April 08, 2010,
M.O. asks from Barrington, IL on March 18, 2010
Do You Think Raising "Boys" Is Different than Raising "Girls"?
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.
C.N. answers from Minneapolis on March 18, 2010
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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R.G. answers from Chicago on March 18, 2010
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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B.L. answers from Jacksonville on April 03, 2010
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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A.F. answers from St. Cloud on March 18, 2010
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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D.L. answers from Dallas on April 03, 2010
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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C.S. answers from Victoria on March 18, 2010
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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C.G. answers from Boston on April 04, 2010
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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L.C. answers from Orlando on March 18, 2010
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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J.R. answers from Davenport on April 03, 2010
I have a 3 year old girl and a one year old boy....my 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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