When I had my first son Jackson 11 years ago, my heart also birthed a new sense of understanding for boys. I lived in the South at the time, and one day at the park, I recall a woman asking, "Shouldn't he have a toy truck instead of a baby doll?" And instead of going straight NYC Italian on her, I was rather composed and said, "No ma'am, his doll shouldn't spark any surprise, as I am raising a gentleman." I found myself confused as to why she believed playing with a doll would make him anything less than a boy. Are baby dolls only meant for females? If we gush over baby wearing dads and dads who push their strollers through the park, shouldn't there be an acceptance of boys playing with dolls?
Not that I would go to the extreme of painting his room pink and filling it with doll houses, but I do think there are many benefits to boys with dolls, and here's just a few.
4 Reasons Why It's Ok For Boys To Play With Dolls
- Empathy Having a doll teaches kids empathy. When my baby Brody (now age two) drops his doll, he gets upset. And when our dog Mabel decides to make it "her toy", he screams in a panic. In the sweetest of ways, there's a major sense of wanting to make his doll feel better. Kissing it on the forehead and holding it like mommy holds him simply melts my heart. Ultimately, Brody is mirroring with his baby doll, the way I am with him, and I believe it's teaching him valuable life skills to becoming a kind and nurturing man.
- Prepping To Be A Good Dad When I watch how my husband is with our four children, I wonder if he too played with dolls. He may not remember (or admit to it), but having three sisters in the house makes me believe that he's had some practice. And I'm quite alright with that, because surely it's paid off. Like Bobby, Brody too idolizes his older sister. Their bedrooms are pretty close to one another, and he mimics every move she makes. He twirls his way through every song like she does and he often plays dolls with her. He brings his baby to their tea parties and he even plays dress up with his baby doll. Since becoming a mother I've been astonished by the counts of love my heart can hold. Watching my son have love for his doll is no doubt in my mind prepping him to love and care for his own one day.
- Breaking Stereotypes There is no doubt that boys have been discouraged to play with "girl" toys for years. When you go down the toy aisles in most stores, they are organized by gender. There are the boy toys on Aisle 5 and the girl toys on Aisle 6. With my first son, naturally I bought most toys from the boy aisles. However, I had two more sons after having my daughter, and so they were naturally more exposed to girl toys, having their doting older sister around all the time. Our daughter Dylan loved dressing her younger brothers up in play dresses and before you knew it, I had three princesses enjoying tea parties. Immediately, I thought it was the sweetest thing and knew in my heart that this type of exposure would only make them better men. This type of play makes them more nurturing and connects them to their sister. And it works both ways; she certainly loves a good basketball game in the front yard.
- Practicing Parenthood When Baby Brody makes breakfast for his first baby doll, it's actually conditioning his little developing brain that breakfast as a family is the norm. And when he dresses his doll, it's prepping him for the days when he'll dress his own children. Every type of play that my sons have with dolls, whether bathing or feeding them, is ultimately paving the stepping stones to taking care of their own children one day.Now that I am a seasoned mom with three sons, I watch with rapt attention as they navigate through their childhood. Sure, my three boys love to play trucks and sports, but they also love to play with their sister - no matter what that looks like. As their mom, it is my hope to break any rigid stereotypes there are for boys. My daughter has certainly demonstrated being tough, so why can't my boys demonstrate a more nurturing side? How could I not let my little fella hone in on his future role of serving others? Whether he chooses to be a chef, a scholar, a teacher or otherwise, his baby doll has been the perfect sidekick for fostering the fatherhood mindset at an early age.
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