What's so wrong with it?

United States
November 26, 2008 2:46pm CST
Why are some people so opposed to boys playing with 'girl' toys, or playing dress up, or wanting to do what the girls are doing? I get so annoyed when I see parents punish their boys for playing dress up, for wanting to push a stroller with a baby in it, for wanting to do things that society says are just for girls. There is nothing wrong with it. So, parents who do not allow your boys to play with 'girl' toys, here is my question: What do you think is going to happen if your boy puts on a dress for a few minutes, or pretends to be mommy? Do you think he will become a sissy, or too feminine? Do you think it means he is gay? I'm genuinely curious here. What, exactly, are you afraid of?
7 people like this
26 responses
@hildas (3031)
26 Nov 08
I see plenty of fathers pushing strollers. If your son wants to push a stroller then it is fine. Boys used to play with action men dolls years ago and it did not make them all gay. My daughter used to have toy cars and a garage. I do not think there is anything wrong with this at all. I do not know about dressing up though and pretending to be mummy. It probably is ok really. I used to play act when I was young and I used to play dad. I think if a child has it in his or her hormones to be gay there would be nothing to stop them being like this.
• United States
26 Nov 08
When children play pretend, they are often acting out things they see in the world around them. Sometimes it is to help them work through something that is going on in their lives. For example, a child who has a new baby sibling may start to play with babies and care for a baby, the way they see their mothers caring for their baby sibling. Whether the older child is a boy or girl, it is important that they have these opportunities so they can be more comfortable with the things going on around them. My son pretends to be like me. He takes his play credit card and goes 'shopping.' Then he pretends to be like Daddy and takes his play tools and pretends to build something. The two are exactly the same. He is acting out the things he sees us doing. This is why I don't understand people getting so uptight. It's play, not a predictor for the future.
1 person likes this
@hildas (3031)
27 Nov 08
Yes it is all play and if thats want the children want to play it is fine. Take care.
@daceyp (327)
27 Nov 08
when my nephew was younger my sister used to let him play with my irls toys all the time.he loved playing with them even more than his own toys,not to sure if it was just kids being kids on that one.but one day my daughter was given a new dolls buggy for her birthday and my nephew wanted the old one.it was so qute watching him walking down the road with it,his parents did go out and buy him a dolly to go with it as well.he even asked my sister to paint his toe nails when she did hers.i dont think that letting boys play with girls toysis wrong,you go into any playschool and there is boys playing with any sort of toy that is there.toys are to be enjoyed and its up to the parrents if they aagree with it.playing with toys does not make you gay.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Dec 08
Couldn't agree more- playing with toys does not make you gay. At the same time, not allowing it won't make you straight, so what are parents hoping to accomplish?
27 Nov 08
Hi, I agree there is nothing wrong with boys playing with girls stuff. My little girl plays with things that are generally associated with girls - so whatnobody makes a fuss about that, they just call them tomboys! Kids have to find their own way and if it means doing something you are uncomfortable with then so be it - how is a child supposed to experience new things if they don't try it our first. Chances are they will end up being totally okay,happy and end up being married with children - if not then I don't think it has anything to do with dressing up in 'girls' stuff and pushing prams when they were young. Mums & dads out there who think boys shouldn't play with girls stuff - let your kids be kids - its not new they have always been playing with this mix of toys - its called growing up. Good question mylotter!!
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Dec 08
I agree that it is all simply part of growing up- trying new things. It doesn't make a difference in a person's personality or anything- just play.
@shooie (4989)
• United States
26 Nov 08
Boys in dress up - Will not turn them into sissys
Really sad huh. Boys doing dress up won't make them into a sissy. Heck I have a grandson that doesn't play with dolls or dress up and he's a sissy. But then he is still real young so am sure he'll grow out of it. If no then oh well he is who he is. I think boys and girls should be encouraged to use their imaginations. Sad thing is a lot think omg he has a doll and playing with it or or. sighs....ya know my dad baked and even played tea party with us girls when we grew up and he wasn't a sissy. My brother even had this one doll. I dunno where he got it but i had red hair and freckles he didn't turn out to be a sissy. I have a friend that is feminine and he didn't play dess up or with dolls is just who he is and him and his wife are great people. So there is no way anyone can tell me boys playing house and or dress up or with dolls is gunna turn them into a sissy. Matter of fact back in the days when my mom and dad were kids was nthing to see a picture of one of the younger boys in a dress. Clothes were handed down to save money and the toddler boys would even end up in the dresses of their older sisters. My dad is far from a sissy.....pffft as my mom would say... hog wash
1 person likes this
• United States
27 Nov 08
Well said. Some will be sissies and some won't, regardless of the toys they play or don't play with.
