Snakes and Snails

A question I get asked a lot, having four girls and a boy, “Is raising a boy different from raising girls?”

The short answer (and the one I normally give) is, no.

The long answer isn’t so simple. Despite the last decade or two of culture telling us otherwise, yes, boys and girls are inherently different. I await the torches and pitchforks. It’s biology folks, sorry – and different doesn’t mean unequal. Boys can play with dolls, but they play with them differently than girls. Girls can play with trucks, but they play with them differently than boys.

I’ve been working with or parenting children for more of my life than I haven’t and I’ve observed the differences in all but maybe 1.5% of the children I’ve worked with. Even in the most egalitarian society, biology still wins. And it starts young, too young for it to be a learned thing. But that doesn’t mean I parent my children differently based on their gender.

We raise our girls to be strong and independent, objective, hard-working, compassionate, and respectful. We are raising our son to be the same. Gender doesn’t excuse anyone from being a decent human being and good manners aren’t a gendered trait. So no, raising a boy isn’t any different from raising a girl.

But I also don’t raise all my children the same. See, my children aren’t clones. Each one of them has a different personality, different interests, different strengths and weaknesses. They have different views and experiences. Ali is a leader. Beth is a thinker. Kate is a protector. Rae is a helper. I don’t know what Timmy will be yet but I know that they are as individual as their fingerprints. As parents, we recognize that and respect it and we use different tactics for each child to help them grow and become the people they were meant to be. 

So the long answer is, yes, I am raising my boy differently from how I am raising my girls, and I am raising my girls differently from each other; because regardless of their gender, they are individual people.

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