Do You Think Raising "Boys" Is Different than Raising "Girls"?

Updated on April 08, 2010
M.O. asks from Barrington, IL
39 answers

I'm really curious here...we have "regular" kids, no health issues, no autism, no ADHD, etc.

I am wondering if you think boys should be parented differently than girls?

I have two girls and one baby boy. I only have nephews. And boy my two SILs will be the first to tell you boys are different. Personally, and as a person who has a psychology degree, I do KNOW that there are inherent differences between boys and girls, however I get REALLY tired of feeling like people make parenting boys seem like some sort of "excuse" for not parenting. As in, well he's "all boy". What is that supposed to mean? My SILs have said, in the past, well, you don't have a boy, so you wouldn't know. Well guess what! We got our boy. And I'm not planning on treating him any differently than the girls. And frankly, I don't think he's going to be a misbehavin', rambunctious, furniture climbing boy - because my two older daughters aren't going to let HIM get away with anything they couldn't. I understand fundamentally that boys may be slower to develop their fine motor skills, but aside from that I can't see him being much different than my girls have been. I see him having a different personality, but I don't think that means that parenting him means that he can be a wildman either. I already have one "high energy" child, that shows all those "boy traits", but is a girl. I think it's more personality than gender. What do you think?

Am I alone here? I'd love to hear from you mamas on what you think. Especially from mamas who have both boys and girls.

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So What Happened?

As always thanks Mamas!

You always give me something to think about. I appreciate your honest input and sharing your own personal experiences.

You reassured me in what I have already thought...I think one mom put it best when she said, "research to support the idea that boys have slightly different needs". I can TOTALLY see that many of the little boys I know are very physical, can't seem to sit still for long periods of time and need to handle/manipulate things to see how they work. I also have heard plenty about how they have some "problems" in school staying on task, sitting still and doing some of the fine motor skill activities like writing, arts n crafts, etc.

However, knowing that those are typical issues that are more specific to boys, you have all reassured me that you don't let those reasons change who is ruling the roost! I understand that my little boy may need some different parenting techniques, just as my tow older daughters have. I respect each child's personality and realize that one size doesn't fit all when it comes to parenting. We will still have the same "rules" about respect - respecting other people, our house, etc.

Thank you all! Will continue reading the posts and trying to keep an "open" mind. Afterall, we don't know what we don't know until we open our minds to learning/considering something new!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't parent differently to my son or daughter, but I definately see that boys are different than girls. I honestly think girls are harder than boys- but you will get to experience it and see what you think. The all boy thing is something that when it happens- there will be no question and it isn't because he is naughtier than his sister. He just thinks different things are more interesting than she does. My son is a very sweet kid. Today at the playground with his preschool class he and the other boys were throwing the ground covering at each other while the girls played on the swingsets planning play dates. I did say something to the boys about their behavior- but even the little boys want to jump in play "rougher" play!

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answers from Chicago on

Yes, boys and girls are different. I have an extremely high energy girl as well, and I honestly used to think much along the lines of your thought process...until my son turned 2. And yes, every personality is different, but there are definite differences between the genders.
And I didn't plan on a "rambunctious furniture climbing boy" either & I have one...not because I don't parent, not because I use the fact that he's a boy as an excuse (he's polite as can me while jumping off the couch), but because he expresses himself differently, in more physical ways. I also remember studying the differences when I got my psychology degree.
I wouldn't worry so much about how other people parent their children, even your family....there's no right or wrong, people just need to go with what works for them. And good luck when your little man hits 2 :)

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answers from Jacksonville on

I don't like generalizations, because obviously some girls are wild and out of control, and some boys are quiet and docile. Everyone is different. However, I do have three boys, (including a baby - so no wildness yet with him), and they are certainly much more active and wild than most girls (but not all). My boys don't sit around and color. They aren't supposed to do many of the things that they do (jump on all the furniture in their bedroom for two hours after they go to bed every night, for instance) but I'm working on getting their discipline under control.

I had a pediatrician say once that a lot of parents of autistic kids will excuse their behavior and say "they're autistic", instead of parenting/disciplining them. I've also been to a class by a professional (masters level) lady who is autistic, and she says the same thing - they must learn proper behavior and discipline like anyone else.

Anyway, yes, boys tend to be tirelessly physical, but need proper discipline just like anyone else. Much of our society doesn't want to deal with it though, so they call it ADHD and want to drug them into better behavior. And, every child needs different parenting, because they're not all the same. What works for one may not work for another. My oldest son is more reserved, while the middle one is the most confoundingly intelligent, wild, active, crazy kid I know. He's the one up in the tree and on top of the van, and riding a two-wheeled bike at age 3, and on and on and on. He needs physical activity (all kids do) but someone once said "take him to the park and run his butt off", which is just what he needs. He's the one who taught his older brother (by three years) how to crawl over baby gates and such.

So, deal with behavior as it comes. The best parenting author there is is John Rosemond. I've read a few of his books - they are all excellent. I highly recommend his 6 point plan for raising happy health children, and I'm currently reading his new book on discipline. I desperately need it for my middle son (who is 4). Anyway, good luck!

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answers from St. Cloud on

I am in complete agreement with Dana and Geraldine. It has everything to do with personality. I have a very laid back and gentle boy and girl who is like a tornado, wrapped in a hurricane!
I love that my daughter is a firecracker- fearless and magnetic. I am the same way. I love that my son is tender, thoughtfull and creative. Both of them have an incredible sense of humor and zest for life.
Kids are inspiring, aren't they? :)

In awareness of genders being different, I cringe at the term "gender role" as if we need to form ourselves into a culture made box. You can be a lady while hanging from a cliff, running a company, or protecting a nation. You can also be a man while cooking, caring for your kids, or teaching piano.

