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Girls? Boys? Both?

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Do you think it's easier to raise one gender over the other?  As the mother of three young daughters, I've heard (more than once, in fact) that it's easier to have little girls rather than little boys, but they become terrors as teenagers and by then it's easier to have teenage boys.

I'm not sure that I buy that.  Of course, I haven't parented a teenager, so perhaps I'm off the mark, but I wonder about generalizations like that.  I'll make some generalizations when it comes to birth order, mind you...but then again, I am quick to admit that it's an art not a science, and that it can always be different than what we expect.

My question about stereotyping our children this way is: how does it influence us as parents?  Do we parent differently if we believe that one gender is "easier" or "harder"?  Do we set ourselves up for trouble?  Or worse, do we send messages to our kids about our expectations, that then influence how they view themselves and how they think we view them?

Our culture is filled with references to parent-child relationships.  "Daddy's little girl" and "mamma's boy" come to mind.  But I wonder: which came first?  Did these expressions grow out of astute observations of our relationships with our kids, or did they subtlety shape how we interacted? 

A similar expectation happens with the teenage years.  We expect that it will be difficult.  And our expectations are rarely disappointed.  But what if we expected the teen years to be joyous?  Rewarding?  Our favourite phase in our child's life?  How might we parent differently if that was the word on the street?

What do you think?

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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