Should Boys Play With Dolls?

Secure Daughters Confident SonsIs it a boy or a girl?! Isn’t that the first or second question we ask when someone tells us they are expecting a baby? Why do we ask that? We ask, because the answer gives us insight and information about that new little human. The gender is meaningful.

Once the baby is born, how should we handle their masculinity or femininity? What exactly does it mean to be a “good boy” or a “good girl”? Should boys play with dolls or girls play with trucks? Glenn T. Stanton addresses these questions and many more in his book, Secure Daughters Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity.

As a caveat, my child has four legs. She has an exceptionally long nose, big brown eyes, and barks. Yes, just to confirm, she is a dog. Given that I don’t have any (human) kids, you may find it curious that I selected a book on parenting for December’s Book of the Month. Fair question. I read a lot about gender, and I chose this book simply because I learned a lot from it and found it thought provoking. And I think you will, too, no matter your current season of life.

Gender issues are getting quite the attention in headlines these days. “Gender neutral” is the politically correct term du jour. What I love about this is that it provides an opportunity for all of us to really think about gender.

In his book, Stanton provides academic information as well as practical tips to address the gender of kids (and ultimately adults, too). For example:

  • First of all, what does gender mean? What does masculinity and femininity really mean? Why are they important? The author summarizes numerous studies on the biological differences between males and females. The bottom line is that girls and boys are wired very differently. And, as the author argues as well, these differences are something to embrace and to celebrate. Contrary to those asserting that gender is purely a social construction, Stanton also points out that there are the same distinct male traits and distinct female traits across cultures and across time.
  • The author then examines and provides suggestions on how to encourage authentic masculinity and femininity in children. The purpose, of course, is for them to become fully who they are intended to be. And their gender is a very large part of that. This also underscores the importance of having both a mom and a dad involved (whenever possible).
  • Stanton spends a lot of time discussing the uniquely feminine traits. While these are generally “softer” characteristics, he reminds readers that there is nothing weak about them; rather, as he notes, it’s quite the contrary. The feminist movement has made this type of conversation very uncomfortable. As Stanton points out, however, “[i]f the rhetoric of political correctness keeps us from exploring the issue of gender differences, we lose something valuable to our humanity.”

Given that gender is one of the most hotly debated issues today, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a better understanding of masculinity and femininity. It is probably more practical for parents, of course, but informative for others as well. You can purchase it here.

When someone tells you they are expecting a baby, have you ever asked whether it’s a boy or a girl? If so, why do you think we ask that question?


Reply December 1, 2015

Thank you for sharing the book review, Stephanie. I have added it to my reading list. As a first time boy mom and a female with a job in a predominantly male industry, I have been thinking about this a lot more recently. I have to admit that I never felt strongly about gender, and more specifically about "gender inequality issues", but recent happenings have provoked me to "educate" myself more in this area.

    Reply December 3, 2015

    Hi Didi! I'm so glad you found it helpful. I'd love to hear what you think of the book. Thanks for reading my blog!

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