Barbie has received her share of insults over the last few years from Mom’s who don’t like the way she looks or dresses. They don’t care for her multitude of aspirations nor her unattainable body. I, therefore, found it refreshing to read an article in which an author complimented Barbie.
The article, “Thanks, Barbie, for making me a better parent,” is written by Washington Post reporter, Theresa Blackinton. Ms. Blackinton shares her love for Barbie as a child, her rejection of Barbie as a soon-to-be parent, and her newfound admiration as the mother of two children, three and five.
I strongly suggest you read the entire article but if you are short of time, here are some of my takeaways:
It is important to accept what your child wants and loves, whether you like it or not. Ms. Blackinton puts it this way.
There are lots of potential parenting lessons here: The reminder that you don’t really know anything about parenting until you actually do it. The importance of letting children have their own interests, even when they’re not what we wanted, hoped or dreamed. The necessity of accepting the mess, the millions of small parts that come standard issue with childhood. But the truth is, I’ve embraced Barbie for reasons that are much more self-serving. Barbie makes me a better parent.
Barbie is an excellent tool for enabling parent-child communication.
My children often answer my questions about their days at kindergarten and preschool with abbreviated responses that provide me little real information, but when they are playing with Barbie, they recreate their days in exacting detail….when I hear her Barbie say that she’s scared of the dark or announce that she’s not going to play with another Barbie because she’s being too mean, I know my daughter is expressing something she doesn’t feel comfortable saying outright.
What most struck me as I read the article is that Barbie is, indeed, something very special. Girls want to play with her, yes, because of peer pressure and advertising, but also because she is a tool for learning how to live in a very scary adult world. Whether it is about friendship, boys, mean girls, the dark and, yes, Coronavirus, Barbie is a valuable tool in acting out how to manage through problems and be brave.
Barbie is certainly not the only doll on the store shelf but for whatever reasons, she has proved to be special for generations of children. Barbie has the “It Factor,” that special something that is ultimately undefinable. She has meaning to children, primarily girls, and she is to be honored and appreciated for that. And Barbie is changing with the times. She has to so she can fit into a very different world from that which former Barbie girls, (Moms, Grandmas and Greatgrandmas), lived and played.
Through Barbie, a child with aspirations can live out being an astronaut, a doctor, an explorer, and a great Mom. Interesting approach, don’t you think?