Thanks to a friend on Facebook (thanks, MB), I found information on a new American Girl doll. She is fantastically crafted. She has her own story, like all American Girl dolls, telling where she has been, what social atrocity she has faced and how she has overcome great odds to come home with your little girl. The best part is: she’s homeless!
Gwen found herself living in her car with her children after her husband left them. And, for only $95, your children could be educated regarding social injustice!
How does this now teach children about homelessness and social responsibility? I’m seriously asking, because I am clueless. I would much rather discuss homelessness with my child and take her with me to volunteer at a soup kitchen or a women’s facility where real women have faced these issues. I would also like to take the $102.60 ($95 plus tax) I would spend on the doll (not including accessories) and donate it to said soup kitchen or shelter. This is education.
Being Kari is only 3 and would not understand some of the concepts, Chris and I have not gone into social issues with her; however, the recommended age for these dolls is 8 and up. Here is a suggested list for parents to do with their 8 and over children to teach them about actual social issues.
It doesn’t really matter where or for what in the beginning, but have them volunteer for things. Have them recognize that help does not always have to be paid, but rather is appreciated. Volunteer at church, help set up for library story time, or have them read, play piano, etc. at a senior facility. This gets them into the mindset of doing for others for the sake of others, and to appreciate the happiness they give to others.
My parents taught me things at the level which I could understand. And they told me the truth, Santa and Easter Bunny excluded, but they always told me what and why it happened/was wrong, and why the person did it (they were mad, mental, etc.). This helped me grow up with an acute awareness of what happens in the world around me and a mentality to rationally do what I can to help negate some of these social issues.
Freely talk about differences. Not talking about something creates and unknown. Unknown in children’s minds translates into something scary or bad. My favorite phrase, “A confused mind says no,” applies here. Talk about differences in culture, race, sexual orientation and class. It’s hard for many people to remove opinions, but by providing children with the facts, this allows them to form their own opinions. Then, answer any follow up questions they may have.
In a practical sense, I feel these solutions teach children much more about life than a mass produced toy. Besides, children have priceless imaginations that work just fine without $95 dolls.