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answers from Dallas on

Hey there from Arlington Texas! I am at the end of my Psychology degree and what have I learned about boys for $50,000? Absolutely nothing, Ha! It is all about personality, totally. My friends have girls that are tom-boys and they jump around and can be as rowdy as any football playing boy. We are a Christian family and I have done my best at raising my kids with manners, responsibility, good citizenship etc My kids ages now are 27,25, 19, 15 and 12. Two different marriages and totally different personalities in husbands. First husband was very strict (was a lifer in military from the age of 18) he is laid back, quiet, very debatable, very career minded. The kids I had with him came out, one very intelligent girl who got honors on everything w/o studying. Even graduated University with honors, she is an English major. She was very shy and introverted.She was like the perfect child, no correction needed. The other child did not get perfect grades, but he is very artistic and creative, very big socializer, matter of fact only went to school to socialize and had gobs of friends.He was very quiet and never jumped around the house, never really had to correct him etc He later got into short filming after graduating and him and his younger brother made a short film that later got accepted at the New York short film festival and the two of them along with some of the actors, producer got to fly to New York and stay for a week and got invited to a invitation only short film party. It was a great learning experience. He never was interested in college but did take a few classes here and there. He is just so talented in writing scripts and directing that we love him for who he is. He was a very responsible young man, worked at the movie theater for 8 years from the age of 16 and later became Manager of filming. He would actually build the films. Now for the last 3 boys.

Wow! Where do I start, my life would never be the same, their dad would of been labled ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Behavior in todays world. He was really overly active and in trouble for a lot of things when he was young.

Okay, first child by second husband is 19 now, but when growing up was an escape artist, from the age of 5 would roam out of the yard and take off from us and go on exploring adventures, police would pick him up over 30 times between the ages of 5 and 11. The last time they picked him up he was walking along the freeway as he forgot how to get home but knew the exits on the freeway so decided to walk along the freeway and somebody called it in to Police that there was a young boy walking along the freeway. He would roam to our uptown and visit all the shop owners and talk with them and explore the whole town, some of them put him to work at 12 sweeping floors and filing because he showed up everyday to talk to them, they said he was more dependable then some of their employees, ha! That was a music store and we could never figure out why he always went there as we are not a big musical family at all. Well, after many days of crying and thinking the Police were going to tell me that they found my son dead somewhere, God protected him, and he grew up safe and sound, he never liked school and got out and got his GED. Moved to downtown Portland to live in a high rise with his older brother, got into music, wrote songs, sings, and is recording his own album, he sings for audiences of about 200 and did an Autism event to raise money where he was the warm up for a Japanese band and walked out on stage to 1000 people and almost fainted, he said!! He sings and writes folk music, I guess he sounds like another singer that passed away at an early age, he has been asked to be signed on by producers but they want to control him and his music and he won't give in to that, music is an art to him, he says he would never sell out to someone and let them dictate his music, his writings or what he wears as an image. He edited the film for his older brother at the age of 15. He made good money by the age of 16 editing music for bands earning sometimes $1500 for 4 hours work. A few bands would fly him to where they were so he could work in their studio and edit their music. He never got in much trouble as a kid, one time is all. He ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time at the age of 15 once and he was with a kid that had a big mouth and some kids decided to fight with them but because my son was the shortest of the group, they decided to jump him more than the taller ones and he ended up with a hemorrhaged eye and broken nose. All the dad could say of the kid that assaulted him was ,"boys will be boys", you should teach your kid to fight and than he wouldn't get beat up. I couldn't believe his response as a grown up. This son is very thin, very manner-able, shy, loves to dress up with a tie and all, been in sales since 16 and looks like a model. He never was a rowdy kid in the house but as he got older would get his younger brothers in a head lock from time to time. Sit on them etc

Next child, boy, current age 15. We called him the angel baby as he never cried, even when sick, he was always at peace, he was not like any child I had ever seen and I had seen and helped raise many children having 3 licensed daycares. He was very shy, quiet, stayed to himself, never caused any trouble. As he got older some would say he is in touch with his feminine side or in Portland they would call him metro sexual. He never cared what anyone thought, he liked what he liked and moved on, he would often pick out pink for items in his room etc and for his first debit card he picked out Hello Kitty, the people at the bank said he was egocentric, he likes to cook, he is very sensitive and can cry easily. He is into debate about many subjects, he dyed his hair from blonde to black as he thinks he is more sexy that way! He draws Manga art and loves the Furry festivals where people make their own fur animal costumes and is saving up for someone to make him one for $400. He says he will entertain people at his nephews birthday party for free for all the little kids to enjoy. Is he different, yes, can he be high energy,not really but can run around the house real wild occasionally and often will pick on the younger brother. Does not like school except to socialize. Plans on taking the test to challenge the state and get his diploma early, very knowledgeable about things but hates sitting in a chair all day at school. They say he does excellent on tests but never does homework, he sees no point in homework, to him it is a waste of time! Plans on moving back to Portland Oregon where we are all from to go share an apartment with kids he grew up with in the fall as he will be 16. He has suffered from some depression after moving him to Texas away from all his childhood friends so his therapist thinks him moving back to the area where he is most happy will be good for him. Over all he is a great child with a very unique personality.

