelers which he absolutely loves! I do understand that boys play with girl toys and i think its fine! That really is not my concern, its the fact of what children are going to do to that kid over the years!

    Posted by Tara September 14, 11 09:25 PM
  1. Monique, I used to love those pick up trucks and the cars. I would put all my stuff int he back of the toy pick ups. I had three brothers so I played what they were playing. It seemed more fun, more active. Today I am 27, VERY straight, am in a relationship, i am pretty conservative. Sorry, I know there is a double standard. There is not a chance in hell if I had a son I would let him play with a doll. Also, all kids love to play with kitchen sets... Not because they love cooking, but it makes them feel like they have their own place. Kids need to feel some control, like they have a little place of their own. Also Stuffed animals were different. When I was a kid every one had a pound puppy. My brother loved his. None of us were so needy as to needing to sleep with any stuffed animals or dolls.. However, it was okay for boys to have pound puppies. Again, we have gender roles and gender differences. I'm sick of all the effeminate straight men running around. Nurturing is one thing, but that seems to be all they know how to do.. I'd love to find a guy that I feel safe with, like I'm not the one going to be throwing the punches and them hiding in a corner if something bad happens. Crap like this is just part of the reason men are no longer men. I fear the 70s, a time before I was even born, destroyed the male gender.

    Posted by Thedrisin September 30, 11 12:53 PM
  1. A better way to teach kids to be caring, hey, why not have more than one kid, or get them connected with younger family memebers. Having a doll does not make a mid nurturing. Dolls are easy to deal with, they don't cry, pull hair, or need you. Have you seen this trend in men, ladies? Ones oh so sympathetic but can't do jack or go out of their way for you? How shocking.

    Posted by Thedrisin September 30, 11 12:57 PM
  1. cordelia the reason the coaches do that is because they are insinuating that women are weak and sensitive. Just by how you respond to that statement proves the coaches point. One think that irks me about my gender is how sensitive and wimpy women can be. Just let the men do their thing.

    Posted by Thedrisin September 30, 11 01:06 PM
  1. I'm so glad to read theses comments from other parents. Its very reassuring
    But how am I supposed to react when my sons school tells me he needs help because he plays with girl stuff. My poor wife left the school in tears feeling so attacked. They said they can call child services on us. Really? I need advice. I want my son to explore and play how ever he sees fit. Who are they to say such stuff. Mind you my son is only three. What do I do?

    Posted by Anthony March 5, 12 09:19 PM
  1. So most of us agree that boys can play with dolls and don't feel that we should stereotype roles, but that is exactly what we continue to do into adulthood. Here are some examples....This article is posted to Boston.com Moms. Sites like Amazon.com have an Amazon Mom discount program. There are advertisements for products that state they are "Mom Approved". When I go to change my child's diaper in a public restroom, I have to turn around and have my wife do it because they only have a changing table in the women's room. If it is ok for boys to play with dolls, then why isn't it ok to acknowledge the "Dads" who grow up to help take care of those children?

    Posted by Paul D. April 8, 12 12:04 AM
  1. At the age of 6 months my son picked up his first doll. I thought it was no big deal, but once i took the doll from him he would cry for it. From that day on any time he got his hands on a doll he was in heaven. His father made a big deal about it and for bidding him from playing with dolls and online dress up games and ill admit that i did too. At 8 years old he is still fascinated with dolls and LOVES to do their hair. I try to get him to talk to me and tell me why he like them so much but he has it in his mind that its wrong and clams up. I dont want him to feel like I dont have his back; I will support him no matter what. You have society saying its wrong for boys to play with dolls but what everyone fails to realized is that we are talking about CHILDREN in some cases babies. This issue is confusing for adults so just imagine how confused they must be. I dont want my son to grow up feeling like an outcast and lonley. I will never buy my son a doll but I will continue to talk to him and let him know that this is a mean and cold world that will make him feel worthless. This issue is so much bigger than what people will think. What effect will all this negativity will have on these babies?

