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Trucks and dolls and gender roles, oh my

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
Let me start by saying that I am not a naive idealist who thinks that girls and boys are identical except for how they're socialized. There are real neurological differences - although I like to make the point that the real differences are not necessarily the same as the stereotypical differences (e.g. "girls are bad at math").

But I am still amazed at how consistently my son has gone for the trucks and the mechanical toys, and how completely oblivious he is to dolls and stuffed animals, despite my best efforts to show him how to hold and snuggle them. "Here, pet the fuzzy puppy ... oh, I see you're dumping the legos out again and stacking blocks." And trucks, cars, anything that goes "vroom!" I went to pick him up at day care the other day and he and the other toddler boy were sitting on the floor playing with trucks. He held one up to me and said enthusiastically, "vroom!" (And no, he isn't getting this from daycare - the tendency was there before he ever started going there.)

I was talking recently to two friends who are mothers of girls, who both said things like "we never even owned dolls, but she saw a baby doll at someone else's house and went straight for it ..."

What's your experience re: trucks vs. dolls? Do your kids fit neatly into gender roles, too?
post #2 of 49
I'm sitting right now with my hips on a pillow trying to brew up my first kid so no actual experience to offer. But I wanted to say--

This at least makes me feel better, like some of the pressure's off-- I agree that there are some innate differences (good qualities we all bring to humanity!) but I feel like there is SO much influence out there it'll be hard to shield kids from it. That's almost reassuring to know some of it is beyond our control. I still think we do right by directing kids to try out different roles, so they get some experience with them all. and make sure kids are kept from most of the implicit messages in various media. But that's a great experience to hear.
post #3 of 49
My dd, who is turning six next week, is very middle ground in this
area. I have never noticed her enjoying "girlie" things more than
boy things. She likes to play dress up. She likes to play in my
makeup. Drawing and running are her passions.
She is very physical and even though she is small for her age was
kicking some serious butt this year on her soccer team. She scared
a couple of the boys on the team, and I know that sometimes girls
are turned off to dd's tough side.
For her birthday she asked for a two baseball mitts, one for me and
one for her. So we could play ball together. :
Many people make comments about dd being a tomboy, but I find
her to be much more well rounded than that. Not even as a baby
do I remember her being drawn more to baby dolls than trucks.
She loved both. But that's my dd.
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by pookel
What's your experience re: trucks vs. dolls? Do your kids fit neatly into gender roles, too?
My girls LOVE cars. SIL passed us all her toys and teh big cars they can push and zoom around are their favorties (bigger than matchbox sized, not like ride on toys). They also like lego / megablocks, and Rena is very good at building with blocks, stacking, etc.

They sleep with dolls (but not always the same ones) and do sometimes talk to them, hold them, but it has to be encouraged ie: if I pick up a doll and start they will often copy, but rarely do they go for the dolls. They go for the cars

ETA: I know you didn't ask about dressing, but Nechama is going through a phase where she prefers a dress to a shorts. If I try to put pants / shorts on her she usually protests "dress." and then Rena has to have a dress too . Monkey see, monkey do. The joys of :
post #5 of 49
We have both gender type toys in our home and I tell you neither of my sons were ever intersted in playing kitchen or playing with dolls. I just think it depends on the kid, my friend's son loves his "babies"
post #6 of 49
My kids (one boy, one girl) are probably 75% into gender roles and 25% not into them.

My ds will sometimes play with dolls and stuffed animals, but mostly likes cars and trucks.

And my dd will sometimes play with cars and trucks, but mostly likes dolls and stuffed animals.

And my son likes his hair in a ponytail that sticks straight up--he says it makes him look like a "rock star."
post #7 of 49
After having 2 boys I was kind of counting on my dd being a "tomboy". I am not a "girlie girl" and we really were concious of not putting her into a sterotypical role as that is how I was brought up and it drove me crazy.

