Friday, June 01, 2007

Are they really THAT different?

After reading this post at another blog I stumbled across, I began wondering, "Are boys really THAT different to raise than girls?" Do you treat your boys differently than you treat your girls? Do you expect them not to cry if they get hurt or expect your girls to be the compassionate ones? Are they really the stereotypical rough & tumble, rowdy, rambunctious creatures that they are made out to be? Aren't there quiet and thoughtful boys too? For example, my two girls have very different personalities. My oldest girl is a compliant, sensitive, feminine, and yet adventurous little lady. My second girl is a mischievous, highly curious, doesn't-get-hurt-easily, toddler who loves to cuddle {when she isn't getting into trouble}. She does things that I never even thought a girl would do like play in the toilet, eat dog food, & take off all her clothes and diaper when I'm not looking. Really quite different. I would think that personalities amongst children would vary widely, whether boys or girls. I know some intellectual introverted men & some rowdy extroverted ones as well. I know some very emotional women & some very non-emotional ones. If you only have one boy & one girl, I would think it might be hard to discern whether or not their personalities are different because of gender or whether it is just because they are two different children. I guess I am also curious because if this next baby turns out to be a boy, I am wondering what I am "in for"!

19 comments:

Erin said...

Wow...I thought all toddlers ate dog food, took off their clothes and played in the toilet! All of my kids have!

I am probably not the best person to comment on this. But I just wanted to give a few thoughts.

There are two theories on this subject Nature or Nuture. The first argues that the child personality is "pre-determined" by their genetics and the second argues that you can "mold" a child by the way you treat them. I personally feel that children's personality is determined by both. And maybe because I have identical twins I can comment on this. I think that for the most part both K1 and K2 have been exposed to the same events, parenting and discipline yet they are totally different. One is definatly the leader and the other is more compassionate and has tons of friends. The other is happy with one or two quality friends. I actually think that one is much like me and the other like DH. Which for us is great! I think that they will ultimately get along better because of their differences yet are bonded because they are twins. I have a feeling eventually down the road there might be some jealous husbands b/c they will be close. The other kids are also very different, but as far as the difference between boys and girls...I can't comment. ALthough honestly if you wanted to "make" a girl tough from the get go I think you could...and if you wanted to "make" a boy more feminine from the get go...I also think that is possible.

Speaking of which did anyone see Wife Swap the other day. Perfect examples of mothers who has pushed certain traits onto their boys.

Beth said...

Since I have one boy and one girl and one boy on the way, I thought I would put my two cents in. Although, I can only speak from having just one boy so far. And it is true that they are two different genders and two different personalities, so much of this will be proven or disproven when boy #2 comes along. I do say though...YES, they really are that much different to raise than girls. I am not saying that Landon is not sweet, thoughtful, compassionate because he definitely is. That can be turned off and on like a faucet. One minute he is kissing and loving on Mommy, the next minute I find him climbing the entertainment center. It's all about crashing trucks together, throwing balls, and playing with trains right now. He is rougher and tougher than Kaitlyn. I know you say that daughter #2 is totally different and doing things that you thought a girl wouldn't do but I think once you have a boy, you would see a difference for sure! I don't know if anyone has read Bringing Up Boys but you are supposed to raise them differently because they are boys. I want to make sure I allow him to be rough, to explore, to conquer the world if he wants. It's not that I tell him that he can't cry or feel hurt. They are just different and I think that the book I mentioned would explain it a lot better than I can right now. A must read if you have a boy!! Anyway, I am off!! Hopefully I can get online sometime within the next to see what everyone else's opinion is. Great topic, Bec!

Michael said...

I think that boys and girls are a lot different. There should always be a doll and kitchen set for the girls and trucks and guns for the boys. As a kid my dad would smack me with the belt if I was holding one of my sisters dolls. The mentality of a boy needs to be tougher and stronger. Not that there can't be a sensitive side, but a strong boy becomes a strong man. A weak boy becomes an actor.

Mx5 said...

Of my 3 boys, ages 8, 12, and 17, I do see a wide range of personality traits and differences. I sincerely don't believe in determinism (blank slate theory) and I do see what some would call more feminine or masculine traits in both genders of my kids. But the similarities between brothers when compared to similarities between them and their sisters is a striking contrast especially once they get past the toddler destruct-o stage.

One of my daughters ate dog food as a toddler. A lot of it. We wondered why she was never hungry at meal times, until I found her secret stash in our couch. Blech. No brothers ever did this. Maybe they never thought of it?

One of my sons talks a lot about his feelings. The other 2 do more of the grunting/ body noise method of communicating. One of my daughters loves all things sporty... the other was a girlie girl.

My 7yr. old son is sensitive and caring...yet pound-for-pound he takes on his 12yr. old brother with zeal at one moment, then snuggles on my lap, all sweaty and giggly, smooching on his momma in front of everyone.

My daughters, post toddlerhood, have never been witnessed to be in any wrestling match whatsoever. They were more interested in talking than in head locks.

