Dr. Phil Wants to Make My Son Cry

Dr. Phil is on my shit list.  Here’s why. 

His advice on parenting a boy who likes to play with girl toys and wear girl clothes?  Don’t let him.

Get your best Texas twang ready, because here are his words exactly.

“Direct your son in an unconfusing way. Don’t buy him Barbie dolls or girl’s clothes. You don’t want to do things that seem to support the confusion at this stage of the game. Take the girl things away, and buy him boy toys. Most importantly, support him in what he’s doing, but not in the girl things.” – Dr. Phil McGraw.

 I want to scream and cry and become defensive and find comfort in chocolate.


You, C.J., need to stop playing with girl toys.

1.) “Direct your son in an unconfusing way.  Don’t buy him Barbie dolls or girl’s clothes.”

Um, hi, if I took away all of C.J.’s girl toys he would be nothing but confused.  There would be no “unconfusing” way to do it or to never buy him girl toys again.  Children are not simpletons.

C.J. would be confused as to why mommy and daddy won’t let him play with the things that he loves to play with most.  He would be confused as to why he can’t play with girl toys, but girls can play with boy toys.  He would be confused as to why his big brother gets to select his own toys, but he does not.

To me it’s like saying, what you like is not okay.  And, that is not okay.

C.J. would have every right to be confused.  I imagine that it would be like telling me that I should and could only enjoy hobbies and things that I hate.  I could go to the supercross, but not the spa.  Go to the auto parts stores, but not the mall.  Study martial arts, but not celebrity gossip.  Drink beer, but not martinis.

Furthermore, besides feelings of confusion, C.J. might experience feelings of rejection, abuse of power, extreme jealousy and inadequacy.  I’m not willing to subject my son, either one, ever, to those feelings.


According to Dr. Phil, C.J. can no longer play with these.


2.) “You don’t want to do things that seem to support the confusion at this stage of the game. Take the girl things away, and buy him boy toys.”

Right.  Take all of the girl toys away.  I don’t even want to imagine what that would do to my child.  Really, Dr. Phil?  Take away all of C.J.’s girl toys?  That would leave him with his brother’s old Thomas the Tank Engine trains, a few crappy toys that accompanied Happy Meals, a Nerf gun, a plastic cowboy and Indian set that Pa and Nana Grab Bags brought back from a trip to Dallas and a few other odds and ends that he has no passion for.  He plays with none of these toys, but I keep them in his room, mixed in with his girl toys in case the mood to play with boy toys ever strikes.  It hasn’t.

And, does the Woody doll from Toy Story count?  Because it is a boy, but it is also a doll.  What about his set of pink Legos?  Legos are, for the most part, marketed to boys, but pink is a girl’s color and it came with a girl mini-fig and a tiny hairbrush for her and her horse to share (gross).   What about his Scooby Doo character set?  Should I toss Daphne and Velma and leave Scooby, Shaggy and Fred?

Dr. Phil really needs to be more specific.

Also, I’d like to know if he gives the same advice to parents with little girls who want to play with cars, baseballs and super hero action figures.  Would he tell a tomboy’s parents that their daughter might grow up to be too strong, too tough, too independent, too masculine, too….not normal, not okay?

Imaginative play is encouraged in our house.  No matter the character, no matter the gender.


According to Dr. Phil, C.J. is allowed to play with these.


3.) “Most importantly, support him in what he’s doing, but not in the girl things.”

Nice.  Only support half of your child; you can support all of them if they fall in the range of “normal.”  I should support C.J.’s brother because he is into video games, baseball, skateboarding and fart jokes.  But, I shouldn’t support C.J. completely because he likes dolls, playing beauty parlor, doing girly sticker books and walking around in my high heels.  Support him, but only half way.  Let him know that only certain parts of him are okay.  To me this is the worst suggestion of the bunch.  We all deserve to be celebrated all the way.

Dr. Phil goes on to say that “this is not a precursor to your son being gay, he’ll know that in time…this is not an indication of his sexual orientation.”

Another important Dr. Phil quote?

“Homosexuality is not a learned behavior. A sexual orientation is inherited; you are wired that way.”

So what does it matter if C.J. plays with girls toys now if his sexual orientation already lay dormant inside of him waiting to blossom in adolescence?  What does it matter what a kid plays with?  That’s the answer I want.  I want a reason.  Dr. Phil doesn’t want C.J. to play with girl toys, but why?  Why not?  He doesn’t say — and that is dangerous.  I’m just supposed to take his word and follow his commandments because he said so?  I’m not that kind of girl.

