Real Men Start With Play Kitchens


As gender roles change in our larger society, they are also changing on the playground. It isn't atypical to see a boy caring for a doll or a girl pushing a truck around in the sandbox. And at our park, all the kids gather near the three play kitchens and make meals.

My daughter has made spaghetti and hamburgers and everything under the sun while my son usually keeps breakfast foods covered -- pancakes, bacon, and sausage. The food is always delicious, of course, and never once has it occurred to me that my son, as a boy, shouldn't be in the kitchen.

Writer Judy Ketteler says, in an essay for AOL, that she has experienced otherwise with her 2-year-old son:

About a month ago, I started searching for play kitchens. What I discovered is that the majority of them were clearly geared toward little girls. If they weren't pink and purple, then they showed girls playing at them. Not only that, we've endured some teasing from people; it's more in-fun than mean-spirited, but still, it's enough to bring home the fact that we're traipsing on the hallowed ground of masculine identity in America.

Maybe it's because I live in the most progressive state in the union where almost everyone leans left, especially in my urban, educated area, but never once has it occurred to me that my son couldn't have a play kitchen. He loves them. When we go out to our favorite restaurant with a playroom, he always plays quietly with theirs. At school he does the same.

My daughter turns 4 next week, and for her birthday, we finally bought her the play kitchen she's been asking for, but really, it's a gift for both of them. We make them share his train table and we will make them share the kitchen. But I'm sure they will have no problem with it. My uber-masculine, truck loving toddler boy will love making dinner and lunch in it.

So, all this time, I thought I was raising a renaissance man. Until the other day.

"Can you help mommy make the birthday dinner?" my dad asked my son, who shook his blond toddler head vigorously.

"No! I a boy!"

Where did this come from? It turns out that somehow, despite his progressive preschool and family who splits household duties evenly, he was getting the message that only mommy cooks. I know where he got it, too. Daddy's idea of cooking has always been "if it takes longer to make than to eat, it's a waste." Yeah. His daddy isn't a foodie.

Mommy is almost always the one who bakes the bread and cookies or takes the lead in major cooking projects. A lot of this is because I love it, but somewhere my son got a different message and I hope the play kitchen will change that.

It will be interesting to see how my children use it, but it makes me sad that in this day and age, a boy with a play kitchen would even get a second glance. Maybe if my husband had a play kitchen, he might have learned the value of cooking from scratch and using good, local ingredients. And while I can't go back in time and change him, I can certainly help my son realize from an early age that cooking isn't just for girls and that creating good food in the kitchen is very manly, indeed.

Does your son have a play kitchen?


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miche... micheledo

We don't have a play kitchen, but all our boys LOVE playing with them.  Their grandparents have one that they play with for hours.  They love the one at church. 

I'm like you - surprised it's an issue.  I see boys ALL The time playing in the kitchen.

Katie Sasso

My two year old is fascinated watching me cook, do dishes, clean the house etc. so it was a no brainer that he get his own kitchen. The box it came in even has a boy and a girl on it. He's already playing pretend, bringing us the bowls to eat out of and all that

LoriA... LoriAnn87

my son has one and loves playing with his kitchen.

Slieu... Slieurance

The only reason my 3 year old son does not have a play kitchen is because we don't have any room where we live. Once we move into a house we will be getting him a play kitchen. He loves to play with them whenever we see them.

Anjie Orlowski

I have a 3 year old daughter (4 in April) and her little brother is due to arrive in April too. She has a play kitchen but only plays with it occasionally. I would imagine that our son will play with it quite a lot though, in order to imitate his daddy who does ALL the cooking. :)

kelli... kelli0585

Mine does!  As a matter of fact, he has that very kidcraft kitchen you have pictured.  $110 on Amazon, and it was waaaay cheaper and cuter than anything they sold at Toys R Us.


My Husband and I have been on the hunt for the perfect play kitchen for Our Son..Our amazing Little Man LOVES to cook and help Us in the kitchen, so it would def be perfect for Him. I hate how people say they are "only for girls"..hell no, they aren't! ANYONE can cook, no matter their gender. My Husband is an awesome cook, and some of the best chefs are men. I can't wait for my Son to cook His first meal..that will be at least a few years from now, though.

1likeme 1likeme

Yes there is a play kitchen in their play room.  I have not had a single person say a negative thing about it. 

Stefa... Stefanie83

my son doesn't have a play kitchen but he has kitchen toys.  he loves to pretend to cook, and to "help" us cook.

lilel... lilelvengirl

My son was 3 or 4 when he got his play kitchen. He loves it and even helps me in the kitchen with making lunch or dinner now. I got lots of questions from my family about it when they first heard me talk about it, but I pointed out that there's nothing wrong with boys cooking (my dad is an awesome cook) and it's not like I asked for a Barbie house (which reports from his daycare said he plays with too) for him. Grandma ended up getting one for him, it's all neutral/boy colors (green/white/tan) and doesn't look at all girly, and his cousin, who's a girl, now plays with it too. In the next year or two I'll probably get one to have at our house, so he can teach his love of cooking to his new little brother. I also realized the other day when my friend's daughter came over to our house to play, not all girls want to play with legos and cars, so having a kitchen gives the kids something they can play together. :-)

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