When my daughters were growing up, my husband and I made a deliberate child-rearing decision about the kinds of dolls we wanted in our home. Now you may think this is a pretty funny thing to write a post about. But I actually think it is very important.
As far as I can tell, there are three genres of dolls (not including the kind you collect to just sit on the shelf): the baby doll, the little girl doll, and the grown-up doll, which unfortunately is usually the hoochy-mama doll.
Now there is something very important we need to realize about how children play. A little girl playing with a baby doll is pretending to be the doll’s mother. She will change the baby, rock the baby, etc. She is imitating her own mother and learning the art of mothering without really knowing it.
A little-girl doll (something like the American Girl dolls) is a playmate, and the play can go in many directions: dressing her up, setting up and playing house, having tea parties, etc. In this case, a young girl may be imitating her mother, or a big sister, or a friend. When my mother was growing up as an only child, she had a beautiful Patsy Ann doll (now a very collectible antique). Patsy AnnÂ was a great playmate for my mom. Every Christmas her mother had the tailor make Patsy Ann a new outfit, and she would be standing under the tree in her new dress on Christmas morning. She was a well-loved doll.
When girls play with a grown-up doll, they are pretending to be the doll. This isn’t necessarily bad unless it is one of those hoochy-mama dolls (and I have to include Barbie in this category). Then it becomes another kind of play all together. When she is pretending to be Barbie, she is the one with the stacked figure, the immodest clothing, the hot car, the super-model hair and makeup. And if you introduce Ken into the picture, the opportunities for inappropriate play increase. What kinds of things can we play with Barbie and Ken? They are not brother and sister, you know.
You can see the same thing when little boys are playingÂ with action figures. They aren’t pretending to be the action figure’s friend or dad (that would be weird!); they are pretending to BE the action figure.
Pretending to be the doll is not necessarily bad. The problem with the hoochy-mama doll is her skankiness, and the problem with some of the action figures is their rambo-ness (if that’s a word). But there’s a big difference between a little girl pretending to be a great lady, and pretending to be slutty.
So your daughter’s play with dolls will either be the kind where she is mothering, playing with a peer, or pretending to be the doll herself. Since mothers want to be instilling a godly femininity in their daughters, they ought to take stock in the kind of dolls their daughters have to play with. Are they the right sort? And any kind of play, whether doll-playing or swinging in the back yard, is going to still require oversight. (I’m sure little girls can sin with any kind of doll.)
Wise moms will have one ear tuned in to the kind of play that is going on, so they can steer, correct, teach, and monitor. This is what I call Snoopervising. But that’s another subject.