    Posted by jen May 25, 12 03:21 AM
  1. Well, first of all, thank God I'm not married to Thedrisin. Instead, I'm married to a real man who doesn't act like a misogynist with a giant chip on his shoulder. My husband will sometimes say, "Really? He's playing with that?" But if he sees that he really does like it, he doesn't care. Our son loves trains, cars, lizards, and dinosaurs. He loves Thomas, Phineas and Ferb, and Spiderman. But, he also loves Kai-Lan, LaLaLoopsy, and My Little Pony. He's wanting a baby doll right now, because he loves babies and likes to pretend taking care of them the way he sees me and other parents taking care of their little ones. What could possibly be wrong with that? Besides, having baby dolls isn't going to make a male homosexual. He also likes to try on my shoes and pretend to do his makeup and hair when I'm doing mine. One of our gay friends is huge into heavy metal and loved He-Man, GI Joe, and Thundercats growing up. You wouldn't be able to know he's gay unless he told you so and he's far more masculine than I imagine is Thedrisin. So who cares? "Gay" isn't a way of being. It isn't a lifestyle. No more than "straight" is a way of being or a lifestyle.

    What I think is that mimicking adults and other kids helps give a child perspective and will help them develop empathy. Perhaps if more people allowed their children to play with whatever toys they choose, there would be more open-hearted people in this world.

    Posted by LovingMomma July 30, 12 04:46 PM
  1. Anthony, I suggest you do a little research.. The school cannot call child services on you because your son plays with "girl stuff". Allowing your son to play with "girl stuff" does not fall under child abuse or neglect, which I assume would be the reasons they were threatening to call child services. Perhaps start your research by looking at what constitutes child abuse in your state. I can tell you right now that it does not say anything about the toys you let your children play with. But it might help you to see what is in your right as a parent and you can use this information to confront the school with.

    Posted by Leah October 26, 12 02:50 PM
 
46 comments so far...
  1. I bought my son a doll, but he was never interested in it. He always happily played with the toy kitchen, though, and he does play with stuffed animals. His favorites have always been things with wheels and building toys, although he also loves dress-up and putting on 'shows' (and that has translated into getting involved in theater). My daughter has always had access to all sorts of toys, but mostly gravitates to things like My Little Pony and Polly Pocket (and her American Girl). I buy my kids the toys they enjoy. They have both generally gravitated towards toys specifically aimed at their gender, but neither of them has ever made comments about something being "for boys" or "for girls", other than public restrooms or clothing, so I'm not concerned. Both play sports, and both take dance lessons.

    One of the sadder things I saw was at the waiting room at a doctor's office where the only toy was a Barbie camper (and not even a pink one - it was orange, I think). A little boy of about 4 was driving it around, and his mom said "Stop playing with that, it's a girl toy!". Had my son not been napping in his stroller, I would have pointedly handed it to him.

    Posted by akmom February 8, 10 05:54 PM
  1. That sort of thing drives me nuts. I had a bunch of Cabbage Patch dolls from when I was little. My boys used to build airplanes out of the dining chairs and fly down to Guatemala to adopt them, or have them be customers in their restaurant, or passengers on their train, or whatever. They dragged them around, stripped them, changed their diapers, and slept with them. Eventually they grew out of it around 4 or 5 or so. But they still like stuffed animals at 9 and 8, and they are still very nurturing kids. Why not just let them have fun and enjoy themselves? I wouldn't be an engineer today if I wasn't allowed to play with 'boy toys' like chemistry sets and jackknives. Why shouldn't my boys learn how to sew and cook, as well as build and drive things?

    Posted by BMS February 8, 10 06:50 PM
  1. For boys and girls both, go to a teaching supply store or order from one online. They have dishes and other play house items in primary colors. The stuff is usually more practical and sturdier than the toys from the department or toy stores, since it's meant for a classroom of two dozen preschoolers.

    My son loves to cook for his stuffed animals, but I am not going to give him a pink Pretty Princess tea set to do it with. You shouldn't make your kid look silly in front of others just to prove a point, especially when there are good alternatives.


    Posted by di February 8, 10 07:04 PM
  1. Di, who is talking about making a kid look ridiculous "just to prove a point"? It's rather the opposite -- not *making* the kid into any specific vision, but instead, just letting the kid be who he or she is, and not making him or her feel ashamed of it.