I knew something was different when I brought a daughter into our home. Instead of playing Hotwheels with tracks and crashes, she talked my older son into playing car family, with Hot Wheels as parents, and micromachine cars as the babies. LOL! My thoughtful son complied, and later had crash fests with brothers.

My original post certainly wasn't meant to cast any kind of inflexible generality on sons or daughters. The gist of it was to point out that many of us who have both genders found them to be quite different despite our attempts at trying to be "gender neutral" in terms of our expectations of them.

Yes, there are quiet and thoughtful boys, but if given the chance in my experience my thoughtful boys will erupt into good hearted wrestle-mania if given the chance. They have been seen helping tots in the nursery, pray for boo-boos, and express sympathy for the downtrodden. I expect my boys to cry when they are sad or hurt.

When I tried to model my parenting of my son after what my friend did in parenting her compliant daughter, I seriously thought something was wrong with my boy. Since then, I've found that there are differences, to be celebrated. I hope that clarified my original post a bit.

If you are having a boy, then get ready for action and fun... yes, girls definitely have that, too, but it is just different. They key to me understanding my boys was to expect them to act like boys, and to try to instruct them on manners, and those kinds of more civilized things. :-)

Blessings!

Rebecca said...

Dear Mx5,

Thank you for shedding more light on your original post. I wasn't intending to question your opinion ;>) Obviously since I only have girls, I *really* don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to boys. I find your post even more convincing when you say that you really tried to be "gender neutral". Since I only have one gender, I was wondering if parents purposely or unintentionally encourage gender specificity. KWIM? I am wondering if parents of boys try to instruct them in areas that seem more girlie such as household tasks or taking care of little ones or cooking, etc.

Thank you so much for your simple post on the {joys} of boys ;>) It has provided for a lot of thinking!

Jori said...

I shall comment too, having two girls and a boy, I don't necessarily gender neutralize them Andy does what he wants, climbs in on and around things, figured out that a simple water gun is a gun. Abbey has always liked dolls Andy does go for them but only to end up hitting them with superman or something. I do want to talk about a show that I saw in TLC called dozens of kids, this particular one was not on the family from Arkansas who has like 17 kids the duggers this was on another family in Indiana they have fourteen kids thirteen of which are boys. The interesting thing the mom said, was when the first two arrived she didn't do anything differently with them than she would have if they were girls. By the 8th boy it was getting too hard on her doing everything around the house, she didn't necesasrily feel that they should learn laudnry and dishes, etc she felt they should learn a trade to be able to support their families. Eventually she did end up making them help around the house, the girl didn't come until like number ten or eleven, it was INCREDIBLE. The boys were no worse for the wear, they were rough she said until the age of ten, and then they became like little men, wanting having the desire to learn things. The boys up until ten though she said were very boy like, guns rough housing, she had her girl and was surprised and how she took to doing girl things. I don't know if I made sense or not, I am not even sure if I proved or disproved anything. I guess certain things are just in the gender? Maybe depends on dad too? Who knows but from my personal opinon certain things might just be genetically in them like mother like daughter like father like son? Just my 2 cents!!!

Alicia said...

Hey all,
just thought i would throw my couple cents in since i have 2 of each!! from experience i know that boys and girls are different. i have also read the book bringing up boys and agree with whoever said that you should raise them differently! not in absolutly everything but there are some things that is right for raising a boy and raising a girl. we are pretty steady with both in the way we raise them so there aren't to many differences but there are some in the way we do things with the boys versus the girls.
My boys and girls have just naturally exhibited huge differences!! i don't know why this is, God just did it that way!! i remember once when jordan and i were visiting hollie and kylee when they were about two, it was so funny because kylee had a pretend blow dryer and started styling jordans hair, she then gave it to him for his turn, he immediatly turned it around and started shooting it as a gun!! LOL, thats only one instant but thought it was cute!!
although my boys do the same thing as far as houshold chores as the girls do (age permitting) and as far as my boys one is more sensitive while the other is more throw caution to the wind and my girls are the same way. my girls came out with a natural nurturing instinct and my boys the instinct to run, jump, climb, fly!! while the girls are content to just sit and play dolls (and talk as one person said) the boys are running wild around the house making loud (sometimes gross) sounds.
all in all i can't really explain exactly why there is a difference but know there is a definite one! i know that when i hear stories about my husband and all the things his brothers did (no sisters) i know that my sister and i would have never even thought to do 3/4 of those things!! so theres my piece, take it or leave it! :0)

Rebecca said...

Thank you to all who commented! I really enjoyed reading all your perspectives on boy/girl raising ;>) I praise God for the way He uniquely designed men & women. I hope we can all appreciate the differences that He has created in our children, whether they be boys or girls. Hug your kids today!

P.S. i would be interested in reading a post based on what Bringing Up Boys says about raising boys differently than girls......

Jacqueline said...

