I Hate Playing Barbies: Finding Parenting Moments in Play

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Yes. I said it. And I used the “h” word because I feel so strongly about it. 

When my 7yo asks me to play Barbies, it takes everything within me to say “yes.” I have to stop and remind myself that saying “no,” is saying no to her – not the activity. Groan, stupid thoughtful parenting books

So I dutifully climb upstairs to the Barbie lair (her bedroom) before executing a series of delay tactics my own daughter uses at bedtime – I’m thirsty. Finally, I set my timer for ONE HOUR and settle in to play. 

Y’all…that is the longest hour of my day, and she practically cries when it’s over and begs me for more time. 

But not too long ago, something amazing happened…

I don’t remember exactly how, but during our hour-long Barbie playtime, an opportunity presented itself to turn Barbie’s situation into a life learning lesson. I’m sure it had something to do with Ken acting like a jerk. But it sparked a new approach to Barbie play. 

I still don’t look forward to it, but now when I sit down, I have a life lesson in mind and direct the situations and conversations Barbie has towards that life lesson. 

Seriously, Barbie life lessons? YES. 

Through Barbie play, we’ve discussed boys, what makes a good friend, messy roommates (a not so subtle nod towards my own tiny roommates), career choices and the list goes on. 

I’ve never been more proud of my daughter’s kind spirit than the day I decided to tackle LGBTQ+ as a life lesson. My Barbie “Snow” confessed to her best friend (my daughter’s Barbie) that she really thought she liked girls instead of boys. Snow felt scared about what people would think, even those closest to her.

My beautiful daughter responded with a simple, “You like who you like, it doesn’t change us being friends.” 

I tear up again thinking about it. In our house, we value LOVE and KINDNESS and leave the judging to someone much smarter than any of us. 

Barbie play has given me a non-threatening platform for discussing difficult subjects with my tiny human. 

I’m embarrassed to admit, I haven’t had as many of these deep life lessons with my OLDER son. When I talk to him about these things, it requires a sit-down conversation, followed by a groan that he knows something BIG is headed his way. 

But thanks to Barbies, all I have to say to my daughter is “wanna play barbies?” and she’s racing me up the stairs. 

While I’m enjoying this run of life lessons…I still don’t enjoy playing Barbies on a grand scale. And sadly, my life lesson often doesn’t last the full hour of play. 

One day she’ll catch on to what I’m doing. I know she’ll feel annoyed instead of excited that I’m playing with her. And when that day comes, I’ll be off the hook for Barbies. Until then, I’m going to play and teach and learn from her along the way. 

I’d love to hear about any unexpected platforms for life lessons you’ve discovered with your kids – especially boys! We are each other’s virtual village, and I’m grateful for your support and encouragement. 

Much Love – H 

2 COMMENTS

  1. We have a no Barbie rule in our house, but this was super cute and encouraging of using toys to problem solve and role play real life problems.

  2. Thank you for the idea! My girl inherited my huge barbie collection (I didn’t have many adults…had pets, horses, babies, heart family, lots kids, Annie characters, etc) and SHE also has the princesses… she loves playing with me! I played barbies myself til age 11. I don’t know why it drives me nuts to play with her now!!

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