What’s the real difference between raising boys and girls?
I have 3 kids: 2 boys and a girl – aged (almost) 6, 4 and 3. One is super sensitive, loves tinkering around in my jewellery box and needs everything to be ‘just so’ (my eldest son). One is totally pony mad, loves dancing and playing dress-up (boy no. 2) and the other stomps about bossing everyone into shape (my little girl). Okay, so there’s much more to them than that, but you get the picture. I started writing this as a way of comparing raising boys – boisterous, noisy and all that – and girls — ‘sugar and spice and all things nice’ — but quickly realised that, actually, none of this is true.
Despite their obvious physical differences (which they’re all very keen to point out to me at every bathtime), many of the gender stereotypes are exactly that – just stereotypes. We’ve been conditioned to think that boys are more aggressive, physical and generally naughty, while girls prance around in tutus, helping to bake cakes and sprinkling glitter all over our lives but, really, that’s just a load of rubbish. Our sons might wear blue and play with cars and our daughters in pink that matches their dolls, but isn’t that because of how we treat them and what society deems is correct, rather than what they may choose themselves?
Yes, there are occasions when my little girl wants to sit and play tea-parties with her toys, while my boys turn the house upside down and fashion weapons out of everything along the way, but there are also the times when she’s squeezing toothpaste all over the floors and they’re quietly drawing. And each of them takes turns with refusing to do as they’re told.
Their behaviour is actually due to their individual personalities, and also their birth order. Hubby and I aren’t raising genders, but little individuals with very distinct ideas as to what they do and don’t like – with their own strengths, fears and insecurities. The fact that middle child peed into a bottle and tried to get his younger sister to drink it is because he’s a cheeky so-and-so who’s trying to make his mark (literally. Okay, and because he has the anatomy to be able to do that) and not just because he’s a boy. My daughter will try to mother anything and everything, but she’s just as likely to thump her brothers if they’re bugging her. And sometimes every single one of them will tear around the mall like lunatics and hang upside down from their chairs at meal times, need a cuddle from mama when they’re tired, or a reassuring word if someone’s been ‘mean’.
There are so many myths when it comes to having boys or girls – that little pink babies are easier (not true, my daughter was a complete nightmare until the age of 3 months), that boys aren’t emotional (nope, they do cry real tears) or that they eat more (definitely not in our home – the portion sizes on the pink plate are generally much bigger). And there are pressures as to what they should and shouldn’t be doing, liking, wearing etc. But actually what I’ve realised is that being a mama to boys, and a girl, is about supporting them in whatever makes them happy and helping them form their own characters… Peeing in bottles not included.