Wider told the Huffington Post she was shocked by what her son said, adding, "He'd been raised in a household and community that was very pro-feelings—I'm a therapist after all! But I soon realized that, of course, these messages and pressures about what it means to be a boy or a man exist everywhere. Of course my son would be affected, too."
Her little guy's bold statement prompted Massachusetts-based Wider to launch Wonder Crew, a line of empowering dolls for kids, especially boys, but not just boys, who may not think toys like these were meant for them. The dolls inspire kids with the message they can be anything they want, from a superhero to a chef to an explorer to a builder.
Of course, Wonder Crew's development wasn't based purely on what her son said about boys not crying. Wider also talked with 150 kids, parents, educators, psychologists, and experts in the toy industry to find out how playtime with different toys affects children. "I learned that doll play teaches a wealth of social and emotional skills," she told HuffPo. "Boys are interested in playing with dolls, yet for many parents and some boys there's a stigma attached to this type of play and the word 'doll' itself is a barrier."
That's why the "dolls" who make up the Wonder Crew are referred to as crewmates instead. Right now the crew is made up of boys only, but Wider told the Huffington Post that girl members are in the works. As a mom of three girls, I'm glad to hear that, but honestly, my daughters have both male and female dolls they play with every day. It doesn't really matter to them what gender the doll is; they just love playing with them, and acting out all kinds of scenarios, just as Wider says.
I see how much playing with their dolls helps them work through conflicts and foster their imaginations. Boys who don't play with dolls are definitely missing out! So thank goodness for Wonder Crew, which may appeal more to boys who are socialized to think dolls are "girl toys," as well as their parents!
Ultimately, this enterprising mom proclaims, "Our mission is to empower all kids to see themselves as connected, creative, strong individuals with the ability to go anywhere, be anything. And we are doing just that!"
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.