Family, Homeschooling, Toys

Barbie Dolls and Career Choices

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 Barbie Dolls and Career Choices

As parents, do you think that letting your little girls play with Barbie dolls limit their career choices? I think that widening the career choices of children involves much parental guidance.

Barbie doll collection - career choices
Dindin’s collection of Barbie dolls photographed early this year at 5 years old. The number has increased by so much since then.

Recently, a blogger-friend of mine gave me a link to a Scientific American study showing that playing with Barbie Dolls limits the career considerations of young girls. Read about the study here. It is a good cautionary article, but in our case, I cannot exactly corroborate it. But I won’t dispute it either, as ours may just be a special case. Just take everything with a grain of salt. 😀

You see, our eldest daughter Dindin, who has turned five years old last month, has several Barbie dolls and the collection is ever-increasing (blame it on the Mama).

Despite playing with Barbie dolls, she has, for over a year now, been telling us that she wants to be an eye doctor. She also said that she wants her sister to become a “doctor who works in a hospital where babies are born”, so we presume that she meant that she wants her sister to become an OB-Gynecologist.

Parental Guidance and Involvement

While we let Dindin watch Barbie videos and let her play with Barbie dolls that match the videos, we also talk to her about the good values and principles of Barbie. Much like money and many other things, Barbie can be amoral. It’s how we use or misuse it that makes the difference. Barbie may be sexiness overload, but she also exemplifies kindness, sympathy, gentleness, warmth, friendship, bravery, sincerity, and most of all, love for her siblings.

Additionally, there is a line of Barbie dolls that promote career choices. Dindin’s first set was the “I want to be a Doctor” Barbie doll complete with medical accessories and a young patient doll. Then she had the “I Want to be a Ballerina” doll. One came after the other and the rest is history.

The point of the matter is parental guidance and involvement. Even those kiddie videos that are supposed to be for children can instill negative values if taken out of context. And who knows how kids interpret certain things? While watching a certain animated video, Dindin has so many questions. So in our family, as much as possible, we are there to answer them and guide her to the right direction.

As much as we can (though it is not perfect), we do not use the videos as a babysitter. We try to sit with her and discuss what she has watched and how she may apply it in life. If it is a new video, I watch it with her so that I know what goes on in there. It also helps that we do not have cable connection or even local channels in our bedroom TV so we get to choose the videos that Dindin watches.

Healthy Mixture

Dindin likes pretend play and cos-play. Each year during her birthday, she wears the “simplified” costume of a certain character (simplified because I do not really buy—we make do). We haven’t let her identify with a single character so that she will become a well-rounded individual.

We let her watch different shows and we collect character toys for every show—Barbie, Barney, Ni Hao Kai Lan, Wonder Pets, Dora and Diego, Strawberry Shortcake, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Tinkerbell, Elmo, even the Disney Princesses (though I discourage her from watching Aurora and Snow White because of the ridiculous storyline). Yes, she has a complete set of the toy characters. We also have books inspired by these shows.

Dindin has also watched Ni Hao Kai Lan and plays with these character toys.

Educational Videos

But aside from these, she was exposed to educational videos like Leap Frog, Signing Time, Brainy Baby, Baby Einstein, Little Einsteins, Word World as well as the educational/entertainment children’s show Hi-5. Oh we had a lot of Hi-5 inspired playtime in the past! And most of all, we are Christians who believe in the Holy Trinity and the bible and so Dindin also watches Veggie Tales and Super Book. We let her attend Sunday School and the DVBS during summer, too.

Aside from the dolls and stuffed toys, Dindin has a doctor set, a cross-section of a man that opens up to reveal internal organs, clay dough, toy musical instruments and a real guitar, as well as toy cars and trucks, a garage, a race track, and carpentry tools. We did not label cars and tools as “toys for boys” because first, eventually she will have to learn to drive, and second, the tools teach her that things or items are made and not just bought from stores. She makes chairs, beds, benches, and cars for her dolls from her tools.

She has enjoyed Wonder Pets and Leap Frog, too. 😀

And with each show or toy or book, we are there to answer her questions or to correct her gently if the opinion she has formed is something that we feel is not right or edifying to herself or other people.

