*We collaborated with eeboo to celebrate their new Hue Do You Love Plush Animal Series and to show how breaking traditional gender molds can start with something as simple as playtime.
I had the best intentions to raise an open-minded, caring individual when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I read all of the books, heard all of the stories and witnessed examples of childhood behavior that I stored away in my brain for some time, waiting for the right moments to use this knowledge. But when my son came home from Pre-K one day telling me that a classmate said that he couldn’t like a certain toy because it was for girls, it confirmed that I was kidding myself in ever thinking I could prepare myself for motherhood.
And I realized that this was only the beginning of these gender conversations I foolishly thought we liberal parents were immune to since we were, of course, visibly excited by the request of ponies, or a pink and purple leopard kitty, from my then truck-obsessed kiddo.
I realized then, we’d need to commit ourselves to keeping that gender conversation open. To constantly remind my son, myself and everyone around us who would listen that there is no such thing as boy stuff and girl stuff. That there is no such thing as acting like a boy or a girl because every child is an individual.
Now this isn’t happening overnight. But taking the gender labels off toys — and especially off dolls — really helps. I’ve seen the effect playing with dolls has on my son. Doing so has taught him so much, and taught us so much about the endless possibilities when you open your home to genderless play.
Here’s a few reasons we think all boys should play with dolls.
1. Imagination. The beauty of a doll is that you can watch a child’s imagination go where it wants to without limits. Some days that doll will be a baby, others it’s an airplane, or even a ball (being hit by a lightsaber that he is pretending is a bat, of course). Introduce a friend in the mix and the possibilities are endless.
2. Empathy. Playground bullying is real. And while I don’t believe there is such a thing as a bad kid, there is bad behavior. I want to raise a boy that is empathetic and can put himself in someone else’s shoes. A doll can be a great way to roleplay situations, talk about feelings or simply learn how to care for something.
3. Language. When you introduce dolls at a young age, it can be a great way to help your baby learn new words. Act out a scene for your child, teach your baby where certain body parts are, or even let him have a conversation with his doll in a language all his own.
4. Comfort. There’s something so sweet and wonderful about watching your child create an attachment to a doll or lovie. His little sidekick will have the power to help him be brave on that first day of daycare or scare away those monsters under the bed.
5. Breaking Gender Walls. There’s no such thing as boy toys or girl toys. I repeat: there’s no such thing as girl toys or boy toys! Let’s all say this to our boys and girls and watch them flourish to their fullest potentials.
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Lifestyle photography by Stylish & Hip Kids for Well Rounded NY.