Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do Our Favorite Toys Suggest an Inclination Towards Voluntary Childlessness?


When I was doing my interviews for the Childless by Choice Project, I came across more than a few women who said they knew they were different at an early age because unlike their little girlfriends they were not pushing little prams or strollers around and playing mother.

This quote, from an article that appeared in HERnashville.com titled Maternal Instincts: An Honest Look Why Some of Us Don't Want to be Mothers—and Why That's Okay, serves as a typical example of what I heard during these interviews:

As a child, I didn’t want to have much to do with dolls. The only baby I chose to play with was a Cabbage Patch Kid named Jack Cornelius. Back then, my mother endured the lines and the mad rush to procure dolls for my sister and me, only to see me put Jack through the ringer once I brought him home. I rarely changed his diaper or rocked him to sleep. Instead, I would grip one of his soft arms with my teeth while climbing trees in the yard. Once Jack and I went on such excursions, one of two things would happen: I would send him diving headfirst to the grass below so I could reach a higher branch, or — as was more often the case — forget him up there altogether. He spent many a lonely night in those mesquite trees. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him; it’s just that he didn’t hold my interest for long.
I don't recall coming across any studies that showed that the choice of certain toys might suggest an inclination towards remaining childless, but I began to suspect that might be the case. I recall being much more enamored with my Gumby and Pokey bendable toys that any doll that was put in front of me. I absolutely adored my stuffed animals but I when I was given a doll as a Christmas gift I was severely disappointed, wondering what do I do with this thing?

It's funny but if someone would hand me an infant right now I probably would think the same thing.

So is it true? Do our preferences for toys as children determine our preferences as adults?


Flickr Photo by ZRecs

11 comments:

CF-PC Me! said...

I really think it does. I played with stuffed animals and barbies. Any baby doll I had rotted in the corner. I even told my mom "no babies" when she attempted to give me a baby doll for my 1st birthday! Talk about an early articulator! Lol! Now I only like adults and animals, no babies allowed!

Liz said...

I was not a play-house-with-dolls kind of girl, either. I had a Cabbage Patch, but I don't remember playing with her in the traditional doll sense.

I played a lot with Barbies and Playmobil and Lego as a child, but I would spend endless hours building and furnishing their homes, and then they would go on camping adventures in the back yard. I cared more about the clothes I had for my Barbies than whether or not they were part of nuclear families, and my Playmobil and Lego guys lived in the sandbox more often than not.

All that home-designing and -building, and little actual playing-house with those toys, and now I'm an Architectural Technologist, with no desire for children!

bikegirl said...

I think there is something to it. When I was a kid, I spent more time playing with my brother's Tonka trucks than I did playing with dolls. When I was old enough to play video games, I much preferred those to dolls of any kind.

I never played house when I was a kid, either. I played all of the typical kids games like tag, hide and seek, jump rope, but never any "girly" games. I was a total tomboy.

Liz @ MaybeBabyMaybeNot said...

I say YES! I too had no interest in dolls, but I remember feeling like my heart was being ripped out of my chest anytime my mom wanted me to clean out my stuffed animal collection and give a few to Goodwill. And here I am today, two cats, no kids. :)

Candice said...

I'm not sure there's much of a link. My favourite toys were puzzles and legos and knex, also make-believe games or role-playing but rarely the mom-dad games. I had one doll but he wasn't my baby in my imagination, he was my friend. Same with my stuffed animals. I was never a baby person either but I always knew I wanted children. Not in a loving "can't wait to have a baby" way, but in "I want to eventually raise a child" way.

Laura S. Scott said...

Candice, reading your comment I am assumming you have chosenn or are choosing to have a child not because you are dying for a baby but that you want the experience of raising a child. I think that is an important distinction to make. Your values and desires are what is motivating you to want to experience parenthood, not preconcieved notions of that is what little girls do...they grow up to be mommys. The fact that your childhood preferences for play did not include mommy and daddy role playing allows you the freedom to define how parenthood will be for you. Cool.

Dane in Disguise said...

I think it does. I also never played dolls. Recently, when visiting my parents, my sister in law was asking if they had any dolls from when I was a child that her daughter could play with. My mom said,"...eh..I don't believe we do. She never really had any." I do remember getting a doll for Christmas once and I wasn't interested at all...but I did play with it a little because I got it from my grandparents and I didn't want to be rude and show my disapproval.

I loved climbing trees, playing with Playmobil, lego and doing sports.

Arsenica Lace said...

Yeah, same here. I loooved all my stuffed animals and collected a bunch, and I liked my Barbie-dolls a lot because I could make odd and sexy outfits for them (I have later digged heavily into designing fetish/goth/burlesque wear for myself and friends)... But baby dolls didn't have my interest at all, if I got any they were just left in a corner. Luckily my family were quite good at seeing what to encourage, so they quickly stopped with the creepy baby dolls, and gave me tons of stuffed animals instead =D

wanderling said...

I think you're on the money here. I knew at age five that I never wanted children and said it. I never liked dolls and burst into disappointed tears when I was given one dressed in a wedding dress at age four. I thought it was scary, ha, and that was the last doll I was ever given. I was 10 when cabbage patch dolls burst onto the scene. I thought they were ugly and boring and suspected there was something seriously wrong with everyone wanting one. I can remember asking my mother if everyone was hypnotised. I have no idea what my very earliest favourite toys were although I did like my brothers skeletor castle and Heman figurines.

Morgan said...

Well I'm the same as most people commenting here. The dolls creeped me out and I ignored them. I dressed up my stuffed animals and made up adventures for them. I was 9 when I told my mother i didn't want to have kids.

CLPhoto said...

Interesting thoughts. I never liked or played with baby dolls, thought they were creepy, especially ones that wet...why would I want that was always my thought! I had a lot of stuffed animals, loved Barbie and building houses for them, and loved to read. I also enjoyed playing outside, as much as possible. I was never a baby person, didn't really hold many babies until my nieces were born and that was still uncomfortable, even though I was mid-30's by then. I would rather hold puppies any day! ha