A Facebook poll was recently posted that read simply – “Which is easier to raise, boys or girls”. Out of 265 responses, all but one commented and affirmed that boys are easier to raise than girls are. But honestly, what is the difference between the two. Both are flesh and blood humans. It makes one have to wonder if all feminist issues are really just deeply embedded schools of thought that have been handed own from one generation to the other. Girls and boys are accused of so many gender specific traits, that it only is realistic to assume parents are still raising their children to do things and have interests that are gender specific. Really, it’s a shame! In many ways, girls are the lucky ones they can dance and play ball and no one will call them names or harass them. But generally speaking, society is still close-minded about a flute wielding, or dancing baseball pitcher.
Boys versus Girls! What are the differences?
The first difference that parents and educators, or anyone dealing with children for that matter is that there are differences in the development of the brain of each gender. More specifically, the rate at which development occurs. However, parents have to realize that they raise their boys and girls very differently from birth as well. How much of the differences in boys and girls are due to the parental influence of how they are raised. For instance, when a female starts to walk parents are more likely to coddle and protect; while if she were a boy, they would encourage him to be rough and tumbly. Same goes for interests. In many research studies where toddler boys and girls were watched by secret surveillance in rooms boys and girls both showed the most interest in toys that are routinely programmed toward females. Obviously the encouragement to role-play with dolls, Barbie’s, pretend kitchens etc. is not as fostered with male children as it is for girls. Essentially, the differences in boys and girls are learned early on in life.
It is interesting that many parents feel one huge difference between boys and girls is that boys don’t listen to anything or anybody. Are they being stubborn or it could it be a genetic difference. Scientists have proven that boys do not hear as well as girls, and that girls hear better more rapidly than boys. By elementary school, while a boys hearing may be ‘normal’ it still isn’t as attuned as a girls. Most specifically, the range of hearing studied was that of voice frequency. This attributes to one of the reason that boys require more hands on learning and discipline than girls do. And interestingly, parents feel more comfortable up rooting a boy by the hand and dragging them to time out than they do doing the same thing to a little girl.
Today, many boys are being diagnosed with behavioral disorders such as ADHD and ADD. Compared to girls boys represent the larger population with these disorders. Again, research concludes that one of the largest boys versus girl’s difference is development. Since boys develop more slowly, (and don’t hear as well), they develop speech skills more slowly as well. Many factors can lead to certain patterns in slow development being seen as a learning disability. The truth is that this behavior, while different from that of a girl may just be normal for the genetic species of males. (Explains a lot, huh)
Boys develop more physically than girls do as well. Where girls may sit quietly investigating the pages of a book that activity isn’t designed well for the developing boy mind. They would prefer to witness first hand cause and affect, such as ripping the pages of the book and trying to piece them back together. Again, this can be looked at as a difficult behavior issue when the reality is it is part of their natural process of development. Because boys are so much hands on they are often dubbed as more difficult to raise than girls, especially in the beginning.
Some of the most definite changes in the boys versus girl’s battles occur during the pre-teen, tween and teen years. Girls are developmentally ahead both hormonally and mentally. Combine raging pubescent hormones and girls become more difficult. Or are they just ahead of their boy counterparts. The hormonal changes in females are greater than it is for boys and many researchers attribute this to behavior issues that plague girls as they get older. Again, consider how they were raised as well. Girls are taught to be ‘little ladies’ to conceal anger. When they were apologizing to schoolyard friends, the boys their age were working it out in a wrestling match. And this was deemed okay and acceptable because well, they were boys. However, girls are taught to restrain emotions which often leads to confusion as they get older and compounded when they have added hormones to deal with.
Obviously, societal pressure has parents of girls remaining vigilant about protecting their little girls from boys and things like pregnancy or promiscuity. Boys, well, little is said. Catch a teenage boy with a girlie magazine and most parents would be embarrassed and laugh it off. Same situation with a girl and parents would be seeking counseling. So when they are developing sexually, they are also being sent completely mixed messages about acceptable behaviors. Unfortunately, these lessons may go against the human urges that they are feeling at this young age.
There are other major differences between boys and girls as well. Boys are often encouraged to test their limits. They are encouraged to climb the highest mountain and swim as far as they can. Boys are expected to succeed and while parents worry about the outcome, it is easier for parents to let go of their male children than it is for their female children. This sends a very distinct and strong message to boys; that is a primary source of many of the differences. In many ways, boys are empowered in all areas of their life because the people that raise them feel safer doing so. By the same token, girls are continuously protected. Think about how many times you will see a grown woman referred to as ‘my little girl’ compared to how often a grown man is referred to as ‘my little boy!’ Huge difference.
This often leads us to a major difference between boys versus girls. Communication. Females are often accused of being over dramatic. Girls are accused of being chatty and talking constantly. For parents, this can make raising girls harder because there is not a moment of peace and quiet. However, since their communication skills developed light years ahead of their male counterparts, they were encouraged in this area. Think back! You encouraged and praised your little girl for talking and talking. Boys on the other hand, you were happy if they just said thank you. But all this talking leads to drama and living in their world which just happens to be out loud. So with girls, there is constant talking and at the same time since she hasn’t been empowered to rely on herself much, constant needing of attention, praise and advice from the adults in her life.
Raising boys versus girls isn’t really a matter of harder versus easier. It’s just a matter of different. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be. If parents can come up with a clear and concise plan of raising their children based on values, which are equal for male and female children both will be empowered in alternating areas. You may end up with girls who are as content wrestling it out as you are with boys talking about their problems. This really would be a good thing.
Most of the differences aren’t about gender. Sure, boys are slower to develop. However, in the end things equal up and without societal programming, the differences would be little. If you scan through the ages, much of what girls and boys are taught are just throwbacks from ancient ideals where men and women held different accepted values in the world. Luckily, things are changing and the pace is more rapid than you think. Today, women and men are being accepted and seen as equals. Evolution like this doesn’t happen overnight however and it has taken years of movements to change perspectives.
If you are a parent, it is important to assess your own strongly held and often secret identities of what makes raising boys versus girls different. The amount of love is the same; there is no doubt about that. Valuing the gender differences in children is important as well but empowering them to feel self-confident and constantly in control of their own lives is perhaps the most important. Releasing your children from the confines of gender takes patience and work on YOUR part, rather than theirs. In many families, children who are empowered to do as they choose, regardless of what is seen as acceptable based on gender alone have all the qualities of both genders as they get older.
The bottom line is that raising boys versus girls is different. However, as time goes on the differences lie in how they are raised more than the actual physiological differences between the two. Both sexes seem to take turns being ‘more difficult’ for parents based on the stage of development they are encountering. If you ask a parent raising 5 year olds, chances are they will admit that boys are harder. If you ask the parents raising 13 year olds, girls take the cake. The constant ebb and flow has little to do with gender and is more defined by where they are at developmentally.
Either way, we should be happy with what we got. We should be thankful and appreciative that we are being allowed to learn the lessons of life through our children. Learning to see them as something besides boy or girl empowers us as parents to raise them in a way that ensures they have a happy, satisfying, and abundant life.