As a woman who grew up in a house full of women, and whose family is dominated by girl children, it was a huge shock to me when my first kid came out a boy. Literally. We didn’t find out which version we had while I was pregnant, and all my life I just assumed I was destined to have girls. To this day I still look at my life and I’m all like “wow, living with boys is just… wow…”.
And there are many different things about raising boys vs. girls that I’ve struggled with, and continue to struggle with. Yes, I know I’m not the first mother in the world who has been faced with raising boys, but I’m fairly certain that I’m part of a cohort of women raising boys in what is turning out to be a growing culture of raising strong, smart, independent girls and women. Where whole advertising campaigns and youth initiatives are focused on raising girls to be the best they can be. And where does this leave me? A mom of boys? It’s very confusing, that much is for sure.
To start off, I was a girl, raised by my single mother, along with two of my sisters. An all-girl household, we were taught to be confident, smart, and much to my mother’s eternal chagrin (especially when we don’t agree with her), very strong-willed.
I was mentally prepared from a young age to know that when I had children, I’d be raising girls who liked both Barbies and Hot Wheels, were sci-fi fans and knew the difference between using a flat iron and a curling iron, and that yes, you can in fact, curl hair with a flat iron which is better for not leaving burn marks on your neck and arms anyways. These are things I was certain of.
Then came my boys, and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world. I thank my lucky stars for boys because I’m absolutely terrified at the prospect of raising girls through teenagehood in these crazy times.
There seems to be so much pressure on parents and society in general to re-think the way we raise girls. And as well there should be, girls have gotten a bad rap in society thus far. But where does that leave those of us raising boys?
I’ve gotten many invites to join in on this ball or that run raising awareness of what girls can do, but I don’t have girls so I don’t really fit in. There are girls clubs at schools where they work to build confidence in the maths and sciences, but I sometimes feel like those kinds of clubs will make my boys feel left out. I want my boys to have the chance to join nerd clubs that INCLUDE girls so that they can see math and science is fun, and girls can do it just as much as the boys can.
Of course I believe that the current focus on helping girls to achieve the same things boys can achieve is important, but at the expense of our boys? Boys learn differently than girls do, where are the programs that help them achieve when they find themselves struggling? Maybe they’re out there and I just haven’t had the opportunity to see them in action. I’m still a newbie at this whole parenting thing, after all.
These are the things that I know:
Rape is wrong. I hope to teach my boys to respect women. Full stop.
Pink is for boys and girls. While there IS a Pink Power Ranger, there ISN’T a Pink Ninja Turtle, but this speaks more to the problem of toy manufacturers marketing differently to boys vs. girls. That’s a whole other blog post.
And speaking of pink: boys can wear pink and girls can wear anything BUT pink. I reeeeeally wish clothing manufacturers would get the hint. I shouldn’t have to shop in the boys section to get my niece a batman shirt, and I shouldn’t have to shop in the girl’s section for a pink shirt for my son to wear to school on international anti-bullying day. It’s stupid and frustrating.