I’m apparently on a "gender" kick

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elephants Have you ever wondered where the phrases, “Daddy’s little girl” and “Momma’s boy” came from? And isn’t it strange that “Momma’s Boy” sounds derogatory, while “Daddy’s little girl” sounds all sugary sweet. Cripes! Even at that young age, we’re putting gender roles on our kids!

Anyway, regardless of the origin, there does appear to be some truth to them.

Before we had kids, if you’d asked myself or CareerMom what gender of kids we’d like to have and in what quantity, I think we’d have both said, “At least one boy and one girl.” That didn’t happen, and we’re probably done having kids so it’s two boys for us and we’re very happy with that.

But…

I’ve watched my two sons grow and I’ve watched how my wife’s expectations for them has changed from when they were little and it got me wondering about my own expectations for our children and I realized that, when I DID dream of having kids, whenever I really thought about how I would raise my child(ren), I almost always did so with the picture of a little girl in my head.

Stick around, it gets worse.

I can’t speak for what goes on in women’s heads, but for me, and from the actions of many of the guys I know, it seems that a lot us guys dream of raising this beautiful little girl that we’ll fawn affection over and that we’ll hug and love and protect…hmmm, protect. Now that’s interesting. Most of the manly men that I know, myself included, are fiercely possessive AND protective of the women in their life. It’s a natural instinct–possibly even as strong as that “motherly instinct” we all hear so much about. But nobody talks about men’s natural instincts, but they are there. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my boys, but I gotta admit that I don’t feel terribly “protective” over them when they’re going about their daily activities.

– When they wrestle, as long as they aren’t near a sharp corner somewhere, I generally don’t worry about it.

– I encourage them to play in the rain.

– Wanna go fast down the hill on your bike? Eh…have fun.

With my boys, I don’t have any expectations…I just want them to grow up and be happy.

CareerMom on the other hand, has had to make some adjustments. I can’t tell you how many baseball hats she’s bought the boys in the vain hope that they’ll start wearing them. She has this idealistic picture in her head of a boy in a baseball uniform, and so far, it’s been a major disappointment for her.

She wants to see them dressed up in church clothes, sitting quietly for a picture. Hasn’t happened.

She wants them to just sit in her lap and enjoy being cuddled. Uh uh. Nothing doing!

Now, I know she would love to have a little girl that she could dress up and put little pigtails in her hair, but those dice weren’t rolled for us, so I don’t know what her expectations would have been; although, from my experience, most little girls these days aren’t terribly tolerant of all that attention either.

I just find it interesting how, at least in my experience, each gender seems to have greater expectations for children of the opposite sex. Maybe it’s just an experiential thing, or maybe it’s a natural desire to mold a young person into one’s own ideal of perfection (oooh, now that could be hitting very close to the truth).

Something to think about and maybe share your own thoughts…

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3 thoughts on “I’m apparently on a "gender" kick

    Allison said:
    June 13, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Can open, worms everywhere.

    I agree with you that there is a much more negative association with the term momma’s boy than there is daddy’s girl…just like girls are much more free in their gender roles than boys are. Girls can wear any color they want and participate an pretty much any extra-curricular activity or hobby without being judged…a girl can play with “boy” toys, but boys are discouraged from playing with girl toys…sure, maybe they can slip in a doll or a teddy bear, but wait for the stares of a boy playing with a Barbie Doll.

    I like to think that we’re raising our daughter in an environment where she feels free to do boy things as well as girl things. Hair bows and dresses are out of the question…she won’t have it. Things are definitely different than when I was a kid when your only extracurricular option as a girl was to be in the Girl Scouts. I hope that my daughter embraces math and science; enjoys playing sports; and never waits by the phone for a man. That being said, I hope she also embraces her feminine side too…being sensitive and caring when needed (after all, we don’t want the scary female boss situation); appreciating a nice pair of shoes; and able to express her feelings freely. That’s a lot to ask for, I know.

    As I see my friends raise boys, I can’t help but think how my parenting style would differ if I had a boy. I know a couple of people who have adult sons who still need to be weaned. One person eats lunch with her 25 yr old son everyday, talks to him several times on the phone a day, and exchanges Valentines Day gifts. Now, I would probably think that was strange if it was a mother/daughter situation too, but the Electra complex definitely hits me more. I don’t think you’re doing a son any favor to himself and future wife by turning him into your boyfriend.

    Anyway, I could go on about this topic all day, but I’m sure you’re going to get to get some interesting comments on this.

    RE: Wow! Anytime I get more than a couple of sentences in a response, I know I’ve hit on something. Great comments though! It hit me while at the gym (just a few minutes ago…I KNOW…I’m working from home today!) that if you were to sit and watch how a dad instructs his daughter, or how a wife instructs her son, you’d see that in part, the corrections often reflect things they miss in their mate.

    I have no scientific basis for this, but think about it: If I, as a father do things that my wife doesn’t like, then I’m probably not going to teach my boys not to do it either…in which case, my wife, if she has any backbone at all, and she does…will do it.

    I’m considering applying for a grant to study this. Say…$5 mill to start?

    Surfer Jay said:
    June 14, 2008 at 3:32 am

    You’ve hit the donkey on the ass with that one. I also want my two week old boy to be molded as edible play-doh in my demanding hands. He should be a pro surfer, a famous chef, and a literary and intellectual genius. Three hobbies I have, which I would have loved to achieve greatness in myself.
    My father is an intellectual genius, literally. When we brought home bad grades we would get scolded. He could not fathom why his boys, who he moved to So-Cal to raise by the beach of all places, could have turned out so un-intellectual. We weren’t turning out like him! Eventually he resigned the idea of his little minnie-me clones.
    Before we knew we were having a boy, we would discuss how we felt about the possibilty of either sex. My biggest concern with having a girl was protecting her from boys! I also can’t stand the thought of some shmucks hands all over her, and I don’t want to have to even deal with that. A little absurd I know, but that’s what I think of when thinking of having a girl. I would also love her to be a surfer, chef and an intellectual mega genius cutie-pitutie. Gender has no bounds with those!

    Allison, you have brought up a very fascinating discussion point with: “if you were to sit and watch how a dad instructs his daughter, or how a wife instructs her son, you’d see that in part, the corrections often reflect things they miss in their mate.”
    Now I am going to pay very close attention to how my Lilly raises our boy in regards to your concept. I just may learn a few things about my shortcomings. Thanks I’ll donate a dollar to your research.

    RE: Jay, thanks for stopping by. Oh, and I’ll have to take credit for the comment you accredited to Allison. I put my comments to others’ responses in bold, but it does get a little difficult sometimes. Allison is brilliant too, in an 80s nostalgic trivia kinda way!!

    Allison said:
    June 14, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Laverned and Shirley moved from Milwaukee to Burbank, California in 1980 🙂

    RE: Exactly! I mean…who knows this stuff?

    Gimme an “A”, Gimme an “L” etc.

    Whatcha got? “ALLISON!” Yaaaahhhhh!

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