Put a Bib on It

A Boy and His Doll


Why should you give a boy a doll to play with? A good friend recently bought Ev a doll. And a stroller. It was a really sweet gesture. As soon as she heard Ev didn’t have a doll, she placed an order and three days later, there he was: the cutest little boy doll in a blue stroller. I knew immediately that Ev would love it. I also knew immediately that my husband would hate it.

I put the gift in my trunk and kept it there until I could time it just right. I needed to come up with all of the reasons why giving a young boy a doll is absolutely fine and even appropriate. After several days, I finally showed him the doll. He rolled his eyes and said, “I don’t understand why it has to be pushed down his throat. I don’t push G.I. Joes down his throat.” Annoyed, but not surprised at all, I said, “No one is pushing it down his throat; it was just a nice gift.”

A couple of days later while my husband was away, I pulled out the stroller and baby and gave it to Ev. He was so excited. He loved it. He called it “my baby.” He put the baby in the stroller, and then he put the baby in the back of a Tonka truck and pushed it around the driveway. I seized the moment, taking a picture and sending it to my husband with a caption that said, “Still a boy.”

When my husband came home from work, Ev told his daddy all about his baby. When watching him talk about his baby and hold his baby and talk to his baby, you couldn’t help but feel touched. My husband began to ask Ev questions about the baby (What’s his name?), and when we were getting ready to go out on an evening walk, I heard my husband ask Ev if he wanted to bring his baby. I felt so relieved. I didn’t have to fight for Ev’s right to have a baby or get into reasons why forcing gender specific roles can be damaging to a child’s natural development. I wanted to tell my husband how giving a little boy a doll can even be beneficial for their social and emotional development, giving them the opportunity to learn how to take care of someone, but I decided to leave well enough alone.

The next evening at dinner while my husband and I were finishing up and Ev was pushing his doll around in the stroller, my husband said, “I don’t see what the big deal is about the doll. Ev treats the doll how I treat him; holding him, taking care of him. He is just doing what he sees me doing. If someone had a problem with that it would be like them having a problem with me being a nurturing father.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

9 thoughts on “A Boy and His Doll

  1. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Beautiful – thank you for sharing your story, Sadie! Do you think a child care provider could encourage a similar “aha” moment in a parent? How might that happen (since the “child development lecture” doesn’t work any better in that setting than it does at home!)?

  3. My brother had a doll he loved when he was Ev’s age in the 1950’s. My parents never thought it was wrong tho thinking back I’m sure they were in the minority back then. Glad your husband could embrace how positive it is! (PS My brother grew into an amazing Dad!)

  4. Fantastic! Everybody grows, everybody wins! Nice work, mom… and dad!

    Love it!

  5. Thank you everyone for your feedback. Kathy, I think child care providers can encourage parents to have similar “a-ha” moments by allowing children to explore in the classroom. Regardless of the gender of the child, if they are spending lots of time exploring with a certain toy or certain materials, capture it. Take photos and share with the parents the joy the child is having and then tack on some of the development that is naturally happening. Add dolls to dramatic play, as well as the block area and book area.

  6. It is very natural for boys to play with dolls. I felt my heart strings being tugged as I read this. When my boys were little they too played with dolls carrying them everywhere they went. They are loving, caring, fine, young men today.

  7. One of the saddest things I’ve heard was when a sister told her child care center her brother “got in trouble” at home every time he played with a baby doll in his classroom. Great article, for all the reasons you mentioned and more. Toys are toys- why should a certain gender not get to experience the joy that comes with each one? Not to mention the potential for learning and growth. My son used to carry a Jessie (from Toy Story) doll everywhere. She is in all his photos from a certain age, and his eyes would just light up when he played with her. It is a very sweet, tender memory.

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