"Yordana, what do you think of this?" My five year-old boy inquires of his big sister as he proudly displays the Barbie he just clothed in a pink mini-dress.
He spent the last fifteen minutes carefully pulling her stiff skinny plastic arms through the tiny arm-holes of this racy garment. (Talk about dexterity!)
"Do you think she looks better with this one or the other? I think this is really pretty and fits her well here." He concludes signaling to Barbie's tiny waist.
We were all lounging lethargically on the couch after binging on a delicious barbeque feast. It didn't matter one iota to my son that all the adults instantly cracked up laughing. He was oblivious to external stimuli and totally immersed in his imaginary world.
Here are the six main reasons why I'm FINE that he plays with Barbies.
1. STIMULATING CREATIVITY: When my son enters into the magical world of Barbies, their male counterparts, their pets, babies, houses, and accessories, he is exploring the depths of his own imagination. He creates real-life social scenarios mimicking much from his personal life experiences. He is capable of lingering in this fantasy for hours on end- only to come "up for air" to use the bathroom--if urgent.
2. DEVELOPING DIPLOMACY: In order to be granted "permission" into the "protected Barbie arena," he's got to negotiate, plead, promise, bargain and barter with his two Barbie-fanatic older sisters who, by nature, prefer not to include him in their Barbie role-playing. Once allowed entry into their Barbie-haven, he must patiently and submissively abide by every one of their "rules" lest he commit an infraction and immediately get thrown out of their territory.
3. CHARACTER BALANCE: My son possesses such an overabundance of testosterone demonstrated by his passion for sports, martial arts, trucks, motorcycles and action-heroes. It is truly a relief to watch his more sensitive, softer side evolve. Through such play, he is rounding out his personality and character for which many girlfriends down the road will be grateful!
4. CONCENTRATION AND DISCIPLINE: In the past, I couldn't get my son to sit still through a meal--even when starved. Nor could I coax him into finishing a conversation before scurrying off. However, when he delves into his "play performances," he exhibits discipline, absolute focus and a level of concentration that could only be compared to that of students sitting for standardized entrance exams for grad school. He neglects his hunger, his thirst is abolished and he's ALL IN. What a wonderful trait to cultivate at such a tender age. It will prove essential to his success as an adult in tomorrow's even-more-challenging and competitive world!
5. LEARNING THE "ART" OF SELF-EXPRESSION: When he is conjuring up scripts for each of the scenes, he's trying on real-life attitudes, reactions and defining his own opinions and preferences. He talks aloud incessantly so as his mommy, I am also able to benefit by listening in on his private thoughts and feelings- those that he'd not openly express otherwise.
6. GAINING CONFIDENCE: Not once has anyone in the family ever uttered a word about "gender-specific toys/play/games," social paradigms or societal stigmas. And he's never had to defend his interest. He's 100% natural and untainted. We want to encourage him to move through his life hang-up-free and confident with his masculinity. Hopefully with a foundation built from unwavering self-esteem and a little help from our supportive parenting style, he'll enter into any arena with confidence- be it Wall Street or the Fashion Industry!
Written by Darah Zeledon for Hybrid Mom.