One of the most common threads of dysfunctional parenting involves the inequitable treatment of daughters versus sons. In 1994, a study performed by Adolescence Magazine confirmed that most parents are more protective of their daughters and permissive of their sons. In 2005, another thorough study from the University of Washington in regard to equity when parenting sons and daughters that collected data from over 30 years, showed that despite the movement of time, not much has changed when it comes to equally parenting sons and daughters.
In fact, distinct discrepancies have been found by psychologists and sociologists alike that indicate that as a whole, parents parent their daughters much differently than they do their sons. This of course has teenage daughters from all economic levels, social classes and religions joined along in the This isn’t Fair,’ chorus. Far too often, daughters feel that their brothers are able to do more, are given more freedoms, have fewer rules, and are held to lower standards in the household than they are. Just because they are girls.
For instance why should a teenage son have a later curfew than a teenage daughter? Why would it be okay for a son to date at 15, but not a daughter? Why is it acceptable for a son to make a lesser grade on an exam than a daughter? Why is it seen as acceptable ‘boy’ behaviour for a high school boy to party with his friends when the same partying would not be tolerated for a daughter? The list of indiscrepancies is endless. And sadly, girls feel the short end of the stick when it comes to the inequity that they feel in the home.
According to the Washington Post, one of the most common fears or concerns of a teenaged daughters parents is that their daughter will get pregnant at a young age, or while she is still in high school. Yet, on the same list, this fear ranked 9th when it came to teenage sons. The double standard is obvious. And for many parents the decisions that they make for their daughters are not the same as the ones they would make for their sons. And sadly, most come from fear.
As a society, we see men as stronger. We see men as more capable of dealing with problems or trouble when it arises. We give men kudos for being able to stay safe in the face of danger. Women, despite the women’s movement are seen as the underdogs, in need of protection and weak. The problem with this perception is that by holding our daughters to fear based standards, we restrict their ability to be confident, capable and equal human beings. Not just when they live under mom and dad’s roof, but in life as well.
When the IN-equality in the home between daughter and son is so obvious, how can we expect this young girl to grow into a woman that is self assured, and capable and able to handle what life throws her way. The message, while idle seems to say that she will always need protection and will always need to be careful, or find someone who can take care of her in order for her to be successful. While the theory of a single woman being able to take care of herself in the great big world, unabated by a man is a crux of the 21st century this theory isn’t being generated by a vast majority of parents in the home.
We protect our daughters. We permit our sons.
The reality is that this type of parenting stunts a girl’s growth, her self-confidence and only drives home the extremely dated and unpopular belief that she is not equal to men. Not now, not ever.
The interesting thing is that according to statistics that rate drug use and even the proneness to get into car accidents, the most reckless sex among teenagers are males. The National Associations of Insurance Commissioners says that most insurance companies charge about twice as much to insure a teenage boy than they do a teenage daughter because a teenage boy is twice as more likely to get into a car accident. Teenage boys are more prone to being involved in violent altercations with other people, to commit a serious crime and teenage boys are more prone to frequent alcohol use and to commit suicide than their female teenage counterparts. Additionally, according to the CDC, teenage boys also have a tendency to lose their virginity earlier than teenage girls and are less apt to be advocates of safe sex.
Certainly, there are issues that arise solely with each gender that parents raise. But raising daughters out of fear and curtailing their world around fears and dated beliefs that girls need to be protected all the time is a waste of time. And it is an unhealthy way for parents to raise their daughter. The energy would be better focused at enabling, empowering and ensuring that your teenage daughter feels valued and capable as a person, regardless and in spite of her gender.
Each child should be parented according to their individual needs and personalities. And parents should strive to create a home environment that is not just fair and equal, but doesn’t diminish one child over the other solely based on gender. Every parent needs to trust in the fact that they have raised each of their children to the best of their ability, and that they have instilled beliefs and morals that will impact their choices. When you trust in your parenting, you trust in your child.