Robin and Her Dolls

Here Robin spends some time with her dolls, Chou Chou and Emma. She’s been obsessed with babies and dolls for many, many years. This has been a source of debate and conflict as those around her attempt to guide her towards a more mature lifestyle. Is it better to discourage her from playing with dolls or to support her intense desire for this kind of activity?


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3 responses to “Robin and Her Dolls

  1. Why not support Robin playing with dolls? She enjoys it! This idea that adults can’t play is pretty repressive, just like the idea that boys can’t wear pink. Why not? It’s not socially normative, but it gives her pleasure, and it doesn’t impair her life in any way. She’s already doing a lot of “mature” tasks in life like living independently and working. She should be able to play with dolls if she’d like to.

    The heavier underlying concept here, I think, is whether Robin has desire to have a child of her own, and how that subject gets talked about. Whether she has space to wonder about it, ask questions about it, and mourn that opportunity that she may not have. Doll play is fantasy play at such a basic level: does she identify with the dolls, seeing herself as a baby, and/or as the caretaker? How does she feel cared for by the people in her life, and how does she get to show care for you?

    Thanks for posting this, Jen!

    • Well, I am the one who bought “Chou Chou” for her… so I try to be supportive. I think that a lot of people are uncomfortable around her when she is doting on a doll. And most of us prefer that she play with them at home… she knows they are not allowed at work or at certain people’s homes. I do think that when others are present it detracts from the interaction. For example, when we were at her house and she focused her energy on her doll instead of Evan, I thought it was kind of odd. Here is a REAL child for her to play with and she opts for the doll.

      Of course you nailed it with the observation that it stems from a visceral desire for her own kid… so certainly a doll is a nice substitute. Sometimes my mom or I will acknowledge this but reinforce the fact that it’s not a viable option.

      I think she probably does identify with the doll but also wants very much to feed/clothe/diaper/rock a baby herself. The most basic way she is cared for and shows her care is through the phone. She is in CONSTANT contact with everyone in her life, especially our mom.

  2. Ellen Ingraham

    I see the cradle has found a welcoming new home with Robin, and it’s cool that this video is a group effort of many of the babies that have slept in it, past and present, real and make believe.

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