Have you ever noticed how many aisles there are for girl toys vs. boy toys? What if your daughter wanted a transformer? What if your son wanted a baby doll? It is 2013… should gender still play a role in our kids’ lives today?
Today’s toy stores are marketed directly for “Pink vs. Blue.” I recently went shopping for a birthday present for a friend’s son. I was amazed when I got to the little boy toys. It all seemed complicated. There were so many aisles of toys. There are 4 aisles dedicated to boy-gender toys. On the other hand, there are 2 ½ aisles dedicated to girl-gender toys. Interestingly enough, there are 1 ½ aisles for gender-neutral toys.
Toy makers are really narrowing their demographics into 2 groups now. Parents want to be able to give their child something from their childhood. I know I was really excited to get my daughter her very own Cabbage Patch Kid.
All of this got me thinking, it seems as if boy gender toys all relate to aggression, while girl gender toys all relate to appearance. Not every single toy can fall into these two groups, but in reality, a lot of them do. It truly worries me what messages, albeit subconsciously, are being presented. As a parent, I would rather foster nurturing, caring, empathic, loving qualities in my girl-based toys. As for boy-gender toys, I would also like mathematics, spatial recognition, judgment, and analytical skills. In a perfect world, there would be no gender difference in those wants.
I feel very strongly that as parents, we help to enforce what is socially acceptable and what is not. It seems as if these values we are instilling so early on could help teach our child how to have an open mind later on. My daughter is all girl through-and-through. She puts on a dress and twirls around. However, my daughter plays with wrenches, Matchbox cars, Angry Birds, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates (the last of which are literally her most prized possessions). She wakes up talking about Jake; she goes to sleep talking about Jake.
Tomorrow, my daughter could ask me to paint her nails and snuggle her baby dolls or she could ask me to go outside with a dump truck and play in the dirt. Either way, I will love every minute of it. I will encourage her to test the lines of gender neutrality. I will be an example of what love and acceptance looks like.
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