Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cruise Ship Barbie

Penny has started embracing being a girl. She wants to match all the time - pants/shirt/socks must be the same color. Exhibit A: Penny prefers playing with dolls over trains and cars and talks about wearing "plastic" (ie, elastics) in her hair. She puts on pretend ballerina skirts and twirls around the room. My plan was just to treat Ned and Penny the same and let the chips fall on the personality spectrum where they would. I'm not a girly-girl and I don't want to focus on Penny being "pretty" - I'd rather focus on the fact that she can't actually identify any numbers. I comb her hair just to get it out of her eyes and I'd rather worry about making sure she's brushing her teeth than picking out completely matched outfits and seeing if Kohls is carrying toddler skirts that will fit her. Nanny April loves that Penny is into girly things and I'm afraid she's encouraging it. Nanny is more apt to buy the kids blue/pink discinctions, I try to focus on neutral or buy two pink plates so Ned can have one. Ned gets all his clothes handimedown (thanks, Lori and Allie!) so he doesn't get much say. Nanny April was on vacation last week, one of her two annual cruises, and brough Penny back a Cruise Ship Barbie doll. Penny was playing with Barbie this morning. Barbie has very pointed feet which annoys me since Penny has turned into a tiptoe walker. Penny wants me to have Barbie talk to her (about her day, whatever). I hate it but I don't know how to tell Nanny April that I don't want Barbie in our house since it was a gift for Penny and one that reflects Penny's evolving tastes. Weigh in please. Is this Penny's "factory setting"? What should I say to April? How to encourage more "boyness" in my "princess" (ugh, hate that word!).


LauraC said...

We've had the reverse issue where we've tried to incorporate more "princess" into our boys. I bought them dolls at an early age and no joke, Alex would body slam them or smash their face into the ground. Ditto on stuffed animals. They just like to play rough and crazy.

I'd say just continue to model your behavior - women can have careers and be moms and don't need to be girly - and she'll make her own choices about her interests. At least the "boy" option is there.

We also hear "pink is for girls" and stuff like that, we just tell them nope, anyone can wear pink. Nate went through a phase in the 3s of wanting to wear barrettes and pink socks because he thought they were pretty and we let him. He stopped after a little bit but he still likes to be told he is handsome!

Nicole S. said...

My thinking on this is that, unless you really push it, each kid is going to develop their own interest in something, barbies included. One of my sisters, who is just 13 months younger than me, LOVED barbies growing up. I would play with them but really didn't care one way or the other.

It sounds like maybe you're more bothered by how nanny handles gender roles and stereotypes than penny's interest in all things girlie. Does April know how you feel about the issue I general?

H said...

it's just a stage...although it's amazing to see how they just "are", and you, nor April, can totally influence it. But maybe a quick "one Barbie is plenty for this house" message for April.

Anonymous said...

The more you fight it, the more she'll gravitate towards it. I remember my older sister had a "no dresses" policy for her eldest daughter, and by age 3 it was all she would be willing to wear. I wonder if, particularly given that Penny is a twin, she's drawn to the girliness as a way to be unique from her brother.

Julia said...

Laura, my girls treat their dolls much the same way Alex did a lot of the time. THere is dressing, taking for rides, feeding, and (a little bit of) cuddling, but it is not unusual to see them stomping their babies' faces. I think it is just another toddlerism.

We also do not label colors, objects or behaviors as boy or girl. However, at this age (30 months), they are very interested in the definitions, and among their favorite sentences are "boys have p..." and "girls have v...".

They also LOVE dancing and anything related to it, we show them all kinds of dance videos from ballet to 50's tap-dancing movies to more modern and more childish stuff. THis has made them addicted to skirts and dresses and they practically demand them every day - preferably long ad twirly. THis winter is going to see awesome style with dresses over pants/leggings every day, hehehe.

Julia said...

How to tell April? I would just bring the subject in a friendly conversation and tell her to avoid emphasizing the "girlie" thing too much. I would be strict about behavior labeling - no "boys do this, girls do that" talk if she does it, and taking it easy on the clothing aspect (also because excessively girly clothing tends to be awful for playing, too easy to get dirty, etc.)

What A Card said...

One of my first blog entries was about a hilarious barbie Snickollet showed us at book group one time that her day care provider had given her daughter. So you're not alone in dealing with this!

