Who says raising boys is easier?

4 comments

Saw this story on CNN today and thought I’d share it here. Moms of boys – have you been told it’s easier to raise boys than girls? Let us know in the comments section.

(CNN) — My son had barely taken his first breath when the people in the hospital started telling me how lucky I was.

Not because he was healthy, mind you, but because he was a he.

“It’s easier to raise boys,” I was told.

And for a while I actually believed them.

Then I started paying attention.

Did you know boys are more likely to drop out of high school than girls? Or that there are more female college students than male? And did you know the imprisonment rate for men is roughly 15 times higher than the rate for women?

If this is what boys being easier to raise than girls looks like, coul`d you imagine how many men would be in jail if raising girls got any harder? We worry so much about girls getting hurt — and justifiably so — but interestingly enough, the stats show it’s our boys who are more likely to get robbed, attacked or even murdered. We see girls as fragile orchids and boys as plastic plants. But let’s face it: At the core of this line of thinking isn’t safety — it’s sex.

When someone offers this piece of advice, it’s with the thinking that girls have to be protected from boys who will say and do just about anything to get in their pants. What’s typically missing from this discussion is the challenge to parents — particularly fathers — not to raise a liar and a cheat.

True, parents of boys do not  have to worry about them coming home pregnant, but does that mean an unplanned pregnancy can be considered “the girl’s problem”? After all, a boy’s girlfriend did not get pregnant asexually. That’s why I’m Tebowing day and night, hoping my 15-year-old has the will to stay away from sex — even though the world all around him tells him there’s something wrong with him if he does.

Easier? Ha. Try different.

A little girl who likes to play sports is called a tomboy. A little boy who doesn’t like to play sports is called weird. A teen girl who says “no” is called a good girl. A teen boy who says “no” is called a sissy. A lot of words describe what it’s like for parents who are trying to teach their teenage son how to be his own man in a high school setting that demands conformity, but “easy” is not one of them.

I know, I know, “boys will be boys” is the accepted rule of thumb. But given that we have a federal department that hunts down and sometimes arrests deadbeat fathers, doesn’t that raise the question: What kind of boys are we raising? And if they’re dropping out of high school at a faster clip than girls, why do we think raising them is easier?

Last year, I wrote a piece with the headline “Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps.” I received a lot of e-mails from offended readers who told me I had no idea how hard it was to avoid buying sexy clothing for their little princesses. I usually responded by reminding them I never said it wasn’t hard.

And then I asked if they’ve ever seen the words on many of the T-shirts aimed at young men. They may not be blatantly inappropriate, like a cut-off shirt that reveals their bellybuttons, but if I had a dollar for every T-shirt I’ve read that sexualizes the words “balls,” “sticks” or “size,” I could retire.

I guess if parents don’t care if their son thinks being a man begins and ends with his penis, then yes, I can see how some would think raising a boy is easier. But if you’re actually trying to raise a gentleman, and you hear LMFAO rap “I’m running through these hos like Drano” — as they do in “Party Rock Anthem,” the second most popular song of 2011 — then you’re not breathing a sigh of relief because it’s so much easier to raise a boy. Instead you’re wondering how much of what you’re trying to teach him soaks in, versus what our culture says is OK.

We’ve made so many advances as a society in terms of gender equity, and yet we still hold on to this nonsensical double standard that celebrates sexually active boys while demonizing their female counterparts, as if we can have a lot of one without the other. This kind of thinking is handed down from generation to generation almost as soon as the umbilical cord is cut.

But how can we continue to believe boys are easier to raise than girls, when only 42% of custodial moms received all of their child support payments in 2009? Some see loose women in that statistic. I see some men who are punks.

Perhaps if we stopped viewing raising our boys as easier, we wouldn’t have to deal with so many men who still behave like boys later in life.

4 comments on “Who says raising boys is easier?”

  1. I have one of each…a 17 year old boy and a 9 year old girl. I can’t say anything about teen girls yet but girls have attitudes at such a young age now.

    By the time my son was 9 years old he’d been to the emergency room and/or urgent care at our health practice so many times I lost count! Ear infections, falling into a heating vent and cutting his foot open, fracturing his thumb playing baseball, and the Pièce de résistance: getting hit in the head while playing baseball with the bat (that was 8 stitches and a nice little scar right down the middle of his forehead)! Easy? I don’t think so.

    His first girlfriend lasted a week but when she wanted him to change how he looked and what he wore he said “no way” and broke up with her. I was so proud that he hadn’t let her change who he was. The next girl was 2 years older than him. I wasn’t exactly thrilled but as some of you may know, if you tell them no they’ll do it behind your back. I made sure we talked (casually of course) all the time about how things were going. He eventually broke up with her because she was always suspicious of him.

    I trust my son entirely because I take the time to keep that communication open. We talk about practically everything but without getting too personal of course. We have to make sure to take the time to sit down with our kids (boy or girl) and talk to them….guide them…be interested in their lives. He has secrets from me, I know this. However, he knows he can come to me any time and I will listen and do my best to guide him. I may get upset at first but we can always work it out. He knows this.

    We talk about teen pregnancy and he knows if (God forbid) he was to get a girl pregnant he IS responsible for that baby. The lifetime commitment is not only for the girl but for him as well and even if she was to give the child up for adoption he would always know that somewhere in the world his child is living without ever knowing him. “So let’s just not go there at all son.”

    My point is, always leave that communication opportunity open. Make sure you initiate conversations about how his life is going and be there to guide him. Raising any child is hard, boy or girl, but the more work we put into it now, the better chance they have of growing up to be the man or woman you want them to be.

  2. Amen! I have two sons, and I haven’t found it “easier” than anything I’ve seen from my friends with girls. In fact, I did a research project and presentation in one of my grad courses about the education of boys and men in America, and the truth is…boys are being slighted by our “boys will be boys” attitude. Check out the book Why Boys Fail by Richard Whitmire. My husband constantly says “oh but we’ll be so thankful when they’re in high school and we don’t have to have teen-age girls dating”. I disagree…because I don’t want MY boys to be the reason some girl’s parents are up all night worried about her. Look at the role models out there in society for boys…it’s not looking that much better than Ke$ha, I’m not going to lie…ugh!

  3. I have two boys and I find myself uttering the words, “I should have had a girls” at least once a week. Right now, it would feel easier. I see the girls my boys’ ages and they are quiet. They read books. They play dress up. They do crafts. My boys are rough and tumble. They wrestle and are very very active. I say that in jest because I don’t think raising girls would be any easier. This point in time might be, but the preteen and teen years with girls are really hard I would imagine. I agree with Jill. I think parenting is hard…it doesn’t matter the gender.

  4. I’ve been told I’m lucky to have a boy…that the teen years will be so much easier since I won’t have to deal with the “attitude”of a teenage girl. But, I tend to agree with the author, if done well parenting is hard regardless of if you’re raising a boy or a girl. Both girls and boys face stereotypes, social norms and peer pressure. I plan to work my ass off to raise my son to be a good and honest man. It is my responsibility not only to him but to all of the young women and men he encounters on his journey through life.

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