On Raising Well Rounded Men

It never ceases to amaze me that while girls love playing in dirt and boys can spend time at a toy kitchen, at the end of the day, there are such defining differences between the ways that boys and girls play.  I love watch Emmett get so excited about trucks and dinosaurs and a big heap of dirt in the back yard.  But the funny thing is, we never pushed him towards these things.  You will find toy food and my handmade rag doll that my mom made for me one Christmas in his bedroom right now.  And whenever we visit his cousins in Raleigh, he spends hours at Juliet's big toy kitchen.
So while I believe in training our little boys to be men that are strong and protective and adventurous, I also think there is something to be said about encouraging a softer side.  The side that may easily be ignored by the loud roar of dump trucks and train whistles, but is inside them none the less.

This is why you won't find us banning toy food and dishes and a few dolls from our little boys' room.  This is why you just might happen upon him feeding his stuffed animals and a few little dolls a nice picnic spread.  This is also why you shouldn't be surprised if some Christmas we just break down and buy him that toy kitchen he loves so much.
Because at the end of the day, I hope that these sweet sons of ours grow into strong men.  Men that whoop and holler and conquer the world.  Men that build things and climb tall things and play hard.  Men that live bold and brave and confident.

I also hope they become men that know how to cook their girls breakfast in bed.  Men that don't think dishes or laundry or rocking a baby is girls' work.  Men that know how to clean a toilet and change a diaper and braid their daughters' hair.  These well rounded men are so rare in our world, yet we need them so desperately.  We need less arrogant machismo-ism and more servant leadership.

So don't be surprised when you see our sons play with dolls and building train sets all in the same day.  We're just prayerfully, intentionally nudging them towards becoming men of gentle, courageous greatness.
Isn't this little man doll just the sweetest?! I am such a sucker for handmade toys and this one didn't disappoint.  Be sure to check out the entire line of Darling Dollies and Dapper Dudes by my talented friend Christine.  These would make the sweetest baby shower or birthday girls for little boys and girls alike!! 

Be sure to check out their blog here and their Instagram feed here.
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How do you encourage this in your sons?! I would love to learn from more experienced mamas that are reading today!! xo

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  1. I adore this!!! This is exactly how we're planning on raising our little man!

  2. I agree. I have 2 girls but we hope to raise them with a well rounded set of skills and interests that includes sports, science, and fixing stuff...in addition to reading, art/crafts, and cooking!

    (Hi! I've been following you (lurking quietly, haha) for the past few months and really enjoy your posts...I think our kids are about the same ages too (2 years & 5.5 months)...looking forward to reading more! Bless you!)

  3. Chelsy BontragerApril 1, 2015 at 3:40 PM

    Seriously Nicole...he is just waaaaaaay too adorable! His HAIR!! #swoon
    I love this post-totally agree!

  4. Love this! I have two little boys (almost 5 and 3) and a little daughter (15mo). My boys have loved playing kitchen for a long time and have had a kitchen of their own for a couple of years. They often join me in the kitchen to work so it's so much fun to hear them talk about making ravioli or quesadillas and whatnot.

    Before my daughter, my boys didn't really play with dolls much. They have each had a doll since a little before she was born, but the dolls mostly just stayed in their beds. Now that she is here, has dolls and a cradle and a stroller of her own, they are much more ready and eager to play dolls. I certainly encourage this and tell them often that they will be great daddies one day. The fact that they have a great daddy themselves to model this is wonderful too!

    I like that you pointed out that some differences are innate, but that doesn't mean our kids are boxed in by their natural dispositions. Both my daughter and my sons love to be outside, be adventurous, and to take care of others. Each of which are qualities to be nurtured!

  5. Amen! I want to share this a million times over and probably will. Gentle, courageous men is the best combo out there. Leading with humility is such a beautiful thing!

  6. and all the mamas of little girls said 'amen'. ;) XOXO

  7. yes! i definitley think it goes both ways . . . though my only frame of reference at this point is for boys. great job on your end as well!! and thanks for saying hi!! i always LOVE when readers take time to share and say hey. you are a gem. XOXO

  8. i KNOOOW! you should see it after his baths... TOTAL ringlets of curls around his face. cannot even bring myself to cut it off right now even though everyone thinks he needs a hair cut. haha. ;) XO

  9. i LOVE that your boys have had a kitchen! SO fun!! and yes! knowing that our boys have an amazing man to model this stuff makes me SO happy. thanks for sharing. XO

  10. haha! ;) you are the sweetest. and i know you are going to be an amazing mama someday! XO

  11. Yes! Except, you should make your own play kitchen because 1.) it will be more durable 2.) it will be more affordable 3.) it will be more personal 4.) it will make an awesome blog post 5.) I want to see pics of your creativity at work. :) The entertainment center to play kitchen ones are especially cool to see the transformation on!

  12. Yep! I love this post! We just bought our boys a baby doll to practice on while they are waiting for their sibling to arrive. We don't have a kitchen, but they love playing with the one at Grandma's. And my oldest (4) loves to scrub the tub for me, on a couple months I'm teaching him how to start a load of laundry and possibly get cleaning that toilet. :-)

  13. you are SUCH a good mama! i'm looking forward to emmett being a bit old so i can teach him all the good stuff around that house that will make his wife adore him someday. haha ;) XO

  14. I love this take. I'm not a mother but I agree that it's important for kids to be able to explore, embrace their imaginations, and cultivate characteristics like empathy regardless of gender.

  15. yes yes yes!! i can tell you will be a wonderful mama someday!! XO