Last but not least is our 12 year old, this one is like what someone else described on here as a tornado wrapped in a hurricane!! He is labeled ADHD by todays standards. He would do things spontaneously since the age of 4. Was put on medication when he kept running in front of cars by the age of 6, the meds slowed him down and made him think before acting. This child liked school till about 5th grade and didn't like it after that but mainly because the kids were so wild in school and with the transfer to Texas, there were certain bully kids that would pick on him and do mean things to him so we pulled him out to home school him as he was starting to hate school and we didn't want him to ever stop loving to learn. I love education and learning, I just think the public schools are getting out of control depending on where you live, they are a lot worse here in the South than in Portland Oregon, a different breed of kids all together. This one will go to church with me and sit in the congregation with us, he does not like kid classrooms, most kids do not understand him as he is very intelligent and has studied electronics, electricity and engine rebuilding since the age of 6. They normally have no clue what he is talking about. His birthday request was for an external hard drive!! He has rebuilt computers, TV's and wired up surround sound by the age of 8. When he was little he would often play with locks on doors for hours on end. When we tried to buy him a toy that had like 6 locks on it to play with, he simply said ---that is stupid! He wanted the real thing to play with, now at the age of 12, he is a computer wiz. Before pulling him out of school he would fix all the teachers computers and projectors at the school when they would stop working for them, they were amazed at what he knew. He does come from a long line of Engineers with his great grandpa once an Aerospace Engineer and designed the waffle cone for the space shuttle and won honor awards for that. He nearly cut off the top part of his finger about 2 months ago but the doctors saved it. He nearly gets hit by cars many times as he is not looking. He totally wears us out, when we can't figure out electronic problems, he simply says, step aside please so we can fix this and move on! I believe God has something special in the future of this little boy and he has many guardian angels that watch over him daily to keep him safe. He is totally adventurous, loves exploring, can be a thrill seeker, worries over other peoples safety, very moody, temperamental, very high energy and can bike 20 miles round trip at a time with his dad. Can be very crazy in the house which is when we throw him outside or he has to give us one of his electronics to settle him down. He can go from 6 am till 1 am if you let him. I have worried and cried many times for this ones safety also as he can be a wanderer like the 19 year old and talks and knows everyone. I worry about his safety constantly but he is very street wise and since I also have a criminal justice degree he is well versed on never letting someone get you into a car, if they do you have a 75% chance of not coming through alive so he knows you do what ever you have to to stay out of that car. This child alone makes up for 5 kids!! I am very worn out from him and his high energy and pray God will give me the energy to stay up with him till he is 18 and ready to leave the nest.

What does it all mean, it is all personality!! All of them were raised the same way but yet vary so differently. Some are hyper and rowdy at home, some were quiet, no matter what we get so many compliments how polite they are at other peoples homes, the 19 year old has really good manners and proper etiquette, we get a million compliments on him, he always opens the doors for women of all ages. They are all different and we love them all and when it is all done and said, we can sit back and say, wow, we did something right, didn't we? Let kids be kids and don't cookie cut children or live vicariously through the children. I see many kids put into sports that don't even like sports but their dad had a dream of being a baseball or basketball star etc. Maybe put them in it for a chance to see what it is like and than ask them, do you like it or would you like to do something else and if they are male and say I want to try ballet, don't stereotype them and say, oh my God---he must be gay, let him take a ballet class or cooking class or whatever interests them, let them discover who they are not whom we want them to be!! God Bless and have many happy adventures raising children.
wears all of us out

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answers from San Francisco on

Yes boys and girls are different. As men and women are different AND EQUAL in rights.

In our house, this means that my boy is very quiet and affectionate and crazy about trucks, fire fighters, dinosaurs, bugs... Our girl is very active and "tomboy". They both have different personalities. And I guess if I had 20 children, they would have 20 personalities.

But, when it comes to raising them, they have to follow the same rules. These are home/family rules that everybody,. dad, mom, boy or girl is expected to respect (no biting/hitting/hurting, no throwing objects inside, no climbing on furniture, please and thank you, clean up after play...)

They are very different and I guess I parent them differently. But they have to follow the same rules and have the same type of consequences for their age. The gender is not the criteria when raising children. You must adapt to their very own personality.

Raising boys is not an excuse to let them be wild indoors. Raising girls is not an excuse to let them be prima-donnas.

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answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like you have received a lot of helpful feedback already, but I wanted to take the opportunity to recommend another book to you. It's called Parenting with Love & Logic. I first came upon the Love & Logic philosophy during my MA program in Education as I read Teaching with Love & Logic. It doesn't directly deal with the differences in genders, but it has amazing information about how to instill a sense of personal responsibility in children so that they learn to accept the positive and negative consequences of the choices that they make. Especially with your background in psychology and your understanding of the beauty of differences in children, I think you will both appreciate and enjoy this approach to parenting.

I have to admit that my husband and I have seen a miraculous difference in our strong-willed little boy (who is almost 4). When we started following these principles early on, people were amazed at his behavior and personality. He is what people refer to as "all boy," but he also knows that he is responsible for his choices. He knows that we love him and that we want what is best for him, and the security that he gets from a combination of consistency and empathy on our parts is priceless!

We now also have a 10 month old boy, and these principles are supposed to be effective at as early as 8 months. It's a lot of fun to see our youngest developing an early sense of obedience and acceptance of consequences already! If you're interested, there is a cd available specifically for the early years called "Love & Logic for Toddlers and Preschoolers." It has been a gold mine for us! (We have listened to it over and over again!) :)

I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share something with you that has been so life changing for us. I hope you get the opportunity to look into it. I can almost guarantee that you won't be disappointed! :) Best of luck with your little ones!

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answers from Kansas City on

you aren't alone, i think the "he's a boy" excuse is bs too. my three year old is so sweet (i admit i am partial to boys - since he's my only one!) and affectionate - and so eager to please. i have friends who have girls (in fact they all do) just his age and they are SASSY and have real prima-donna attitudes, already, at three! it's ridiculous, to me. no way will i ever let a child dictate to me the way some of these kids do. i will stick with my sweet boy tyvm. (no offense, i'm sure your girls are wonderful! lol)

having said that, i admit i am more of a harda** mom than my friends. i do expect my son to stop what he's doing and do what i tell him to do without attitude. i expect him to help me clean, etc. he picks up his toys (with help, he is still three after all.) and he says please and thank you.

honestly i feel like boys vs girls has nothing to do with it. you're either a parent willing to do a little work to raise healthy happy adults, or you are lazy and just "hope things work out". most of us are a little of both i suppose. but it amazes me, especially on here, how many moms bemoan their child's actions or attitudes, when they're the ones that made them that way.

i bet your son will be just as well-behaved and courteous as your daughters are.

