"My Princess Boy" and "What Would You Do"...

Updated on January 23, 2011
B.C. asks from Arlington, TX
27 answers

I have a little girl (two actually) that are 1/2 princess, 1/2 tomboy. My 3 y/o has an iron man mask, pirate costumes, police costumes, as well as princess and fairy costumes. I have no issue with her playing with trucks or trains or cars. I seriously cannot understand why it's so "unheard" of to have boys play house or barbies. How many of you moms would be weirded out if your boy would be intersested in this kind of play? I have no boys yet, but my hubby agrees with me.

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So What Happened?

Wow! Lots of responses! Just to clarify, I wasn't asking about my kids. I'm not worried about them at all. I saw this on "What would you do" last night and it had me wondering. I see that it's very varied still.

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answers from San Francisco on

I have boys and I have no problem buying them dolls or barbies or whatever they want. When they play, they are incredible "daddies" so it doesn't bother me at all. The kids at this age don't have the problem with gender-based activities-its the adults that are fearful, that do. Let her play with what she wants.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Bravo Steph C.!!
I could not have said it better myself... so I wont even try.
Just ditto what she said. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I think it probably bothers fathers more than mothers per say...my 6 year old son came dancing into my room the other day wearing one of his sisters fairy costumes...skirt, top, wings, wand and jewelry.

I asked him if he was playing fairy with his sister...he said yes...then when she left the room whispered to me that he was really a pirate that was dressed as a fairy to sneak into their camp and steal all their gold. Don't tell sister.

I nearly busted a gut laughing when he pranced/danced out of the room.

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answers from Phoenix on

I think in the end (as with most things), there are two extremes and everyone else falls somewhere in the middle.

There are people that are SO obsessed with not stifling their children's natural inclinations that they allow their boys to wear dresses, skirts, make-up and whatever else in public.

Then there are people that are SO obsessed with making sure their boy is as masculine as possible that they freak out over the tiniest display of "traditionally feminine" behavior.

To me, both extremes are very sad. Because SO much is lost when a little boy can't explore his nurturing side and is taught to be rigidly masculine above all else. Just like there is so much lost when a little boy isn't encouraged to emulate masculinity through a positive male role model....when they don't learn to appreciate the differences between men and women.

I think the best we can do as parents is try to keep things balanced. It is certainly okay for a boy to play "house" with his sister and perhaps even have a babydoll that he pretends to care for. But it's also okay to tell your son that dresses/skirts are for girls and no, they can't wear them in public... (playing "dress-up" at home is a completely different thing).

It doesn't make me a neanderthal for not allowing my son to dress inappropriately, no more than I'm a neanderthal for insisting he not go naked in public or "adjust" himself through his pants. These are social behaviors that we teach our kids every day and there's nothing wrong with that.

I honestly wouldn't buy my son a female Barbie doll, either, or sign him up for ballet class (though I could make an exception on that one if he was truly interested). I wouldn't buy him a princess costume or allow him to wear one for Halloween. But I wouldn't bat an eye if my daughter wanted to play flag-football or buy an action figure or dress up as a pirate, etc, Are these double standards? Sure, but so what? Not everything nowadays has to be genderless and sometimes what's okay for a girl to do is NOT okay for a boy to do and vice versa.

What's important is that we use our common sense in each individual matter and not be influenced by all the "extreme" opinions or social trends out there. To put it succinctly: Let kids be kids, but don't be afraid to guide them.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think we need to remember that all "PEOPLE" are different.

We should definitely not PIGEON HOLE people. Especially not our children.

It is simply absurd to state that boys play with boy toys and girls play with girl toys. Girls watch girl movies and boys watch boy movies. Oh boy.

Boys can have no feminine side??

What about girls being Tomboys?? Is that not ok either?
Should we not teach our girls to be strong and brave because that it too boyish.

How sad that these gender views still exist.

There is no one way a boy or man "SHOULD BE". Yikes. That type of attitude sounds so 1950's to me. Just like there is no one way a girl or woman should be.

