Barbies, Trucks, Dress Up– raising boy/girl 4-year-old twins has enabled them to freely play with toys of their choosing. The notion of ‘gendered’ toys does not matter to them. My son plays with dolls and trucks. My daughter plays with dolls and trucks. Sometimes my daughter plays with trucks while my son plays with dolls, and vise versa. I will not tell my son not to play with a doll because it is a ‘girl’ toy. The way I am raising my twins, is a toy is a toy.
Right now they are the best of friends. And they bounce from play scenario to play scenario without thinking about notions of boy toys or girl toys. It is socially acceptable for my daughter to play with ‘boy’ toys. But I feel that when my son wants to play with his sister’s toys there is a double standard, and that in some way what he chooses to play with dictates his future manliness.
Raising boy/girl twins is challenging. And raising two kids of different genders simultaneously shows how we pass ideas onto our children through what they can and cannot play with. Do we as parents raise a boy different than a girl? I think we do. Playtime has a purpose; it is a way for children to figure out their world and to learn what is expected from them as adults. Little kitchen sets, tool sets, dolls, are among the many toys that give children a link and understanding to adulthood.
However, today gender roles are blurred as both parents can contribute financially to the family and split the everyday household chores– but most importantly parents share in the raising of kids. It is only natural that both boys and girls would want to play with dolls, kitchen sets, tool sets etc. Play is a form of learning and understanding the world for our little ones.
Play (actual play not on devices) enhances imagination, fosters cooperation and the ability to share. So who cares what toys our children play with, as long as they are playing and not watching television or watching videos on parents’ smartphones. I do not want to limit the world of play for my children because of their gender. I want the world to be full of possibility, full of exploration and full of understanding– and accepting of differences.
I will give my children the freedom to play with the toys of their choosing and maybe–just maybe– through their play and imagination they can create a better world for all of us to live.