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Turning Bratz into Teacherz

“What should I do about those Bratz dolls?”

As a parenting
coach, I hear this question from time to time. Many parents find them
offensive–whether due to their clothing, makeup, or accessories like
the party bus with a hot tub and martini glasses. It’s not just parents
that worry, either: the Bratz dolls were specifically named in a report
by the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on the
Sexualization of Girls, who stated that it was “worrisome when dolls
designed specifically for 4 to 8 years olds are associated with an
objectified adult sexuality.”

So, what’s a
parent to do? Refuse to buy them? Outlaw them at home? But what about
when she goes to a friend’s house? And she wants them for her birthday!
Here are some suggestions.

Keep these thoughtz in mind:

  • Remind yourself
    that you only get to wage a certain number of battles in your parenting
    lifetime–so it’s smart to pick and choose them. Temper your response
    accordingly.
  • As offensive as
    you may find them to be, playing with Bratz doesn’t automatically do
    harm. Really! It’s not on the scale of, say, eating lead paint. Rather,
    their effect is on your daughter’s mind, her assumptions, her beliefs
    and values. And that effect, thank goodness, can be mitigated by an involved parent.
  • This is a teachable moment. Consider this an engraved invitation to talk to your daughter about at least one important belief, family value, or social construct.

Actionz to take:

  • Ask your
    daughter questions. What does she think of their clothes/makeup? How
    old does she think the dolls are? (Most kids say pre-teen or teen.)
    Does she know anyone that age who looks like that? If she saw a
    real-life person dressed in a short mini-skirt, fishnet stockings and a
    feather boa, what would she think of them? Does she think a real girl
    her age should dress like that? Why/why not?
  • Share your
    concerns. Calmly discuss your top 2 or 3 complaints with your daughter.
    Very important note: remember to present your opinions in gentle terms.
    If she identifies with the dolls, and you are overly critical of
    them–she may well experience your criticism as personal. It might be
    helpful to be prepared to throw in something positive about the dolls.
  • Compare and
    contrast how the dolls spend their time with how real pre-teens/teens
    spend their time. The Bratz motto is “Passion for Fashion”… ask your
    daughter about what she really feels passionate about. (also: where are the adults? Who bought that party bus?)

One last
thought–this is an opportunity to role-model that it’s possible for
parent and child to disagree, to discuss calmly and to still love each
other afterwards. You’re planting seeds of many varieties right
now–most importantly: (a) we can still discuss when we don’t agree, and
(b) it’s good to think critically about the messages/values we
encounter in our lives. Truly, those life lessons are some of the most
important and healthy ones we can teach our children. Let me know how
it goez.