(originally published September 23, 2010)
I came across a very interesting article in Parenting
magazine: "Boys vs. Girls: Who's Harder to Raise?" If you only had one or the other, your answer would simply be whatever you endured as a parent! If you had both, well you probably have strong opinions based on which kid gave you the most grief, stress, and challenge.
According to the article, parents of boys complain about dealing with "fights, farts, and video games,"
but parents of girls complain about "fussy fashion, prickly social navigations, and a far greater capacity to hold a grudge."
They're both right. Boys and girls are equally "harder" – just in different ways. Of course, every child is unique and environment counts for something, but there is such a thing as a male
brain and a female
brain, and they operate quite differently!
Here are some categories to look at:1. Discipline
Boys are harder. Boys are less verbal and more tactile. Telling them to "stop" is not as powerful as picking them up and plopping them back in their rooms. Boys respond to physical cues. Girls respond to verbal ones. And at least while they are young, girls tend to want to please more; boys are simply into their own worlds and are more impulsive.
Five times as many boys than girls are singled out for medication or diagnosis with some disorder when it is likely just the result of a male brain requiring more opportunities to expend innate energy and aggression (which is why sports is more important for boys than girls – there, I've said it). Boys need firmer limits too (which is why I think boys and girls should be educated separately, and boys should have alpha male teachers.2. Physical Safety
Boys are harder because they are inherently more physical and risk-taking. Taking risks for boys is "hard-wired" in, whereas girls are more careful. Boys need to be guided into limits; girls need to be encouraged to take risks (this is usually what a father does for his daughter).3. Communication
Girls are hard wired to be people-oriented, while boys are hard wired to be action oriented. Boys talk later than girls and have more trouble connecting feelings with words. Girls talk, talk, and talk some more and get involved in drama, drama, drama; boys will fight with each other and then it's over – off they go to do rough and tumble.4. Self-esteem
Girls are harder, because they're people oriented and therefore people pleasers. Boys march to their own drums. Girls worry more about what friends think and say about them and they try to achieve perfection in how they look, becoming absorbed in who likes them. This is why sports and creative arts are important for girls – when girls use their bodies with strength, and their talents with creativity, they gain a positive sense of themselves.
The bottom line? Parenting
claims that boys are harder early on (girls are cute and compliant at this stage, but boys are impulsive and rowdy), while girls get harder later on, with all their relationship and self-image turmoil.
So no matter what gender your children are, "fasten your seatbelt" – you're in for a bumpy ride, but one which is also emotionally rewarding.