To each his own though and that's the main point. Every body is different. There is no set way for any of us to be.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Wayne on

The whole premise behind "The Princess Boy" book is that he is allowed to wear female dress up clothes (dresses, tutus, princess costumes, fairy wings, etc) whenever and wherever he wants. It's not the costumes I have issue with. In my opinion, dress up clothes are (generally speaking) for home :)
I don't have a problem with men or boys wearing pink or playing with "girl" toys. My husband plays babies and Barbies with my girls. He plays house and dress up. It doesn't make him any less of a man. In fact, it makes him more of a man! He even does dishes, cooks dinner once a week and changes diapers! I think it's wonderful that my girls have such a great male influence in their life.
I can almost bet that if my husband and I were to have a boy, he would play house, babies, dress up, Barbies and Princess with his older sisters. I think it's just the nature of it.
The author of "The Princess Boy" is taking things a wee bit too far, in my personal opinion. I don't care if her son wants to wear traditionally girl costumes, at home. And don't say that because he's a boy. I say that because we can't always wear our dress up clothes to school or the supermarket. And. let's face it, kids are cruel. I am not sure why she would set her son up to be bullied and teased. Yes, it would be nice if there were no gender roles and teasing and bullying weren't a part of life, but they are. Personally, I think she needs to turn down the drama a bit. Let him wear pink, or feminine looking clothes, but let's leave the costumes at home!
I also wonder how much of him wanting to wear feminine things is his mother's influence. What if he suddenly decides that he doesn't want to dress like a girl? Will she foster that side of him as well? With all the publicity and the book, it makes me wonder.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

A real man is a man who is not afraid to show his feminine side (whatever that means, as it changes from culture to culture). There's a saying...that which you are afraid of or dislike in others is truly a reflection of what you don't like about yourself.
My husband loves to cook. He does most of the cooking around here and does it for a living, I suppose to some people that would be considered too "girly" but he is more of a man than most men I know.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My son LOVED to dress up like a princess and wear a skirt around town over his pants. He also loved for his aunt to paint his fingernails (I don't paint mine but when she came to visit she would do it for him). He thought is was so pretty to dress up when he as 2-4. He used to like to pretend he was a girl or a mommy. Right after he turned 5 another boy teased him and he gradually stopped doing these things. He's 6 now and never even thinks to dress up like that anymore, although he still will pretend he's the girl dog from a movie, or play pretend games that are less "boy-like". He is a sensitive boy who does not like "scary" boy toys or boy movies like transformers, but he's also very self confident with his many friends and no one minds or teases him. My husband and I did not mind at all when he loved to be a princess...it did not bother us in the least. It was very cute while it lasted. I also have to say that neither my husband or I have a problem with someone being gay and if he were to be gay we would fully support him. But I know he is not - he constantly has crushes on girls!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

The best reasoning I have ever seen about why we should encourage/allow boys to play with dolls is that one day they will be daddies (sounds just like the reasoning behind girl playing with dolls). Boys play house. They just do it with their stuffed animals and action figures if they don't have 'girl' toys to do it with. I would not allow any child to play with Barbies - there are lots of dolls out there with appropriate/realistic body forms (google Waldorf dolls) and why would any parents want to set up their children for a lifetime of unrealistic body image expectation?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

I mostly agree with Steph C. too.

Furthermore, as a mom of two boys, I've never seen my sons express interest in dolls, "playing house" or any of the other typically "girly" type of activities. Now if one of them seemed particulary drawn to it, then I would not forbid it either.

They just flat out did not seem interested. They were too busy building "guns" and forts from household objects. :P I truly believe some of it is innate.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Stockton on

My oldest (now 17) "breastfed" his dolls since he saw me do that with younger siblings, both of my boys had turns wearing my high heels and pearls. It's called imaginary play and is just that. I really don't understand why people get so hung up on what the kids play with. My two oldest boys are now 15 and 17 and are heterosexual. How would I feel if they were otherwise? I would love them with all my heart as I do now and know that playing dress up and playing with dolls did not have any bearing on their sexual orientation. Sadly I think some people are just just plain ignorant.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Because boys don't do that kind of stuff. That's why they make boy toys, and girl toys. because girls and boys are different...naturally. I do think most boys go through a phase when they are 2 or 3 and like some girly things.

I think there are way too many "girly men" in this world and I think a lot of it stems from moms being more involved in kids lives than the fathers are, and then moms think "soft" behavior is ok, because after all, that will make men more in touch with their feminine side, therefore relating more to womens feelings. I'm sorry, but men shouldn't have a femine side.

Our son went through a phase like this when he was about three. He loved Cinderella and Snow White and every blanket was a dress. My husband was mortified and bought him several boy movies like, Tarzan, hercules, etc. I thought it was kind of funny because I knew he would out grow it and sure enough he did, but my husband did not want this to keep going and kept asking him if he's sure his "dress" wasn't really a cape? I wouldn't mind if my son played with girl toys, but I certainly wouldn't buy him any on purpose.

