Does modern culture recommend better toys for boys?
The Friday after Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Thousands of people will fight the crowds at stores all over the country to take advantage of the many deals that will be offered. In light of this, many websites and blogs are offering advice on types of gifts, creative gifts, and best deals. Thingamababy posted an article wondering the types of toys boys play with really matters. The specific toy in question is a dollhouse, but the discussion appropriately turns to the broader topic of play and gender development.
The article generally espouses a quasi-androgynous approach. It seemingly has a desire to make sure that boys aren't too brawny and girls aren't, well, too girly.
Nevertheless, how children play matters. The activities in which they participate end up cultivating certain attitudes, characteristics, desires, inclinations, and skills. Since this is true, it is important to ask "What types of attitudes and skills are we trying to develop in our children?" Then we should ask, "Are any of these attitudes and skills gender specific?"
The Word of God speaks to this issue. The Bible teaches that generally men will be husbands and fathers, and women will be wives and mothers. For this reason, there will be certain skills that children will need to develop and cultivate in order to fulfill these distinct and complementary roles. The toys that boys and girls play with will have a significant part in cultivating these skills.
The current trend of trying to get boys to play with more feminine toys does not cultivate a well rounded boy, it misguides him and potentially handicaps him when he is called upon to exhibit masculine behavior.
In a recent post, I suggested that dads might be the new moms. In this confused culture, it may be that this occurs because first boys are becoming the new girls. This confusion is beginning to impact our churches as well. We don't need softer and prettier boys. We don't need boys who can push a baby carriage and appropriately dress a doll. We need boys who have had a sense of courage, adventure, resilience, toughness, and predilection to protect and provide for others built in them. We need boys who understand that there is such a thing as evil, and that we are engaged in a cosmos-wide conflict. We need boys who are growing in their understanding of what it means to "take up a cross daily." In addition to godly fathers and strong local churches, their toys can play a huge part in getting them there.
Toys that allow boys to build and battle are great for this purpose. Try getting them Lincoln logs or real tools. While it is true that sports can get out of hand, it is still one of the best ways to teach boys about resilience, competition, winning and losing, unfairness, character, and abiding by rules. Forts, zip lines, good versus evil games, should be part of every boys childhood. And on rainy days, board games like Chess and Risk can continue this training. And don't forget books. Stay tuned, a future post we will suggest books that epitomize godly masculinity and femininity for boys and girls.