When I think about my son as a grown man, I think about him being kind, empathetic, and living a life of love. I want him to be the best husband and an even better father. In order for him to do these things he needs to be loved, supported and taught how to love.
My husband and I are affectionate, we kiss, hold hands, write love notes, blow kisses and say I love you all day long, we do this naturally, but we also make sure that our son is watching. We want him to know that love can look and feel like this, that he can expect this from a partner if that’s what he wants.
When I first told my husband I wanted to buy our son a doll for Christmas, he of course asked me why, was it a political statement? For the most part it is not, but yes I want him to be who ever that is, if he wants to play with dolls and dress up in women’s clothes I will not only love him, I will continue to be proud of him, but that’s not the main reason I wanted him to have a doll.
I think it’s important for him to have a “baby” to take care of, to practice hugging, holding hands, feeding and loving. This is not only a woman’s or mother’s job, we easily give little girls dolls, it’s typically one of their first presents, why because we think it’s innate in her to nurture, well I believe it is in boys as well. However, we make these decisions for them early in life by the types of toys we buy them, how we treat them and our expectations about their behavior. I want my son to know he can take care of someone, even a baby. He can be sensitive, kind and nurturing as well as strong, athletic, and manly.
Another reason a baby is a great toy for any child is for teaching body parts. My son will point to parts of the baby when I say them, he is only 1 years old, but he identifies with this baby and recognizes that it looks like him.
My son LOVES his baby, we bought him one that looks like an older boy, it comes dressed as a superhero and there are other outfits for him to dress up in, such as, an astronaut and construction worker. He pushes his baby around the house, holds his hand, kisses and hugs him and even does his exercises with him. He of course continues to play with all of his other toys, some cars, blocks and puzzles.
We allow him to choose what he wants to play with, but at least once a day he plays with his baby and it warms our hearts to see how loving he is with him. It’s also a reassurance to us that we are doing something right, he imitates how we treat him to his baby, with love and kindness. When he plays with his baby, we model for him how to treat the baby, how to talk to the baby and how to play with the baby. This is helpful for his social-emotional development, he is constantly learning how to treat another person close to his size, so he can be gentle and kind with his peers.
It is important for all children to learn how to treat other children, it’s part of our job as parents to help them navigate their feelings and how to relate to other children, a doll is great learning tool for this, regardless of their gender. It also helps them understand and respect another persons body.
Imaginative play is extremely important and is something that is lacking in many children in today’s society. We are raising kids in a world of instant gratification which leaves very little room for imagination. As parents, we need to make sure they have time to explore and use their imaginations, a doll is another great tool for this, learning to pretend is a skill that takes practice and will grow as your child develops, but only if you foster it.
I encourage you to buy your son a doll, regardless of his age and see what happens, he just might surprise you. I promise it will warm your heart to see him interacting with it, we all need love in our lives and I know all Mama’s want their little boys to live a life filled with love.