It was funny to see my husband being so concerened but on the other hand, it was wonderful knowing that our sons will have a great role model to guide them into manhood and show them how men should be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

You and hubby are enlightened.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

well I have a girl 5 and a boy 4 and we have a room full of "girl" stuff and a room full of "boy" stuff and they both play with everything. they both dress up in costumes be it girl or boy and they do almost everything together. my son paints her nails & vice versa. they both got how to train your dragon tattoos. I don't regulate gender stuff at all and yet when when we dress to go out in public, they dress appropriately. when we go clothes shopping, they pick things out that are appropriate. Now. if my son wanted to buy a dress for himself, I would not simply because my job is to prepare him for the world and while things are a changing, the world in general is not ok with boys wearing dresses. do I want him to be happy, yes. do there have to be limits in life, yes. This happens to be one of them for us. hope this helps you. Oh & my husband does not like my son painting his nails or doing the girly stuff, but he never makes comments if my dughter does boy things, so he definately has issues and I just thank goodness I'm at least open minded enough that our son can have fun playing regardless rather than be traumatized about doing a few girl things! LOL

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My son didn't play with Barbies (I never had Barbies growing up - my Mom hated dolls with big boobs) but he sure treated his stuffed animals like baby dolls sometimes. My son saw no difference in helping me vacuum the carpet or helping Dad vacuuming with the wet/dry vacuum in the car or garage.
My son never played with pink tutus and stars on sticks (fairy wands) but he liked wizard robes and a Harry Potter wand. It amounts to the same thing.
Personally, girl toys have always weird-ed me out. The whole Princess thing just never seemed to be a healthy way for anyone to play but that's just me.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

My 2 yo boy LOVES playing princess with his sisters (5 & almost 4). I'm not a bit concerned!


answers from Detroit on

the little boys in my son's headstart class get the babies dolls and play with them and call them their daughters! go figure my son included! but when he comes home he plays with his trucks, action figues, and every other boy toy he has. when he is whith this girl cousins he plays with whatever they have. it seems to me that children will play with what ever they can get their hands on. or will play whatever everyone else is playing, so if it's dressup or space invaders they will go with the flow! i guess as just let her do what ever she wants as long as she is having fun. I was a tomboy to the MAX as a child then one summer it cam time to do summer shopping and i wanted dresses. she may grow out of this phase she may not! don't be weirded out she go with the flow! lol best of luck to you!



answers from Chattanooga on

I remember playing house and barbies with my brothers. :)



answers from Redding on

Wow. I've never seen that show, but there was a similar post earlier tonight that got lots of responses.
Most people didn't have an issue last I checked.

Best wishes.


answers from Spokane on

My little guy is all boy but I often find him playing with his sisters barbies or wandering around dressed up in their princess outfits. He's always loved soft, bright colored fabrics. And for a while, when he was quite small, if I couldn't find any of my evening shawls, or a silky nighty, all I had to do was take a peek in his little nest. He loved to curl up with the stuff. He called them his silkies and would go nowhere without at least one item. The looks we got when people realized he had an old silk cami for his blankie! LOL And now that he's older, he has no compuction about wearing "girl" clothes. Once, my husband complained that he wore a skirt out in public. But as soon as I reminded him he didn't even have the balls to wear a kilt, let alone a skirt, he shut up. :) Even now, if I'd let him, my son has a pair of purple velvet lounge pants he'd like to wear to school. But you just don't wear lounge pants to school.

I could really care less about what my son wears as long as it's decent, not stained, full of holes, etc. If he wants to explore that look, more power to him. It hasn't made him "gay" or anything like that and if nothing else, he's more in touch with his sensitive side. But I do know he's all boy just by the look on his face when he sees "boobs". LOL Apparently, one of his friends knew where his dad kept his magazine stash and they raided it; my son was right in the thick of it. Sigh...



answers from Oklahoma City on

All children need to have pretend play. It is important to their development. If they don't do it as children they may do it as adults to fulfill the need they were deprived of. There is no harm in boys playing dress up. They will not be harmed mentally either with iron man masks or tutu's.

If you were my friend on FB you would see all the fun pictures I took of the things the girls do to little J, he wore a lace dress all weekend last week. Plus a gray wig. He is very much a spiderman, superman, boy to the max and it does't hurt him at all to play dress up with the girls.

