So I finally gave in to my 9 year old daughter yesterday when I bought her one of these “hijabibarbie” type dolls.
For about the last three years or so I had refused to buy her one and had hoped she would “grow” out of wanting one. In my mind I didn’t want her growing up with this particular image of how she should look (she has far too many “idealistic images” already bombarding her via media and advertising!).
Don’t get me wrong she has her fair share of ragdolls, homemade style crocheted cuddly dolls and various others. Just not the tall, blonde, slim, fair, red lipped, out of proportion, plastic “barbie” types.
The other day however, we were out having a “mother and daughter” day and she saw some.
As expected she instantly spinned around , looked at me with her innocent little face and pleaded me with those lovely eyes of hers, mashaAllah laquwata illa billah.
If you’re a parent/ aunt/ uncle/ grandparent/ older sibling or anyone who spends time with young children then I’m pretty sure you know EXACTLY what I am talking about!
My instant reaction was the same it has been on many occasions before- an immediate “dont even think about it!”
The poor girl was so confused as we walked away but this time a few steps later she demanded an explainaition.
“But WHY? Why do you hate these dolls?”
I looked at her and thought its time, she deserves an explainaition.
“Well, I just dont want you to think this is how you should look as you get older.”
“What do you mean?”, she looked genuinely confused.
“Well, i just dont want you to grow up thinking that this is how you should look- you know…with light skin, blue eyes or a skinny and very tall body and legs, because thats just not how Allah swt has made you and you shouldnt feel you need to be a certain way. You might end up feeling ungrateful towards Him amd you might not be happy with yourself”, I explained with a sense of responsibility maintaining eye contact the whole way through, a real serious look on my face.
Well the look on her face was… well imagine the look a person might give when they think you have completely “lost the plot”.
“Its just a doll… Im just going to play with it, its just a toy!”, her “lovely” eyes rolling.
“Ok well if you put that way…”.
And so she got her doll, surprisingly they had different “shades” of dolls and ofcourse it helped that the doll was appropriately covered.
However, this whole experience made me question my parenting.
Had I been too harsh in my decisions of the past?
Should I have had this conversation sooner to check her understanding?
Had my failure in this aspect of parenting deprived her of many hours of fun?
Had my overthinking and protectiveness deprived my dear daughter part of a “normal” childhood experience?
One thing was for sure, I had underestimated that my daughter is now at an age where her sense of logic and intelligence has developed way more then I realised and it has since made me realise that I need to “discuss” issues more openly with her if I am to know what she actually thinks rather then just “lay down the law” and assume she wont understand.
Another parenting lesson learnt.