While trying to get my toddler son ready for the arrival of his baby sister in December, I came across an article that suggested buying a baby doll for child #1 to practice with. I thought- BRILLIANT! I have tried talking to him about the new addition, gently breaking it to him that things around this here joint, well…they’ll be a’changin’. A lot. And it might not be fair. Or fun. Or sane. But how do you communicate that life as he knows it is going to do a 180?
I was at the park and in my common fashion of over-sharing, I told some other parents about our mommy-son shopping trip to Target to pick out a baby doll. A grandmother who was there smiled, and told me all of her children had baby dolls, both boys and girls. A husband who overheard- quite a different reaction…and his wife was a little pissed with his train of thought (apparently this subject hadn’t been broached in their household yet…sorry to ruin your Sunday, people…umm…Go Bears?).
I got to thinking, what in the hell is so wrong with giving a boy a doll to play with? What are people afraid of? I spoke with a friend of mine who also happens to be a child psychologist (yes, handy friend to have) and he told me that boys and girls actually tend to be wired to prefer stereotypical “boy” or “girl” toys, but some people just aren’t comfortable with the thought that their child might not be wired that way.
I also spoke with my friend and fellow 30SecondMom contributor Marie Roker-Jones regarding this topic. Marie is the author of the website Raising Great Men, where she hosts very real discussions about how to raise men of character amongst the challenges our current climate presents. Here are here thoughts on the topic:
thoughts are that we make a big deal about gender specific toys. When
we subject our sons to gender stereotypes, we hinder their ability to
show empathy and compassion. Giving your son a doll to prepare him for
his new sibling is a great way for him to gain hands on experience. In
addition, he is learning life skills that will prepare him for
My thoughts? I want my son to be a generous, caring and kind individual. I believe that one of the best ways to lead is by example, and I want to show my son how to be that person. I recently spoke with someone who had to re-teach her husband how to use manners when their children were born. He was astounded that she expected him to use such blasphemous words as “please” and “thank you” when in the comfort of his own home, but their regular use of manners rubbed off on their children.
I’ll tell you, it is amazing what children pick up on when they see YOU doing something. I want to show my son how to be gentle, how attention can be paid to others, and how to be a giving and nurturing person (but um…I want to practice with a non-living object first in case he interprets a gentle pat as a crack on the head).
Annnd…..here’s the result.
Yes, we went to Target. Yes, I let my son loose in the pink-hued doll aisle amongst Barbies, Monster High and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Ya know what he gravitated towards?
Barbie’s Dream Car.
Well, yes, wonderful toy but we weren’t there to get yet another car. After I pointed out the row of dolls and explained to him that since he was going to have a baby sister, I thought he would like to practice with a baby doll, he finally picked one out (yes, it was the creepy one whose eyes open and close).
We got home, I untangled “Baby Dowel” from the insane packaging, and we spent a good hour chatting about her. When I told him it was time to put her to bed, he scooped her up, rocked her and sang Twinkle, Twinkle. Although we have a little way to go on the whole gentle thing (dragging her by the foot isn’t ideal), I am 110% sure I did the right thing.
People are entitled to their own opinions. Some will vehemently disagree with mine, and I am fully prepared for that. If you could see the way my son sings to his baby, with such tenderness and in a whisper-soft voice, your heart might melt a little too.