Speaking Truth—Even while Playing with Barbies


13 June 2022

By Linda Stanbridge
Lexington, Michigan, USA

When my sister and I were young, we regularly hosted Barbie “weddings.” It was a summer highlight for far more years than was cool. Between us and our friends, tens of dolls attended this event in our sunroom each summer.

The wedding was always between our favorite Barbies and the one or two Ken boyfriend dolls available. Our Kens married every Barbie in our house more times than they could have counted.

I still have my Kens, and I enjoy sharing my old Barbies with my daughters. After all, the popular dolls have become American icons.

Our daughters often play Barbies with friends at daycare. Our oldest, five at the time, came home one summer and told me they had a Barbie wedding that afternoon. Great memories flooded my mind.

When I asked my daughter to tell me more, she said, “Well, there’s way more Barbies than Kens. I told them, just have these Barbies marry each other.” For her, it was a natural solution, one that never occurred to me as a child.

Because of our church family, we have been blessed with friends who represent diverse family types. This means our girls have friends with two moms, a single parent, a grandpa or grandma, adoptees, and foster families. We have witnessed the love of God present in many family types.

As parents, we do our best to instill in children the values important to us. It is difficult. But, somehow, when Jesus is the lens through which we try to lead our lives, our children end up speaking truth—at some risk to themselves and for the benefit of others.

I wish the rest of this story was that all the kids agreed to the inclusive solution, and all the Barbies got to play wedding that day. Instead, the kids said, “Boys can only marry girls, and girls can only marry boys.”

My daughter’s experience told her otherwise. I can only imagine her feelings when hearing this from her friends—and a teacher.

I would have understood if my daughter ended the conversation right there and moved on. It can be scary—for children and grown-ups—to push back, even after seeing a sacred truth.

But instead of remaining silent, this child of God spoke up. She said, “I told them, ‘That’s not true. We have friends who have two moms, and it’s not a big deal. People can marry whoever they want.’” Speaking truth into darkness is difficult, especially in the presence of people with more power or those we want to like us. But it is our responsibility to speak truth. I am incredibly proud of how brave and confident my daughter is.

As parents, we do our best to instill in children the values important to us. It is difficult. But, somehow, when Jesus is the lens through which we try to lead our lives, our children end up speaking truth—at some risk to themselves and for the benefit of others.

If you are a parent or guardian to a little one, I am sure you have gone to bed wondering whether you’ve loved them enough or taught them enough. I know I have. That night, after hearing my daughter tell of witnessing to God’s love being revealed in many relationships, I slept soundly.

I know God is working, even through the smallest voices and imperfect parenting. God is working all around us, and a little child shall lead us.

Amen.

About the Author

Linda Stanbridge

Linda Stanbridge (she/her) lives in Lexington, Michigan, USA, and is the invitational-support minister for the Michigan USA Mission Center. She is a doctoral student at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan, USA, and is a Community of Christ Seminary alumna.

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