Raising Boys vs. Raising Girls

When I discovered I was pregnant, I secretly wished for a boy. But my reasons were different from the conventional reasons of either carrying the family name or having somebody to take care of us in the old age.

Raising Boys vs. Raising Girls

From my own experiences as a girl, from my observations of immediate surroundings as well as from all the news, information and incidents around us, my perceived issues of raising a girl were:

a. She would be expected to fit into the stereotypical roles, if not by us, by the extended family or people she would meet outside family or society at large.

b. Protecting her from the dangers lurking in every corner โ€“ child abuse, molestation, eve-teasing, to name a few.

c. Building good self-image and self-esteem. Because of the continuous messages from the media, several girls suffer from poor self-image or have poor body image. They are perpetually concerned about diet and body, sometimes going to extreme. It affects their self-esteem too.

d. Am I ready to give her the kind of freedom she deserves? It is easier said than done that we would give as much freedom to a daughter as we would to a son, because it is not about trust on the child, it is more about her safety.

e. Girls are complicated and mature. They may even start asking the purpose of life at as early an age as 7. This can be a blessing as well as challenging.

Of course, there would be more issues but these were the ones which were on my mind. And if you ask me, in current context the most challenging is building a good self-image and good body image in girls. We are continuously surrounded by one or the other media and each one of them manipulate us in believing that if you are not fair enough or thin enough, you shouldnโ€™t exist. Getting attention from the opposite sex should be the ultimate goal in life for every girl! It is hard enough dealing with this as a girl; I cannot imagine what I had done to deal with this as a mother of a daughter at an impressionable age.

As I had wished, I was blessed with a son and not a daughter. Did you say I was at peace? No! Ironically, my challenges are mostly the same.

  1. A man is also expected to fit into stereotypes โ€“ so if you are not chivalrous, you are an MCP!
  2. I have read enough articles and this very good book called Bitter Chocolate by PinkiVirani which opened my eyes to the fact that Child Sexual Abuse is rampant and not gender specific. Girls as well as boys are susceptible to it. In fact, unlike girls, boys are not even conditioned to judge whether a touch is fatherly or filthy.
  3. Perhaps boys have less body image issues, but there are serious safety issues. Boys are restless and energetic. Acceptance in peer group is important and they take a lot of risks in ascertaining their toughness among peer group. Drug and alcohol issues are also more common among boys than girls.

Having said all these, I may point out that I am still a new mother, anticipating challenges to be able to deal with them when the time comes. Perhaps I am evaluating extremes but parents are a worried lot, as you know.

Let me share a secret, I strongly believe that a son is a son till he gets a wife while a daughter is a daughter for life. ๐Ÿ™‚

Reema Sahay is a stay-at-home mom who spends her days running around her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life atย Pen Paperย and shares her passion for books atย Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life.

  • Loved the post Reema… and thanks for sharing the link ‘Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani’

    • Thank you so much Falak! It is an excellent book on a very important subject, if you haven’t read it already.

  • As you rightly mentioned Reema, in today’s times, as parents, it is tough to raise both girls and boys. Both the boys and girls give the parents unique challenges to handle. But then each child is an individual. The personality that a child is born with has a greater impact on how difficult it is to raise that child!!

    • Hey Shilpa, in my enthusiasm of writing this post, I missed one of the most important and relevant aspect of raising boys, making them sensitive towards women or gender sensitivity.
      And you are right, personality is a very important factor.

  • Vidhatri Joshi

    I understand and agree on what you wished for. My mother always felt the same. Initially I was hurt very badly on her thinking. One day out of sheer frustration I asked her that why did she allow me to come to this world if she wished so badly for a son, she kissed me on my fore head and explained to me, giving the same reasons you have mentioned. I guess we are meant to be strong irrespective of our gender.

    • Thank you Vidhatri for sharing your personal moment ๐Ÿ™‚ A daughter fills a home and a life with special moments which may be different than a son but still very, very special. And what I have seen is a daughter shares a special bond with her parents lifelong, no matter where she stays!

  • Fab

    It was the exact opposite for me, Reema, I really wanted a girl!!! My main reasons were that boys were more difficult to sort of ‘rein in’, with a greater tendency towards the whole drugs-alchohol thing. Also, from what I see around me, when grown up, girls tend to stay more in touch with their families, especially their mothers :-). But then I got a boy, and he is the apple of my eye, but I’m aware of the huge responsibility of making him gender sensitive, like you mentioned in your comment. It’s a good thing that we mothers are taking steps towards it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Fab, you are absolutely right about girls staying more connected with their parents throughout their lives ๐Ÿ™‚
    And yes, our generation has a huge responsibility of making our boys gender sensitive, respectful of other women and always, always considering them at par. You know, when I started reading articles about crimes against women, and the kind of statements people make to even justify those, I strongly feel something has gone terribly wrong in upbringing and social set up.

  • Oh this is very true, boys have challenges which are so huge, and there isnt enough support given to them, simply because they are inarticulate and can not spell the challenges out.

    • Yes, I read somewhere that when boys are too quiet unlike their nature then you need to worry not when they scream, shout or yell. That is their natural state of being. What I mean is they are energetic and active, they need to release their energy.

  • Nidhi

    Haha! I also wanted a boy – for all the reasons that you mentioned + because I know that my husband would be the most overprotective father in the world!! And guess what – I have a girl ๐Ÿ™‚ And though the concerns stay – I must say I couldn’t have had a more fun time than I’ve had thus far with my kidlet!

    • So I have come to accept that boys have issues and so do girls. We ned to rise upto the challenges and move on. The good thing is that in our generation there are concerned / aware parents who are consciously addressing various issues:-)

  • Sumedha

    its really true Reema… Challenges for raising a girl are more … means i am finding it like … off course this is not self experience for boys .:)

    Very good article Reema..

    • Thankyou sweetheart. Both have different sets of challenges! The day you decided to be or became a parent, you accepted worrying for your child is going to be a part of life ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think sometimes we are so taken in by fighting stereotypes that we succumb to reverse stereotypes. It bothered me enough to write this: http://mommygolightly.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/932/.
    Unless we allow our children to get in touch with their yin and yang in equal measure, we will always make them versions of what we want them to be. The thing is, kids donโ€™t know stereotypes. We do.

  • Sunita Rajwade

    Well, those who have daughters long for sons and those who have sons long for daughters! May you have a daughter so you know how it is to raise both and doubly worried ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Parenting is tough no matter if you have a boy or a girl and believe me in today’s world once your children grow up all you have is a phone line to keep you connected!