@littleone3 (2065)
26 Nov 08
I don't find anything wrong with this children should be allowed to play with what ever they want. I remember when one of my teenage sons was a toddler and we were out shopping he saw a baby doll and pulled it off the shelve and would not let go of it. So i brought it for him. When my mother-in-law found out she was not impressed as she told me that i should have not brought it as dolls were for girls but she could not give a valid reason for her having this view. I am very interested in the responses you will get to this as i also would love to know why people have problems with it.
• United States
26 Nov 08
That's just it. All of the people I've met who object to boys playing with 'girl' things can't give a reason other than 'that's for girls.' That's not a reason. I'm genuinely curious to know if there are any real reasons behind people feeling so strongly about this.
1 person likes this
@ganderlot (352)
• United States
26 Nov 08
I was hoping people still didn't freak out over these things. There's nothing wrong with boys playing with "girl" toys or vice versa. Imagination, creativity is what live is about... without that life can be pretty boring.
1 person likes this
• United States
26 Nov 08
I agree. Not only is there nothing wrong with it, but allowing boys to play with 'girl' toys and vice versa gives them more opportunities to explore other things and to learn more. My son has a stroller and loves to push it around with his stuffed animals in it. It is fun for him and he is definitely being creative when he does it. I wish people would get over it, but unfortunately, a lot still get upset.
1 person likes this
@LouRhi (1502)
• Australia
26 Nov 08
Hi SC, What a great discussion you have started here. I have often wondered the same thing. What also gets me is that it seems alright for girls to do boys things. In some ways it is like being a woman or doing feminine things is not as highly regarded as being a male or doing masculine things. If I should ever be blessed with a boy I would have no problems with him playing with dolls and dressing up as that is just what children do. They play and from that they learn. Boys that play with dolls at a young age often show more caring qualities than those that don't. In my mind that is a brilliant reason to let them play. Life is after all a balancing act
• United States
26 Nov 08
Yes, it's as if men see playing with 'girl' things as lowering themselves, which is preposterous. I have always hated the double standard that girls can do 'boy' things, but boys can't do 'girl' things. Here in the US, there are scholarships specifically for 'women in non-traditional jobs,' meaning construction, auto mechanics and the like. There is no similar program for 'men in non-traditional jobs,' which I suspect would include nursing, childcare and similar jobs. It is a double standard that stems from attitudes taught from a very early age. Women want to break barriers-- why don't men?
@LouRhi (1502)
• Australia
26 Nov 08
Yes we have the same programs here for women in non traditional vocations. Meanwhile our children are suffering in the class room as they can't find enough male teachers. Given the broken homes that many children come from some only get a positive male role model in the school but there is no incentives to get them there. Instead let's encourage women to be tradies. I am all for equal opportunities and affirmative action but I think it needs to go both ways. We all know that women can do anything but why is it ok for men to have limitations? If we want true equality between the sexes then it needs to be accepted men and boys can do things that have been traditionally labeled as a female role. It all starts in the playground and the toys at home
• United States
27 Nov 08
I agree completely.
@munhozmib (3729)
• Sao Paulo, Brazil
30 Nov 08
Hello, Sillychick. I don't know why don't parents allow their boys to do it. Perhaps they really think that their son will become gay/homosexual if they keep playing with toys. I am not sure, but I guess that this is the main reason for parents punishing boys that likes to play with girl things. And, let's be honest: boys that keep playing as "mommy", as you said, end up becoming homosexual. Am I wrong? So, it seems like parents don't want their children to become homosexual. Respectfully, Munhozmib.
• United States
1 Dec 08
Yes, Munhozmib, you are wrong. Boys who play with 'girl' toys do not necessarily become homosexual, and boys who only play with 'boy' toys do not necessarily end up straight. Besides, to say 'become' homosexual implies that all people would otherwise be straight, and that is not the case. People are who they are, regardless of what toys they play with, what clothes they wear, or what occupations they enter.
1 person likes this
@munhozmib (3729)
• Sao Paulo, Brazil
2 Dec 08
Yes, you have a nice point. I was indeed wrong. But it has a lot of influence over the young boy. Though it doesn't mean he is going to be homosexual nor straight.
@quinnkl (1668)
• United States
28 Nov 08
I am with you all the way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. My sister and I grew up as "tom boys" (as we were called back then). We climbed trees, played cowboy and Indians on our bikes with sticks just like the neighbor boys. Had our cars and trucks in the sand piles and were just as happy to play that as with our Barbies. I have a nephew who was really into Barbies when he was very young and it drove my brother nuts. He is in high school and into sports like everyone else... didn't hurt him at all! I agree, we all should be allowed to play however we like! My dad never made us girls feel like we were weaker or couldn't do anything because we were girls - unlike most fathers of his time - and that has helped me throughout my lifetime. I am sure it helps me be a better mom too.
