I have a 8 year old grandson who's always liked to play with Barbie dolls. My son, his Dad, throws a fit if I let him play with them at my house. He's always liked them from birth on. I sneak and let him play with them at my home. Is this wrong? I sometimes worry why he likes them so much, but see nothing wrong in letting him be who he is. He is a great, sensitive, caring and mannerly child. Please, I need some feedback on this issue.
From: Debbie, Hustonville, KY
I have to start with a story told to me one night many years ago after I had delivered a talk to a group of parents of school-age kids. A woman came forward and identified herself as the grandmother of two, including an 11-year-old boy. Her daughter, the mom, was a hard-working, single mother with a no-TV rule. The kids, the grandma told me, were accepting of the rule, but she knew it was tough on her grandson whose friends watched -- and talked about -- "South Park" all the time.
For his 11th birthday, the grandmother told her daughter she was giving him a gift and she hoped the daughter would have an open mind. "As long as it's not a TV," said the mom, and they both laughed.
When he opened the grandmother's gift, he began to cry and said it was the best birthday present he'd ever received. It was a $12.95 "South Park" t-shirt. For $12.95, this grandma had bought her grandson social currency that was, as the ad says, priceless. The mom, to her credit, was equally appreciative.
I'm not suggesting Barbie is social currency for your grandson. What I am saying is that sometimes grandparents are smarter than they give themselves credit for, or than their adult children admit.
As I wrote last week, a child's home should be a place of safety and security. It saddens me to think that a child can't play with toys of his choice in his own home, that his choice of toys will make dad angry.
I'm behind you 100%, but I'm also for transparency. To have a secret you and your grandson keep from his father will only serve to strain the son's relationship with his dad even more. (BTW, where does the mom stand?) So what to do? Let your son know how much you love him and his children, that you will abide by his rules in his home, but in your home, you will have Barbie dolls for your grandson to play with. Let him know you don't want to go behind his back, and that you hope he will give it his blessing if not his approval. You don't need to rub it in your son's face when he's at your house; the dolls can be in a closet or whatever, but keeping the truth hidden from him models nothing positive to your grandson or to you anyone else in the family.
I know not everyone will agree with this advice. I hope we get to hear from all sides of this issue.
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