I think gender neutral toys are a marketing gimmick and don't
matter. Hear me out.
When I had my first, a son, I was in a playgroup in a very
liberal, educationally focused neighborhood. My playgroup had
mothers that only bought gender neutral toys, others that made sure
their boys had (correctly gendered) baby dolls and their girls had
trucks. Honestly, I was kind of a slacker and didn't care. My son
had tons of stuffed animals that he loved, but he had no interest
in baby dolls and before 12 months showed in interest in all things
with wheels, motors and building. He was all boy all the time.
My daughter was born into a boy house lacking all things pink
and girlie. That did not stop her from being drawn to any and all
things pink. When she was 10 months old we took her to get her
first shoes. They had no "girl" shoes in her size so I put a brown
boys' gym shoe on her. Honestly they were super cute, not boyish
and I would have worn them if they were in my size. She picked up
her pink Robeez and started crying "No, No," as she tried to shove
her pink shoe over the brown one. But for all her love for pink and
babies, her desire to be like her brother was stronger. She quickly
abandoned her "girl" toys to go build with him or race cars.
There are four years between my two girls. When PBbaby was born,
she was born into a house full of toys - girls', boys', neutral,
pink, blue, anything you could imagine. Other than a recent
attraction to Thomas, this little girl has wanted only to play with
babies, princesses, and tea sets. She has zero interest in cars or
motors. The only thing she has ever done with blocks is knock down
what her siblings make. She is all girl, all nurturing all the
My youngest is only 7 months so he's just starting to play and
his preference is: What do you have? Give it to me! He will turn
his head if he hears a motor from a car or plane, but he will also
go out of his way to try to take the girls' baby dolls. See it's
not the toy that matters, it's the person that's holding it. It's
not the color but who they are emulating and want to be like.
Do parents influence that? Sure. My husband loves cars, trucks,
planes, all things with motors. Did that natural desire influence
our son to be so boyish? Of course! He wants to be just like dad! I
don't doubt, though, that if he had a strong desire to be just like
mom, he would. My daughters may love to play with dolls and wear
head to toe pink but they are also super athletes who love to
wrestle and rough house.
Their toys have nothing to do with who they are and as parents
we probably need to stop overthinking it and just let the kids
Melissa is mom to 4 kids and 2 angels. She chronicles the sticky bits of motherhood at Peanut Butter in my Hair.
See more of Melissa's stories here.
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