    Posted by jlen February 8, 10 08:34 PM
  1. Hi, It just seems pretty obvious to me that you have answered your own question very well with your own comments. You have made an observation which seems to indicate that there may be something not quite "natural" when a boy wants to play with dolls / toys / buggies / cots by which you mean girls' dolls / toys - bearing in mind that there are boys' dolls / toys (Action Man etc). You seem to have instinctively avoided asking the opposite question as well - whether it is OK for girls to play with "boys'" toys, (guns, trains, tractors etc). In larger groups these problems have a way of sorting themselves out, it is called peer pressure - which is not always a bad thing in spite of having a bad press.

    Thanks for your comment, Allan. I didn't think to ask the opposite question, because a.) the "Daddy will be mad!" comment was made to a little boy and b.) I've never witnessed anyone getting upset/worried/concerned when their daughter picked up a truck or a hammer. No one questions my daughters wearing denim overalls, having short hair, playing with matchbox cars, or playing touch football. But if my sons wore lavender, had long hair, carried a doll, or wanted to play field hockey (in the US, at least) there would be tons of questions.

    Readers: Have you ever been questioned for letting your girl play with "boy" toys or wear "boy" clothes? -- LMA

    Posted by Allan Cartlidge February 8, 10 09:34 PM
  1. Di - my 10 year old son has absolutely no issue with playing with his sister's pink Disney Princess tea set, and neither do I. I wouldn't force him to do so, but if he chooses to, so what? Assuming you're responding to my comment about the ORANGE barbie camper that was the only toy in the room...

    Posted by akmom February 9, 10 08:56 AM
  1. Technically, Sleeping Beauty's gown alternated between blue and pink, because her fairy godmothers couldn't agree.

    So maybe it's a greater example of this struggle than you even realized!

    Posted by A February 9, 10 09:37 AM
  1. I think about this issue all the time and how wild it drives me to look through some of the more mainstream toy catalogs and you virtually NEVER see girls playing with the automobiles, or wearing the firefighter or police officer costumes, etc. I was so outraged when I saw the same catalog offer two doctor's kits: one in royal blue, one in pink. Guess which one had the red cross on it, and guess which one had kittens intead? Last time I checked, NO doctors at Mass General have kittens on their gear, so why create this type of dichotomy for children? Same thing with the dolls--you never see boys playing with them in ads, on boxes, etc. Yet in my experience when kids have access to all types of toys, they usually play with all of them for a bit, and then gravitate toward what they prefer (or whatever the other kid has if they're toddlers!). But I agree--give them the OPTION to play with everything. And that's what we do in our house. Our daughter has dolls, trucks, balls, blocks, "camping" gear, etc.-- whether and how she chooses to play with any of it is totally up to her, and that will be true even if we have more children that include boys.

    Sleepymama, that drives me crazy, too. And it extends into products for adults, also -- check out tomboytools.com. A hammer is a hammer -- making it pink doesn't make it empowering. -- LMA

    Posted by Sleepymama February 9, 10 10:39 AM
  1. Gah, the pink stuff.

    We went to Legoland in the Chicago area on vacation. The 'girl's corner' was a cramped little pink castle crammed with stuff to make pretty pink princess stuff. The fact that they felt that the only way girls were going to build stuff is if they made it pink and separated it from the boys just irritated me. God forbid the girls build with blue or black. God forbid the pink legos should touch the red ones. Just really irritates me. On one hand you have all the Girl Power types shouting "You can do anything!" and on the other hand you have the advertisers saying "But only if it's pink and fluffy." Gah.


    Posted by BMS February 9, 10 12:35 PM
  1. Obviously a misunderstanding somewhere...It had nothing to do with the camper. If that's what's there, that's what's there and I would have given it to him to play with too.

    My son plays occasionally with some of the pink frilly stuff that belongs to his sisters, which is OK with me. The flowery tea set and dishes were a gift and we accepted them, although it was not what I would have chosen for my daughters because I don't think everything they own needs to be pink either. I bought other things to go with it so he wasn't playing with *only* the girly stuff, and I am not going to purposely purchase those things for him. They all like the toy pizza set best anyhow.


