Monday, February 21, 2005

Boys and girls

Being a mother to three girls and two boys has been a wonderfully eye-opening experience for me. Growing up with only one sister, I felt dazed at the thought of having a son, not sure what I would do with one. But the years have taught me many lessons, including the realization that boys are wonderful, but also that you can't raise kids according to stereotypes. Sure, my girls are more emotionally wired, while my boys are more concrete and not as disturbed by life's bumps, but some of these traits also pass back and forth between the two. I have found that my kids need careful, individual consideration in order to raise them as God designed them to be.

In this article by Renee Bacher, the question "Who's easier: Boys or Girls," is wrestled with. She writes that while boys and girls are certainly different, parental attitudes and personalities also play a part when a challenge presents itself:

"When it comes to assessing which gender is tougher to raise, one should never discount the "grass is always greener" hypothesis......parents of girls often believe they're harder while those with boys make the same claim of males. "When I meet parents with both, they respond based on which of their children was most difficult, and they often relate difficulty to the child's gender. But clearly, there are many other variables involved."

It's also true that each mother's tolerance for certain gender-related traits has as much to do with who she is as with who her child is. One friend of mine with a daughter complains that girls worry too much about appearance. Another friend is frustrated because she can never get her son to change into clean clothes. (She'd find a girl who insists on frilly dresses a welcome relief.) In my case, I'm a low-key person who is sensitive to loud noises, so I was initially thrown by my high-energy, weapon-loving boys (I've finally figured out that we do the best outside). I wonder, too, since so many of the mothers I spoke to seem to find boys easier, whether many of us see in our daughters the gender-based traits we dislike in ourselves and therefore tend to react more negatively."

While I can relate to her frustration with the unlimited energy of her boys, I also have a three year-old girl who can wrestle around and scream with the best of them. I have found that I can't blame everything on "boys being boys" or "well, they're just girls." I have to, within the personality and temperament that God infused into them, to the best of my ability, deal with them as individuals. And as Renee Bacher points out, "Look for the joy buried in the tough stuff and run with it."