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Santa is bringing my son a doll’s house for Christmas

December 10, 2014

Yes, you read that correctly. My son. Male child. A doll’s house like this one.

Did I hesitate when I discussed this idea with Santa? You bet. After all, when you Google “doll’s house” all the search results only have images of girls and the second line of the description explicitly says “this gorgeous house is sure to provide GIRLS with hours of fun, imaginative play”.

Are you unsure about inadvertently gender stereotyping your child by your choice of Christmas gift?

Am I forcing my boys to play with dolls? Of course not; anyone who has kids knows they will not play with something they don’t want to play with.  Am I trying to provide opportunities for “imaginative play” and nurturing qualities in my boys? Absolutely!!!

Speedy, my ten year old, is particularly clear about what he likes and dislikes. That’s why he is at his cricket match today wearing a purple one of these Smiggle watches.

Are you unsure about inadvertently gender stereotyping your child by your choice of Christmas gift?

It’s a great idea in theory, to be ‘gender neutral’ when selecting gifts, but it’s hard to navigate this issue when you get out into the ‘real world’ of Christmas gift buying. I was pleasantly surprised to open some of the major toy retailers’ Christmas toy catalogues and find them largely free of gender labels (compared to the June/July sales). But unfortunately, the photography still sells the clear message that boys play with nerf guns and lego (unless there is a pink/purple version for girls) and that only girls like loom bands, craft and dolls.

Why does this bother me? I find it very hard to resist the pressure to conform and if I feel that pressure, then how must impressionable kids feel?

Let’s stop making assumptions about children based on their gender and engage with children (or their parents) about what they REALLY enjoy.

Consider giving an experience, like an art class, trampolining centre visit or a trip to the zoo. After all, if you know a child well enough to be buying a Christmas gift, then wouldn’t you want to spend time with them or give them something that actually means something?

If you would really like to give a “something” instead of an “experience”, consider supporting a retailer that has a genuine commitment to meaningful, educational toys.

Here’s some more quick ideas for hunting out great gifts for encouraging children to pursue any interest they choose, regardless of gender. These links are a good place to start:

Children’s Ikea

The ABC shop

Knock on Wood Toys

National Geographic

Flying Penguin

Hape

I’m now off to find a wooden garbage truck toy for Christmas for my best friend’s daughter. Why? She loves to watch the garbage truck every week, just like my Speedy did at that age. My youngest son, on the other hand, could not care less. He is too busy playing with her Lalaloopsy dolls.

Editor’s note: for more retailers with a great selection of ideas see our Retailers Doing it Right.

Post By Amy Cox-Youngson (2 Posts)

Amy is a Mum of three boys and professional photographer specialising in new-borns. She is also a passionate advocate for the end of gendered marketing to children so that both boys and girls have the opportunity to develop a broad range of interests without being limited by stereotypes.

Website: → Young Son Mum

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