• United States
1 Dec 08
Thanks for another example of how allowing children to choose their own activities is not only harmless, it is actually helpful for children to learn about things other than their gender-specific roles.
@Conker (16)
• United States
28 Nov 08
I couldn't agree more. I have a toddler and he does not have the foggiest idea of the difference in gender roles. He has a toy kitchen and toy trucks which he plays with equally. I would never dream of stepping in and ruining his fun. This would send the wrong message. It would be saying to him that he is doing something wrong by wanting to play with his kitchen. He would grow into the kind of man that thinks a woman's place is in the kitchen and I do not want to teach my son to be sexist. He enjoys playing with dolls with his female cousin and it would be wrong for me to take the dolls away and act as though he has done something wrong when it is all innocent fun. Why punish an child for engaging in innocent creative play? As you say, what exactly do the parents think is going to happen?
• United States
1 Dec 08
Well said. You make some good points. We need to stop punishing children for doing exactly what they are supposed to do- play, learn and be creative.
@marina321 (4561)
27 Nov 08
I have a girl so have not dealt with this...yet But I think I'd be totally okay with it if my little boy wanted to do girlie things and he probably will as he'd have a big sis and me to emulate. Kids imitate the people they are around the most and I can see why little boys would be imitating their mums if they spent most of the day with them or even their dads as guys push pushchairs and carry babies too in modern society. A friend of mine has two boys under 5 and she is a childminder and therefore on many occassions pushing a buggy so the boys always imitate her and when she's going out with all the kids including my gal, the little boys are also pushing little dolls in little strollers, I think it's soo cute and so the norm here.. So no Sillychick, I do not think people should find it strange and let the kids be kids - it's the adults with the problem!
• United States
1 Dec 08
You are correct, they are just imitating what they see in real life, not planning for their own futures.
@kenzie45230 (3563)
• United States
27 Nov 08
It has never made sense to me that people worry about whether a girl plays with cars or a boy plays with dolls. As one who taught preschool, I can tell you that when they're away from parents, they all play with whatever toys they choose. Sometimes the boys want to play "house" and want to cook and clean and feed baby dolls. Sometimes girls want to climb and run and play with cars. It doesn't hurt any of them. My son's favorite toy when he was really young was a boy doll that he named Andrew - his middle name. He's 24 now and still has that doll (packed away in a box, of course).
@saundyl (9698)
• Canada
27 Nov 08
I dont think its sissy or feminine. I don't even have an issue with it (remember GI Joes are just dolls for boys) I remember my mom babysat 2 other families of kids. For a total of 5 girls and one boy babysat as well as her own three girls. The parents didn't have a fit that Ryan played girl games or with girl toys BUT we also played the boy games he wanted to play too. It was only fair.
• United States
1 Dec 08
Sure, it should be the child's choice. If he wants to play with trucks, let him. If he wants to play with dolls, let him.
@bobbyjoe143 (1287)
27 Nov 08
When my son first started pay school, his favourite toy there was the play kitchen, he has always had dolls and dress up clothes, he had his own play kitchen for a while too. As he has grown older, he has owned his own dresses as well as chosen his own toys (some of which are boyish and some of which are girly). For the last 4-5 years he has had a thing about care bears, and still owns a very large collection of them. He is now 10, and still wears a dress if he fancies it. I see no problem in it what-so-ever, in my view, children need to experiment with things, not just because it’s fun, but also so that they can grow up into well rounded human beings. They need to know that they have more options than just the old stereotypes of “boys like cars, girls like dolls”.
• United States
1 Dec 08
I completely agree that too often we limit our children to what we think they 'should' like. Good for you for allowing your son to make his own choices.
@mariposaman (2968)
• Canada
27 Nov 08
You pretty much summed it up. If boys play with dolls the will be effeminate or gay when they grow up. Even GI Joe when it was first brought out some people did not like it because it was a "doll". There does not seem to be the same strictures on girls playing with boys toys. All you have to do is look at the Saturday morning cartoons and you will find the roles out little men and little women are expected to fulfil. The girls are exposed to nurturing toys and the boys to violent ones. The women therefore will be the ones to stay at home looking after the children while the men go off to war. It starts early.
• United States
1 Dec 08
Yes, the conditioning does start early. It's hard to find a baby stroller, play kitchen or doll house that is not pink. Or a matchbox car that is pink. The messages are not subtle.
