If there’s a bitty fellow in your life, don’t hesitate to get him a bitty doll by age one. I cringe when I see boys directed only toward building toys, cars, and other “boyly” pursuits, and not provided with the wide mix of playthings that can help them develop in a rounded way from early childhood. Blocks and cars are lovely, but they also need dress-ups, kitchen and house toys, and yes, dolls.
When the brother just my junior was small, we added another brother to the mix. About the same time, our very clever mother made him a little cloth doll with short yarn hair, a T-shirt, and trousers. He named the doll Gordon, and Gordon was his constant companion and friend for several years. He and Gordon had many grand adventures (indoors and out.) Sometimes, Gordon was his friend. Sometimes, Gordon was his superhero companion (with a burp cloth or wash cloth tied around his neck for a cape). Sometimes, Gordon was his baby, and my brother was The Dad. My brother tended to His Baby just as tenderly as any little girl ever tended to her baby; he snuggled his doll, wrapped it in blankets, told it stories, rode it around on his shoulders, and bounced it for pony rides on his knee.
It’s no surprise to me that my brother has grown up to be a loving and extremely competent father. After all, he was allowed the room to practice those roles from early childhood.
Watch any toddler-aged human with tiny creatures (human babies, chicks, kittens, it doesn’t matter)… they are delighted! They instinctively want to pet and cuddle and love something smaller than themselves. They express concern that The Baby is warm enough, has a drink, has food, and is not sad. They grow distressed if The Baby cries, or peeps, or mews, and try to be a comfort. They try out the nurturing behaviors they have experienced, and are very serious in their little endeavors.
If this favorable behavior is cultured, through providing dolls (that are treated as babies by the adults) early in life, the child learns compassion and kindness early on, and has a loving outlet for their most tender emotions. Why would we deny this to little boys? They have just as much capacity for human kindness as any girl child.
As boys grow, that developed compassion is expressed in increasingly “manly” ways… he can be the boy who learns first aid and carries a kit in his backpack, just in case someone falls off a bike. He becomes the protector and defender of small things. He becomes the young man who looks out for the littler kids, pushes them on the swings, or gathers a group to safely cross the street. He becomes the teen who knows the right balance between rough-house play and when a quiet lap is needed. He knows that everyone (including girls) needs a kind friend, and he knows how to be that friend, because he’s been practicing since infancy. As a grown man, he knows how to cuddle a baby, and delight in parenting, because those actions are a familiar and happy remembrance from childhood. Why would we ever want to deprive a bitty boy of such a wonderful potential?
Here are some links to dolls that are boyly, as opposed to girly, just in case you have a little fellow in your circle of influence who could do with a bit of love:
What boyly dolls have you found out there?