My 4 year old grandson will only play with girl toys. My daughter and husband criticize me for allowing it. His birthday was last week and my sisters and I took him to the toy store to let him pick out his toy, and naturally he picked out princess toys and Monster High dolls. My daughter was angry when she came home and told him she was throwing them away. I feel it's because it's all he knows. He's only around women. His parents aren't married and Dad isn't around much. He has one sister. Am I wrong in feeling that I can't force him to like boy toys? Does it necessarily mean he's going to be gay or want to become a female? I'm confused. The only thing I'm sure of is that he likes these toys and I want him to enjoy playing.
Your instinct is exactly on point -- you shouldn't force the child to do what he doesn't want to do; nor should you push him away from what he does want to do if it's harmless. Luckily, your grandson is living in an age where gender stereotypes are being questioned by society (think Target and Amazon)!
The best thing you can do is let him play with what he likes. Forcing him to like "boy" toys won't do anything but strain his relationship with you; he's just going to play with as many "girl" toys as he wants to when you're not looking. Would you really want to cultivate habits of secretiveness from your four year old child, simply because he wants to play with dolls?
Playing with "girl" toys doesn't make your child gay or transgender (though you should be accepting if he does come out as either). Your four year old, as Kai mentioned, doesn't understand sexuality or gender identity. Let him do what he likes. It doesn't injure him and it certainly doesn't injure other people. What is going to injure him is the shame and misplaced abuse that he might endure from his father and sister.
Encourage him to explore his own interests, support him no matter what, and try to show his father and your other grandchild that a boy playing with dolls isn't something that should be shamed. And anyways, why are they trying to shame a four year old? Their concerns, to me at least, are misplaced.
I hope this helped a little bit! You seem like a wonderful, caring grandmother. He's lucky to have a relative like you.
My son plays with more girly toys and watches more girly shows. He likes the bright colors and the more relationship based storylines. He loves making things so he watches a lot of baking and decorating videos. At one point of time, that was all he liked. But as he went to school, and played with the other kids, he started to like more and more things, not necessarily specified for his gender. Most boys identify with their mother more than their father at such an early age, so they look at what mom is doing (dressing up, doing makeup, organizing) and try to imitate.
I see nothing wrong in giving him the toys he likes and encouraging him to explore more. Eventually, society will teach him distinctions that are entirely unnecessary to begin with. Why place those restrictions on him now itself? Let him be happy when he comes to you.
The child should be able to play with whatever toys he wants to play with. That said, some toys are more problematical than others. I would not be concerned with the "doll" part of the Monster doll toys, but the sexualized, unreal body types are a little baffling.
You say you think he picked these toys because that's all he knows -- perhaps you can introduce him to new things. Get a box and put a sample of toys in it; every week choose something different and offer to play with it with him.
For example: Find an inexpensive play shopping cart with plastic food items and play grocery store clerk -- then get a plastic tool belt with plastic tools and play repair-person. Get a bucket of Duplo blocks, or simple wooden ones, and build towers with him. Playing matching games with him. (All the cards are face down; each player takes a turn turning over two at a time, trying to find matching cards.) Get a baby doll and play house; find a soccer ball and kick it around outside. (You can get things like this at yard sales, if money is a problem.) Spend time making things with paper towel rolls and tape and string, or coloring with paper and crayons. Try to leave gender out of everything.
After he's played with everything with you, he'll have a better idea of what types of things there are, and what things he likes -- then let him choose. And if he still chooses the Monster dolls, that's fine -- you know that those are what he truly wants to play with.