Santa is bringing my son a doll?!?

My husband and I are joyfully celebrating our first Christmas and holiday season as parents.  We refer to our 11 month old son as “little man”.  He has started doing things that we envision young boys doing – he kicks the soccer ball around the apartment when he walks, he runs from room to room (he started walking at 8 ½ mo), and he seems to have a real interest in climbing onto things (his favorite is the shelf in the fridge).

We started looking for gifts to add to his Christmas wishlist over two months ago – gifts that would be found under the tree from Santa and from his grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins.  There are many traditional toys for a young boy on our list – some arts and crafts, sport-related items (t-ball set, soccer net), a beginner race car and track, a tricycle, motorized 4-wheeler, building blocks, and sand table, to name a few.

However, after spending an afternoon with my 3 ½ year old niece, a lightbulb went off in my head.  She has always been so gentle and loving towards her younger, smaller cousin (my son).  I never gave it much thought as to why she is so great with him as there are likely many reasons (she’s being raised well, she’s surrounded by lots of love and family).  But I watched her play, care for, and love her family (more like an army!) of dolls and realized that her exposure and introduction to them from a young age could possibly be playing a part.

I think my son is a sweet boy – he gives me “love” (he makes an “ahhhh” sound and puts his cheek to mine), he gives (open-mouthed) kisses, and when I cover my face with my hands and pretend to cry, he comes over to remove them and touch my face.  As he grows, I want him to stay sweet – I want him to be loving and caring towards other kids, especially those younger and smaller than he is and I want him to be a good husband, father, and friend.

I proposed the idea of adding a doll to our son’s wishlist – and my husband surprisingly agreed.

There’s the belief that little girls are supposed to play with dolls and tea-sets while little boys play with toy cars and action figures.  I have no problem with my son having these items– he will always get age-appropriate “boy” toys from Santa each year.  But, I think these beliefs are based on a family structure from generations ago – generations where the man was the primary source of income for the family and the woman stayed at home and raised the children.  So of course – it was very important for young girls to play with dolls – to learn how to rock, cuddle, and soothe their babies – since they were the ones who would be solely responsible in later years. However, these days it’s not uncommon for the husband to be a SAHD (stay-at-home-dad) or for both parents to work outside the home – and thus share the parenting duties at night and on the weekends.

I think it’s also important for my son to have a childhood doll to hug, include in activities, and take care of. I want him to be compassionate and sensitive and one day, a hands-on father who is comfortable changing a diaper and holding his child. (Note: I am not saying that just by us giving him a doll, he will be compassionate or a great father.)

I’m sure there are many who feel that a boy having a doll could make him “soft” and less of a boy/man – that if he is a sensitive young boy, he could be made fun of or picked on.  If you asked me this question even a year ago, I would probably agree with this opinion. But, what then, makes a man masculine?  Is it using exploitative language?  Being rough or violent?  I’ve met plenty of manly men who are extremely compassionate, loving, and sensitive.  I feel that by introducing a doll to my young son, it will only help foster these qualities.  And in my opinion, the earlier he is taught this and practices these lessons, the better.

The boy doll Santa will be bringing my son

* Finding a boy (or at least “boyish” looking) doll was not an easy task. None of the large toy stores in the area carried them – the doll aisles wouldn’t have been any more pink!  I finally tracked one down on Amazon – a sweet looking baby boy dressed in blue!

What are YOUR thoughts on this subject?  Did you give your son a doll?  Did you ever consider it?

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    32 thoughts on “Santa is bringing my son a doll?!?

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    13. i love this! my son will (who is now 5 years old) got a doll for his first birthday. he loved it for a while, but now of course no longer plays with it. he is a sweet sweet boy and i have no idea if that has anything to do with his babydoll, but it was certainly adorable to see him play with it when he was a baby! now my son gus (who is 10 months old) will get to play with it ;o) i am all about making sure my guys are sensitive, thoughtful and sweet!