I have found your blog through another blog but had to put in my 2 cents. I think Michael is wrong wrong wrong. Boys SHOULD play with dolls, kitchen sets, etc. Who are some of the greatest chefs in the world? MEN! Who are some of the greatest musicians in the world? MEN! {Like Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell}. I think men *should* be sensitive and to some it comes naturally and to others it is learned. I am raising two very different boys. And yet they are each sensitive in their own way... they play baseball, are in Tae Kwon Do, play violin and love to sing and act and my 13yr old takes ballroom dancing and it superb at it. Do not put your child in a box. The sky is the limit. Girls can do anything and so can boys. Although it's not my website, I would encourage you to check out Crystal Lutton and her Arms of Love website: www.aolff.org

Boys are wonderful.

Michael said...

Jacqueline, you needed to put your boy in Tae Kwon Do so he wouldn't get beat up for playing the violin and taking ballroom dancing.

Alicia said...

Basically i would encourage anyone that really wants to dig into the raising differences of boys and girls to read "Bringing up Boys" and then research even further if your not convinced. There is so much that goes into it that it would be so long to write. Here is a paragraph from the book that explains a little about what they are seeking to accomplish through this book....
"That brings us back to our understanding of boys. Remember that they are men-in-training. Their aggressive nature is designed for a purpose. It prepares them for the "provision and protection" roles to come. That assertiveness also builds culture when properly channeled. I urge you as parents not to resent or try to elminate the aggressive and excitable nature that can be so irritating. That temperament is part of a divine plan. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Thank God for it. But also understand that it needs to be shaped, molded, and "civilized." "
"God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" Genesis 1:27
Basically I feel the book helped me understand that we need to help cultivate the masculinity in our boys, but not in squashing the sensitivity, and also what happens if you do the opposite (squasing the masculintiy and bringing out more feminity, sp?). Again its really way to much to write, you just have to read the book and others if it's your desire and maybe some of the others that have read the book can explain even a little more or better than i did!!! Great topic Bec!!! :0)

Hollie said...

Well Michael... for being such a "manly man" you sure do spend a lot of time reading and commenting on the blogs of these women. It's funny how you are the only man to leave comments on them! Most men could care less about what stay at home mom's blog about but you, no, you like to rip into mom's who like to put their boys in dance class (which you are probably jealous about because you probably can't dance)! I wonder what your father would say about you taking the time to sit and read and comment on blogs...

Michael said...

Reading womens blogs is a lot like walking through the womens underwear department at Kmart. You know you shouldn't find it interesting, and that you should look away....you just can't!

Dan Barnett. said...

As a dad, I got to see both kids come out and followed them for the first hour of their life. I didn't have time to Nurture them and already knew they were different. Can you condition a kid? Sure. Does it change them? No. They are like night and day. If you want to try to give examples of how your kids or someone else's are the same between the two genders, you won't get the original picture. God made us different as genders for a reason. He didn't make Eve the same as Adam. Doesn't it suck when someone brings God into it?
:-)
This really shouldn't even be a question. The question should be how do I encourage and raise my kid to be the Man/Woman God intended. At the root we are different.
I'm sorry Michelle, sorry I mean Michael, but grow a pair and realize that dolls don't make a boy a girl. They actually train a boy to be gentle with more delicate babies. I don't care how your dad trained you to be a "real" man, because a real man doesn't go around picking on everyone else's kids. Get over your dad's pressure and live as a man who understands and not a pig who feels so low about himself that he goes after the only ones he thinks he can beat up. By the way, most of the women on here would beat the crap out of most guys, so don't try.

Michael said...

Dan, at what point did I give the impression that I have ever laid a hand on a woman in a violent manor? Just because I was raised the way I was doesn't mean that I am an abuser in anyway. If I was to make an over generalization based on what you post...well I won't go there.
And why does everything have to be so personal with you? Were you not hugged enough as a child?

Anonymous said...

I don't think I am the only one that has found your comments, Michael, to be a little off...sometimes rude. I think any mother would find your comment that you made on here offensive. Nobody finds anything wrong with a girl who is involved in several sports but the minute a boy enjoys singing or dancing many label him as a sissy boy or a future hair stylist. I hope that you are not trying to mold your boys into something they are not just because you think that one or more of their interests maybe a little too girlish.

Dan Barnett. said...

Michael, the bottom line is quit picking on women who are just trying to share experiences and information in their lives together. If I were Jaqueline's husband and saw you comments to her I would be very irate. Almost every comment you have ever made on this site has been arrogant and rude. Nobody said you abuse people. Just grow up. These women don't need anymore of your crap. If you want to really contribute then do it, but quit trting to make people feel inadequate.

Michael said...

Sorry Mister Dan. I didn't mean to offend anyone. From now on I'll check with you to make sure my opinion on a subject is relevant and that I'm making a contribution to the conversation. And most of all I want to make sure that you have checked with all of the people who read this blog to make sure I haven't offended them in anyway.

Rebecca said...

Thank you to all who posted beneficial comments regarding this post. I've enjoyed all your food for thought. The comments will be closed now so we can move on to a different topic. Feel free to continue this discussion on your own blog/website if you so choose.

Cheers!