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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Girls Like T-Ball

Uploaded: Jan 3, 2015
Being the mom of a toddler, I attend and host many play dates. As the children in our play groups grow up, it's interesting to see their toys evolve.

Not only are the toys becoming more intricate with smaller and smaller pieces (more pieces to play with, clean up, lose and break), but they also seem to be becoming more stereotypically gendered.

Yet, even with the boys' play areas getting filled with more and more cars, trucks and trains, it's not uncommon to also spot a play kitchen, pretend food to prep or even a doll stroller (usually filled with cars instead of dolls). And, similarly, it's not out of the ordinary to spot cars, trucks or trains at a toddler girl's house filled mainly with pink and purple toys.

Over the holiday season President Obama sorted toys into bins for Toys for Tots. He talked about breaking down gender stereotypes when he placed toys that are stereotypically for boys, like t-ball, into the girl toy bin. The video is less than a minute long, so it is unclear which (if any) stereotypically girl toys ended up in the boy toy bin.

This holiday season did you break any gender stereotypes with the toys you bought?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Girl power mom, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jan 7, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I appreciate that you gave the example of boys playing with "girl" toys. I have a 6 year old boy and almost 3 year-old girl. I have made an effort to not play into gender stereotypes with toys but I recently noticed that girls' toys generate a much more negative response than boys' toys. We need to be careful that when we say "break the gender stereotypes", we are not just talking about not giving dolls to girls. I have watched in awe as my daughter, without any intentional prompting from us, has completely gravitated towards "girl" things. Even with no "girl" toys in the house, she picks up my purse, pulls pink books off of store shelves, and gravitates towards more girly items in her hand-me-down clothes. This Christmas, I decided that instead of trying to minimize what she is authentically drawn to, I got her what I think she actually wanted. Her creativity and imagination are endless and I want her to know that whatever she is drawn to is valuable and worthy. Dolls and dresses are no less valuable than trucks and firemen hats.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 7, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Girl power mom- Thank you so much for your comment. What a great message to send to your children about supporting their creativity and imaginations.

Personally I haven't felt a lot of pressure to buy our son a wider variety of toys. However, it will be interesting to see if/how pressures change now that we have a baby girl.

Posted by Boys Will Be Boys, a resident of JLS Middle School,
on Jan 7, 2015 at 11:41 pm

There are a ton of examples of girls playing with "boy" toys, which reinforces the message that girls need to adapt to a boys world, because they own it.


Your wrote this post, suggesting you are interested in the topic, but then say you haven't felt the need to introduce your son to "girl" toys. If not you, then who? Why even write the post if you are not willing to experience the topic yourself? Why not give your son a doll house and a family of dolls to play with?

Giving our girls race cars and toy trucks is no problem, but giving our boys kitchens and doll houses is "weird."

The double standard continues, where girls are expected to fit into a boys world, and boys are only expected to be boys.

Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jan 8, 2015 at 7:38 am

We have never really thought too much about this. With four kids, it is not possible to keep on getting more and more toys in the house and most toys are shared anyway.

Apart from when they were babies, most toys they have are because they want them. Even when small, we have known what they like because we have seen them playing with these toys elsewhere and then bought them for birthday or Christmas gifts.

We have tried to keep away from the pink/blue colors for things like bikes. Our boys played with the kitchen set just as much as the girls, the girls played with legos and cars just as much as the boys.

You can't really make a child fall in love with a toy they are not interested in. They may play a little with a toy they are disinterested in, but usually that toy gets shoved under the bed or in the bottom of the toy box and never comes out.

Funny how at this time after Christmas, the new desired toys are often now forgotten and the old favorites of cars and crayons are once again the plaything of choice. Oh, and the boxes and some of my kitchen tupperwares too (usually for playing as drums or containers for their treasures.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Boys will be boys - Thank you for commenting.

As I mentioned in my original post, I think it is pretty common to see a doll stroller, a play kitchen, etc in a boy's play area or cars, trucks, etc in a girl's. I also think many kids get exposed to a wide variety of toys at day care, at friends' homes, play groups, park outings, classes, museums, stores, etc. And in those settings parents can see what interests the child and choose what to buy for their own home. Some toys are too big, too expensive, too messy, may be too quickly outgrown, etc.

I assume that you are also replying to my comment "Personally I haven't felt a lot of pressure to buy our son a wider variety of toys. However, it will be interesting to see if/how pressures change now that we have a baby girl."

I hope I also don't feel pressured to buy our daughter a wider variety of toys. As "Girl power mom" talked about, it's wonderful when we can focus on buying toys for our kids that foster creativity and imagination. But, as "Girl power mom's" comment brings up, parents may experience different pressures when buying toys for their sons vs their daughters.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jan 8, 2015 at 1:44 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4- Thank you for commenting. I agree, many of the toys we've bought for our son are in our home because he expressed interest in them elsewhere (at a friend's house, etc).

You are right, some new toys quickly lose their appeal. Sometimes it's good to gift the favorites...a new train for the train set, a new book to add to the child's library, etc.

It's great to hear that you didn't feel pressure to buy or not buy toys that are stereotypically for boys or girls.

I also agree that you can't really make a kid fall in love with a toy they are not interested in. And similarly it is hard to stop them from repeatedly playing with toys that do interest them. I know some of my friends are tiring of the "truck phase" many of our kids are in.

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