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Why boys love cars, trucks and trains -- and sometimes even a pink Barbie Jeep
Toys that roll (and rock)
No trip to Toys 'R Us is complete without a visit to the child-sized motorized ride on cars. Of course, I'll never forget one particular visit when my son was 2 and he strongly favored a pink Barbie Jeep over every other car (more about that below).
Ever since my son's infancy he's gravitated towards toys that roll, and as a toddler he continues to be fascinated by toy cars, not to mention real trains, planes and automobiles.
It isn't something we've forced upon him because of his gender. He also has his fair share of dolls, stuffed animals, and even a play kitchen (complete with apron). He just truly enjoys playing with toy cars of all sizes, dump trucks, bulldozers, garages, car washes ...
Nature or Nurture?
Psychology Today reports that a boy's preferences for cars is not a result of gender socialization. It appears to have a biological origin.
Studies have even shown that a boys preference towards cars isn't limited to humans. A study out of Texas A&M University and City University in London shows that male monkeys prefer toy cars over dolls.
Not everyone agrees. There is wide belief that our gender identity is the result of parental and societal influence.
In 2009 there were media reports of a couple in Sweden who were going so far as to hide the gender of their child, Pop, to protect the child from social gender constructs (A similar story emerged earlier this year in Toronto with a child named Storm).
“It’s cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead,” Pop's mother told a Swedish newspaper.
I appreciate the attempt to instill a child with free will. But it seems dishonest to hide such an important fact from a child. Children are smart. They ask questions. Won't this only serve to alienate the child from peers?
Also, I can't help to wonder: If biology does indeed play a role, isn't it equally as cruel to ignore this biology?
Do you agree with the parenting decision to hide a child's gender?
Pretty in Pink
According to a study in Current Biology and discussed in TIME, women may be biologically programmed to prefer the color pink. Neuroscientists at Newcastle University, who conducted the study, say their findings are grounded in evolutionary principles, dating back to hunter-gatherer days.
Others think this is bupkis, and the pink association is arbitrary. Cecil Adams, "The World's Smartest Human" and author of The Straight Dope, for instance, says there are indications that pink and blue were used interchangeably until World War II. He uses the pink triangle used to identify homosexuals in Nazi prison camps as an example of this. By 1959 Adams writes, that the infantwear buyer for one department store told the The New York Times, "A mother will allow her girl to wear blue, but daddy will never permit his son to wear pink."
As for my son, I can't explain his sudden and short lived attraction to the pink Barbie car. He is also a fan of the Disney movie Dumbo, and often watches the hallucinatory "Pink Elephants" scene over and over again. Maybe the pink jeep reminded him of a pink elephant? Who knows!
Whatever the case, my son is just awesome and perfect the way he is. He is a stereotypical boy in many ways. He is also a creative and fun free spirit!
And, boy, does he loves cars.