    Posted by di February 9, 10 01:18 PM
  1. My grandsons favorite color is pink, he is 9 and his mother gets so upset with him when he chooses a shirt in pink. I tell her all the time that its ok and her making a big thing out of it will only make him think he's doing something wrong

    Posted by Meme February 9, 10 02:07 PM
  1. LMA, your observations (concerning girls doing boy things vs boys doing girl things) are interesting and I think in part stems from gender perception in society in general. The woman's rights movement teaches that it's OK for women, and by extension little girls, to do things that are typically associated with men because it's all about gender equality. However, less emphasis is made on stating girl activities are just as important as boy activities. Note that everyone so far has complained that girls are stuck with pink... no one is complaining that boys have to play with blue and black and aren't allowed to play with pink. What we inadvertently teach society by doing this is that "boy activities" and things associated with boys are better than "girl activities" and things associated with girls. So, when a little boy does something that is meant for a girl it is perceived as a demotion of sorts.

    As for me, I have a son who loves trucks, cooking, drawing, and Kai Lan. He loves his hot wheels and brushing his hair with mommy. His day care has girls and boys that do all activities together and we try not to pressure him into anything.

    Posted by Changecat February 9, 10 03:02 PM
  1. My 3 year old granddaughter happens to like Spiderman so we got her a pair of Spiderman Slippers for Christmas. In todays age of working parents or grandparents in my case, husbands and wives share the duties of the household so why should children boy or girl be told that playing with trucks or dolls is not right for them. Please people it is 2010 get with the program and evolve.

    Posted by Laura Matarazzo February 9, 10 03:08 PM
  1. "In larger groups these problems have a way of sorting themselves out, it is called peer pressure - which is not always a bad thing in spite of having a bad press."

    Allan--Peer pressure is very dangerous--its why gays and lesbians have been closeted for so long--its why gender non-conforming children often have difficulty making a lot of friends and difficulties later in life--because the struggle to be true to themselves while conforming to the sexist/gender-specific attitudes they learn through "peer pressure."


    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar February 9, 10 03:46 PM
  1. I find the whole "girl stuff" versus "boy stuff" really annoying. My boys never worried about that until they started to hear about it in school. My son went to preschool one day wearing a pink necklace he liked and a girl teased him that pink was a "girl color." He never wanted to wear it again. On their own, they gravitate toward trucks and spaceships, so that's what they play with, but I gently redirect them when they say something is a "girl color" or a "girl toy" or that long hair is "girl hair."

    Posted by anita February 9, 10 04:05 PM
  1. This kind of behaviour can only lead to heartbreak and loneliness. It must be nipped in the bud or the children will become perverted.

    Posted by monique vandesoaker February 9, 10 04:12 PM
  1. While we're on the subject of gender role stereotyping, maybe we should all take a look at the title of this very column. At the top of this page it says in very bold, red letters "Moms". Hmmm... maybe some of those wise, open-minded boys who played with dolls have grown up to be wise, open-minded men who actually share parenting responsibilities with their partners. Excluding them from the title of this column is just the adult extension of excluding them from all the rest of the "girl stuff" - and it's not good for anyone. Let's get with the times and include them, shall we?

    I hear you, A Modern Mom! Actually, the title of the column is "Child Caring," but the site itself is Boston.com/Moms, and it was chosen by the all mighty marketing department. Those of us who create the content for the site have been arguing that it needs to be changed pretty much since it launched! My new column, which debuts here next month, is "In the Parenthood" -- gender neutral! -- LMA

    Posted by A Modern Mom February 9, 10 04:17 PM
  1. @BMS...I think it's weird how they have all pink stuff as well, and if I had a girl, I wouldn't want everything pink. But at least you had the option to buy the regular colors for your daughter if you wanted.

    I have two boys, who loved Dora the Explorer and Disney Princesses, and at age 7 and 9 like Littlest Pet Shop, but almost ANYTHING related to those characters is pink and flowery, clearly not designed for boys at all. We still have some of these items, as they still wanted them, but it's annoying that they assume boys wouldn't want to play with any of those things.

    We just put our play kitchen set away in the basement two weeks ago. It got so much use over the past six years. I have a friend who, when her son played with it, would say, "Good thing your father's not here". SO annoying.

    Posted by Michelle February 9, 10 04:27 PM
  1. MONIQUE...I first thought you were referring to the MORONIC parents who tell their kids they are wrong for playing with "girls" toys, then I realized you might actually be referring to the kids! If I misread it, I apologize. If I didn't, PLEASE say you don't have children!

    The behavior that would lead to heartbreak and loneliness is the loser parents telling their kids that what they enjoy is wrong. Fools.