Answering Questions

Dindin can be very inquisitive, like any toddler/preschooler. And I can get tired because of her incessant questions and bantering. Sometimes, I do silence her just to have some peace and quiet because one answer always leads to another question. She doesn’t take naps so that means it can go on the whole day! We are homeschooling in Bacolod so the brunt of answering her questions usually falls on me.

But as much as I can, I try to answer her because aside from correcting any wrong value or principle, I also try to keep in mind that I want us to have an open line of communication especially when she reaches puberty—a time when a lot of teenagers clam up to their parents and would rather talk to peers. I would like to avoid that as much as possible.

So in conclusion, I don’t think that totally rejecting certain toys or shows will be the answer to raising good, godly, and responsible adults. I still think it is parental guidance and involvement. Barbie is not just about BEAUTY and VANITY — two things that we think are shallow. I think that Barbie is not the real enemy, but apathy and parental detachment are.

We also encourage outdoor activities, like swimming. But even when the pool is not available, we make do, such as swimming in the tub.

Physical Activities

All I am advocating is a good mixture of play—rough physical, fine motor, creative, pretend, mental, and even psychological. We do not really follow a strict regimen but we are strict on obedience. We just try to remember that for kids, their main occupation is play—but with much guidance from parents.

Conclusion

More than students who excel in academics, we would like to see our children excel in their chosen fields, in paths they are passionate about. We would like to see them affect the city, or even the world, positively. We would like to see them empathize with other’s problems and seek to find solutions and become entrepreneurs. We would like to see them as decision-makers guided by wisdom, values, and Godly principles. We would like them to LOVE.

What are your thoughts on shaping your child’s career choices?


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22 thoughts on “Barbie Dolls and Career Choices

  1. we should always watch our kids especially their activities,there are lot of new things that they are dicovering that need supervision and explanation

  2. Great points, and I’m with you! I honestly think a child’s career choice has A LOT to do with how you guide and introduce your child to different kinds of toys and forms of play (and all other aspects of his/her life), and of course his/her very own interests! And it’s quite absurd to put the blame to a toy; proper guidance is a parent’s duty after all.

  3. It is still best that we parents should guide our children especially nowadays the environment is not so safe and the technology is very modern.

  4. I don’t think it will limit a child’s career choices. I myself was an avid barbie doll kid also but it did not affect my choices.

  5. I totally agree with you. Guidance is really needed. I also strongly believe that the most important thing that parents can do for their children is for them to deepen their relationship with the Lord so they may lead their children to Jesus. 🙂 Having a deep and genuine relationship with Jesus will allow us to have a new mindset and godly perspective in life. 🙂

  6. Guidance from the parents indeed plays a big role on their children’s growth and improvement. I strongly believe that parents should deepen their relationship with the Lord for them to lead their children to Jesus. This is the best guidance that they can give, for they will have a new mindset and godly perspective in life.

  7. I, too, don’t think that if you give a child a particular toy, you will be limiting his career choices with those he/she played with. I agree that parents should play with their children (introduce different kinds of role-playing, singing, acting, play-driving, cooking, etc.) so they learn all their potentials and talents, which will later help them choose which career is best for them.

  8. As a mom, for raising daughters/sons (children) of characters demands time and effort. Spending time like reading story before sleeping at night will help the child to develop love for words. Having family mealtime that should everyone communicate and sustain ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives. Encourage our child to develop their skills and talent. Learn to listen to our children so that they can express themselves and teach them good manners and teach our children to be grateful.

  9. Guidance from parents indeed plays a big role on our children’s growth and improvement & it started at home. I let my son play indoor & outdoor activities to boost his confidence & discover new things and at the same time gain more friends. I let him discover his talents & try ourselves to enhance it. 🙂

  10. For me, playing Barbie dolls will not limit career choices, hence it will help her build here imagination. And besides, kids are kids, they should enjoy their life while still young. As mothers’ need to guide them while playing and playing can be educational too but it depends on someone who will guide them.

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