By Mary Beth Sammons - Jul 12, 2012
You'd think that people could just chill and keep their thoughts to themselves when they spot a two-year-old boy at the playground playing with Barbies. But many Circle of Moms members whose sons sometimes play with dolls or whose daughters sometimes play with toy front loaders say they've been the recipients of much unsolicited advice or insinuation.
They ask why people assume that a toddler is necessarily expressing a sexual identity rather than just showing curiosity, interest, or a desire to explore.
Others, like Carrie V. wonder: When boys play with "girl" toys or girls play with "boy" toys, "what does it mean?" She's concerned because her almost 4-year-old son has "recently started pretending he is a girl a lot." He pretends that he is Rapunzel (he loves the movie) or Jessie from Toy Story. At the same time, her son also plays with superhero male toys. But she says: "My husband is really bothered by this, and I keep trying to tell him it is a phase. But he is starting to put doubts in my head. I know he is afraid of how his family will react because I heard his mom telling our son that he can't play with Rapunzel because she is a girl toy. I guess I'm just trying to find out if this is normal."
It never even crosses their minds that it's not normal for toddlers to like opposite sex toys or activities, many Circle of Moms members advise.
"Who cares?" says Chrissy D. "Moms should encourage their children to play with whatever toys they find interesting. Just because your child is a boy doesn't mean he has to be rough and tough and masculine. He's just a kid! The worst thing you could do would be to make him feel bad about liking certain toys...that will just confuse him more. There is absolutely nothing wrong with him, and yes, this is completely normal."
Numerous Circle of Moms implore naysayers to "get real"; that boy toddlers playing with girl toys or vice versa is perfectly normal. "I wouldn't worry too much, it's a phase," says Anne R. "My 4-year old loves Dora and his favorite colors are pink and red - the only colors he uses when coloring," she says. "He also loves to wear my shoes. But, he also loves Thomas the Tank Engine and goes crazy over monster trucks. My daughter on the other hand also plays with Thomas and her brother's castle, but likes Barbie and make up."
Other moms agree. "My daughter pretends she is a boy all the time and she will be four next week," Tiffany H. says. "My husband thinks it's wrong too, but I know better. She has two older brothers, so of course she wants to act like a boy. She also likes to act like a princess. "
"I think it's definitely appropriate for little boys to play with girlie toys," says Aisha T. "When we found out we were having a second child, we bought my son a baby doll. A lot of people in my family had problems with this idea (being too girly). He is now 2 years old and his baby brother is 4 months. Sometimes when I change my little one, feed him, hold him, my toddler will get his baby-doll and play 'Daddy.' I comment to him on how he's such a good daddy to his baby."
And many Circle of Moms members say that boys playing with "girl" toys, or girls with "boy" toys actually boosts creativity and is good for kids. "I've read that it's actually good to let boys play with dolls because it allows them to role play as daddies," adds Mandy B. "They grow up to be more affectionate fathers."