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54 per cent Indians NOT OKAY with their sons playing with dolls

Parents, a quick question. Will you be okay if you found out that your little boy loves playing with dolls? While we do live in a rapidly progressing world, where traditionally set norms are constantly challenged, when it comes to our own children we are still a bit skeptical to embrace the change.

So if you find yourself perplexed with the thought of your boy playing with dolls, be rest assured that you are not alone.

Times of India conducted a survey to determine how many parents will be comfortable with their sons playing with dolls and the results were shocking, to say the least.

The result

When we asked this question on Facebook, a majority of 59 per cent parents said that they were not okay, while 41 per cent said that they would be alright.

The responses were not that different on Twitter as well, where 54 per cent of users were not comfortable with the idea of their boys playing with ‘girly toys’ and 46 per cent users were in support.

Here is the breakdown of the survey:

Below are some interesting quotes from parents who participated in the poll:

Varsha Balakrishnan, Lawyer, mother of an 8-year-old boy

“Of course yes! As a parent, I think I have to set the right example for my child. I have an 8-year-old son. If one day, he tells me that he wants to play with a Barbie doll, I won’t say no to him. In the end, it is just a toy. We don’t need to conform to young children to gender stereotypes when they are growing up!”

Navya Anand, Fashion Blogger, mother of two toddlers

“Honestly, it actually depends on the dolls. I personally do not like Barbies, because they portray a very false and negative body image of girls. Barbie for me is just not real. I am okay with my sons playing with cute and regular dolls, which are actually playable.”

Pallavi Pandey, Business Analyst, mother of a 9-year-old girl and a 7-year old boy

“I have two kids under 10. They are both equally dear to me but I don’t think I would be comfortable with my boy playing with any girly toys or dolls for that matter. What if he demands to wear a frock tomorrow? What will I tell the society then? It is just not happening!”

Pulkit Sharma, Product Specialist, father of a 1-year-old boy

“Absolutely NO! I think dolls are meant for girls and outdoor activities like running and playing football or any other game is meant for boys and I will be happy to see my son indulging in such activities.”

Rohan Kumar, Professor of economics, father of 5-year-old twin boys

“I would be very accommodating with their choices. I want my kids to grow up in a liberal home environment”

Shrestha Sharma, Writer, mother of a 10-year-old boy

“No, I think dolls create the wrong impression about a female’s body and facial features. I want my son to understand that there is no ‘ideal’ body type, complexion or even height. Every woman is different and beautiful in her own way.”

What does it mean?

By this poll, we attempted to understand the underlying defensiveness of parents, when it comes to the gender of their child. It does not matter whether we agree or not, subconsciously we try to reinforce traditional gender norms in our children. This is why we feel uneasy and even afraid when our child defies (in a certain way) the stereotypes of gender roles or acts a little differently than how he or she is supposed to.

So if you find yourself perplexed with the thought of your boy playing with dolls, be rest assured that you are not alone.

However, parents should actually be supportive of their sons playing with baby dolls. One should be careful not to belittle or criticize them in any manner. Playing with dolls may just help your son become a much gentler and sensitive father in the future. It can also enable compassionate and warm behaviour in them.

Sadly, we live in a society which largely dictates the way we should function and children playing with the toys that do not conform with their gender identity is usually frowned upon. One of the most common reasons behind the same is the gnawing ‘fear’ that their son may turn out to be gay and that he might be judged or worse ridiculed by friends and relatives.

If you concerned whether your son is struggling with a gender-identity crisis, there are certain things you should start paying attention to.

1. If he increasingly refers to himself as she and opposes being called a boy

2. If he is not comfortable with his private parts by the time he turns 3

3. If he is not okay with his own gender and complains about being a boy

These signs can obviously be fleeting, but a parent, it is of utmost importance to let your child express freely and trust you with their emotions.

Ultimately, if your son enjoys playing with dolls, you should not be worried about a ‘gay bug’ that might bite your child. Caring for dolls and stroking her hair or making different hairstyles may just enable your son’s vivid imagination and help him to understand the beauty lies in vulnerability.

Those who are still in two minds, let us tell you that action figures are essentially dolls as well and if you are okay with your sons playing with them, feminine dolls won’t do any harm either.

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