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answers from Orlando on

To answer your subject line...YES! I have 2 boys and a girl. No, it's not OK for boys to get away with being obnoxious and wild and crazy just because they are boys. But they are very different than raising girls. One example... I was a den leader for cub scouts (1st thru 5th grade) and I had to plan activities where they didn't have to sit and listen for more than a few minutes at a time. All of their activities had to involve movement in some way or they'd start to go stir crazy. They still had to be respectful, especially if we had a guest speaker, but we very rarely sat and did a quiet craft activity.... So when my daughter started girl scouts, I was blown away by the difference with a group of girls the same age group. They can/will sit for quite some time, waiting for the meeting to begin. They may do a lot of chit-chat, but they can actually sit their butts in a chair and focus their attention on you. They enjoy totally different things-- yea, they like to go camping and play sports, too-- but the main focus of their meetings and badges are often about crafts and cooking and "typical" girly things, even when given the choice of what they prefer to spend time doing at their meetings. And OH THE DRAMA with girls. Boys can't be bothered with all of that for the most part. It may sound like I'm stereotyping, but I honestly believe that you can toss a ball into a group of boys and they can all be instant friends. Girls just aren't like that. Of course there are exceptions to every rule and extremes and levels of every stereotype, and every child has their own distinct personality... but it's so true that they are soooooo different!! And just wait until the preteen years!!!

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answers from Davenport on

I have a 3 year old girl and a one year old daughter is VERY high energy, loud, likes to run around all the time, climbs things, and gets corrected when she takes it too far. Though we try to treat them the same, they are vastly different, in personality and temperment and what works for correction/discipline is not always the same, so yes, they have to be parented differently, not more or less strictly, but different customized tactics for each child - I don't know if this is boy vs. gilr oldest child vs, youngest, or just personality type - probably a mix of all of it.

My son is totally different than her, and we do make the comment "he is ALL boy" - especially when he is banging on everything he can get ahold of, trying to dismantle things, and making huge messes, things she never did/tried to do. He will throw food on the floor at home and at restaurants, she never did - we try removing him form the meal, and giving him a time out, and bringing him back later - still does it. He will stick his hands in the toilet, whether someone is one it or not! YUCK! Doesn't listen to NO or a raised voice - very persistent about going back to doing it even after redirection, removing him from the situation, she wasn't like that, listened the first time we told her, usually.

he walked a couple months later thanher, but went form crawling to running in less then one month, he also climbed the stairs before he knew how to walk....both did/do baby sign language, and I think he is about where she was at this same age for # of signs - but he is much more likely to still just cry/point/grunt, unless you ask him a direct question like "are you hungry?" Then he will stop crying and sign "eat" if he is, where my daughter would've just signed eat over and over while fussing at that age.

Lots of my family and friends agree that his behaviours are "boy things".

I don't know, but although he may need different tactics to get him to obey the rules of the house, I don't intend that he and she will have different sets of rules/expectations - now or in the future as teens.


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answers from Victoria on

Well, my girl is all girl, meaning she likes dolls, dance, nail polish, jewelry, & if she falls down, she just sits there waiting for someone to help her up since she doesn't like getting her hands dirty. She's very mild manner, hyper as all get out, says "Mom, I love you, 150 thousand times a day, & has an imagination that is out of this world and since she was about 2.5 years old has declared she is gonna have 5 babies & be a doctor!

My son, is all boy, Meaning he likes sports, super heroes, & bugs, frogs, & all creepy things. When he falls, he gets up on his own, but can't seem to keep one spot on his body clean in the process. He never miss the opportunity to jump in a puddle or pick up something nasty, but he is also mild mannered, hyper as all get out, says, "Nana nana nana nana nana BATMAN, 150 thousand times a day, & has an imagination to rival JK rowling! He has no idea what he's gonna be later on in life, but can't wait to drive a real car.

I parent both the same, with love & honesty. Both my kids tend to shy away from the rough & tumble kids simply because they are not allowed to be that way. Dad rolls around & plays on the floor with them, but it does not end in injury or broken things. Both my kids can adapt well playing with the opposite sex. Daughter is a great passenger as the boys drive her around in the electric cars. Son has no problems playing dolls so long as he has an action figure around. So, I say it all depends on your family environment & what you allow to be ok. Boys & girls are different, but manners are universal! :)

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answers from Boston on

I think your thoughts are on the right track! I am a mother to 4 boys between the ages of almost 2 and 9. While I accept that my boys are highly energetic and "full of life," I do not accept that them being boys is an excuse for all of their undesirable behaviors. My boys have rules and boundaries and when those are broken or crossed they are well aware of the consequences. I have friends who interrupt me when speaking to my boys and tell me "oh, they are just boys." Yes, they are boys, clearly, and that means they need direction and rules like any other child. I love to be busy so I have no problem with taking all of the boys out of the house to get out their energy in a constructive way. However, we alo have a lot of time for creative play, crafts, drawing, writing, reading....I think it is necessary to balance all of their interests and expose them to "quiet" activites and "loud" acitvites so their needs are being met. So far my three oldest boys have all been right on track or ahead developmentally but I never did feel like that because they were boys that I should expect less of them---maybe that is because I have nothing to compare it to. Of course the winter and being cooped up brings on new challenges for them/me but I know they will be outside soon again running free (with boundaries.)

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answers from Detroit on

Boys are differnt from girls.. I have one of each.. I parent them differently as they are so so different..

My daughter is well behaved and obedient...

my son is wild and crazy... he does things that his sister never thought of doing.. he is mischevious... he takes his sisters things and runs away with them.. laughing like mad.. he runs away from me.. I couldnt trust him in parks or malls for a long time.

my boy can not sit still does not enjoy libary story time and wants to runa round the room..

we have to be much more stern with him as he doesnt listen adn you cant just say no no dont do that..

write back to this site ina year or so and tell me what you think once your son is a fully mobiel toddler..

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answers from Kansas City on

well my response is really late but wow my boys are completely opposite of what most listed here. I have boy 17, girl 14, and boy 10 and I will tell you that the boys have been easier to raise than our daughter.

The boys aim to please, will do anything you ask, hard workers, polite most of the time, will be the first to jump in and help, do very well in school and never have to get on them about their grades or homework getting done on time and the oldest is in 4 college classes in high school but he keeps up with his school work and maintains a 3.8 GPA, on 3 worship bands which requires 3 practices a week, drama team (2 practices a week), has a girlfriend, and works part-time and even manages to find time to work with outreach teams and helps out a lot at church when he can. He still manages to find time to play video games and hang out with friends.

