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Are Gender-Specific Toys Harmful?

Is There Any Harm in Gender-Specific Toys?

Here's a post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we bring you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Denise Cortes about motherhood and worrying.

In my home, we love Legos.

Throughout the day, I'll hear the sweet twinkling of Legos moving around in a Rubbermaid bin and then concentrated silence. It means my kids are playing Legos and I'll have a few moments of peace.

My son Cyan is a highly devoted Lego collector. Since he has the tendency to be a neat freak, he has Rubbermaid bins inside of his Rubbermaid bins filled with the stuff. My two daughters enjoy playing with them, too.

Related: What's the Difference Between Boy Toys and Girl Toys?

One day while I was cooking dinner, Maya walked up to me and asked, "Mama, will you buy me my own Legos? Cyan won't let me play with his." Bottom lip sticking out, the whole nine yards.

"Yes, of course," I answered her absentmindedly, stirring the spaghetti sauce.

"But, mama, I want girl Legos!"

That made me stop stirring.

"And what exactly are 'girl' Legos? Are they pink or something?" I questioned her.

"I don't know!" she said, shrugging her shoulders. "But I don't want boy Legos like Cyan's!"

"A Lego is a Lego, little girl!" I called after her as she ran outside to ride her bike.

Ever since my kids were little, I encouraged them to play with whatever toys they wanted to. This meant my boys played "store" and "restaurant" with fake food and my girls often played with Buzz Lightyear and a light saber.

Recently, a 13-year-old girl named McKenna Pope launched a petition on on behalf of her 4-year-old brother, who always wanted an Easy Bake Oven but felt that the toy was "for girls only." Big sis McKenna has become quite an activist, stating that pink toy ovens discourage boys from kitchen play.

I totally agree. Kids should play with whatever toy they want, not "gender assigned" toys. This explains why my daughter clearly defined Legos as "boy toys" — they weren't swathed in baby pink, just like her favorite toy aisle. The color sends a message loud and clear, these are your toys, young lady, this is what's acceptable to play with.

But what about the little boy who want an Easy Bake Oven? Or the little girl who wants to collect Iron Man and Batman action figures? They should be able to do so, without feeling like they're strange. As for my daughter Maya, she requested Lego Friends, which seems to be a happy medium for us.

Does your child stick to "boy toys" or "girl toys"? How do you feel about gender-specific toys?

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lickety-split lickety-split 3 years
I wouldn’t worry about it. I have 3 girls. They have always loved all things princess, pink and sparkly. We have over a dozen American Girl dolls and they have enjoyed mani/pedi’s since preschool. My middle daughter is 13 now, and she is the only girl in Advanced Technology (1500 students in the school). You can be sparkly and an honor student. You can love pink and program a robot. That society thinks pink is for girls is what is silly. Legos should come in pink and glow in the dark and polka dot. You aren’t any less capable because you are pretty or feminine. You don’t have to choose between being a girly-girl and kicking ass in the world. Any chance you daughter thinks thw legos are boy toys because your son plays with them? And not in a boy-girl way, but in a "these are mine keep your hands off of them" way.
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