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It has been subtly (and probably unintentionally) brought to my attention that I know nothing about parenting girls. I suppose that’s a fair assessment, considering I have only have 2 children, both of whom are boys.
A couple of days ago I came across a video on Facebook that compared what its like to parent girls vs. what its like to parent boys. The video starts off with a put-together, serene mom gently asking her daughter to clean her already-tidy room as lullaby-like music plays in the background. It then transitions to a frazzled mom in a t-shirt and jeans, hair thrown back, who snaps at her son because his room is clearly a disaster zone while heavy metal music plays in the background. The video goes on to create these polarizing scenarios.
I thought it was hilarious! I seriously laughed throughout the entire 3 minutes. “Yes! This is SOOOO true! Boys are effing crazy!”, I said to myself. I then shared it on my wall so that all of my “friends” could appreciate the humor as well.
Except that, much to my surprise, not everyone appreciated it – specifically moms of girls.
I mean, not that there was much activity around my post because, let’s be real, who am I. But I got 3 comments on it. One comment was from another mom of boys who loved it. The other two were from moms of girls and I sensed a tone of irritability. They both alluded that raising girls was nothing like what this video was making it out to be.
I’ll be honest, it caught me off guard! I didn’t think anyone would take offense to this video (“taking offense” is probably too strong of a phrase here, but you get the gist). I posted it with good intentions, and was a little hurt that it may have upset someone (leave it to me to take every little thing personally…). I became defensive. My initial reaction was something along of the lines of, God, people are so sensitive nowadays. It was just a light-hearted, funny video.
But I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that these comments brought about. It literally stayed with me for hours. I couldn’t help but go into deep thought over it.
Here’s what I eventually realized: The video, although I’m sure it wasn’t meant to cause any hard feelings, paints the picture of girl moms as almost aloof and boy moms as more down-to-earth. The reason? Because boys are harder to raise.
Well, that’s nonsensical. And it just ain’t true. Here’s what is:
Girls are tough, just like boys – and that’s not a bad thing.
I should know, I am one, ha. I am bull-headed, opinionated, and passionate. I’m also level-headed, fair, and rational. I am complex and wonderfully made, just like every other woman out there. I sure as hell do not need to be handled with care and white gloves. Tell me like it is, and you can expect that I’ll pay you the same respect.
Looking back on my childhood, was I easy to raise? Hell no! There were times I put my parents through hell and back, at almost every age. I didn’t play with dolls – I actually didn’t like them at all. I ran outside, I got dirty, my room was always a mess (still is. Sorry hubs), I tantrumed, and I got ants in my hair (true story). I have a younger brother, and I don’t think there was much difference between us when we were little.
I asked my mom to watch the video to see what she thought since she raised a boy and a girl. She said, “It’s really over the top for girls, but right on for boys.” That was her nicely telling me that parenting a girl isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, as the video suggests. But that fight I had that made my parents’ lives really hard at times? I still have it today, and it has served me well.
This sort of video is feeding a stereotype that we are fighting so hard against today.
We’re living in a time when many inequalities against women are being brought to a brighter light. The pay gap and sexual harassment are just the tip of it. Everyday, women are telling their stories, despite how hard they are to tell, so the hopes of keeping other women from experiencing the same difficulties and obstacles that they went through.
Sharing a video that shows soft-spoken mothers gently talking to their daughters, as if they are so fragile, isn’t the message we want to send.
First, it isn’t reality. I don’t care if you’re a mom of boys, a mom of girls, or a mom of both, there are times that they get out of hand and you have to firmly correct them (errr, scream at them)! They’re kids after all – they test their boundaries.There are also times when you talk sweetly to them. It is not dependent upon gender, nor should it be.
I’ll take it a step further and go so far as to suggest that behavior at a young age isn’t all that dependent upon gender, but upon the individual child (among other things, of course). The other night I was gulping sipping wine with a good friend who has 2 daughters. “Boys are so gross,” I complained to her. “The other day, J picked his nose and ATE THE BOOGER.” I gagged just thinking about it. “Oh yeah!” proclaimed my friend. “My daughter did that the other day, too!” I gave her a sideways look. “So wait. Girls do that kinda stuff too?” I asked. “Yep,” she sighed back.
Second, if we want to even the playing field between men and women, its going to start with how we’re raising our kids. If we’re spreading this message that little girls need to be treated more delicately because they are more sensitive or are weak, then how can we expect that message to change when they are adults?
Raising kids is hard as hell. End of Story.
If you are a parent, it does not matter if you have boys or girls; you will experience frustration, anger, sadness and a whole slew of other crazy emotions that you didn’t even think were possible to feel. You will be driven to drink (that’s not just me, right?) and you will be tired like you’ve never been tired before. You will make sacrifices and do things that you never thought you were brave enough to do, all for the well-being of your child. You will scream, you will cry, you will beg, you will bribe. There are times parenthood is beautiful, and there are times it is messy; but it is always worth it.
As I’m finishing up this post, I’m realizing that I forgot how hard parenting in general is. Sometimes, I am so caught up in my own little world of J and M that I lose sight of the fact that I’m not the only parent who is doing her best to raise decent humans and who, at times, feels like she is failing miserably.
I’m not gonna lie – I found solace in that video because I often feel like I’m the only person on the planet who has crazy kids. This video gave a reason for my struggling that wasn’t me. Ahhh, of course! I’m about to lose my mind because I’m raising BOYS! Contrary to what I think, it has nothing to do with my parenting abilities or that Adam and I make particularly difficult little humans!
I was partially right. I have tough days with my boys, but its not because they are bad people and its not an indicator of my parenting abilities. However, it also isn’t because they are boys. It is because they are KIDS!
Raising kids is one of the hardest (and most important) jobs a person will ever have. Instead of comparing ourselves to other parents, or thinking that moms of girls have it easier than moms of boys, we need to recognize that being a parent is hard work, and it is worthy work. We all need support on this adventure and we need to be there for each other – not diminish each other’s efforts.
Let’s Get the Story Right
Do I think that video was made with malicious intent? Absolutely not. I think it was made in an effort to help some moms who may be struggling with parenthood feel a little better about it all. And it worked for me. But if I was a mom of 2 girls, I guarantee you that I’d still be struggling with parenthood, and watching that video would probably have made me feel worse.
So the next time you see something on Facebook that compares what its like to raise boys vs girls, short kids to tall kids, curly haired munchkins to straight haired munchkins, whatever… think twice before you share it.
And hey girl moms – I’m sorry I undermined all the hard ass work you’re putting in to raising the best kids you possibly can. I know we’re all in the trenches right now. Maybe you’re presented with different challenges than I am, maybe you’re not. Either way, we have good days and we have bad days. We’re doing the best we can and we love our kids like crazy – when you look at it that way, our journeys are very much the same.