    Posted by Michelle February 9, 10 04:35 PM
  1. One more thing that is annoying is how many people I know who have sons and daughters yet they only take their daughters to the theater. Annie, the Nutcracker, etc. Maybe they're a lot different than other kids, but my two boys enjoy all kinds of shows immensely, as well as sporting events. Why do so many people dress their daughters up and go to the theater but not entertain the thought of taking their sons?

    Posted by Michelle February 9, 10 04:38 PM
  1. Reprimanding a girl or boy for engaging in play that is supposedly of the opposite sex is cruel. When my children were young, 2 girls and a boy (he was sandwiched between the girls) they played together with toys. Any toys. They are very close in age. My girls loved playing with the fleet of Tonka trucks in our backyard sandbox (sometimes Barbie would drive) and my son had dolls, except they are called action figures to appease parents that would worry about boys playing with "dolls". My son also went through a phase when he was 3-4 years old of wearing his older sisters tutu from ballet class and dancing with his sisters (We have videos!) Not to worry, he went on to star on his high school baseball and football team. Now in college, he plays rugby, the roughest of sports. And if he didn't grow up to be a tough guy, that would be ok, too. Let children choose their toys and manner of play - it's ok, really. Have we not got beyond this issue?

    Posted by portiaperu February 9, 10 04:43 PM
  1. At 1 and a half my son would put on his sisters' play princess shoes and push the baby carriage around and around, usually with a purse on his arm. 2 years later, he loves cars, trucks, trains, dinosaurs, Dora the Explorer, and stuffed dogs. I never stopped him from playing with anything and every once and awhile he'll pick up his sisters' dolls. These are the things he naturally gravitates to and I love that his likes are so different. Meanwhile one of his sisters loves all things pink and girly and the other loves the color blue and Pokemon. They like what they like and we let them play with what they want.

    Posted by Momofgirls&boy February 9, 10 04:55 PM
  1. Good Lord people! My daughter used to ask for the Hess truck every Christmas. Now she thinks Chaz Bono is da bomb. Please be careful.

    Posted by monique vandesoaker February 9, 10 06:09 PM
  1. I think part of the proliferation of pink stuff for girls is about marketing. If your first child is a girl and her blocks, art supplies, dress-up clothes and cooking set are all pink, what are you going to do when the next kid is a boy? Buy!

    What bothers me the most is that it's not okay for boys to play with "girl toys" because of an implication that girl toys, and being a girl, are inferior. Similarly, I remember reading that kids' TV shows are more often developed with boy characters because little girls will watch boys on TV but little boys won't watch girl characters. They are responding to the implicit message that girl toys and female characters are less desirable. This is harmful for everyone.

    Posted by Joanna February 9, 10 09:44 PM
  1. Yo Monique Vandesoaker---What's wrong with your daughter liking Chaz Bono? There is nothing wrong with children playing with whatever toys that make them happy, nor is there anything wrong with liking Chaz Bono or any other transgender person.

    Posted by MakeLoveNotWar February 9, 10 10:45 PM
  1. This is becoming a topic for me to think about at home too. Recently, our daughter asked for stickers (not that she even knew what they were, but they were shiny...). My husband let her pick a pack and out of every option, including her beloved Winnie-the-Pooh, she chose...Disney Princesses?!

    We don't keep princess stuff at home. She's not exposed to princesses in her media consumption (books or TV). She was only 20 months old.

    To make me think even harder, yesterday, she found a tea party set that we'd put away. She's never "played" tea party (at almost 22 months now, we thought that might still be a bit "old" for her), but according to DH who got trapped at her party and wasn't allowed to leave, she knew exactly what to do, without prompting. He said she was a gracious hostess to him and Elmo (also in attendance). I can verify that. When I got home, she treated me to coffee (not tea since she's never seen me drink it and when I asked if it was tea, she frowned and said, "Mommy coffee!") and a plastic chocolate chip cookie.

    She poired my coffee, added sugar and milk, put a cookie on the plate for me...then poured herself some, added sugar and milk and took her plastic cookie and sat opposite me at the table.

    Knowing that this behavior wasn't necessarily "learned" (or was it through watching me prep meals?), I was a little stunned. She's too young to know girl toy from boy toy and has lots of trains, trucks, animals, a couple of dolls, books...all generally non-gender specific in coloration - and she doesn't watch commercial television. So how did she know that she wanted a tea party and how to host one?

