Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Raising a Father

Lately on Facebook I've seen a few of these Fatherhood Involvement commercials being shared around as well as that image of the little boy playing with dolls (seen below) and it has certainly got me thinking.

I'm a pretty open minded mother and offering gender non-conforming toy options is very important to me when raising my daughter, not to mention, I also run a family daycare. So having "boy toys" for boys is something I keep in mind. However, I don't have a son yet and haven't given much thought to how I will be with my boy. 

Growing in in Texas and with a Mexican father, masculinity is a focus from a very early age. When my brothers (3 and 5 years younger than me) would attempt to play with my Barbies, my father would freak out and tell them they are boys and those toys weren't for them.

Looking back, most of the interactions like that between my father and brothers were pretty impactful. They still stick in our minds even today. Now we, well just me right now, are parents and it is our turn to decide how we want to handle those situations.

How should we act?

Should we stop dead in our tracks and rip the "girl toys" out of their hands? Should we tell them those toys are for "girls" with a penetrating tone and demeanor so it "gets through to him"? ....I think not.

Let's take a step back and remember what kids are doing when they play...they're learning! In playing sports, children learn learn values like working as a team, taking turns, being supportive to others, self control and perseverance.  It was not that long ago that it was believed girls should not play sport and it was over looked that they could learn those values as well.

By denying boys the opportunity of playing with dolls or "girl toys" are we repeating history?

What values could a little boy learn from playing with dolls? 

Those opposing boys playing with dolls might say he would learn to "act like a girl". So, let's break that down.

What does it mean to "act like a girl"?

To be compassionate towards others.

 This is NOT just a "girl" thing. We see this when a lil girl (or boy) mimics their mother or caregiver by rocking a crying baby (doll) or kissing the doll's boo-boo. Many of the first responders in the Boston Marathon bombing were men. So, why would it be bad for your son to learn and practice this value at an early age? Not to mention, I know a few wives out there that wish their husbands did more of this. haha

Put the needs of others ahead of their own.

Not just a "girl" thing and again something some women wish their husbands and boyfriends did more of. But seriously, this value is commonly learned when a family pet is present in the house. Why is it ok for little boys to feed the dog but not feed the baby?

To be gentle and graceful

Once again, not just a "girl" thing. Back to the family pet. Having a pet in the home teaches the child not to be rough with other living creatures. However, there are not many other scenarios to reinforce this. The entrance of a new sibling or younger relative may be the only time this comes up, especially if a family pet isn't present. By allowing a boy to play with a doll helps him recall this on their own and practice it.

There are many more values that girls possess that boys can benefit from as well. These are just a few but there are many more.

Feel free to leave a comment. Share with us your experiences you have with your children. What other values do you think we could add to this list?

Happy Tuesday!

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