I don't know how you'd address this. My boys have been oddly resistant to being pigeon-holed into gender roles. Nate is especially militant in his love of flowers, pink, and anything sparkly...he's even convinced some of the other boys in kindergarten to embrace their love of pink :) Like others have said, I think you can just set a good role model and let your kids be themselves! Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I say why push either way? Let them be who they are and give them opportunities to play with whatever toy they want.

My girls recently got Princess barbies. I"m not into the princess thing so I don't buy the movies, but they love the dolls. Half the time they're flying through the air pretending the doll is Batman.

Anonymous said...

I say why push either way? Let them be who they are and give them opportunities to play with whatever toy they want.

My girls recently got Princess barbies. I"m not into the princess thing so I don't buy the movies, but they love the dolls. Half the time they're flying through the air pretending the doll is Batman.

Kathy said...

I've also lightly treaded on the gender roles and 'boy/girl' colors etc. Husband does not like when Zach has the Minnie Mouse, pink cup or pink shirt but I don't care. Natalie went thru a stage right about 2.5 - 3+ where it was all dolls, so perhaps Penny is 'right on schedule' with this phase. Ironically Zach simultaneously latched on to any kind of ball, car, truck ... really, we had all the 'boy' and 'girl' toys but never really stressed what was whose. It was rather amazing to watch.

I don't care for Barbie's for little ones (I haven't decided what age is ok, but 6+ or so?) would rather see them w/ regular larger baby dolls. I'd say you need to bring Nanny in to your philosophy as you would on any other child-raising subject. The Barbie is not a bad thing, but not the best at this age. I've got one put away that Natalie got for a gift; I'm just not going there yet.

ElizabethEK said...

I feel the same way that you do regarding "girliness". Emily likes rockets and trains and cars, and also dolls and animals. But she isn't obsessed about stereotypcial "girl-stuff". Emily is 3.5 and has 2 barbies. I don't know how I would react if she wanted a whole bunch more. We watch Tinkerbell, but we also watch Cars. She would say Cars is her favorite movie.

Definitely a tough issue. Make sure she knows that she can play with whatever she wants! We got Emily a play tool kit - she loves it.

Lisa said...

We MUST be having mind meld because a princess post is my next topic. I just finished reading: Cinderella Ate my Daughter. Penny = Jessica in our house. I'm FIRMLY anti-princess, but even with out all that we have pink obsession, etc. I don't think I'd take away the Barbie, but I do think I'd keep encouraging other stuff and to your point about independence the more of a battle you make it the more likely she is to dig in her heels to be more girly. The book was a good read too.

Angela said...

I didn't read any of the other comments, so if I repeated anything, please don't hold that against me. :-)

In my opinion, you should certainly speak yo April about how you feel. However, if Penny likes the doll, let her keep it, just don't encourage the whole Barbie mania that can take place. I didn't get my first Barbie until I was probably 6 or so, but I had dolls and other girly things growing up. I also played with Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and army men. My youngest sister loved matchbox cars. We all grew up straight and girly overall. I have no brothers so I can't speak on boys, except that my cousin Collin grew up with a Jamie Pie doll he called Baby Boy. He's 6'6.5" and a manly, multi-media man now.

There's a lot to be said about gender roles. I'm not speaking of the stereotypical "Woman, get in the kitchen!" gender roles, but of the girly vs boyish gender roles. Not every girl wants to be a princess. Not every boy wants to be a pirate. Sometimes boys want to have their nails painted and wear lipstick (my afore mentioned cousin did both when we were little because the boy boy was surrounded by sisters and girl cousins.) Sometimes girls want to play in the mud and play cops and robbers. However, sometimes girls want to be princesses, wear makeup, play dress-up, and have tea parties and sometimes boys would rather eat worms than be forced to attend said tea parties.

There's nothing wrong with encouraging traditional gender roles and it won't have a negative affect on the kids unless it becomes a forced issue.

Society tells us that a woman isn't taken seriously unless she's a strong, emotionless, independent force to be reckoned with. I say, who cares what society says? A woman can be educated and be beautiful. A woman can enjoy sports and be a beauty queen. A woman can be a stay at home mom and be intelligent. A woman can work a full time job and still be a mother. No amount of girliness or masculinity can change who Penny decides she wants to be.

Just my opinion.