Princesses, Cars and Nature vs. Nurture Parenting


Hallowe’en 2014.

We have two kids: a five-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy. We try not to push them in any specific direction when it comes to their interests. They have lots of different toys and books and whatever they are interested in, we help them learn more about it.

My wife always tells them, “There’s no such thing as girl toys or boy toys…you can play with whatever you want.”

But here’s the thing: Our daughter spends about 90 percent of her day playing with dolls and princesses and ponies—”girl toys”—and our son spends the same amount of time playing with cars and dinosaurs and whatever he can find that looks vaguely like a weapon—”boy toys”.

Of course, there is nothing unique about this. I saw Elizabeth Banks on The Tonight Show this week night talking about how her two boys are obsessed with trucks. Jimmy Fallon acknowledged that his girls, well…not so much.

mike football

Ready for a football game. Note the improved ball security from the previous photo—we have been practicing. Everett Golson could take lessons.

What I find fascinating is that, with almost no pushing in either direction, both kids automatically gravitate towards the things they are “supposed” to be interested in. There is some cross-over—Ava loves Star Wars and F1 racing and Michael has a favourite My Little Pony, Pinkie Pie (apologies to Mike if his friends find this post in 10 years)—but their favourites are definitely princesses and car, respectively.

Ava’s latest game is “adoption.” She sets up all her stuffed animals and dolls and pretends she is adopting them and that she has to take care of them as their mom. Michael likes to set up his dinosaurs in a circle around one smaller dinosaur and pretend they are all mauling it to death (his response if you tell him some of them are plant-eaters: “Not I care.”). When he plays cars, the cars mostly just smash into each other and flip upside down (“Them have crash!”).

We can tell them there are no boy or girl toys all we want (my wife said it this morning), but—in this case, anyway—nature has defeated nurture.

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