10 Reasons Why I Let My Boy Play With Dolls & Why I Believe Every Mom Should Too
You know how we all are the “ideal” mom before we actually become a mom. Yes – the judgmental, “I’ll never do that, I’ll never be that, I’ll never say that” mom… I used to be that “mom” too. I remember walking into a shop one day, and right in front of us were a family with a little boy, probably around 3-4 years old, being pushed in their trolley. The first thing I noticed was how happy the little boy were as he innocently played with a doll while his parents were doing their shopping. I still remember how I looked at my husband in shock and horror, how I said that I will never do that to my boy, how I were filled with anger and disgust towards those parents, full of judgement and opinions – Little did I know…
Today I am ashamed of that woman I used to be; how could I judge that mom? How could I judge that poor boy? In fact, I wish I could go back to that mom, give her a big hug and say, “well freaking done, you are awesome!” I was ignorant and young, and my opinions had no solid grounds. Today I am a MOM and yes, I’m THAT mom – the mom who allows her boy to play with dolls, just as much as he plays with his dinosaurs, legos and cars. I’m the mom who allows him to makeup his face in the mornings next to me if that’s what he wants to do, just like I encourage him to take care of himself by spraying on deodorant in the mornings and gelling his hair. I’m the mom who teaches him to cook, bake and clean, not only because he needs to, but because he enjoys helping his mama around the house and I’m embracing it while teaching him some important life skills. Dance classes? No problem my boy, Rugby classes? Sure, I’ll play with you my son. Yes, I’m that kind of mom who allows her child to learn, discover and explore this world in whichever way he pleases, because I know the future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it, and turn it inside out and my son, this boy – he is our future!
But let’s get real for a moment – why is it so socially unacceptable for boys to be seen with a doll in their arms? Do boys not become dads, husbands, uncles, doctors, pediatricians, psychologists, nurses, brothers, or teachers and so much more? Okay, and makeup? Ever heard of male makeup artists, photographers, artists, and actors? Hmmmm… I can continue what about chefs, interior decorators, engineers… and then we wonder why men are underrepresented in these fields.
See we are quick to pass judgement on a mom, because an image does not fit in with what’s “socially acceptable”, but everything a child gets in contact with teaches them a little more about the world around them, it quietly instills some valuable life lessons and skills they might not understand at that very moment, since they are ‘only’ playing, but will become clear as day as they grow older.
So, this is why I allow my boy to play with dolls:
I have seen Aryan’s imagination go into a million different directions while he is playing with his doll. There truly are no limits. One second, he will be the daddy, gently taking care of his baby, the next it’ll be his partner in crime as they run and hide from the dinosaurs, and then it’ll become his patient as he doctors the sick “baba” back to health. When his cousins are around his doll becomes his brother, and they can play together for hours. The possibilities are endless.
If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you will know that I have said this more than just a couple of times – my biggest dream as a mother is to raise a kind, gentle and loving boy. Someone that won’t be afraid to stand up against bullies and do what is right. Someone who won’t be scared to speak for the voiceless and fight for those who have no fight left in them. In order to achieve that I need to raise a boy who is empathetic, and a doll can be a great way to roleplay different situations, talk about feelings and simply help him to learn how to care about something or someone other than himself. Dolls teach our boys how to hold and take care of someone smaller than them or how to be gentle with friends and their belongings – all of which comes naturally for little girls. I have actually seen this with my own eyes – Aryan is a rough and tough little boy who we actually call a “destructive little noenoes” because he tends to smash, break and tackle everything, but he is the most gentle, loving little boy around little babies and kids smaller than him. It is just the most amazing thing to watch this tough, wild child of mine, turn soft and gentle so suddenly.
3. Language Development
When you introduce a doll at a very young age, it can be a great help to develop linguistic skills. Dolls can help your baby or toddler learn new words, such as where certain body parts are, what the body parts are called, names of different clothing items, other basic items such as blankets and cots, prepositions, verbs, feelings, how to communicate, etc. Playing doll also opens up communication channels between friends or in Aryan’s case his cousins where he gets the opportunity to actually practice his new words through having conversations with his older cousin while they pretend play.
The main reason we got Aryan a doll was because he has always been a bad sleeper. Since he never got attached to anything other than mommies’ boobies, independent sleeping became a bit of an issue. My mom offered to make him a little cuddle buddy with weighted hands for comfort at nighttime and we agreed. My boy may not have attached to it as much as we had hoped but his “baba” remains a source of comfort, and you will often find him taking it to bed or carrying it with him to the shops. His doll became his very own sidekick that he could take on as many adventures as he pleases.