Our daughter on the other hand, has those hormonal attitudes, not sure what attitude you will get from one minute to the next although she is doing a lot better than she did from age 9-13 now that she is older she is realizing that life doesn't revolve around what she wants out of it. She procrastinates everything whether it be chores, homework, figuring out what she wants to wear or needs to purchase for a special event. She is very creative and loves to do art and fashion design but doesn't like to organize anything. She is on the drama team and worship team at church. She is good with little kids and makes a great babysitter, she cares for her friends and has the friends for life type friends and I know that when she is on her own she will know how to take care of herself and she is very polite and helps clean at other people's houses and enjoys helping others. She will do chores when asked or told which one to do but just telling her to do some chores which I would like the kids to pick 2 chores a day on Mon-Fri and I don't care what they pick as long as the weekly chores get done but she will procrastinate and end up with chores she hates because she didn't pick hers right away and the boys will jump in and do their choice of chores right away and get their homework done so they can have more free time to do what they like to do.

None of our kids are high energy or maybe I just don't view them as high energy. I don't think kids need to sit around for hours but there are appropriate times when they need to sit still such as school, church, restaurants, meetings and they know when it is ok to be a little wild or appropriate to talk and when they need to sit and listen.

I think kids need to have activities and be involved in what they like to do. Our kids are very involved in youth at church, they are on the drama team, worship team, go on a lot of trips, also involved in sports and school activities.

We have youth hangout nights at our house and teenagers love it. We mainly chat, play board games and now that the weather is warm we go out to the park and play baseball and sometimes we just go to a lake and have a fun bonfire night. We have a lot of fun and there are usually 10-20 kids that come over in our small 1000 sq foot house.

Even though our house isn't spotless like I would like, it is very lived in especially with teens over a lot but the house is not filthy either. The hardest part is keeping everything in it's place because there isn't much storage or closet room to put things.

I think a lot of raising kids is our personality as parents. It really isn't a boy thing or a girl thing, it is how well we handle their personalities. Every child is different and how we react usually is what helps mold that child into what they become in life. Encouraging them and talking to them helps a lot and when you understand their personality then you can figure out what works and what doesn't work. Sometimes their personality may clash with yours so you as a parent have to figure out what works best for the child as far as discipline but all kids need rules and boundaries and the earlier you set them the better life will be when they are teenagers.

We had rules from age 1 when they played with toys they helped pick them up and all toys were picked up before they went to bed and usually picked them up a few times a day depending how many they got out because if they get too many out at once then they get overwhelmed and don't know where to start and put them away. by age 5 they were helping put clothes away, taking out trash, vacuuming, and loading the dishwasher if there was an easy load. Now they are older and do everything we can do including cooking full meals, sorting and washing laundry, and any other cleaning. We all work together and no chore is labeled girls/boys or a 10 year old can't do because he can do everything the rest of us can do.

Even though our house isn't spotless like I would like, it is very lived in especially with teens over a lot but the house is not filthy either. The hardest part is keeping everything put away in it's place because we live in a small 1000 sq foot house and don't have a lot of space so everything has to be put in it's place and sometimes being on the run all the time things start to get cluttered.

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answers from York on

I wonder if your son will be an easy boy because, as you've said, his older sisters won't let him get away with much. Or whether he will be an easy boy simply because you have had practice. Many moms here have mentioned that their sons have gotten into mischief that their most energetic daughters never attempted or dreamed of. I wonder if birth order plays a role. Does it matter in what order the boys and girls are born? Or more in what order the energetic and docile children are born?
Having perfected your parenting technique on more docile daughters, maybe you'll have an easier time with your son. I really hate obnoxious boy behavior, but perhaps you're being a bit hard on your SILs. It's hard to figure out how to raise children, what works, what doesn't. It's especially hard when you're experiencing bad behavior and a need to discipline for the first time. I'm just thinking aloud here, but maybe we should count ourselves lucky if we've had our easy children first, to learn parenting with. This is not meant to excuse the bad behavior or lack of parenting. Only, I try to put myself in others' shoes. I know that I have a tendency to become stunned in new situations, to need time to reflect before I make a good decision. Parenting is difficult in that it offers me lots of unexpected situations and very little time! I would definitely choose to parent a more docile child first, so I could encounter those situations and practice my discipline before having to deal with a more naturally spirited child. And the fact that the docile older child would then be the big kid example for the younger energetic can't hurt.

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answers from Fayetteville on

We have been reading a book at my school (I teach in an elementary school) called Gender Matters. It was written for teachers, but honestly, I have found it just as helpful if not more so for me as a parent of both boys and girls. Very insightful with good concrete suggestions how to handle situations.

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answers from Jacksonville on

It is a given that personality has a role in whether you have a high energy child or a calm, laid back, "easy" child. But, I DO think that GENERALLY speaking, more boys tend to push the limits and test in a physical way, than girls do.
I also think there are generalities that are a function of the relationship between mothers and sons vs. the relationship between mothers and daughters. And also the birth order (i.e., first born, 2nd child, etc) and other family dynamics... like are there only girl children, or only boy children. There are just SOO many variables. What kind of parenting is going on in the home is a big influence. Dad's are usually harsher in general, once they decide to discipline.. but I think they tend to wait longer to discipline daughters than they do sons.
I know that I am more easily "conned" by my son, than my daughter. I know how my daughter's brain works... so I KNOW what she's up to, lol. And similarly, my husband sees right through it when my son is "playing" me.

