Q: My 2-year-old son loves playing with "girl toys" like dolls at other people's houses, but my husband doesn't like it. What should I do?

A: Stereotypes are powerful. Your husband assumes that playing with dolls will make your son less masculine, but extensive research has shown that it's healthy for boys to play with so-called "girl toys." Playing with dolls may help boys become more empathetic and affectionate as they grow older, and it doesn't affect their development in any negative way. If you refuse to permit your child to play with these toys, it will only make your son feel hurt and confused. Try to help your husband understand that toys don't determine a child's sexual identity. Even better, convince him to play with dolls along with your son. He'd be teaching your child a great deal about what it means to be a real man with a full range of emotions -- tenderness and caring, not just strength. --Sally Lee

Copyright 2004. Reprinted with permission from the June 2004 issue of Parents magazine, Updated 2009

Answered by Parents Team

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Comments (1)

Anonymous
October 13, 2019
This lady speaks like a total millennial snow flake, you don’t need dolls to grow up with empathy and affection towards women or anyone. Your son playing with dolls is not a big deal but you should definitely try to encourage him to play with boy Toys like, trucks, tractors, action figures etc, rather than dolls and other girl toys. I most certainly disagree with the part about that her husband should play dolls with him to show his son “what a real man is”. If you consider a real man a homosexual then by all means play dolls with your son to show him a real man. Men don’t play with dolls, little boys maybe cause they may find them interesting but definitely not men. You want you son to turn out soft and to think it’s acceptable like our society makes it now days to think he is a girl and can chose to be a girl, then This comment most likely upsets you and you go ahead and encourage your sons to play with dolls. but me on the other hand if my son is playing with a doll I’ll put a truck in front of him maybe have to doll ride in it. Looked up this question cause told my wife we had to many girl toys and not enough boy toys naturally my son is gonna pick up a doll not his fault. If this comment offends anyone go find a safe place. “Real men” that just irritated me. P.s Read and approved by my stunning wife.