Boys will be boys and girls will be girls, but what happens when the "rules" change?
Society has set forth rules about how children should play. Retailers market toy cars to boys and baby dolls to girls. The notion is that children must be taught the role they are expected to play, but what happens when boys play with dolls? Or when girls play with toy cars? What is the danger?
Science has proven that many behaviors normally associated with gender, either male or female, are passed on by family, culture, and society. Most gender-oriented behavior is not linked to gender or genetics at all; yet, we have all heard comments like, "How can they dress that boy in a pink shirt?"
Social and family influences do impact children's behaviors and attitudes. Girls in the US are underrepresented in the STEM fields—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Educators thought that boys were just naturally better than girls in STEM areas.
Turns out that girls are just as good as boys in STEM fields. The National Institute of Health reported that influences by society, culture, and family—especially mothers—determine whether a female child is likely to pursue a career in science.
Another modern myth is that men cannot run a household. Again, research shows that male parents have the capacity to be nurturing, loving, and responsive to little ones. Men are able to cook, do laundry, and dress their children for school in matching clothes.
So, what are the real dangers of letting little boys play with dolls? Or letting little girls play with cars and tool sets?
The reality is that allowing children to play with gender-opposite toys can impact the way children develop. Parents should carefully choose their children's toys. Giving children an art set, for example, may stimulate a child's creative abilities; giving a child a frisbee may promote motor coordination and balance.
But girls playing with cars and tools? What can that do?
Girls who play with cars are more likely to be savvy car owners as adults. They are likely to develop better driving skills as a result of pretending to drive as a child. Girls who use tools are likely to become handy around the house.
Okay, but what about little boys playing with dolls? Can that really be a good idea?
Boys who play with dolls are more likely to become caring toward others. They may develop the capacity to nurture. Boys who play with dolls may grow up to become awesome dads.
So what are the dangers of boys playing with dolls or girls with trucks? The only real danger connected to children playing with gender-opposite toys is that they will miss out on an awful lot if they don't.