Why It Matters That LEGO Made an At-Home Dad Minifig
You’ve probably heard by now that LEGO unveiled their new series of minifigs. LEGO minifigs have become a sought after collector’s item by fellow LEGO fanatics the world over. At this year’s New York Toy Fair, people were introduced to some firsts: A figure with a wheelchair, as well as a modern day family that includes a dad with a stroller and a baby, with a working mother.
You might be wondering why this is such a big deal. After all, they’re just toys, right?
In 2005, when my oldest, Thing 1, was in kindergarten, I would get off of work from my graveyard shift, pick up Thing 2 who was just a baby at the time, and a little while later we would leave to pick up Thing 1 from kindergarten. While I was there, with Thing 2 in his stroller, there were very few fathers at pick-up. It was typically just myself and one or two other dads and as such, most of the mothers would not speak to us. Many wouldn’t even stand near us. They acted like we had some airborne disease that would annihilate their entire family if they got too close.
Back then, dads on the playground were treated like predators waiting to strike. All of these years later, most of that has changed but we still have a long way to go. This LEGO minifig set won’t completely level the playing field, but it is a step in the right direction. It normalizes what once was an alternative home life and shows kids that not only are mothers capable of caring for babies, but fathers are, too. It shows that fathers can be just as nurturing and competent at child rearing as mothers have always been viewed.
This is also a major win for mothers because it normalizes – and will hopefully lead to reducing the guilt felt by many working mothers – families where the mothers are the primary bread winners . When I was an at-home dad after being laid off in 2011, my wife went from working part time to getting full time employment and after a short while, she felt guilty for working like she was and felt as if she was a bad mother because she wan’t home to kiss our kids’ boo-boos. She acknowledged that this was a silly thing to be upset over, but also felt like she wasn’t fulfilling her motherly duties.
While I’m doubtful that kids glean as much influence from toys and their social messages as some circles claim (I’m looking at you, Barbie body image folks), I do feel that breaking down these stereotypes through the toys that our children play with a good thing.