My Son Was Teased For Wanting To Play With Dolls

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“When they’re four years old, knocking over chairs and tugging on the curtains, the world just rolls their eyes.

‘Boys will be boys,’ they say.

When they’re eleven years old, running inside with scraped knees and muddy shoes, tracking evidence of adventure all over the living room rug, the world just laughs.

‘Boys will be boys.’

When they’re teenagers, driving too fast and pick fights during football games, we sigh loudly, but really… What can be done?

‘Boys will be boys.’

I don’t know why we are shocked that generations of male political leadership treat our planet like an infinite resource. Their mamas replaced the curtains that they tore.

I don’t know why we are shocked that millions of husbands sit on the couch while their wives scrub their homes clean.

Their mamas scrubbed the carpets they dirtied.

‘Boys are just messy. Boys are just loud. They’re just reckless. It’s who they are.’ Or so we told them for years and years.

This week in preschool, my son Benjamin was teased for wanting to play with a baby doll.

I repeat: he was teased. By FOUR YEAR OLDS.

I discovered this because when he got home he informed me that ‘boys don’t play with babies.’

And my head just about EXPLODED.

Some may think I’m dramatic. And I know it seems like a small thing NOW…

But how do you think that small life lesson frames the minds of our future fathers?

LISTEN UP, MAMAS. We have a job to do.

Because the world is busy telling our boys—yes, even our BABY boys—what they can and can’t do.

And the lessons they’re imparting?


‘You can break things. You can be rough. You can be messy. You can be hot headed. But don’t play with dolls. Don’t like that color. Don’t wear that shirt. Don’t cry those tears. Don’t need your mama. Don’t do this don’t do that blah blah…’

Are you going to help me STOP THIS?

Can we chunk the arbitrary gender-based guidelines for our sons and I dunno…


If our kind, generous, thoughtful, strong sons want to rock a baby doll—how is that a bad thing?

If our sons grow into a hard-working men who clean their own homes and loves their children and are respectful of women, do we really want to worry ourselves over glittery pink fingernails?

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather send a kind and confident human out into this world than some testosterone-fueled Gaston version of manlihood.

Push back against ‘boys will be boys.’ It doesn’t even make sense. It’s not even a THING.

Enough with the harmful and confusing double standards. Let’s make this simple, for the boys and for us.

Raise good humans.

Responsibility over entitlement. Accountability over recklessness. Sensitivity over toxic masculine coolness.

If we do this right, our boys will simply be GOOD PEOPLE.

And looking around, I think the world could afford a few. Don’t you?”

Little boy who was teased for playing with doll smiles in front of fence wearing shirt that says, "Boys will be good humans"
Courtesy of Mary Katherine Backstrom

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mary Katherine Backstrom. You can follow her journey on FacebookSubscribe to our free email newsletter, Living Better—your ultimate guide for actionable insights, evidence backed advice, and captivating personal stories, propelling you forward to living a more fulfilling life.

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