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.
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 – 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 shouldn’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.
- A man is also expected to fit into stereotypes – so if you are not chivalrous, you are an MCP!
- 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.
- 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. 🙂
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 at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life.