Why It's Good for Boys to Play with Dolls

Every baby has two genetic parents, and men contribute (almost) equally to the DNA. Wouldn't it be nice if they were expected by society to do equal parenting? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Don't get riled up. Dads are awesome. And many do do their fair share and more, and stay-at-home-dad is a growing occupational field. I'm just saying that this hasn't been expected. Dolls for nurturing are pretty much marketed only to girls. But boys grow up and most become parents, too. Where's the social learning for them? Could we empower boys to become better parents down the road by encouraging them, giving them confidence, setting an example? Why not, right?

I see a lot of hype about girls breaking out of the froo-froo pink toy aisle, with awesome kits like Goldie Blox. But what about boys? What have we boxed them into? Is it time for them to break free from the blue aisle?

There's a lot of effort to make sure all kids have access to toys that are perceived to make both genders "stronger," but what about toys that promote gentleness? Why not just quit worrying about what's a boy toy and what's a girl toy and just play with everything because it's fun?

I get it. Girls are natural nurturers. In studies of other primates, girl primates gravitated toward the dolls more often and boys gravitated toward the toy vehicles (though the pots & pans were loved by all). You can read a brief article describing these studies, with original references here.

But it's not all nature; nurture has something to do with it, too. Making all types of toys available to both genders will allow kids to explore and figure out what they like, just like the monkeys in the study. But if you don't put it out there for them, they'll never know. Give tools to girls, they say. Great, I say. Now let's give dolls to boys.

Here's what happens when you do.

boys with dolls Waterville Maine
boys with dolls Waterville Maine

I rarely ask C to pose for a picture, but it was such a nice day out, and he was being so cute, I asked him to look at me. He said, "Sure."

Uh, oh. Someone's getting fussy.
Uh, oh. Someone's getting fussy.
It's Night Dog. And he's not going to stop fussing.
It's Night Dog. And he's not going to stop fussing.
"It's OK, it's OK. I'lllllll get you. Hang on."
"It's OK, it's OK. I'lllllll get you. Hang on."
"I don't want Flynn to jump out if I unbuckle you both. It's OK. I get you. It's OK Night Dog!"
"I don't want Flynn to jump out if I unbuckle you both. It's OK. I get you. It's OK Night Dog!"
"Shhhhh, dat's better. Dere you do."
"Shhhhh, dat's better. Dere you do."
We had to wait around for Night dog to fall asleep with Daddy.
We had to wait around for Night dog to fall asleep with Daddy.
Then we had to wait some more.
Then we had to wait some more.
We were standing there a good 3-4 minutes, which is a long time in preschool world. "He's allllllmost out, Mommy."
We were standing there a good 3-4 minutes, which is a long time in preschool world. "He's allllllmost out, Mommy."
"There. He's out. He's asweep now."
"There. He's out. He's asweep now."
"Hey! I have my hands full, can you help me drive this stroller? Can you?"
"Hey! I have my hands full, can you help me drive this stroller? Can you?"
"Fank you."
"Fank you."

See what happens? Boys have fun. And so do girls. And isn't that the point?

(We were in the cemetery because we had the get the oil changed and this was right across the street from the car place.)