    It's going to be interesting to watch her play unfold. But I've known boys who play with dolls...and who cares?

    Posted by phe February 10, 10 10:19 AM
  1. My heart breaks for a child who is shamed by his father for "being a sissy".

    One of my neighbors' kids is an 8-year-old boy who is the gayest child I ever met. His dad loves him unconditionally and encourages him to do whatever he enjoys.

    Men who try to "macho-up" their little children are telling them that it's NOT okay to be themselves. And, no, just because a kid likes playing with a tea set, it doesn't mean he's gay. But he might be. So what!

    Posted by cosmogirl February 10, 10 12:32 PM
  1. Now that my boys are older and have moved beyond toys, my pet peeve is when they call each other "ladies" or "girls" to get a rise. I've heard coaches do this too and it really grates on me, "Come on ladies, get a move on, three laps around the field." I always stop my son and tell him that being a lady or a girl is NOT an insult.

    Posted by cordelia February 10, 10 02:43 PM
  1. As a 1950s girl who was an unabashed tomboy and who was always having dolls shoved at her and trucks and cars and basketballs taken away, I am disappointed to see that the Procrustean Bed stereotypes are still alive and well. Only this past week I heard women in our firm jeering at the Canadian Womens' Hockey Team, who had just won gold medals, for not standing on the podium in Ladylike Postures and for celebrating with beer and cigars instead of sippy cups of juice and straight to bed to be pretty in the morning! Ye Gods.

    Posted by Appleby Mennym March 3, 10 11:21 AM
  1. that this is a good suggtion to help peple with

    Posted by Lindsay hees March 24, 10 10:04 AM
  1. Most comments about the dolls have been about 1 or 2 year old boys. My son is 4 1/2 and I've jus noticed him choosing barbie dolls over trucks, which is wat his twin brother automatically goes for, his father has noticed it and he got real upset. A couple weeks ago he got a happymeal with a mermaid in it by mistake which was his first doll, he loved it but as soon as his dad saw it he threw it away, which upset our son. We have all boys so its uncommon to see a doll in the house. Im more concerned about what his interests are as him being his own person and for whatever reason our son has took a definite interest in barbies. At his age is it normal for him to have this interest and how do I get his father to be more open-minded?


    Posted by MyThreeSons May 18, 10 11:06 PM
  1. I would like to offer a solution to this problem - My Sibling and My Pal dolls are boy dolls that come with a story booklet. Besides providing high quality dolls for boys to relate to and play with, our company has a mission to advocate for the developmentally disabled, providing work experiences for teens and adults - they dress and accessorize our dolls. Not only do I believe in dolls and stuffed toys as a great way for little boys to grow up to be well adjusted and kind young men, I also think that boy dolls can be a great teaching tool.

    Posted by Loretta D. Boronat July 16, 10 02:05 PM
  1. This is interesting to me because I have two boys now, but I grew up in a female dominated family. Many of the women took on "male" roles, especially for those earlier days. When I was little, I had toys from every spectrum of gender specific toys. My sister was known as the "tomboy" and I was a little lady. Now that we are grown she is more feminine and I am more rough around the edges.
    Now as a parent I offer all sort of toys to my boys. They also play with their cousins' toys, but one son prefers the toys of the males (however both of them will play with any toy they get their hands on). My boys favor different toys, but neither of them avoid a specific type of toy based on cultural gender standards. The one who seems to slightly favor "male perceived toys" while in a group of girls, would choose pink because they do. I don't care, it's ok to like pink. Why is it ok for girls to be tomboys and males not to be feminine? Being what we consider womanly is not a bad thing.
    My husband of course wants our sons to be masculine, but I quickly reprimand him for making our sons feel anything but confident about their choices.
    So lots of girls like pink, it's ok. Marketers do whatever they can to make money. If they had many items in my favorite color, I'd buy them up too. Think of baby clothes, it's so hard to find gender neutral clothes. That way if you have a different sex on the 2nd child, you have to buy new clothes. I would dress my boys in blue football clothes and people still thought they were little girls (price you pay for being so daggone cute). Maybe this is why they started this, to tell babies apart.

