Why are we letting society tell us what toys our children should play with?

Parents of today seem to need validation in the way they raise their children.  They look to the media and society for their approval, whether it’s parenting style or whether it’s ok to tell your children no without hurting their feelings.  If they don’t get the validation from society, the media, or heaven forbid their friends and family; these parents see it as an injustice to them and their child. They also think that people are telling them how to raise their child.  This is especially true when it comes to gender stereotyping; whether it’s right to give or not to give a gender specific toy to their child.

A lot of parents think it’s wrong to have a boy toy section or have a girl toy section in the toy store or having boys or girls toys at all.  Every kid has a right to play with any toy that they want.  I agree… but you don’t need society to tell you this.  Why do we need society to give its blessing to whether a child should play with a gender specific toy or not? Just because some parents find gender specific toys offensive doesn’t mean every parent does.  Maybe there are boys who like “boy” toys and girls who like “girl” toys.  Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and a boy wants to play with dolls and girls like to play with trucks.  Ok, just go in the girl section to get the doll for the boy and the boy section to get the truck for the girl. This is common sense to me. Who cares what people think?

These parents think that society should be setting a gender neutral toy campaign to shield their children from getting picked on because they’re playing with a non-gender specific toy hoping other parents will follow suit and allow their children to play with a toy not specific to their child’s gender. Do we need to force parents to persuade their children to play with non-gender specific toys? Why can’t we teach our children to be themselves, not to care about what other people think or say about them, help them realize that not everyone will agree with the choices they make and to realize that’s ok, too?  As long as those people don’t cause physical harm to your child, let them think what they want to think.

To be happy that stores like Target bend to the will of some overly sensitive people doesn’t change the fact that the majority of boys and girls prefer gender specific toys regardless of what the store label the aisle as.  In the hopes of changing the color walls from blue for boys and pink for girls to a brown panel backing isn’t going to make boys wander into a section of dolls and say “Hey, I can play with Barbie’s now since they no pink wall telling me it’s a girl toy.”  Or a girl wanders in a section of trucks and says, “Here’s a toy truck.  Since there’s no blue wall behind it, it must be for girls too.”  I think it will take more than some color wall paper to end gender toy stereotyping my friend.

Children like the toys that they like and getting rid of gender specific labeling or colors in toy stores aren’t going to change that. If a boy wants a truck or an action figure, he’s going to go to that section to get one.  If a girl wants a doll or a kitchen set, she’s going to that section to get one.  In my opinion, gender neutral toy sections in stores are trying to persuade a child and their parents to wander in a toy section that they’re not interested in with the hopes that the child or their parents will pick a non-gender specific toy instead of a gender specific one because now there’s no blue or pink color background or labels that distinguish what is for boys and what is for girls. Shouldn’t the parent tell their child, it’s ok to play with whatever toy they want regardless of what color or select label is shown in the aisles? Why does society need to do that for us?

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with having gender specific toys and I also don’t have a problem with children playing with non gender specific toys either if they choose.  I believe having a difference in boys and girls is a beautiful thing and to try to make everyone the same isn’t showing children to appreciate the difference in everyone whether they play with gender specific toys or not.  Accept it or not, there is such thing as gender and there are certain traits in majority of boys that gravitate them to certain toys (motor vehicle, action figures, and toy guns) and certain traits in majority of girls that gravitate them to certain toys (dolls, stuff animals, and dressing up items) that makes boys and girl toys sections logical.  The toy section labels aren’t there to limit the availability of toys for both genders.  The limitation comes in the mind of the parent because they’re afraid of what people think or think that limitations are set upon their child.

Children should be able to play with any toy they like regardless of what gender aisle you find the toy in. If you want your child to play with a non-gender specific toy, go in that aisle and get it. Society doesn’t need to tell you this.

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