I do NOT allow my son to act "all boy" as some people have used the term (to mean defiant and undisciplined and totally out of control). And I know some girls that are "all boy" like my son.... They tend to climb everything in sight, take things apart and build 'contraptions', want to be outside getting dirty, etc. I am not a "girly girl"... I detested dresses and skirts as a child, and still prefer my jeans or pants and less frilly attire. I am a "classic not quite preppy" type dresser... but no frills and lace for me, thank you. I preferred challenging my older brothers at baseball than "doing my hair". My daughter is the same (and she also has had an older brother for a playmate from day 1). She rarely plays with dolls. She'd prefer to play with superheroes most of the time, or Tinker Toys, or stuffed dogs (or real dogs, actually)... but a real baby??? NO thanks. She doesn't know what to do with them and has no interest in finding out. She looks at them like aliens. Is it because those are the kinds of things that were around when she was a baby, b/c of her older brother and she doesn't have "experience" with babies?? Who knows. I was the same, but I might have had the same thing going on... two older brothers' things to play with and no younger sibs. My mother FINALLY gave up buying dolls as gifts for my daughter...after 8 years...
My son is actually more receptive, and sensitive to baby needs than my daughter is.
Generally speaking, I think boys are more mechanical - building, climbing, DOING; and girls are more mental - talking, reading, playing board games or doing puzzles. There are exceptions- no question. But generally, I think it holds true. The "boys will be boys" mantra to excuse lack of manners or discipline, however, is a cop out. That is just bad parenting.

But, you will parent them differently. Maybe not intentionally, or specifically b/c one is a boy and the others are girls... but because they are different people, and they will act and react to things differently. So be prepared... because different techniques will be effective to accomplish the same goals... a well-adjusted, well-mannered child.
Oh... I have one of each... 11 yr old son, 8 yr old daughter. And a dog. :)

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answers from Orlando on

I suppose this matters most to those of us who value gender roles. :)

I have a 2.5 year old boy and yes, I expect different behavior from him than if I had a girl. I like for him to be energetic, outgoing, fearless. Those are traits that will translate into an active, confident, extroverted young man which will serve him well in business and in finding a wife to create a family with later in his life. I have no desire to restrict his activity and outgoingness now, even if that means he climbs on the furniture from time to time, because I don't want to dilute these traits for his future.

If I was raising a girl, I would certainly want her to be educated, independent and capable, but valuing traditional gender roles as I do, would warrant me parenting her differently than I do my son. I'd be more inclined to encourage her to behave "like a lady."

This isn't to suggest that I allow my son to be a monster in public or invade other's personal space. It does mean that I choose not to spend my time trying to break his spirit and insist that he be a quiet, introverted little guy. I encourage you to consider what traits you would like to see in your children when they become adults and how those translate from childhood traits, so you can nurture and parent your children as individuals. I also encourage you to consider the fact that the basic differences between boys and girls and men and women, and how together, they can form a whole partnership with differing, but valuable, traits, has been beneficial to cultures for eons. It's not a bad thing to recognize that and parent children accordingly. :)

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answers from Williamsport on

Wow!!! I am so impressed with your realization that boys ARE more difficult and that is in NO WAY an excuse to coddle them and let them not learn good self control and manners and respect, just because it's more work for parents. Anything valuable in life comes form hard work, and good boys are no different.

My whole family uses a "firmer style" with the boys as well as extra time for testosterone to burn off before doing quiet reading/writing type things. Plenty of outdoor time, plenty of hard work when they're old enough (my 2 year old helps carry in fire wood), plenty of rough housing, rough play AND firm discipline. Especially from dad who should demonstrate manly behavior. Plenty of sleep and healthy food. Boys, like men, want to feel tough and valuable and they respect boundaries from their parents. They want strong parents.

Boys don't like to be mommy-talked to death about behavior any more than men do. Subduing them in time outs all the time and talking about feelings is rough on a boy's soul (and makes them whiny terrors and mommy manipulators who are "all boy"). Keep the consequences clear, consistent, FIRM and brief. And voila! Enjoy those little men!

My 2 year old boy is definitely giving me a workout compared to his older sister, but I was ready for it, and I love it. He's not a terrible two at all, just a ball of energy with a sweet spirit who tries things and learns he doesn't get away with them, and then feels proud to choose to avoid a consequence and act the right way.

He can run as wild as he wants when it's the right time and place, but he respects the house. Yesterday, he was so good in an open house, not tocuhing anything or making a peep while the realtor showed us, he was rewarded with a trip to the park where he was allowed to throw as many big rocks into the stream as he wanted. The rewards for good discipline are a daily gift to parents.

Like you, he has to follow the SAME rules, even if it's more work for me, and often firmer and different than what my girls will need. I know it will pay off to be firm and calm and consistent based on the other boys/men in our family.
Good work!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Speaking as a mother of FOUR boys and ONE girl who was raised in a family of all girls and WANTED only girls because I thought they would be easier... My boys have to be HANDS down the easiest to deal with over my daughter. Yes, they were more physical and active, but it gets to a point when the emotional levels and hormones come into play and kick the them all in the rear... It seems to hit the girls harder and as the "cat" syndrome kicks in. A girl will hold a grudge and treat someone differently from what she feels. Atleast a boy will act on what is going on. They may fight, but more often than not I have seen them turn around and become friends afterword. Juswt my two cents.

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answers from Indianapolis on

My opinion has less to do with gender and more to do with personality.

I was one of 3 girls growing-up, my husband was one of 3 boys. We have one boy and one girl of our own and 2 nieces/nephews on one side of the family, 2 nephews on the other.

In our own family, our kids just have completely different personalities. Our son is a more passive personality, very sensitive and very clingy. Our daughter is bolder, more out-going and less interested in fine details than her brother.

I think you should parent consistently (one of my biggest grievances with my parents was their lack in parity among the 3 of us) but base upon the child, not the gender.

We may choose to discipline them differently based upon what's effective, and what the infraction is. But, the expectations will always be consistent - being decent people, having good manners, treating others with dignity and respect, being good students (as a parent, it's my job to instill those values in my children regardless of their gender).

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I have a girl who is 6 years older than her brother, and they were and are COMPLETELY different. Expectations are different because i learned early that he would not be like his sister. She was easy. He has not been, i dont know if its because he is a boy, BUT i will tell you that my experience has been boys tend to have the same personality traits across the board, most girls do, but i have seen the wild girl on occasion.

Boys seem to want to explore more and get into things and learn how they work. Where as girls seems more content to sit in one place.