    Posted by Rachel October 1, 10 10:34 PM
  1. I have to say to read all of your comments has been a blessing from God. My daughter recently got a Dora doll for Christmas with long hair and my daughter is one and my two year old son loves it. In fact my son gets mad at her when she tries to play with it. It was causing so much turmoil in my house, I took away from my son, because it made me feel shameful that I wasn't being a good father to my son for him to want play with dolls instead of the normal boy toys. When I took the doll from my son, I could feel the pain of his cries because he no longer had his favorite toy, but I took it away anyway because I thought I was doing the best thing for him, when I was really pushing him from me. I've realize my son is going to learn how to be a man by watching me, not by what toy he plays with.
    So fathers love your son and show them how to be a man, because if you don't everybody in the house is going to feel your discomfort and then your son gravitate to the one in the house that is most caring(mother).and single women find a good male role model in your son's life. So for this women out there that say they're the mommy and the daddy, the devil is a lie; you can't teach a man to be man only a man can do that. May God Bless You Real Good

    Posted by armourbearer February 22, 11 01:41 PM
  1. Because there is nothing confusing at all about a man who cares for a baby but refuses to let his son mimic him...

    That's the part no one understands. Does dad not play any part at all in caring for his own children? And if he does, how can he reprimand his own son for following his example? It's disturbing.

    Posted by Sarah March 2, 11 11:49 AM
  1. When our son was little (40+ years ago) we lived next door to a retired Yugoslavian sea captain. He was a big, rugged, imposing man -- but very soft and sweet and dear. One day he appeared at our door with a baby doll for our son saying "Every boy should have a doll; this is for Paul". Paul was the "Dad" to that doll and treated it and cared for it just the way his Dad treated and cared for him and his brother. Today his "kids" reap the rewards from the captain's doll - Paul is a caring, sensitive, good "Dad". Give your son a doll!

    Posted by Gail Bernstein April 13, 11 07:57 AM
  1. I think it's funny that so many posters are adamant about insisting that kids be allowed to play with whatever they want and simultaneously insisting that certain other parents must be educated to agree with the posters! Sounds contradictory to me. It's no one's business what my kids play with. If I choose to allow guns, etc., and other violent toys, fine. If I insist everything be sweet and green and p.c., also good. They're MY kids, not yours, ladies. And if I want my sons to have access to dolls, fine; if I forbid them to play with dolls, also fine, and MY business, not yours.

    Posted by joanne May 14, 11 01:39 AM
  1. I saw a 5 year old boy at my daughters school the other day wearing boy clothes but had a Pink Barbie book bag! I have a son who is 2, that does play with the kitchen and plays with his sisters babies when they like to play house! He does have his own toys, like tucks, tractors, trains, and 4-wheelers which he absolutely loves! I do understand that boys play with girl toys and i think its fine! That really is not my concern, its the fact of what children are going to do to that kid over the years!

    Posted by Tara September 14, 11 09:25 PM
  1. Monique, I used to love those pick up trucks and the cars. I would put all my stuff int he back of the toy pick ups. I had three brothers so I played what they were playing. It seemed more fun, more active. Today I am 27, VERY straight, am in a relationship, i am pretty conservative. Sorry, I know there is a double standard. There is not a chance in hell if I had a son I would let him play with a doll. Also, all kids love to play with kitchen sets... Not because they love cooking, but it makes them feel like they have their own place. Kids need to feel some control, like they have a little place of their own. Also Stuffed animals were different. When I was a kid every one had a pound puppy. My brother loved his. None of us were so needy as to needing to sleep with any stuffed animals or dolls.. However, it was okay for boys to have pound puppies. Again, we have gender roles and gender differences. I'm sick of all the effeminate straight men running around. Nurturing is one thing, but that seems to be all they know how to do.. I'd love to find a guy that I feel safe with, like I'm not the one going to be throwing the punches and them hiding in a corner if something bad happens. Crap like this is just part of the reason men are no longer men. I fear the 70s, a time before I was even born, destroyed the male gender.

    Posted by Thedrisin September 30, 11 12:53 PM
  1. A better way to teach kids to be caring, hey, why not have more than one kid, or get them connected with younger family memebers. Having a doll does not make a mid nurturing. Dolls are easy to deal with, they don't cry, pull hair, or need you. Have you seen this trend in men, ladies? Ones oh so sympathetic but can't do jack or go out of their way for you? How shocking.

