3 reasons why you should buy your son a doll.

As a young boy growing up, I wanted to push life's fast-forward button to instantly become a man. "Men can drive, buy things, and do whatever they want," I thought.

But that was the cool part. It became confusing when I tried to learn about how men are supposed to act.


When I turned on the TV to find out what manhood looked like, it often involved destruction.

In some instances, it was a dude destroying buildings.

GIF from "The Wolverine."

In others, it was a dude destroying other dudes.

Fear the educated feet of Mr. Norris. GIF from "Walker, Texas Ranger."


My dad was (and still is) an amazing role model and taught me that being a man means so much more than drinking beers, bench-pressing 250 pounds, and mean-mugging. Unfortunately, what I saw from my old man didn't jive with what I saw elsewhere.

That's why it's not surprising to find young boys interested in toys that perpetuate the tough guy stereotype, such as guns, swords, action figures, and violent video games.

But how will the aforementioned toys prepare our young boys for manhood?

Every toy doesn't need to be a teaching tool and there's nothing inherently wrong with kids pretending to blow stuff up in their backyards. However, no matter what young males decide to do for a living, there's a high probability that many of them will become fathers.

Why not give them a head start on what it means to be a modern dad by providing them with a doll for the holidays?

Wait, what?

No, really. If you're hesitant about the idea, start by checking out this comic by Chris Hallbeck (who completely nails it).

Image by Chris Hallbeck via Maximumble, used with permission.

Here are three reasons why buying a doll for a boy is a good idea.

1. If little girls can do it all, why can't little boys?

As a dad with two young daughters, I love seeing how the world continues to evolve to include their diverse interests. In past generations, little girls were read the memo to be nurturing, loving, and not too much else. Now they're being taught to become leaders, doctors, coders, scientists, engineers, and anything else they desire.

Just check out the awesome work GoldieBlox is doing to help inspire the young ladies in our lives. The company released a short video capturing the frustration girls feel when searching for toys that suit their interests.

Many young ladies are interested in more than pink and glitter. GIF from GoldieBlox.

Sadly, society is not so quick to follow suit when it comes to boys. Yes, they can be leaders, doctors, and scientists — but playing with dolls? Not so much.

In order to be a well-rounded human, wouldn't it make sense to show little boys that it's just as cool to be wild and competitive as it is to be loving and nurturing? If it's cool for girls, it should be cool for boys too.

2. Learning empathy at an early age is a good thing.

Many parents can remember when their firstborn children became big brothers or big sisters for the first time. The proud older sibling would hover over the baby like a hawk, reacting at every giggle or cry. Rare were the moments when they didn't offer to help with feedings, baths, or anything baby-related.

In other words, the big kids felt deeply connected to the emotions and well-being of the smaller kids in their lives.

Sure sounds similar to playing with a doll to me.

It also sounds a lot like empathy.

Empathy is a way of saying, "I value your feelings." GIF via Brene Brown, The RSA/YouTube.

Studies have shown that empathetic people enjoy greater success emotionally, academically, and interpersonally than those who don't feel empathy.

Girls have countless items at their disposal to display their nurturing side. What happens to the boys who love playing with their younger siblings but aren't allowed to play with dolls?

It cuts off one valuable avenue for our boys to learn about empathy, and that absolutely shouldn't happen.

3. It builds confidence.

A single mom named Heather Manville shared her personal experience with her 8-year-old son, Joey.

Props to Joey and his mom. Photo via Heather Mainville, used with permission.

Since Joey was young, he always had baby dolls, accessories, and anything that would encourage him to engage in play that celebrates empathy and nurturing.

The results are a happy and confident little boy who will surely become a great man someday.

"Joey loves dolls and has the confidence to speak up when he hears that boys shouldn't play with them," Mainville told Upworthy. "He's also a loving and protective playmate with younger children due to learning empathy at a young age."

Is there a better sign of a confident child than one who is willing to do whatever he wants without worrying about what others think of him? In a copycat world where most kids are content to fit in, it's refreshing to see boys like Joey who aren't afraid to show their nurturing sides.

Sure, toughness breeds confidence — but in today's world, sensitivity and empathy comprise what true toughness is all about.

So why not pick up a doll for that little boy in your life this holiday season?

Other than potentially finding a new favorite toy, it will give him the confidence to know that he can be anything he wants to be in the future.

And there's a good chance that "thing he wants to be" will be a good dad.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less