Here’s your opportunity to learn more about the parenting styles of each Maturing Mama. No Mama is exactly the same in her parenting skills. This is our opportunity to highlight our differences in parenting in a means to help you find a method that works for you.
Do Your Kids Only Play With ‘Gendered’ Toys?
“People always assumed you were a boy as a baby”
“It’s ok, boys don’t notice you because you’re like one of them”
“That lady thought you were a boy! Haha!”
“You sit like a boy”
I’ve heard it all. And this was from within the home I grew up in. Because I’m a twin, my mom dressed my sister and I in specific colors to be sure she could tell us apart. I was blue.
It was a constant long standing joke in our family that I was very much like a boy. Even when I wore a dress for church, my mom would nag me about the fact that I sit like a boy.
I don’t believe in gender being interchangeable. And the fact that certain habits and colors of clothing would decide for me that I wasn’t in the right body- that’s horrifying.
The fact of the matter is, I wanted to be a beautiful little girl. I wanted boys to like me. I wanted to dress myself in a way that highlighted my female parts.
I’m so glad I fought against the statements others made about what defined my gender to them. I love being me. I was created a girl and I don’t want my love for “boy” like items or activities to decide my gender.
Now that I have two girls of my own, I love indulging their “boy-like” habits. My girls have Buzz Light-year and Woody bed sheets. They play with a police officer Lego set. Our youngest Izabella showed an interest in cars as a one year old. She would take every random object and pretend it had a motor and drive it around the room. So we’ve gotten her different types of motorized toys to play with.
My girls still wear tutus and have mermaid bed sheets and pink curtains. But they also have a basketball hoop in their room and clothing labelled “boys”.
I’m not going to ever raise my child as the label, “gender neutral”. I’m not going to down play the essence of being a woman. It’s not about wearing pink or dresses. It’s about the sensitivity within the heart of every woman. That caring nature to bestow beauty on others. That nurturing spirit. Women are protectors of the heart and that’s an important role. There’s a reason why kids call for mom more than dad. There’s a reason the female body was created to carry a child. This was not by chance.
Boys v girls toys, eh?
Considering my 2 year old daughter goes to bed with a tool kit and an axe (fake of course) the distinction between boys vs girls toys is not a social construct I adhere too.
I think its crazy that some people have an issue with a boy playing with a socially labelled “girls toy” or vice versa. I mean come on, what’s the worst that can happen if a lad plays with a doll. My son loves my daughters dolls and I’m sure when he is big enough they will be fighting over who gets to push the pram too. Perfect practice for if he becomes a daddy!
Being a single mum I do maintenance things around the house myself I.e taking off doors, building furniture etc and my daughter merely mimics that behaviour with her workbench. Now, disallowing her to play with such a toy what does that teach her? That she is incapable to being independent and only a boy can handle a drill?
Toys have a purpose, that purpose is to make a child happy. Children learn through play, why restrict that based on gender.
We’ve never really consciously payed attention to this topic.
With our first child we even didn’t know the gender till she was born, so we tried to keep everything neutral in the beginning. In general I think we just watch our kids individually and see what catches their interest or what could be good or helpful for their development.
Our firstborn somehow has a strong sense for colors, so she even started very early to categorizee things into “girl” and “boy” colors herself. And she likes to be very girly which is totally fine for us.
While the second girl never cared so much about that and likes things that we would put more in the category of boy toys. At the same time, she is also influenced by her older sister and wants often the same things.
Let’s see what would catch our son’s interest. Playing barbies with his older sisters or doing the ‘thypical’ boy stuff by his own or even engaging his older sisters into his own things 😀 .
For my husband and I we try to support and show interest in the things that our kids show interest in. Besides that we also take our kids into our world showing them what excites us and I’m eager to gradually introduce our girls into womanhood where I paint nails with them, or we try different hairstyles or dress like princesses, while my husband will also have his time with our son doing things that would lead him into manhood (whatever that means for him).
As a mom of boys, shopping for toys can sometimes be difficult. I hate how the girl’s toys are all pink with very little deviation.
For example, when my boys were younger, I wanted to buy them a kitchen set. I had previously studied Culinary Arts and I wanted to instil in them that cooking was fun. However, all of the kitchen sets I was able to find were all full of pink and purple designs. Not a single one was gender neutral at that time.
Now, when we go shopping for a new toy, I tend to stick with the boys sections and the gender-neutral areas. I would much prefer my boys to play with action figures, cars, balls, water guns and Lego sets rather than playing dress up, Barbies, babies, and princesses. My boys are not able to understand that babies only come from mommies, and I personally believe that allowing them to play with dolls would continue to add to the confusion.
This was never something I ever really thought much about. I grew up with one sister who was a a beautiful girly pageant queen. She had her favorite American Girl doll she would match outfits with. I was the tomboy of all tomboys. I still played with dolls. I had Barbies just so I could do their hair and then I would make them fight and my mom didn’t like that! But I also remember there were a lot of “boy toys” I spent plenty of time playing with too. I never really thought about whether I should be playing with these things as a girl because my parents never made it an issue. They respected and embraced whatever I was interested in and enjoyed playing with at the time.
I am now the mom of 4 boys. They all have different interests and we fully let them explore them. One year for his birthday my now 11 year old son asked for a doll. We not only bought him a doll, we bought him a whole set with a stroller and bottles and a front pack carrier. He was over the moon. He brought that doll everywhere. He would even get it a highchair when we went out to eat.
