You only have to listen to the lyrics of the Johnny Cash classic, ‘A boy named Sue,’ for a big taste of gender stereotyping in society.
The final act of a father who leaves his family is to name his son, Sue. It transpires he did this to toughen his son up for the inevitable bullying he’d face over his name. The message is that a boy needs to be encouraged to show his macho side.
There are physiological and hormonal variations between the two sexes as well. So, raising boys vs girls? How does it differ?
Are Girls More Difficult to Raise than Boys?
When you become a parent, it’s normal to be apprehensive and also to have a degree of preconception about what your children will be like. If they’re a girl will they be gentle and sweet? If they’re a boy, will they be more ‘rough and tumble?’
Years of conditioning have helped build gender stereotypes. It’s true that ideas and patterns which have to an extent become normalized are now being challenged. Australia, for example, has become a trailblazer on issues around gender identity.
It allows passport applicants to choose between male, female or indeterminate/intersex/unspecified. The lines have at times become more blurred around the edges.
That’s led to a bit of a rethink about how or even whether we should guide our children into patterns of behavior associated with the two sexes.
The Cost of Raising Boys vs Girls
Children don’t come cheap, regardless of their sex. Whether you can afford to raise a child is something that needs careful consideration. The average cost of raising a child from birth to age seventeen is around a quarter of a million dollars.
That’s based on a married two-parent middle-income family with two children. Your circumstances can make a big difference in how easy it can be at times to make ends meet.
Having a poor credit history might make you think twice about starting a family. But, where there’s a will there’s usually a way. Personal loans no credit check required are possible to help you through the tough times.
Human Brain Types
There is recent research out there which makes the case that there are differences in the brain chemistry of the two sexes. This is in addition to the usual anatomical differences between boys and girls.
Studies have found that the average female brain is better at empathizing with others. The average male brain was found to be better at systemizing and predicting outcomes.
It’s important to note though that these represent averages. That means that it was possible for either gender to have either brain type. Each gender’s brain and physical growth develops at a different rate. That influences behavior.
To an extent, it can be argued that parents may choose to raise girls and boys differently. That could be because girls and boys are so different from birth given that their brains are not wired in the same way.
Personality and Environment
All children are individuals. Their different personalities are going to help shape how their lives play out. Their environment, and that includes the type of parents they have, will also play a role in what sort of characters they turn out to be.
Some parents have observed that boys never seem to listen. It transpires that from birth their hearing tends not to be as good as that of girls. The hearing gap even widens as children grow older.
Girls’ hearing tends to be more sensitive at the frequency vital for deciphering speech. That could mean girls will probably respond better to certain disciplinary strategies. Boys may be more tactile, less verbal and more impulsive.
Such developmental differences may mean that we mislabel normal behavior as being problematic. Some boys may simply be at the more robust end of normal. They may need more opportunities to let out aggression.
Speech and Communication
Some experts claim that baby girls tend to like colors and textures. That includes those on the human face. Boys, on the other hand, are stimulated by movement. This can play out in the things that kids draw.
Girls may tend to use brighter and diverse colors, whereas boys might prefer blues and blacks. It’s argued that girls are wired to be people-oriented whereas boys may be action-oriented.
Since girls often study faces so intently, they’re more sensitive to nonverbal signals, such as an expression or tone of voice. Boys also tend to talk later than girls and have more limited vocabularies.
This could lead boys to have more difficulty in connecting feelings with words. They’ll also tend to hold eye contact for shorter periods than girls.
As girls grow up, their predisposition to communicate better means they expend more energy doing precisely that. Then the dramas can come over who’s angry at whom and who said what and why.
Issues of Self-Esteem in Girls and Boys
Having a healthy self-image is vital for children. Given that girls tend to be more compliant and people-oriented they can grow up to be less confident and more insecure than boys.
The renowned psychologist Carol Gilligan refers to this as ‘the tyranny of nice and kind.’ As parents, we can raise girls to be people-pleasers without even realizing we’re doing it.
Cultural pressure is a big influencer here. There is a tendency to encourage girls to put the needs of others first, ignore their own gut feelings, and avoid being assertive.
Girls may enjoy the satisfaction of pleasing others but it may mean their own self-esteem suffers. It’s a fine balance because being helpful and nurturing are virtues. Girls just need to strengthen their inner nature too.
Body image is a big part of self-esteem. Body-image dysfunction definitely happens in boys and men. It does though remain a mostly female issue.
Which Sex is the Easiest to Raise?
How does raising boys vs girls differ, if at all? Generally, boys are thought to be more of a handful in the first years of childhood. Girls may become more challenging later on as they hit the preteen years after turning ten or so.
Continue reading all our parenting tips. This includes those in our toddler section where you’ll find out about the symptoms of childhood depression to watch out for.