Family Nature

Boys will be Boys

Boys will be boys by flash_nerd

I have three boys and a baby girl and I’ve heard all kinds of comments about it. When I was pregnant with my fourth people were always saying things like “three boys, oh you poor woman!” or “oh, I bet you’re dying for a girl!” and “are you going for a girl?” and even things like, “oh man, I hope you don’t have another boy!” These types of comments drove me crazy.

Last night, my five year old, Son-F, said to me, “Mummy, when baby-M was in your tummy, did you want a girl?” I explained that I wanted whatever was inside and no matter what we all would have loved the baby. It sure is fun to have a girl, isn’t it? But wouldn’t it have been crazy fun to have four boys? He thought about this for a moment and then said, “Ya but Mum, didn’t you *say* that you wanted a girl?” No I never, ever said that. I always said that I’d be happy either way. We weren’t ‘trying for a girl’; we would have had four kids either way. If you ask me today if I’m glad I had a girl, of course my answer is yes, but wasn’t until I knew she was a girl that I felt like I really wanted a girl. Before that I would have been thrilled with four boys.

I have often contemplated the effect on my boys (and all boys) of hearing “oh all those boys, you poor thing” or “boys will be boys” or “thank goodness it’s a girl this time!” and other negative boy comments over and over and over again. What do boys think when they hear these comments day in and day out? Is “boys will be boys” a self-fulfilling prophecy? Are boys the way they are because it is what people expect of them? What message are we sending them?

It kind of makes me sad to think that Son-F thinks I wanted a girl. Not because there is anything wrong with wanting a girl, but because most of the people who made comments to me about me wanting a girl were really saying “because Lord knows, you don’t want another boy.” Does Son-F think that I didn’t want a boy? Does he think that I think that boys are “trouble”? Does he wonder if I wished he was a girl? Oh probably not, but it still bugs me.

There’s no denying that boys and girls are different, but I don’t ever want my boys to think that there is something ‘wrong’ with boys or that they are wanted any less than girls. So, the next time you find yourself about to make a comment about boys, think about who is listening and bite your tongue.

Photo by flash_nerd via Flickr.

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10 thoughts on “Boys will be Boys

  1. Rheanne

    First of all, I love that photo! Second, I thoroughly enjoy my boys. I have two, a perfect number for me, and have the same reaction as you when people ask if I will try for a girl. I feel blessed to have my two little energetic, loving, creative, often dirty children and wish people would stop judging based on gender so they can see every individual for who they are. Thanks for the post!

  2. Star

    Thanks so much for this post. I just had my second boy in July and both grandmothers expressed disappointment to me that this baby was not a girl (both were also disappointed that my first baby was a son — my MIL now has 4 grandsons and no granddaughters). I have to admit that I have gone through my own phases of gender disappointment as well because I always envisioned myself as a mother of daughters, but when others’ disappointment was expressed to me I felt very defensive of my boys. And they are the two most delightful, happy, affectionate little creatures. I could not imagine things having happened any other way. I’m also a feminist and I do think that there is some element of self-fulfilling prophecy in gender difference, and that personality differences based on gender may exist in nature but are greatly magnified by culture. Now if I can just get my boys to call me every day when they leave home . . . 🙂

  3. Patience

    We live in a crazy world. In some societies boys are way more desired than girls to the point where women will abort a female fetus.
    In our society; girls seem to be more desired. (in international adoption; the preference for a girl was over 80%)
    I’m glad I have two of each but I remember the comments when I was expecting my second boy. (and I was happy to have a second boy although I did know I was having more kids)
    I have also heard tons of negative boy comments over the years; and the school system is primarily focused on polite sedentary cooperative girls which makes it tough.
    I had two polite sedentary cooperative boys and two outspoken active uncoorperative girls. Go figure.

  4. mamacrow

    THANK YOU FOR THIS POST! I have four boys and a girl – in that order – and have experienced EVERYTHING you commented on, plus, now – ‘oh, so you’re going to stop now that you have a girl?’


    I just turn sideways on in reply – I’m 35 wks pregnant, so that answers THAT question!

    My mother-in-law experienced the same – she had 5 boys and a girl, in that order.

    It’s LOVELY to have a girl, but in the end, any gender comparison is a nonsense. even a 100 of each wouldn’t be a big enough sample group to give any significant results. (yes yes I’m a librarian and researcher, why do you ask?!)

  5. Stefanie

    I’m sooo with you! It boggles my mind to hear all the negative stereotypes about little boys, and now that my oldest is 14.5 I’ve realized that it’s only going to get worse as he turns into one of those most maligned critters- a man.

    Virtually NONE of the male stereotypes apply to either of my boys, who are both incredibly bright, sweet natured, thoughtful, generous and socially conscious. My older son is a die-hard feminist who almost visibly cringes at some of the things said in his hearing (usually by parents of girls) about boys his age.

    Conversely, as much as I adore my daughter, it certainly isn’t a breeze to raise her. She is a dream come true for us, but she also STILL (at 5.5) has sleep difficulties and is by far the most demanding of my three in terms of attention and patience. While she is very much a ‘girly’ girl, she’s also rough and tumble when the mood strikes.

    It makes me sad that she is encouraged to break down gender-roles, but my son’s are looked at oddly for playing dolls, or house, or in the case of my oldest, taking a babysitting course and enjoying taking care of younger children.

    Boys, and men, get such a bad rap today.

    I’m a staunch feminist, but it is difficult to see the negative light in which our male counterparts are cast.

  6. Chrissy

    I can totally relate. Especially now that I’m pregnant with #3. I have two boys and I adore being a mommy to boys. We find out what baby #3 is on Wednesday and everyone keeps saying, “Oh, I bet you are hoping for a girl.” Actually, I’d be pretty darn happy with another boy. We have a blast and I’m surprisingly scared of having a girl. I’d be super excited either way but I feel like I know what I’m doing with boys and I’ve never experienced having a girl. I guess we will see on Wednesday. I know I will be happy no matter what!

  7. mamacrow

    I’ve learnt to dread the ‘so what do you want?’ / ‘So what are you having’ question. I’m always tempted to say ‘a baby’.

  8. Cheryl

    HAHAHAH… I love that reply from mamacrow. I’m going to say that next time when people ask me what I’m having (I’m not pregnant but you know.. when it happens again.. ;)).

    Was extremely annoyed the first time around when people asked me and then made a comment. A healthy baby is more than good enough for me. I’m just happy that I’m able to be a mom!

  9. Amanda

    When I was pregnant and people would ask, “Were you trying for a girl?” my husband answered a couple of times, “No actually, we were just trying to have sex.” Geez, that made people squirm!

  10. mamacrow

    Cheryl – I used to welcome the ‘so long as it’s healthy and happy, eh!’ or ‘so long as it has the right number of fingers or toes’ reply to me explaining either boy or girl would be fantastic. Untill I realised that I’d love the baby just as much if it was missing a toe or two, developed depression, or was ill.

    So I’m afraid I’m a bit of misery guts – though I don’t usually stand there and lecture the poor person (though honestly, sometimes i think I have the right. I mean, if they, usually a COMPLETE stranger, have the right to intimately question me about my pregnancy…) but just say ‘oh, however it comes is fine by me… I’m just hoping for a heart beat!’

    mind you, that does usually shut them up….

    i’m also tempted to say, in reply to ‘so what do you want?’ (rather than ‘a baby’) ‘a giraffe’ sometimes…

    Amanda – I get the ‘so do you know what causes that?!’ from people who think they are being funny… My reply – a big smile, and ‘oh yes I do, thank you very much!’