    Posted by Thedrisin September 30, 11 12:57 PM
  1. cordelia the reason the coaches do that is because they are insinuating that women are weak and sensitive. Just by how you respond to that statement proves the coaches point. One think that irks me about my gender is how sensitive and wimpy women can be. Just let the men do their thing.

    Posted by Thedrisin September 30, 11 01:06 PM
  1. I'm so glad to read theses comments from other parents. Its very reassuring
    But how am I supposed to react when my sons school tells me he needs help because he plays with girl stuff. My poor wife left the school in tears feeling so attacked. They said they can call child services on us. Really? I need advice. I want my son to explore and play how ever he sees fit. Who are they to say such stuff. Mind you my son is only three. What do I do?

    Posted by Anthony March 5, 12 09:19 PM
  1. So most of us agree that boys can play with dolls and don't feel that we should stereotype roles, but that is exactly what we continue to do into adulthood. Here are some examples....This article is posted to Boston.com Moms. Sites like Amazon.com have an Amazon Mom discount program. There are advertisements for products that state they are "Mom Approved". When I go to change my child's diaper in a public restroom, I have to turn around and have my wife do it because they only have a changing table in the women's room. If it is ok for boys to play with dolls, then why isn't it ok to acknowledge the "Dads" who grow up to help take care of those children?

    Posted by Paul D. April 8, 12 12:04 AM
  1. At the age of 6 months my son picked up his first doll. I thought it was no big deal, but once i took the doll from him he would cry for it. From that day on any time he got his hands on a doll he was in heaven. His father made a big deal about it and for bidding him from playing with dolls and online dress up games and ill admit that i did too. At 8 years old he is still fascinated with dolls and LOVES to do their hair. I try to get him to talk to me and tell me why he like them so much but he has it in his mind that its wrong and clams up. I dont want him to feel like I dont have his back; I will support him no matter what. You have society saying its wrong for boys to play with dolls but what everyone fails to realized is that we are talking about CHILDREN in some cases babies. This issue is confusing for adults so just imagine how confused they must be. I dont want my son to grow up feeling like an outcast and lonley. I will never buy my son a doll but I will continue to talk to him and let him know that this is a mean and cold world that will make him feel worthless. This issue is so much bigger than what people will think. What effect will all this negativity will have on these babies?

    Posted by jen May 25, 12 03:21 AM
  1. Well, first of all, thank God I'm not married to Thedrisin. Instead, I'm married to a real man who doesn't act like a misogynist with a giant chip on his shoulder. My husband will sometimes say, "Really? He's playing with that?" But if he sees that he really does like it, he doesn't care. Our son loves trains, cars, lizards, and dinosaurs. He loves Thomas, Phineas and Ferb, and Spiderman. But, he also loves Kai-Lan, LaLaLoopsy, and My Little Pony. He's wanting a baby doll right now, because he loves babies and likes to pretend taking care of them the way he sees me and other parents taking care of their little ones. What could possibly be wrong with that? Besides, having baby dolls isn't going to make a male homosexual. He also likes to try on my shoes and pretend to do his makeup and hair when I'm doing mine. One of our gay friends is huge into heavy metal and loved He-Man, GI Joe, and Thundercats growing up. You wouldn't be able to know he's gay unless he told you so and he's far more masculine than I imagine is Thedrisin. So who cares? "Gay" isn't a way of being. It isn't a lifestyle. No more than "straight" is a way of being or a lifestyle.

    What I think is that mimicking adults and other kids helps give a child perspective and will help them develop empathy. Perhaps if more people allowed their children to play with whatever toys they choose, there would be more open-hearted people in this world.

    Posted by LovingMomma July 30, 12 04:46 PM
  1. Anthony, I suggest you do a little research.. The school cannot call child services on you because your son plays with "girl stuff". Allowing your son to play with "girl stuff" does not fall under child abuse or neglect, which I assume would be the reasons they were threatening to call child services. Perhaps start your research by looking at what constitutes child abuse in your state. I can tell you right now that it does not say anything about the toys you let your children play with. But it might help you to see what is in your right as a parent and you can use this information to confront the school with.

    Posted by Leah October 26, 12 02:50 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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