by Charlotte Hilton Andersen, REDBOOK
Girls and boys are different - you might have heard? After having three boys and then a girl - I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't totally thrilled - I am amazed at how truly different they are. But I'm also amazed at some of the ways people point out these differences and try to use them to put down my boys.Just as it has become socially acceptable to make fun of men in ways that would never be tolerated if they were targeted toward women, it seems that some people think it's okay to attribute bad quirks to my boys' gender. I tried hard - honest I did! - to keep this post light and funny like my usual Top Ten lists are but I found as I typed this out that it struck a deep chord with me. Here's my list of Top Ten Things to Never Say to a Mom of Boys:
1. "This is my daughter Ryan." Taylor, Jordan, Charlie, Sam, Jo - stop taking all the boys names and making them into girls names! While it is cute and precocious to have a Myka (Micah) with a pink bow in her hair, I can guarantee you it does not work in reverse for boys. Once a female Sharon or a Leslie, always a female name. This has happened so much in the past few years that pretty much all we're left with are John, Gerald and Horace. Horace!!
2. "Boys just develop slower than girls." I've heard this one used to explain everything from late potty training (true) to intellect (false) to an obsession with red Froot Loops (huh?). Boys and girls develop different skills in different orders. Girls are better at some things than boys and boys are better at some things than girls. It doesn't make either one of them "slow." And if you start labeling them this young, they might actually believe you.
3. "If you let him play with Barbies/wear dresses/sing Bette Middler karaoke he'll be gay." Really? Are we still thinking this in 2011? My sons have all gone through phases where they wanted to wear tutus, bling and watch "Beauty and the Beast" on repeat and honestly tutus are awesome - who wouldn't want a part of that? Within reason, I let my kids choose what they play with. Why do we put all these adult expectations on kids? They're just toys.
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4. "You should force him to play to with dolls/wear dresses/watch Barbara Streisand movies so he'll be sensitive." While I'm all for helping my boys to hone their emotional intelligence, I'm also all for letting them play independently. While all my boys have enjoyed playing with some typically girly stuff (see #3) by and large they choose Legos, superheroes and Bakugans. Not because I force them to - or even expect them to - just because they want to.
5. "Boys are more aggressive." Boys often are more physically aggressive, true, but girls are often emotionally aggressive. Both genders need to be taught to temper these traits.
6. "Boys have a harder time in school." This one, sadly, may be true but it isn't the boys' fault. I've found that many educators use a distinctly feminine style of teaching that rewards the behaviors that girls excel at and punishes typical boy behaviors. The best school experience our second son ever had was the one time he had a male teacher.
7. "Don't buy him toy guns." I'll admit that when my first son was born I had a strong no-gun policy. Over the years as I've watched my boys build guns out of everything from Tinkertoys to pickles, I've grown to realize that I've been missing an important opportunity to talk with them about mortality, violence, gun safety, and even camouflage. While we still don't allow any realistic looking guns in the house, we have a huge boxful of Nerf guns, Super Soakers and action figures with tiny plastic guns molded into their fists.
8. "You shouldn't let him cry like that, teach him to be strong." Crying's okay. Big boys and little boys should be allowed a tearful sob on their mom's shoulder with no judgments.
9. "Hold him back a year so he'll be bigger for sports." I'm just going to say this once: School is not about the sports.
10. "You just have to keep trying until you get your girl." While I can't speak for every family in our situation, I can tell you definitively that we did not decide to try for our 4th because we just had to have a girl. We love her and are happy she's here but brothers #2 and #3 are not just filler.
Am I being oversensitive or have some of you moms of boys noticed these same things?
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