Stop Bad-Mouthing Girls!

Dear Parents and Soon-to-be-Parents of Boys,

Please, please, please stop saying things like, “I’m so glad I have boys!” when in earshot of Parents of Girls. Especially when the girls in question are also within earshot.

I am so sick of people acting like having a girl — or having multiple girls — is so much more difficult than having boys. Comments to the effect of “I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl” or “Girls are so ‘fill-in-the-blank'” (I have heard: dramatic, emotional, fussy, difficult, and — the ultimate — “girly”) are, at best, ignorant, and, at worst, rude.

I understand that you may truly feel relieved that you do not have or are not having a girl. That is fine; you are perfectly entitled to feel that way.

I have two girls. And yes, one of them is quite dramatic. The other is utterly irrepressible, although that may have more to do with her personality than her gender (I am betting). They both tend to be emotional and when they are angry with each other, they threaten to not be each other’s friend anymore (rather than, say, pounding the crap out of the offending party).

Maybe when it comes to issues of friendships and relationships, boys are easier than girls. Maybe I will learn this, too, as my boy gets older and develops his own way of being in the world.

That is not the point. The point is that to disparage the way-of-being of girls — overall, as a group — is not helpful or constructive or nice.

Girls are girls, and there are as many different types of personalities for girls as there are for boys. Girls can be sporty and fun and smart and messy. They can be helpful and sweet and nice and good at math. Girls are princesses and super heroes. They can be sugar and spice and everything nice, or they can be mean bullies.

Girls roll their eyes. They stomp their feet (boys do this, too, I’ve seen it). Girls’ tween and teen years may be more fraught than boys’; they may require more negotiation by all parties. The old trope “with boys you only have to worry about one penis” may be true, but we still have to teach all our children to respect their bodies and the bodies of others. Boys and girls need to respect others’ feelings; they all have to learn to stand up for themselves and for others and for their beliefs.

The implication of “I’m so glad I have boys” is that boys are better to have. I disagree. Heartily. Not that I think girls are better to have.

I don’t think it matters what you have. Children are work. The challenges of parenting come with parenting girls or boys or both. The challenges may vary, but they vary by child, not by gender.

And children are blessings. Boys are blessings, girls are blessings, one of each is a blessing, four of one kind is a blessing, only one is a blessing.

It’s fine to have a preference, it’s fine to be relieved that you are having a boy (or a girl, for that matter). Just don’t be rude about it. Because if one of my daughters turns to me and says, “Why did that person say he (or she) is glad he has boys?” I’m going to respond, “Because he (or she) is an idiot.”

red pen mama