And, I don’t understand why he tells guests “Jessica and Thomas” about their cross-dressing toddler twins: “Get over it! This isn’t a sex role identification thing, a gender issue or a gay issue.”

How come toddlers can cross-dress and their parents need to get over it, but C.J. can’t play with girl toys and I need to take them all away?

Dr. Phil, in his latest large article on parenting, advises parents:

–               Don’t fight individuality

–               Do embrace a child’s nuances 

–               Don’t label the child

–               Don’t ignore an issue that matters to your child

–               Do empower

–               Don’t pick wrong battles

–               Do consider child’s desires

Thanks Dr. Phil, I’m doing these things, but I guess it doesn’t matter when your boy plays with dolls.


About raisingmyrainbow

RaisingMyRainbow.com is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
This entry was posted in All Posts, Main Site Header and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Dr. Phil Wants to Make My Son Cry

  1. And what are his thoughts on girls that want to play with trucks?

    Should we take those away too?

    Toys are toys, let your kids be kids and play.

  2. Mel says:

    He is a fool and a bully, but he is well known and largely follow, which is incredibly worrying.
    You’re an awesome mum. My siblings and I are really lucky to have the mum we do. My little brother always wanted a baby doll, not only did my mum get him one but over the years she also bought him a pram and special outfits (they were custom made because the doll Tommy was a boy) for different occasions. Why force gender roles when kids don’t care and should just be allowed to be happy.

  3. Pingback: Gendered Toys? Define Gender | ThinkIts

  4. Truebug says:

    Ha! I just posted on your last blog entry that no one lambasted Dr. Phil! Guess I know now where all the comments were… Silly me.

  5. meetkristenlavallee says:

    This made me laugh! Dr.Phil is a joke.

  6. Kevin Smith says:

    Phil is an ass. So many of the things that spill from his face make it obvious that he hasn’t a clue most times what he is talking about. But sadly he thinks he does. Turn the channel…

  7. shelly ponce says:

    oh my, i think we are forgeting that we introduce toys to our children so it would in no way be anymore confusing to impliment age and gender appropriate toys to them now. the fact a male child likes barbies doesnt seem odd to me at all… whynot get to undress a naked woman at the age of 4 or 5. Healthy admiration perhaps fantasys are starting with dolls somewhat anatomically correct. And while your at it, buy him gender appropriate toys. they can and will assist in helping him astablish his idenity…. as a male. i find by not doing so this may by far cause more confusion. and in pretending with our children that basic jender lines donot even exsist their lack of forsight is deminished aswell. if you pretend nothing is wrong… the big ugly world will tell him quicker faster and crueler that anything Dr. phil might say. give them boundries, rules, gender appropriate toys, and above all your full attention and facination with their diverse love of other things. even asking why they like them….later in their pre and early teens, then it becomes thier choice, their rainbow. Not your desire to make a rainbow.

    • Steve says:

      Why would you want to box some one in to a set of “gender lines”?

      Why would you want to repress their individuality?

      She isin’t trying to “make a rainbow” by embracing who he is or by giving CJ what he wants. To say that it is a “choice” to become a rainbow is a false statement. Sexual orientation isin’t fluid, You don’t get the choice of deciding whether you’d like to be gay or straight tomorrow. It doesn’t work that way.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is why I hate Dr. Phil. He’s a jerk, and a blithering idiot.

    I’m an extremely feminine heterosexual 25 year-old woman. Until I was about 15 years old, I was what everyone around me called a “tomboy”. I hated most girls’ clothing; if it had lace or a ribbon, I refused to wear it. Dresses? Forget it. Heels? No WAY. I spent most days playing in the woods, catching bugs, frogs, and lizards. I adored and diligently cared for my pets, which included a cat, rabbit, and parakeets. I loved playing with toy dinosaurs (I wanted to be a paleontologist for many years, and then later, a SCUBA instructor). I took great delight in video games (in those days, there were never any titles aimed at a female audience, unlike today). I loved to read books about animals and science, and would excitedly read my grandfather’s issues of National Geographic as soon as we arrived at his home for a visit. My grades were stellar. As a preteen, when the other girls were wearing lip gloss and blue eyeshadow and carrying purses, I refused. I wore Timberland hiking boots, loose jeans, and t-shirts. My long hair was clean and brushed, but never styled beyond a simple ponytail held with a rubber elastic. Make-up was out of the question. I was left out when other girls were whispering excitedly about their crushes and passing love notes in class. If I liked a boy, I didn’t tell anyone because I knew he wouldn’t like me back. I didn’t have many female friends, either. Needless to say, middle school was a miserable experience for me.