I do not think discipline should be different, but i do not think its fair to expect the same behavior from ANY sibling. Because they are different children.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Boy's are different. Bigger stronger and more demanding. I have a four month old who cries all the time I amnot sure if it is teeting or stomach aache or what. He is not hungry and does not need changing. He has a bad case of cradle cap that looks very itchy but doctor said only use the hydrocodone 1% and it does nothing for the itching and the scabbiness any suggestions? Girls are quieter when they are babies but when they learn to talk watch out but they are not as fussy to me anyway. One girl two and boy 4 months.

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answers from Boston on

Boys are just as special as girls. Our son 7 has been much easir to raise than our daughter 8. Our son is active but listens well, is thoughtful, hard worker and is a pleaser. He is so very sweet. Our daughter is very sweet but can be very challenging. She is the one who gets into everything, can be a big mess maker and lets not forget the talking back. I think girls are emotional from the start. Boys seem to get along better in school than girls too. Girls can be so mean to one another, it just breaks my heart. Why does it start so eary with girls. In the end we all end up Ok!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I don't parent differently to my son or daughter, but I definately see that boys are different than girls. I honestly think girls are harder than boys- but you will get to experience it and see what you think. The all boy thing is something that when it happens- there will be no question and it isn't because he is naughtier than his sister. He just thinks different things are more interesting than she does. My son is a very sweet kid. Today at the playground with his preschool class he and the other boys were throwing the ground covering at each other while the girls played on the swingsets planning play dates. I did say something to the boys about their behavior- but even the little boys want to jump in play "rougher" play!

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answers from Chicago on

Boys are easier than girls...they aren't "moody" and pout if they are scolded and don't hold grudges as much as girls! They get over it and get on with things!

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answers from Columbus on

Well, girls are definitely different than boys! That being said, all of my kids have the same rules and expectations-I have 3 boys and 1 girl. I also think that it IS more personality than sex because all of my children are quite different from one another, but my girl can sometimes be VERY girly.

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answers from Minneapolis on

You are totally in charge about how you raise your children. IMO, it would be impossible to raise boys and girls the same because we can only control our influence...We cannot control other children, TV, books, toys, other care givers. And so while you may raise your son in a more or less gender neutral manner, he will soon begin picking up boy-cues and girl-cues and decide which ones he wants to follow.

I guess I agree...You parent the child as they need to be parented no matter chromosomes they have.

BTW --I don't think saying "all boy" is an excuse for having a boy that is physically agile or intense. Just as I don't think calling a daughter and "girlie girl" is an excuse for raising an empty-headed ditz. I think it is just a charming way people try to describe their children.

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answers from Cleveland on

I saw this post later - sorry... I have a 6 yr old girl & boys that are 2 1/2 & 4 1/2, plus from what I'm being told a boy due in July. All the kids are a little different... one of my boys are super active/hyper the other is laid back & very calm, unless you change the routen on him. Right now we are having issues with fits when we go bye-bye with him because the weather is warm (finaly) and he feels you can't go bye-bye without a jacket put on first... so it is going to take some time to adjustment to get use to the change. My daughter is a little mix of both, although she isn't hyper - she is very active or tries to be. She does have JRA - which gives her some troubles, but she has never let it "beat" her - she is a very strong willed little girl & can do anything she puts her mind to, even if that means getting her brothers invauled to reach her goal. Because of this, she has her doc suprised... she has very little muscle differents between her "good" leg & and "bad" leg. Even when her joints are swollen and she is in pain she still reaches for her goals & will figure out a way of getting what she wants.

But anyways... we have been given greif from others because we let out boys play with dolls & the "girls" toys (dishes, play food, and kitchen set) and our girl plays with little cars and "boy" toys. Our kids all have the same rules - which are the rules of the house. Yes, in many ways girls are a little different then boys, some of their needs are different & in time some of their issues in school & life in general will be different, but also that falls some what on who the child/person is. We all have different needs, wants, hobbies, likes & dislikes - that is what make each of us special, but in the end we all need structure, love & guidence. Which is why we show all out kids love & give them all the same structure, but most of all try to guide them to be good little people that think of others not just themself.

The reason I feel kids (both boys & girls) should play w/ dolls & kitchen stuff is someday they will all grow up to be parents... and in my heart I believe it's not just mommy that needs to be there for the kids, but daddy's as well. So, if my boys grow up to be good men - they will be there help "their baby momma" as their dad does. And the first step is letting them "care" for a baby doll & "cook" it dinners. As for the cars... if my daughter wants to work on cars or drive a big rig for living when she gets bigger - hey go for it. I don't feel any goal or dream in life should be based on gender or unable to be achived because of gender.

So to answer your question - no I don't feel boys & girls should be raised different... yes, I hear often (from family), oh he's just being a boy - he shouldn't be in trouble. Even if he broke the rules... sorry, but not in my hubby & I's house.

Oh one last thing, my daughter likes looking for worms & bugs just as much as my boys do & my boys like planting flowers w/ mom just as much as my girl does. They all need to expericance life to it's fullest... gender will never or at least should never effect that.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I also have two girls and a boy. The following books/videos changed my view of raising boys versus girls, and educating them too:

"Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys" by Michael Thompson. In book and PBS video (powerful).

"The Trouble with Boys" by Peg Tyre. About how our educational system is failing boys.

Although both relate to education, it definitely had implications for me on my parenting and have helped me to be mindful in my expectations of my son.

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answers from Boston on

I have a boy. While he achieved a lot of motor skills a lot earlier than most girls his age we know did (he started walking at 10 months), it took him a lot longer to pick up speech. So the differences I have seen around me between girls and boys his age, is the boys seem a lot more high energy, while the girls are a lot more calmer and talking a lot more. My son is finally catching verbally wise.

I don't think that parents should parent their children differently based on gender. And also if you have at least one of each, they should be parented equally and fairly. For example when they are teens, don't let one start going on dates at 16 because she's a girl, but let your boy go on dates at 15, stuff like that. Always be aware of your decisions you make with them both at a young age and when they are grown.