It isn't going to change basic personality. Some kids are just more feminine and others more masculine. it is part of a basic personality and not something subject to change.



answers from Phoenix on

Well, it depends. If that's ALL he wanted to play with--then I would have a problem---and if he was acting very feminine and trying to be girlish. I had a friend whose son was the same as my oldest. We both had children very close together. She had 4 boys by the time the oldest was about 6. She (openly) talked about how much she wanted a girl. It was awful. Pretty soon her oldest "boy" was more feminine than almost ANY girl I knew. It's a very fine line. I have a boy, girl and then twin boys. My daughter has been a daredevil and tomboy from the very beginning. But she also loved "babies" and would dress her little brothers in skirts and pigtails and paint their nails. When they "played house" it was in a rough and tumble way. So--I don't think there is anything wrong with a girl being a tomboy or a boy playing with dolls---as long as their is a balance and you aren't trying to make them something they aren't. They will gravitate toward what they enjoy the most. My daughter loves sports, as do my boys, but she still paints her nails and wears makeup. My boys don't. Lol! Just let them play and be kids.



answers from Chattanooga on

When my son was 2-4 or so (now in college), he loved to play with pots and pans so we bought him a play kitchen and play food. He also loved babies so we bought him a baby doll. He also liked big trucks, GI Joes, robots, etc.
It didn't hurt him a bit...he is ALL boy, trust me! He grew out of the babies about age 3 or 4 but he still likes to cook!
Boys need to develop their "sensitive side" too! I would, however, draw the line at encouraging boys to dress up as princesses with jewelry and makeup...but that's just my opinion :)


answers from Tampa on

I encourage 'cross overs' in my household and when I Nanny or babysit. There is no such thing as a purely girl or boy toy or game. To limit a child's imagination and play time due to gender is only causing problems on a child, and will stunt their creativity, empathy and emotional growth.


answers from Washington DC on

there are some real/natural differences between boys and girls, and a lot of societal expectations (and outright terrors) imposed upon littles by conditioned adults. and it's really skewed how okay most folks are with tomboys but not with boys playing dress-up or dolls.
it's sad that even something like ballet gets shunted over to the girlie side. anyone who watched baryshnikov dance knows that there is machismo all over that.
i was very careful not get in the way of my boys' explorations. since i believe that being gay is inborn, not chosen, it wasn't like i was going to be ashamed or stop loving either of my boyzies if they ended up far along the feminine end of the spectrum, so why would i try to shove them either way? my younger wanted an easy-bake oven when he was about 5. my husband was taken aback, but when i asked him if he would love our boy less if he grew up to be a chef, an interior decorator, a ballet dancer or <gasp> gay, he quickly got over it. (i think easy-bakes are crappy wastes of money, but that's another subject.)
both of my boys played with LOTS of stuffed animals and 'boy dolls' like power rangers, ninja turtles and action figures. there would have been zero issues had they wanted girl dolls or tea parties.
play is how kids work these important life issues out. parents should facilitate, not direct.


answers from Dallas on

Some one else asked the question earlier and this was my answer for it :)
My son is almost 3 and my daughter just turned one. Since my baby girl got here my son has also started liking the color pink. He loves playing with baby dolls, pretending to feed them and change their clothes. I think it's perfectly fine. I feel like he is copying what he sees and pretending to be a loving daddy! My hubby had a problem with it at first but I explained to him that this is what our son sees. He watches us take care of our daughter and dress her in pink and love on her! When he isn't playing dolls he is wrecking his tonka trucks into each other and digging in the mud. My hubby is the youngest in his family, only has one older sister. I have a younger brother and sister and I can remember (also have pics) dressing my brother up in princess dresses and making him dance like a ballerina! hehe He would also play barbies with us bc that is all my sister and I would ever play. My mom would buy him western barbies- Wyatt Earp, Doc holiday ect so it was more boyish for him! Now my brother is a 6'4 300lbs college football player so no harm done but got some great photos for black mailing!! haha



answers from New York on

I have the cutest pic of my son dressed in a tutu and jewels because we had a play date at a friends house who was a girl. He was 4 then and was throwing karate chops while dressed in this outfit. I always let him play with whatever he wanted. He has GI Joe, ninja action figures , trucks football, baseball junk and the lot, but also had up until last year a Barbie becasue he thought GI Joe should have a wife. Now this year barbie isn't cool so out she went. When his friends come over the girls have little choice but to play with the boy toys and they have an awesome time. My sins nerf guns are popular with these chicks as they seem to me excellent marksmen :)

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