    Worst of all, my parents were clearly ashamed of me. Kids are far more perceptive than adults think they are. My mom would express her disgust openly and often, sighing and rolling her eyes at me in front of relatives and friends, and making comments that truly hurt my feelings. When a female relative was expecting a new baby and excitedly talking about its gender (unknown at the time), my mom frowned and discreetly nodded her head in my direction, murmuring “well, I WANTED a girl, but I got another boy. I imagined tea parties, dresses, and all sorts of those things, but NO.” I once heard my mom telling a friend on the phone that my dad was worried that I might be a lesbian (I was about 12 at the time). When I excitedly told my mom that I was the only girl in my middle school to have top placement in the National Science Olympiad test or that I’d won an award for an achievement at school, I was met with silence. I was placed in a gifted class, and my family had little to no reaction. My older brother was extremely cruel, frequently calling me a lesbian outright to hurt my feelings and making fun of my appearance and boys’ lack of interest in me, and then denying it if I tried to talk to my parents about it (who never said a word to him about it). I was sad and depressed a lot. I was ashamed of myself and had low self-esteem. I had teachers who seemed concerned and probably had an idea of what was going on. I’m sure they felt sorry for me, but they never did anything to help.

    In high school, I gradually took an interest in more feminine things and went on to become very girly, but with a wide variety of interests. I moved far away to go to college. I’m now married (to a man who loves me for who I am, and we’ve been together for seven years) and successful in my career. I’ve been told in recent years that I’m stylish, charming, intelligent, talented, and attractive. But you know what? I never really believe it. I struggle with my self-esteem and sense of self-worth to this day, when I know I shouldn’t. I’m always very concerned with my appearance, even when it doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter. I’m very cautious and insecure about how I present myself to others.

    No matter what idiots like Dr. Phil have to say….not allowing children to be who they are is damaging. I’m speaking from experience.

    • jvoor says:

      I am so sorry that this happened to you! My sister was very similar to you growing up. Both of us were tomboys, and I have continued to be, and am in fact queer. My sister on the other hand, who was even more of a tomboy than me, hit puberty and began exploring more feminine stuff, and is now very much a girly-girl in terms of gender expression, while also totally kick-ass at house renovation and construction. Yes, let’s break the gender binary! Thank-fully my parents have always supported us, even when we were tomboys and have encouraged us to be use our brains and our bodies and be strong women, whatever that looks like for us. While my sister struggles with self-esteem around body image, and it has taken a while for my mom to accept my sexuality, gender expression was not something we were judged on, I am glad to say. I am sorry that you are continuing to struggle with the damage from your family. I am glad that you have found someone who supports and loves you for who you are.

  9. M Scheldon says:

    I love that you won’t just take one “celebrity’s advice”! You are doing the right things and making the world a better place by loving your child for EXACTLY who he is!

  10. OMB says:

    When I was a kid my father took away all my girly stuff. I’m a teen now and I feel empty because As I grow and see the world, meet other people.. It made me realize how deprived I was when I was a kid.

    PARENTS, Always support your kids no matter what.

  11. Pinkboymom says:

    Boys can’t play with girl toys, but it’s ok to cheat on your wife? Didn’t dr. Phil have an affair? Who the hell is he to tell kids which toys they are allowed to like? Maybe dr. Phil shouldn’t like the buffet table at his studio as much as he does, but I’m ok with him eating whatever he likes. Can’t he give kids the same freedom?

  12. Kelly says:

    My son showed “signs” of being gay when he was very young. My mother said “Don’t let him wear your jewelry” or “Don’t let him wear do….” whatever seemed too feminine for a boy. I understood, but I let him be himself rather than try to change the things he liked. He liked boy things too, after all.

    Today my son is 22, graduated from UC San Diego (in only 3 years), working on his master’s degree, 6’3″, handsome, and, as my grandfather would have said, gay as a 3 dollar bill. We are an “out” family. Everyone knows my son is gay. I have a Human Rights Campaign equal sign sticker on my car. I have stood on a street corner protesting against Prop 8 with a sign that said “Violent criminals can marry who they love but my son can’t marry his boyfriend”. I stopped going to my dog groomer when she put bumper stickers on her car saying it takes a mom and a dad to be a family. And on and on and on.