Then my dd was born. What a GIRL. She is only 13 months, yet very opinionated on what she likes. What she likes is PINK, DOLLS, SHOES, etc. Its crazy. I really thought they were socialized that way. We swore we would never put her in pink, but when she saw her first fuzzy pink jacket she was in love. We had dolls for my boys and they sort of played with them, but most of those games ended up with the dolls being thrown or kicked like a ball

Dd saw another little girls doll and it was the first time she tried to roll over. Now at 13 months she carries a "baby" around and tries to dress it, wash it, hug and kiss it. She cuddled it to sleep while I nursed her tonight :
post #8 of 49
My DS is 5 and he likes both "girl" and "boy" toys -- much to my ex's chagrin. His favorite souvenir from our trip to Disney World is a Little Mermaid doll (barbie-style); he brushes her hair and changes her from mermaid to princess. I have to braid her hair every night so he can cuddle her to sleep. He loves to dress up with playsilks and fairy wings. His favorite color is purple.

But he loves doing "tool guy stuff with Papa" (building, home repair, etc. with my father). He likes matchbox cars. He LOVES Star Wars. He can build for hours with Legos and tinker toys. He has more trains than I can count (Thomas, Brio, GeoTrax, a Monorail).

I'm sure that as he grows older and spends more time with his peer group, he might start to skew more towards stereotypical "boy" things, but for right now he's pretty balanced.
post #9 of 49
i am very sad to say that yes, for the most part, despite all of our efforts at gender neutrality, our kids are very gender specific.

my daughter is and always has been far more lovey / kissy / cuddly than her brother and immediately took to language skills and caring for other people... my son has always been a little more offish, slower to pick up on language, and very interested in the mechanical world.

he also loves flowers, glitter, and the color pink though. he is very much a girly boy (sensitive, cries easily, and like i said, he loves frills), but most definitely a boy.
post #10 of 49
Oh goodness yes. My boy loves trains, trucks, cars, crashes, superheroes, and wrestling. He always has. He got a baby doll when I was pg with his sister, and he played with it once or twice, but just when it was new and novel. It was quickly forgotten about.

DD loves dressing up, loves stuffed animals and dolls, is nurturing, and affectionate. She loves having her hair done and loves wearing my shoes. She has played with cars and trucks occasionally, but it's a rare occurance.
post #11 of 49
My son seems to like "boy" and "girl" toys pretty equally. He has cars and trucks and trains, and a baby doll and vacuum and kitchen toys. He goes to a Montessori preschool where there are lots of dolls and "girlie" dress-up items and it is not unusual at all to walk in and see one of the little boys running around in a tutu and a tiara.

In my observation--and I am not saying this about anyone on this thread, but based on what I have seen IRL--most parents who say their child just seemed to naturally prefer gender-specific toys, had not truly made available a full range of choices. I mean, if a young boy has building blocks, and ten toy cars and trucks, and a soccer ball, and trains and tracks, etc., and one doll, by the sheer law of numbers he's going to play with the "boy" toys more than the doll, kwim?

There is also the influence of TV, and of playmates to consider. There are a lot of messages in most toddler/preschooler programming that reinforce traditional gender roles. And of course, children who hear at home that "boys don't play with dolls" or "crying is for sissies" are quick to correct their playmates who aren't conforming.
post #12 of 49
My ds wears one pink shoe and on blue shoe - literally.

But he LOVES things with wheels - he will go to the toy store and on the way there say "I want a toy with wheels"

But he loves pink and purple - and running trucks thru the mud.

I'd say he is pretty balanced.
post #13 of 49
As far as toys go my son absolutly prefers "boy" toys. He has a wide variety of toys as he has two nieces who are 6 months older and we get the hand-me-downs. He doesn't watch TV but is very much the typical boy in play. He runs around banging things with hammers and vrooming cars around. I don't know where he gets it. I am with him so much and I always love on things. In fact I got him a Madeline doll when he was younger and all he has ever done is chew on her hat. He does love shoes though. The more sparkly you can get them the better. There was such a pretty pair of ballet shoes at a yard sale he wanted but they were the wrong size
post #14 of 49
My son adores dolls and cars and my DD adores dump trucks and dolls. I'm very careful not to reinforce society's ridiculous gender roles and I try like crazy not to let them slip into our home!! But they will eventually.
post #15 of 49
I was going to say my son fits into the boy stereotype, but reading these replies, I realize that he does some girly stuff, too. Most of his day is spent building things, crashing things, and smashing things (he gets to smash anything that breaks that we can't fix). On the other hand, he does like to dress up, he likes purple, he likes playing kitchen, his bike basket has flowers on it, and he had a baby doll that he fed and nurtured. He's also a sweet, sensitive kid (most of the time). I guess I'm with A&A, he's 75% gender role, 25% not.