We knew from an early age that this particular son was a very loving, nurturing soul. We identified this and knew giving him a doll to care for, whether that doll was “meant for girls” or not, would only help him to grow in these wonderful traits he was born with.
I believe allowing children to explore interests via toys or anything else, whichever gender they are traditionally geared for, gives them the freedom to truly pursue things they feel passionate about. What better way to help them find their their truest desires and purpose in life?!?
Growing up I considered myself a tomboy. I liked playing with my male cousins, wrestling in their basement, play-fighting, playing sports, and all things superheroes. I also loved playing with Barbies, My Little Ponies and dressing up as a princess from time to time. As a kid I didn’t really pay any attention to whether a toy was meant for a girl or a boy, they were just fun.
Now, as a parent I encourage my daughter to choose toys based on her interest, not her gender. Our house is filled with an eclectic mix of toys. We have barbies, superheroes, baby dolls and buggies, cars, and swords. We have dinosaurs and ponies, baseball bats and princess costumes.
Gendering toys is definitely a learned behaviour and comes along once a child learns about their gender and what society says it means to be a girl or a boy. But, if we only allowed our children to play with toys based on their gender we would be limiting their learning and self-expression.
Different toys offer different opportunities for learning. Dolls and play kitchens, toys often associated with girls, provide a chance for children to learn empathy, and language skills whereas puzzles, lego, and building blocks can provide early math and problem solving skills. If we only allow our daughters to play with dolls we are hindering their ability to explore and learn different concepts.
I have noticed in recent years that some stores are beginning to do away with the pink / blue aisles in both toys and clothing sections and I am loving it! By allowing our children to choose what to play with or wear, regardless of societal norms, we are allowing them to explore, grow and determine for themselves who they really are.
I saw a social experiment once with two crawling babies. One was a girl and the other a boy. They dressed the girl in blue and the boy in a dress, then gave them to an adult on a play mat with toys. The adults offered soft toys and dolls to the baby in a dress and trucks and hard toys to the baby in blue. When told that the babies were wearing each others clothes, the adults were shocked.
They didn’t mean to gender stereotype, especially at such a young age. As a society I think it’s built into us subconsciously to do this. We don’t realize that the moment a child is born we’re already putting the fluffy bows, frilly dresses, and dolls into a girls life, and dressing our boys with truck prints, sports, balls and putting cars in their life.
I hear alot from the older generations saying stuff like “boys shouldn’t cry” and “girls should be sweet and pretty all the time”. It’s no wonder we have so many psychological problems as adults. So.. what would happen if I gave my son a doll, oh no.. he might end up becoming a great dad. When a boy cares for a doll it’s looked down on, but when a father cares for a baby, people praise him.
Or what if I gave him a play kitchen and he then developed a passion for cooking and making food for his future family. What if I let my daughters play with cars, heaven forbid it creates a passion in them for engines and they become a mechanic. Or if I give my girls wrestling figures and they want to learn self defence because of them.
There is so much every toy can teach a child. If we truly want gender equality as adults, we need to start from a young age.
So this title Boys vs Girls toys makes me look at the topic through a few different angles. We could be talking about comparing the two- thinking about if it is actually indicating boy toys are for boys only, and girls toys for girls only, or thinking about the value of them in relation to how beneficial they are to a child’s developments and interests. So I’m going to explore a bit of all of those altogether.
It is pretty evident that certain toys are targeted at certain genders. It’s a whole new area of research as to how and why our children develop their gender specific interests. For example, most boys will be drawn to transport, construction and action toys etc. Girls will be drawn to a world of pink and dolls, ponies, ballerinas etc. So I think it will always be the case that toys are made ‘for’ boys/girls and you can go to a store and see the toy section laid out in a way that you can almost always find what you are looking for. However I’d like to rephrase that and instead of saying ‘for boys/girls’ I’d like to suggest that they are made with boys/girls interests in mind.
As children are drawn to certain toys and explore them, it will further enhance their development and individual likes interests and personalities. I think it’s important to give the toys suited to their gender to them, however not to restrict it to that and one is not better than the other. When my children are playing with other children while out and about where there is often a different assortment of toys to what they have at home, if they wanted to play with toys suited to the opposite gender, I wouldn’t stop them.
I am a mother of both a boy and a girl, who are both very little at the moment (19 months and 6 months) and their toy collection at home includes (and will always
include) an assortment of boys, girls and unisex toys and resources that they can explore independently or together. If I was a mother of just one of the genders, I would think about how I could incorporate types of play that they will enjoy whilst supporting their learning. For example, my boy might not have a Barbie house, but could have a Fire Station house instead.
My background also includes working in early childhood for 15 years before I had my son, and I’ve seen first-hand the joy that children get in exploring their learning environment filled with numerous learning play stations/areas. As they explore their environment, they extend their skills and development. For example, you have a home corner where children can use their imagination to explore and role play (eg. dress-up, have a picnic/tea party, play Mum’s and Dads etc) or you can have aconstruction corner filled with an assortment of blocks and boxes where you could add cars, etc. and the children release their imagination again creating towers and imitating things that they see in the world around them (eg. building a city) whist also reflecting, socialisation, fine-motor and cognitive thinking. That’s just to highlight a couple of examples.
I could go on looking at all the ways a play area can be set up and cover all the areas of develop, but what I’m trying to say is that most toys hold an educational purpose, and both genders can benefit from exploring through play. Yes, there are some pretty weird, wacky and ridiculous toys out there whose educational purpose should be questioned, but I’m talking about the majority and how both boys and girls toys can be used without being compared to one another.