    Too many people who call themselves Christian are the ones who get a look on their face when I say “my son’s boyfriend”. They are also the ones who slip up and make anti-gay comments in my presence, then quickly apologize. And on and on and on.

    So I protest Prop 8, go to gay pride events, stop doing business where my son isn’t welcome, and call out anyone who makes anti-gay statements. And on and on and on. Because… he… is… MY SON.

  13. Pingback: dr. phil is being a jackass. tomorrow: sun rises in east. « femme guy!

  14. Well, Dr. Phil has outed himself as being horribly transphobic. That’s helpful information to know. He has no more business advising parents on raising their children than my cat Gilda. And at least Gilda knows how to give unconditional love.

  15. Pingback: Someone else wrote it… | Schooling Inequality

  16. Abby says:

    First, I would like to say, I have never liked Dr Phil. I have always thought he was phony and false so I probably look for reasons to not like him even more. I do not have to look very hard. He’s right- why wouldn’t you want to support your child so that he or she becomes what you think they should become (like a psychologist, perhaps)? Why would you want them to walk their own path, blaze their own trails, become their own person? They might succeed, or worse, make a difference. It’s unfortunate that CJ has to grow up in a world where it’s empowering for a little girl to play with trucks but little boys who play with dolls should be discouraged and given trucks. I really hope CJ’s generation will be raised to accept and love other people just the way they are and the only labels they have are on their clothes.

  17. Heather says:

    It makes me sad that there are ‘girl toys’ and ‘boy toys’. I just don’t understand why kids just can’t have toys. Toys are fun and they should be able to pick the ones they like – period. I have three boys, and we are constantly discussing why pink isn’t just a girl color, why boys can play with dolls and kitchens if they want, and that boys can like boy singers (my son gets teased at school because he likes Justin Bieber…). Kids know the difference because the toys are separated on the shelf. All of the girls barbies with pink dresses, or babies with pink outfits… The boys toys are the guns, fighting characters, and such. People are so scared that they are going to make their children gay. I’ve always believed that letting a boy play with ‘girl’ toys doesn’t confuse them or make them homosexual. If they just let kids play with any toys, they will all be more rounded individuals, and in the end, they will be who they are – all on their own…

  18. Mike O'Malley says:

    CJ’s mom,
    Once again, it seems your advice and parenting expertise trump Dr. Phil anyday. Keep doing what your doing because you are the voice of many parents that want to do the right thing by their children. Your blog is amazing and brilliant. Keep writing and guiding. People are reading and listening.

  19. Carl says:

    My first question is …

    Whose confusion is he worried about? Seems like CJ isn’t confused at all. As for everyone else … pfffft! Get over yourself. Toys are outlets for imagination and that’s it. It’s the adults of the world, dealing with their childhood demons and narrow gender stereotypes, who are confused. My own very “boy” boys played with Barbie for years as part of their toy collection. Although their tastes have changed, they still engage in creative imagination play at 10 and 12, involving “action figures” aka dolls.

    Ignore the “Doctor” and trust your instincts. You and your husband know your children better than anyone else. In the case of CJ and CJ’s Brother, you are the Resident Expert.

    (PS I was … am … a CJ, too. I guess you never outgrow the initials.)

  20. bobito says:

    Dear CJ’s Mom – you certainly don’t need Dr. Phil’s advice on how to raise your child. Dr. Phil is not an expert, he’s just a “celebrity” advice maven. This advice is only useful for parents who want to instill strong feelings of shame their children, to let them know that they have to pretend to be a certain way or they will no longer be ‘worthy’ of being loved. Believe me, it carries into adulthood.
    True story – my parents bought me a bicycle when I was 6, the stipulation being I had to stop playing with the girls in my neighborhood. (I wasn’t REALLY offered a choice – they bought the bicycle, then told me I couldn’t have it unless… crafty, right?) So I had a bike (took me forever to learn how to ride the damn thing, which was another major adventure in shame) but no friends for a few years. About 12 years later, I saw one of the girlfriends I’d given up for the bike back then – she told me how hurt she had been by my rejection of her, and how she resented it everytime she saw me riding my bike.
    I read your blog and take heart that CJ’s childhood will not be like mine was.

  21. PaulaO says:

    I take nothing he says as serious. Nothing. He’s out for only himself and the money he can make. The problem is so many people think he is IT. He Knows Everything About Whatever. And he doesn’t.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Phil – interesting reading.

  22. Colleen says:

    This disturbs me deeply. What kind of advice is this? I cannot even imagine what doing something like this would do to a child’s sense of self. Shame on Dr. Phil.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s