I really don’t like that statement. It’s pretty ridiculous, actually. I think it’s code for, “my son is being way too aggressive/pushing/yelling, etc, but it’s okay because he’s a boy and boys are supposed to act that way.”
Yeah, um, no.
Mean behavior is mean behavior, and I don’t care if it’s coming from a boy or a girl. Although I do not condone these aggressive behaviors and show our son alternate choices, ironically, my husband puts him in time out more often than I do for actions that would generally be labeled as traditional boyish behaviors. Consequently, my son doesn’t rely on wrestling or screaming to get his way. (Most of the time…sometimes he loses his temper or forgets.)
Boys, as a general rule, are “supposed to” be “rough and tumble,” whereas girls are supposed to be sweet and dainty. However, I know girls who wrestle and boys who play with dolls. The interesting thing is that girls are often celebrated for acting out of their gender boundaries, whereas parents don’t necessarily celebrate their son’s choices to be “girly.”
Now, we’ve definitely had our fair share of gender discussions on this blog. We’ve talked about girls exhibiting tomboyish behavior; most of our discussions have centered on dealing with daughters. But what about sons? Our boys struggle just as much with these gender distinctions, and maybe, some would argue, even more so.
They are “supposed” to be “tough,” (the toddler boys I know cry harder than the girls when they fall down) and they are not “supposed” to play dress up in high heels or make-up. In fact, I had a woman tell me last week that my son needed more of a “male figure” in his life because I shared with her that often he traipses around the second floor in my black pumps and wearing my straw fedora. Seriously? My son also likes to play soccer and play with his trucks. But yes, he loves to read the “Barbie Dances” book and watch Dora the Explorer. Does that make him girly? Or just a child exploring all that the world has to offer?
Why is there a double standard for boys? Are there actually parents out there who think their sons will become “wimpy” because they are over-sensitive? And if they are over-sensitive, who really cares? That’s their personality.
The ironic thing here, is that when girls play with trucks or act in stereotypical “boy” ways, we often celebrate them. “Wow…did you see my daughter choose the Star Wars figurines over the Barbies? Awesome!” However, you don’t often see a mom saying “I’m so proud my son wants to be a ballerina for Halloween. How cute!”
Now, I am not one of those parents who is raising a child gender-less. I do believe that kids are born with pre-disposed likes and dislikes, and although they can be nurtured into talents and strengths, there are certain activities kids will gravitate toward naturally.
But I do wonder why we as a society celebrate girls choices to be different, but we get a little too nervous when a boy makes a choice that isn’t mainstream. And for that matter, why do we get excited at all when our children make a decision that isn’t predictable? Who really cares if your daughter wants to be a fireman or your son wants to have a tea party? I know I’ve found myself sharing with other moms my son’s love of make-up and high heels. But why? Why is it worth mentioning at all?