Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Playing With Dolls

I have never enjoyed playing with dolls—not barbies with my best friend, not babies with the girl down the street, not army guys with my brother, and now I am having a really hard time playing robots with my son. They are all just dolls to me, and they are all completely boring.

 I would agree about all of the benefits I have heard can be gained from playing with dolls. It is a great opportunity to develop language skills, practice dialogue, enact various roles that you cannot fill in your real life, socialize with others in roles they normally don't fill, be imaginative and creative, practice real life skills, process difficult situations and experiences, exert complete control over a setting and the characters in it, and just have fun. But personally, I would rather act things out with my own body than with a figure. Nevertheless, I love imaginative play and my son is really into playing robots right now. There are good guys & gals and bad guys & gals and epic sagas of the ongoing struggle between the forces of good and evil. This is great stuff... in theory. In practice though, it still feels like a chore.

But today the value of this type of play really sunk in for me. While rehashing a part of the LEGO: Hero Factory movie, a really empowering statement was reinforced. There is a point in the movie when the Hero Team is getting discouraged and the team leader says to them “Always remember who you really are.” And they eagerly reply, “Heroes to the core!”. After repeating this exchange several times, I made my robot say the leader's words to my son. His reply, to my delight, was “ME to the core!”. Now that is a scenario I don't mind repeating ad nauseum. If playing with dolls can help reinforce the importance of staying true to yourself, especially in the midst of difficult times, I can enjoy that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another Pink vs. Blue Debate: Does It Really Matter Anymore?

This recent ABCNEWS article on gender roles and the impact of color choices for young boys has us yet again focus on the tired debate of whether boys can wear pink. In fact, they do wear light pinkpreppy pink and faded berry. They wear a lot of pink in the spring and summer, in fact. Does this challenge their manliness or is it just a fashion choice? What about the boy in the article shown wearing light pink toe nail polish and pink plastic toy heels? Still ok?

Ponder Diane Keaton in Annie Hall in her gender-bending ensembles and what they say about women. Do men who dress in feminine colors say the same about themselves or is there a different message? Are we afraid it's this message?

What are your thoughts about boys wearing pink when it's not in the form of a polo shirt?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What Do You Love About Boys?

No, it's not a title to an 80's pop hit. It's a serious question! What do you love about the boys in your life? It could be the grown men or the tiny babies, but we want to hear what makes your heart pitter-patter when  you see your guy(s). It's important to celebrate what we like about the men in our lives as well, because it can be these qualities that we strive to instill in our little ones.

I have twin two-year-old boys and they're just starting to talk. I love hearing their voices express their opinions, likes and dislikes, wants and needs. I love hearing them get excited about seeing a lizard on the window (we live in Texas), an ant on the ground or the truck on the road. I love their great big smiles and even their crocodile tears. I love how they hug their stuffed bunnies and how much they love their Grandpa. I love watching them play and I love to play with them. I'm just in love with them right now, even on days like today when they skipped their nap and performed Armageddon, The Musical, at dinner.

I must confess here that I think I was a little secretly disappointed when I learned I was having boys. I grew up being fed the 'girls rock' diet and just knew I would be the best girl mom ever. I would support and encourage her, empower and respect her; all the things she would need to succeed in this world. Then, when these guys were born, it all changed. I would now do every one of these things for my boys but honestly - have you ever tried googling, 'empower boys'? All you get is page after page of links for empowering underprivileged boys. What about all boys? Do they need to start with a deficit before we recognize their worth? Isn't it time we give them a place, right next to girls? I digress.

What do you love about boys? Do tell!

The Purpose Of This Blog

  1. To keep afloat or aloft.
  2. To maintain at a high level; support.
  3. To hearten or inspire; uplift.

Why this blog?
This is a place for us to explore, discover, discuss, and create the resources, ideas, and practices that boys need to thrive, so that we may better support them in being resilient, healthy, empowered boys who grow into compassionate, well-adjusted, and confident men.

Don't boys already have 'male privilege'?
There is an abundance of programs, products, resources, media, clubs, etc. sending the message that girls can do anything they set their minds to, girls are powerful, girls are empowered, girls are divine, girls are competent, successful, creative, beautiful, and valuable. The success of any of these efforts is certainly open for debate. However, they are there for girls and not for boys. We have been operating with the assumption that boys are already receiving this message because of the legacy of traditional gender roles in our society. But are they still getting this message? If all they are getting is the power and value of girls, what does that teach them about themselves? What messages would we like for them to be getting?

What do boys need?
What we don't want to do is go backwards. Maybe it was simpler when roles were more clearly defined and were never questioned. But that left a lot of marginalized and unhappy people who were unable to conform. Instead, we want to forge a new way forward building on the progress that we have made, learning from oversights and failures, and finding our way to an embracing, accepting, inclusive future.