Why Boys Need to Play with Dolls

How many women do you know who complain that their partners or husbands ‘never’ help around the house? Over the years as a mother and a Parenting Consultant, I’ve heard far more complaints, than praise about the men’s housekeeping participation. This also seems to be born out by researchers who claim that females still do the bulk of the housework.

Why do you think that this is the case?

I believe part of it stems from the early messages children take on board from their parents. We know young children are almost like sponges, picking up on all we, as parents, say and do. Children don’t filter the messages, they just see it as ‘the norm’ – meaning that this is how we should behave. Therefore, if  we as children grew up with Mum doing all the housework, then I will believe that’s how I must behave. And, that’s what I will teach my children. So, our children will also have received the message that housework is for females!

If we want to ‘change the belief’, then we must do things differently. This includes teaching your children (both boys and girls) how to cook, how to wash the clothes and the dishes, how to iron, to vacuum, to clean the bathroom etc. Raise your children to know that cleaning the house is part of all the family members responsibility. We all make the mess, and want to eat, so we all need to know how to clean up, and how to cook. I also believe that females need to be involved in the outside activities, which were once the domain of males – the gardening, and learning to use tools to repair broken items, for example.

Young children love to help – they want to do what you do. We know that a young child won’t clean the floor as well as you, nor the dishes, but it’s the process of learning, and the participation which is important. Praise them for ‘helping to make our house clean’.

At about 16 months of age children’s Social-Emotional capacity is developing, and it’s generally a time where they are very much into playing with dolls and teddies – feeding them, rocking them, putting them to bed. Boys need to be involved in doll and teddy play too… we want to raise men, who know what it is like to nurture, to be gentle, and to care for another, and it starts with nurturing play at 16 months of age.

I’ve heard some people’s  irrational fear that doll play will lead to a boy becoming gay. There is no evidence to suggest that this is true. A child’s sexual direction is not related to the type of play they engaged in.

Parents – please foster and support your children to be caring, nurturing, contributing and responsible members of society – regardless of their gender!

Image by Blake Facey via Flickr