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answers from Dallas on

There are lots of good books out there on how to raise boys. And lots of research to support the idea that boys have slightly different needs. Yes, every child should have expectations etc. However, boys are very different than girls. If you google parenting book about raising boys you should get some great reading material.

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answers from Tulsa on

Are boys different than girls? Yes. Is one boy different from another? Yes. Every child is different, and what works with one doesn't necessarily (or often) work with another. I will say most boys tend to be more rambunctious than most girls, but that's most.......not all.
I had 1 girl and 2 boys, and each one was a unique individual and a separate challenge. I didn't find one sex easier than the other, just harder or easier to deal with in certain situations.
The basic rules of how to behave still apply.



answers from Boston on

Late, as usual... but wanted to say how much I completely agree with what you said about boys getting a free pass "because they're boys." Boys can be taught manners and self-control, just like girls. I agree boys and girls are different, but it doesn't mean they have to be rude and out of control. I have two boys and a girl (in that order) and while I allowed for differences in personality as well gender, I had the same standards and expected the same behaviors for all three.


answers from Pittsburgh on

You have a great attitude and I think you'll figure it out just fine!
But..since you asked ;-) I'll share a little bit! I have 2 boys(14,11) and 1 girl(7). What I have learned to date is just what you's more personality than gender. My 2 boys are NIGHT and DAY! We've learned to figure out what makes each one tick(it changes so that's interesting!) and how to connect with (and thus, effectively relate to) each one in their own way. BUT, the house/life rules don't change and I'm with you...this 'boys will be boys' stuff,ugh! Believe me, I have one challenging child who needs to be treated very differently from the others in order for him to respond to what the other 2 do without issue. Just makes me a more creative(and sometimes frustrated!)mom but I expect my kids to do their best, and be their best which looks different for each..but basic manners, courtesy, and so on...they all have them and I am proud of each of they with their unique personalities, challenge me to grow everyday! Good luck to you and your family! It's a great journey!


answers from Omaha on

You raised very important observations regarding "boy behavior" and girl behavior". Although, there are some differences between sexes, and you nailed the ones wherein if you push too hard, you may cause a boy to feel inadequate (fine motor skills). I have one child, a son. Since his birth, he has been required to behave in respectful ways, varying as social situations vary. I have not brought him up making excuses for beliefs that entitle him as a male as some famililes do. Also coming from data, as I am a social sicentist too, many beliefs we carry, and subsequent norms are social constructs. It's very easy to say that, "it's biological". As times change, gender norms shift too. Therefore, it's relatively clear that much of what boys learn to believe is true about themselves and girls is a response to social learning.

As a child, I was high energy, played in dirt as much as boys, ran through woods, and was as adventurous as Huck Fin. However, I was not frequently placed in pretty dresses, and told to stay clean either. I also have a brother, and as we both got older, our grandfather spent more of his time doing male things with my him, which I resented. But, that was because I wanted soak in anything Grandpa had to pass on, mainly how to use tools. Moreover, I am not butch in any way, but still love building things, doing all the garden work, and many tasks that men wold normally do as well as knitting, and wearing the occasional dress.

My ultimate goal is to bring up a child to participate in as many real-life activities as my child is interested in. Although, my son identifies as male very much, that has come more from his interaction with his father and males at school. Many times, I have told my child that there are many different ways to be male, and that he is not required to be aggressive or emotionallly or intellectually dismissive of girls/women. However, I have made gender a project in our household, and my son seems to like himself and have a sense of his own power as a person and not simply a gender. He does not seem to be intimidated by females in authority at all. Finally, he is a nurturer. When my son was small, I allowed him to follow his desire to nurture a doll baby, the cats and so on. I found that this simply made my son a better future candidate for good parenting.

I think you will find bring up a boy a fun project in juxtoposition to girls. I only wish I had a daughter too.



answers from Minneapolis on

I think you are on the right track. Instead of thinking of them as boys or girls first, let's think of them as our beloved CHILDREN first. I always thought I'd have girls, but ended up with two boys. I know that raising girls must be a little different, but I can't really imagine myself with girls anymore, as I'm just used to my boys.

I read something in a book about raising boys, when my first was a baby, that parents of baby boys kiss their babies less often than the parents of baby girls do. I was appalled, and resolved to kiss and snuggle my baby boy as much as I could. Other than that, I don't think I ever consciously made a parenting decision because my children were boys.

My kids are boys, sure. One is sports crazy (he does team sports all year long, and loves to watch sports on tv), the other likes things that are cool, like movies, music, skateboarding, and snowboarding. But both are really loving, affectionate people, and both are smart and do well in school. And I have never tolerated wild behavior, or rude behavior, just because they are boys. I'm pretty sure that on manners and values, I've raised them the same that I would have raised daughters.

You sound like a thoughtful person, and I bet you do a wonderful job raising your son.


answers from Minneapolis on

each child is different-i raised both my kids pretty much a single mom-my daughter more of a tom boy-my son pretty laid back-likes to watch sports but not really play daughter-softball,volley ball that their grown-my son is more into sports-my daughter pretty laid back-the one thing i can say positive about their dad-he got them into fishing-and they love it an do it year round-they just got me back into it last summer-forgot how much i enjoyed i really think child raising is just by going with the flow-and really focusing on the needs and interests at any given time-youll be alright


answers from Atlanta on

I am so glad to read your opinion on raising the two genders. I also agree that parents make excuses for not PARENTING boys as an excuse because of their nature. In psych classes we are presented with nature vs nuture and in reality it takes both to make us. I also like that respect goes across the board and that you do take in to consideration the individuality of your children. One other mistakes parents make is the double social standards as teen agers like drinking,sex dating; or as little ones that girls get away w/hitting boys but boys can't hit girls. No one should hit anyone.
My book An Essential Practical Guide to Family Living addresses these issues and so much more. But you have encouraged me to know that there are some people who have a good handle on what parenting is about. I hope you and other readers will purchase the book at Marriage issues are also included.



answers from Indianapolis on

I think you have to pick your battles with all children, male or female. And if you have a very active child, you have to make more decisions on which battles to pick.

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