• United States
27 Nov 08
In the first half of the 20th century, men were viewed as providers, laborers and were not homemakers. A man was the dominant figure in the household, and his authority was unquestioned. He was a very masculine figure, often feared by children and used as a threat by housewife mothers who warned "wait till your father gets home." At that time, boys were raised to emulate this persona, and the idea that a boy would play with toys that reflected the womans place in the home (such as playing tea party or kitchen) or playing with dolls, which demonstrated the nurturer role, was considered a sign of weakness, something frowned on by men, whose past times was American traditions like football. Fast forward to the beginning of the 21st century. This old stigma of gender roles has all but been wiped away. In today's society, men as nurturers is as common as is women in the workplace. The idea that people would be oppossed to boys playing with girls toys is a throwback to that old era. However, I have seen a number of boys (often between the ages of 2-10) who play with girls toys, either because they are playing with siblings or with playmates in a neighborhood, or because those are the toys that are available to them. It, in no way, suggests weakness in a child whatsoever. If anything, the fact that boys can exhibit a level of nurturing by playing with dolls or domestication by playing house is a sign that in the future, the roles of boys and girls might very well blend even further than they have, eliminating a sexist inequality that still presently exists in our society. To answer the specific question of this discussion however, I think there is absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever with a little boy wanting to play with girls toys, anymore than a girl wanting to play with boys toys. If a girl wants to play football, does that make her any less feminine? Some people might think so, but I think it's simply a sign of gender equality. A girl who likes to play football is equally likely to dress up in frilly dresses as is the little girl who never touches a football...if it's something she enjoys, then she'll do it, if not, she wont. Same with boys.
• United States
1 Dec 08
Your explanation makes sense-- people think boys behaving like girls is a sigh of weakness. However, I think you are wrong when you say those attitudes have been all but wiped out. I think the actual truth is that lots of people still feel that way, but are not willing to publicly admit it because it is no longer socially acceptable, or politically correct. Incredible progress has been made, but we still have a long way to go before we can say both genders are truly equal.
@mindym (979)
• United States
26 Nov 08
There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this. I have worked at different preschools and in each and every one, the boys LOVE to dress-up, play with babies and dollhouse. If parents think that this is abnormal, than maybe they have some insecurities about themselves that they should work on. Children, boys and girls, thrive on being able to use their imaginations and dramatic play is no exception. Dramatic play allows the children to "act out" what they see in their lives, and children usually do not discrimate male and female roles. Parents need to let their children be children and have fun, regardless of the toys they choose to play with.
• United States
27 Nov 08
I couldn't agree more. I used to teach preschool as well, and it was not uncommon to see boys playing dress up and girls playing with trucks. I loved to see them try all the different activities. I also agree that often it is the parents who have the problem. Too bad it's the children who suffer.
@leeloo (1494)
• Portugal
26 Nov 08
The fact of children playing dress up or playing with dolls for boys or cars for girls is only a problem if the parents make it into a problem. Punishing their boys for playing with dolls or girls with cars is instating a notion that it is not only wrong but shameful to do so, leads to intolerance to things that are different. At a friends daughters birthday party they brought out a Karaoke machine and all the kids were singing and dancing as the children left one or two stayed behind and one in particular, a boy, was singing along to one of the girls bands and following the choreography one of the mothers was snide in relation to him which I did not like, and basically implied that he was girly, yet her son had been throwing a tantrum and stomped off inside crying and in a huff because he was not allowed to do what he wanted, now they are all about 7 or 8 basically the message is that you can be badly behaved as long as you act like a boy. A while back I read that Bruce Lee when he was born, the family was visited by the local soothsayer and warned that something bad was going to happen to him, to protect him the family dressed him up as a girl and gave him a girls name until he was two or three when the curse was lifted, if this is true he definitely was a man's man nothing remotely girly about him. People fear the unknown and fear that their children will suffer for being different. People worry that they will be looked at differently for having a child that is not 'standard' normally they are insecure or trying to prove something in my opinion. Society is very complex and continuously changing we can only hope it changes for the better.
• United States
27 Nov 08
I agree that it leads to intolerance. It is a shame that those parents think that bad behavior is preferable to a boy playing with 'girl' toys.
@jayyerex (224)
• Canada
26 Nov 08
I think it is really close minded to not allow your boys to play with toys that only girls play with and vice versa. Kids are naturally curious and want to explore. Let them be the judge of what they like. Big deal if your boy likes pink or your girl likes to wear baseball caps. Odds are you as a parent taught them to be the way they are in the first place. This is just projecting your fears and wants onto them and forcing them to be what you want them to be. Relax and open up your mind. Your kids are smart enough to figure out what they like and don't like. i say let them decide who and what they want to play with and quit being so controlling. They will thank you for it later in life. Jay
• United States
27 Nov 08
I agree that the parents are narrow minded and have their own issues that they are projecting onto their children. Too bad the children are the ones who suffer.
• United States
26 Nov 08
I'm not afraid of it, my son just doesn't play with his sisters dolls because he'd run over them with his bike.
• United States
27 Nov 08
So get him his own doll so his sisters won't get mad at him!