He's had equal chances for "boy" play and "girl" play, but he's always been drawn to cars and building. I think it's fascinating that he's wired that way.

It doesn't bother me, though, that he fits into the stereotype. He's exactly who he's supposed to be.
post #16 of 49
I've wondered this because our dd is sooo girlie and even though she does play with trains (with her brother) it's pretty much all princesses and dress up stuff. My son, on the other hand, doesn't care for dolls or anything that my dd plays with. He loves his trains (he's obsessed) and making sounds with them.
post #17 of 49
I have to say my 3 fit mostly into their stereotypical gender roles, even though we have tried with all 3 to be very gender neutral. DS1 had dolls and such, but always preferred his trucks and balls. DD was surrounded by DS1's "boy toys" and yet she adores Barbies (much to my chagrin), baby dolls, and dressing up as a princess. DS2 who is surrounded by both "girl" and "boy" toys cleary shows and interest in more boyish things. He will snuggle his stuffed monkey, but clearly loves his trucks. Or really, any truck. Or anything with 2 or more wheels.

But I will say, at 8 years old DS1 is much more compassionate compared to his male counterparts at school. He tends to be more loving and gentle, and yet still very boyish. And DD, at 6, can definitely hold her own with the boys. She is very head strong and has no issues with playing "in the dirt". In fact if you were to come to my house you'd be likely to find DD outside with a pink dress on, no shoes, covered head to toe in dirt, and holding a handfull of worms.

I think the fact that we didn't instill specific gender roles for them has helped to balance them out.
post #18 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by wednesday
In my observation--and I am not saying this about anyone on this thread, but based on what I have seen IRL--most parents who say their child just seemed to naturally prefer gender-specific toys, had not truly made available a full range of choices. I mean, if a young boy has building blocks, and ten toy cars and trucks, and a soccer ball, and trains and tracks, etc., and one doll, by the sheer law of numbers he's going to play with the "boy" toys more than the doll, kwim?

There is also the influence of TV, and of playmates to consider. There are a lot of messages in most toddler/preschooler programming that reinforce traditional gender roles. And of course, children who hear at home that "boys don't play with dolls" or "crying is for sissies" are quick to correct their playmates who aren't conforming.
I disagree. I think many children are drawn to gender-specific toys naturally. When I had my first child I thought what you are saying was true, 13 years and four kids later I have changed my tune. In most kids, the gender differences show up in early toddlerhood, long before tv and preschool could have had an effect. I've seen boy/girl toddler twins, with access to the same exact toys every day, choose toys (for the most part) along gender roles. I've seen girls in a house full of trucks and dinosaurs, find the one doll to play with. I think kids have their natural tendencies with this, and there isn't a whole lot a parent can do to make their child be more "boyish" or "girly" than they are. Lots of girls like to play with trucks and balls, and lots of boys like to play dress up and house--I'm not saying that toy preference is always split along gender lines, but when it is I don't think it is because of anything the parent did or didn't do.
post #19 of 49
Not sure what exactly you're disagreeing with, since I was commenting on families I know personally and what I have seen in their households.

And as for the influence of TV/other children, my friend for example was raising a boy who for a long time seemed pretty neutral/oblivious to the gendering of toys/clothes/etc. They don't watch any TV in their house...but one day, at 2.5, he didn't want to wear his pink shoes anymore (which he had joyfully chosen himself just a couple months earlier) because "pink is for girls." Where did he learn that? Daycare. He wasn't born naturally believing only girls can wear pink shoes. Society's enforcement of gender roles is more insidious than people think.
post #20 of 49
Quote:
I'm not saying that toy preference is always split along gender lines, but when it is I don't think it is because of anything the parent did or didn't do.
Oh I most definitely think it can be influenced by parents and have had many of the same experiences Wednesday has had.

My son has had an equal amount of both and has played with all of them pretty equally. Lately he has been playing with his trains more, BUT he also asks for me to paint his nails purple. When he gets around boys that have been what I call "classically raised" he has behaviors that are more "boy like" but when he is around boys who have been raised more gender neutral his behavior is quite different, more like who is is all the time.
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