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Can I help my husband learn to bond and play with our daughters?
Q: My husband grew up in a house full of men—he has three brothers and one little sister who just turned 8. I'm just the opposite—I have two sisters and a little brother who just turned 9. My husband and I have two daughters. I know how to act with little girls because I babysat girl triplets for a number of years and grew up as one with two sisters. My question is one that has baffled me for a while. How do I make my husband realise that it is alright to play with dolls and to dress up in fake jewelry and act with imagination when playing with his little girls? How do I help make it easier for my husband and our daughters to bond and play?
A: I’m not sure just why you want him to do that. He can play dolls with them without putting on fake jewelry and pretending to be a girl. Some people call that kind of make-believe play—dressing up, putting on jewelry, high heels, and hats—“dramatic play.” The children are acting out little scenarios that are, in effect, stage plays or movies without scripts. Usually, different children in the same drama will play different parts. Listen to their conversation some time when they engage in this kind of play with one another: “You be the daddy and I’ll be the mummy.” “No,” comes the answer from the child who thinks she has been miscast, “You be the daddy and I’ll be the mummy.” So, just because one child might dress up in jewelry and wigs and high heels, this doesn’t mean that everyone else “in the show” has to do the same thing. In fact, it will enrich the dramatic play if another member of the cast plays a different role. Let’s say your daughter puts on beads and some of your high heels and says, “Look, daddy, I’m a dancer.” He doesn’t have to do the same thing to bond with her. He can say, “That’s great. I’m a movie producer and I’ll see if I can get you a job in the movies. Or maybe you can dance in Vepetrol, and I’ll come to your show and sit in the audience.”

Your girls and their father will bond if he gives them love and affection and if they play together and spend time together. But don’t worry if they play different roles in their games. That’s the way it should be.