    14. I think that’s great! My son has a doll and he’s very loving with it. He gives him kisses and hugs and I think it’s so sweet. He also has a kitchen set. I have grown so tired of people acting surprised and thinking it’s weird that he has a kitchen set. Men can cook too! There are famous male chefs all over the world. I hate that there is such a line drawn – girls play with dolls and kitchen sets, boys play with trucks/cars and sports stuff. I’m sure your little man will love his doll! It’s so sweet that he’s so affectionate with you. My son is like that too and it just warms my heart when he comes and gives me a big hug and sloppy wet kiss :).

    15. Michele, I think this is fantastic! How lucky A.J. is to have such amazing parents as you and your husband. I studied early childhood development during my masters program and worked at an early childhood center. I learned through my studies and saw in my experience at the center how powerful it can be for boys and girls to play with different toys regardless of the toys’ traditional gender associations. I applaud you both!!

    16. Hey I applaud you both and think you are wonderful in parenting. I admire the courage you take to challenge the stereotypes and realize your son will only be a stronger man through this experience and more to come as you lay the groundwork as you have here. I only have one thing, I wish we could one day have a set of dolls that did not differentiate which boys should have and which girls should have. We come along though and you have done a stretch. Congrats!!

      • Thanks! We are trying to be open minded with raising him. And I agree – I guess I never realized how girly the doll aisles are – makes no guy even want to walk down there! Thanks for your kind words =)

    17. I don’t have babies of my own yet. But I’ve worked with preschoolers and I could not agree with you more! I think this is such an amazing idea. In the schools I have worked for we totally encourage both boys and girls to explore and play with all of the toys no matter how gender specific they may be. I think it’s great to allow kids to learn new things, and allow them to be open to all of the possibilities. Not just the strict ones society has built up for each gender. You’ll have to keep us posted on how he does with the baby doll.

    18. Even though my boys have never had dolls, they do have tons of stuffed animals that they have cared for. Interesting idea. I will say, I was quite surprised when both my boys started caring for some of their stuffed animals like babies when their younger sister was born. They even pretended to breastfeed, burp them, and put them in slings. I think it is a wonderful thing to nuture and not just for girls.

      • Jeannie – I think a doll is just like a stuffed animal. Our son has been around dolls before, so we figured, “why not”? I just hate the stereotype that boys are supposed to only play with race cars, superheros, and gi joes and practice fighting/banging them against one another – just seems to be all violence. I’m sure seeing your sons treat their stuffed animals like little babies warmed your heart! So adorable!

    19. Ditto! Why not? I am actually contemplating getting my son a pretend broom and/or mop. He loves walking around with our broom and since it’s so big I’m terrified he will break a window or lamp while he walks around with it. Typically women are the ones who clean, but my son is with me most of the time, during which I am often cleaning. I can’t blame him for mimicking me and I think it’s adorable. He even takes baby wipes and pretends to wipe the table!
      When my son plays with my niece he will walk around with her dolls and I
      could care less. Have to get back to you on my husband’s thoughts, but I have a feeling he wouldn’t be completely appalled. Especially if it’s not pink. Haha. But let’s be honest, the roles we saw our fathers in growing up are very different from the ones our generation sees. My father NEVER changed our diapers or gave us a bath growing up. NEVER. My husband, on the other hand, watches my son alone when he works nights on the days I work. He has no choice, but he also doesn’t want another choice. He loves that he is able to be a hands on caregiver, and other than a few other family members there is no one I trust more to care for my son. So if my son wants to copy me sweeping then why can he pretend to be like his dad feeding a baby?

      • Roseann – I agree with everything you wrote! My husband is interactive too and I know that our son will see his daddy changing diapers and feeding our subsequent children – so why not let him play with one? Plus, if our future children are girls, then there will be plenty of dolls around the house anyway for him to play with ! Love the idea of a pretend broom ! He can help you clean !!!

    20. GREAT idea!! Plus it will help him to shed gender roles….action figures for boys, dolls for girls. I think it’ll help make him compassionate, caring, and sweet. Let us know if he likes it!

      • Hey Sarah! That’s what we are hoping – we shall see! Will definitely let you know how he takes to it!

    21. why not? have friends who have given dolls to their boys and the boys loved them. not sure if they are any more compassionate than their older brother who didn’t get a doll but can’t see it hurting them

      • I agree…I’m definitely not saying that by giving him a doll, he will grow up to be more compassionate…but it definitely can’t hurt! =)