5. Cognitive, and motor development
Have you ever taken the time to truly sit and watch as your toddler plays with a doll? How they carefully unbutton and unclip the clothes or nappies to undress or dress their baby. The way they feed them with focused concentration. Buttons, snaps, zips, and even using a spoon or a bottle require fine motor and midline crossing skills, all of which is being practiced as they innocently play, dress and feed their baby. But that’s not all dressing and undressing their baby can actually help our toddlers learn to dress and undress themselves, since it familiarizes them with all the different snaps and buttons they’ll find on their own clothing, as well as teaches them where which body part should go. Have you watched them “shhh” you as you walk into a room, scold you when you are a little too hard for their taste or the reaction they give when they accidentally dropped their baby? All of this is slowly developing empathy and an ability to look out for themselves in our toddlers, something I mentioned a little earlier. Have you watched them act out and roleplay different scenes and situations? Well, they are working through big feelings, exploring and experimenting with different choices, personalities and responses. Through doll-play our boys also learn to re-enact things that have happened in their lives, which increases their understanding of events. Lat but not least through playing with dolls they can also take on the opposite role, which teaches them to see things from a different perspective. To them they are only playing, but it’s time that we open our eyes, open them and really SEE.
6. Different dolls can introduce our boys to a variety of hobbies and help them explore those hobbies in a safe environment
Most dolls come with a story as well as interests and hobbies that our kids can further explore. Great examples are the our generation dolls, and the baby alive dolls (and both of them actually have boy dolls as well). Through these dolls my boy is being introduced to various hobbies and activities and he can explore those specific hobbies on a smaller scale and in a safe environment. This also just drives his curious little mind to want to learn more about these activities helping to expand his knowledge of the world around us.
7. Not only women care for children
I already mentioned this earlier on. It’s simple, just like dolls prepared us to be moms, dolls can prepare my boy to be a brother, father, uncle, dad, doctor, pediatrician, nurse, lawyer, etc. I want my boy to become whatever his heart desires and I do believe that by allowing him to play with dolls, I am equipping him with some very important life skills for his future.
8. Social Skills
Playing with dolls solidifies social skills that are gained in a child’s early developmental years. As children play house, doctor-doctor, teacher-student, etc. they learn to communicate with one another, and they have to cooperate to make their “game” work. I love how Aryan is able to play dinosaurs, cars, legos and superhero games with his friends and then come home and play doll with his cousins. He never gets bored, because he is able to play with girls and boys equally, and to him it’s not weird or funny, it’s normal.
9. It Teaches Responsibility
Social skills are not the only important skills that playing doll can teach our boys. Playing with dolls can also teach our boys responsibility as they learn how to take care of the doll. This skill can later help them take care of their pets, and even younger siblings.
10. Because it’s FUN!
Can you remember all the adventures you used to go on with your doll? The teacher, teacher, mommy, mommy games you used to play with your friends and cousins? All the different stories you used to make up about them. I can. A lot of memories were made. Aryan is growing up with 2 cousins who loves to play doll and he loves to join in on their fun, and I love that he is able to. Together they can play for hours and it really is pretty amazing to see the imagination that a 2-year-old possesses, when given the freedom to express himself.
Sure, I have been judged and questioned for allowing my boy to play with dolls and other “girly” toys, heck it took my husband months to accept and understand my reasoning behind it. I have had some eyebrows raised at me from my very own family when they heard I were planning on buying my boy a new doll that can be fed and changed for Christmas. I’ve been accused of trying to make my boy a girl – which is in the least an utterly ridiculous statement. But when I am asked WHY I am doing this to my boy, my answer is simple and straightforward – WHY NOT? Why is it okay for girls to be tough, aggressive and competitive and so wrong for boys to be sensitive, nurturing and empathetic? Why is it okay to see girls playing with cars, trucks, guns, and a rugby ball, but so wrong to see a boy pushing a stroller or walking with a doll in the arms. Don’t get me wrong I am NOT saying that all moms should take away their boys’ cars, trucks and dinosaurs and hand him a doll, not at all! What I am saying is that if your boy shows interest in wanting to play with a doll, why refuse him? As moms we all fear for our children’s lives, men are made out to be these monsters, because when they are young society expects them to be little “rocks” – boys don’t cry, boys don’t play with dolls, boys need to fight for what they want, boys need to be tough, boys need to be strong, boys are not allowed to show their feelings… How do we expect the world to change if we don’t change the way we raise our children? I am by no means trying to say that dolls will fix the world, it won’t, but through changing our perspective we could raise boys who might change the world. I can only hope and pray that my boy will one day grow up to be a loving, gentle and involved father and husband who is not afraid to change a nappy, feed his baby or help his wife cook and clean.