Baby Boy goodness?
June 23, 2008 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Flip this question: What is great about parenting a boy?

I already mentioned that I am a tiny bit disappointed about having a boy, which may be a reaction to being told every day that boys are better than girls and my personal fear about not really knowing much about boys and how they operate. But since we're on the subject, what are some great things about parenting a boy that only those who have done so know about and can help get me excited about the little man arriving in our lives.
posted by k8t to Human Relations (41 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, for one thing, boys are better than girls.

Just kidding. The real answer is everything (says the dad with one boy and two girls). Of course, I'd say "everything" for my daughters, too. The helpful answers, which have to do with differences that can be appreciated, include*:

* Different style of play: Please don't assume that a rough/tough play style is a negative. It can be a lot of fun, as a parent, to play actively with your kids, and to watch their joy as they get messy, or roll around, or want to be jostled about.

* Different interests: It's as fun to play with Star Wars action figures as it is to play with dolls.

* Different temperment: This is presumably idiosyncratic, but my son is more contemplative and sensitive than my daughters, who are more gregarious and extroverted.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. It's a person, not a stereotype. And the best news is that you have the ability to influence him to realize that no, boys aren't automatically "better" than girls. But I would humbly suggest that you need to be fair to him and start realizing that girls aren't better than boys, either.

*disclaimer: these are all gross generalizations, and any given child of either sex may display these characteristics, or lack them. your mileage may vary. void in alaska.
posted by pardonyou? at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2008


From the post you linked, you wrote:
To open up the honest box, why am I bummed about a boy? Cuz I am a woman and I had a sister, so I don't have a clue about boys. Also, as far as I understand, boys are sort of gross (farting, barfing, playing in dirt, playing with worms and bugs, etc.). Boys are also, to the best of my knowledge, not sweet. But what I am most stressed out about is that the child that I hope for (sensitive, smart, curious, love of reading, sweet) seems to be in some conflict with what society wants a boy to be (strong, tough, a little macho). I have always felt sad for men that there is so much pressure to be more masculine. If I had been me growing up and was a boy, I might have gotten my ass kicked daily.
As a mom to a sweet, loving, bookish and emotionally sensitive boy, I gotta disagree with your assumptions. Perhaps boys don't show this side to the public, but they are deeply emotional and most important to me, emotionally direct and honest (no manipulative behavior, no emotional blackmail). One of the things I've learned from my son was to be able to now read these same emotions in adult males; his little face is an unguarded example of what the big guys are feeling.

Yeah, and there's fart jokes and bugs too. Really, I think of it as the best of both worlds.
posted by jamaro at 10:46 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I never cease to be fascinated by my son's indominable, adventurous, unreserved, enterprising boy energy. It's a fascination with the world that must be explored - for lack of a better word - in a "balls out" kind of way. I suppose its the same kind of curiosity that leads to rocks and other strange found objects in his pockets that I discover later in the wash. Watching him explore the world inspires me to do the same.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:49 AM on June 23, 2008


Boys can be really sweet and the stereotypical lack of sweetness in boys only makes their sweet moments even more sweet. A boy is a child just like a girl and a lot of the "gross" boy stuff is as much nurture as nature. Your little boy will be whatever you make out of him insofar as any child is what you make of it - somedays you will see your own best self reflected in them and some days they will seem like a strange little alien monster whose only purpose is to make you miserable. Having had both a boy and a girl, there's not really any different between the two genders on that count.

The fun thing about a boy that is different from a girl in my experience is their level of physical competency as they get older. Some girls have this too to be fair, but there is a bit of a boy-girl divide here. My son can catch and throw a baseball like nobody's business. For whatever reason I was not a physically competent boy (I washed out of t-ball) but seeing my son hit a ball and sprint around the bases is a really great feeling. Perhaps it's just the general vicarious thrill of seeing your child doing something that you yourself could never do and wondering where such abilities came from. My daughter has already eclipsed my musical abilities and has nicer handwriting than I do, but there are stereotypical girl competencies.

The whole 'boys are better' issue that exists in some cultures can be hard to handle if that's not what you believe, but perhaps try to put it on the shelf with all the other culture clashes that you must be going through on a daily basis. As a parent you have to develop a thick skin towards other peoples' advice and opinions. Everyone has a bunch of opinions that are about them and not about you so you have to learn to accept it all and just move on and do what you believe is right. My #1 piece of advice to new parents is to not listen to everyone elses' opinions because you will get a lot of them.

But back to boys - perhaps it seems exceptional just because of the stereotypes, but my son (now 9) is super, super sweet to little kids. Whenever he's at a playground he will inevitable find a 3 or 4 year old and spend some time playing really nicely with the little kid. After hearing him ask about the difference between rockets and bombs all day and mouthing off when I serve him carrots that are COOKED and NOT RAW it is all the more touching seeing him being so nice to an unknown little kid. Again, who the heck knows where he got that from. And boys are real dreamers - it's different from little girls - eavesdrop on a clutch of little boys and you'll hear elaborate battle plans, a scheme to get to the moon or an elaborate discussion of the relative merits of various Pokemon (or whatever). They have an innocent exuberance to conquer the world and do big things that I often wish I still had.

All children will touch and frustrate you in equal measures. A little boy will frighten and excite you like nothing else.
posted by GuyZero at 10:57 AM on June 23, 2008


As a female gardener, I'm a little miffed that you consider "playing in dirt, playing with worms and bugs" gross, and even worse, something that girls don't do. I think you need to step away from the stereotypes, and realize that no matter what the gender of your child, they are going to develop their own personality and interests. Today's dirt loving, bug collecting child could be tomorrow's: soil scientist, veterinarian, civil engineer, botanist, landscape architect, entomologist, biologist; or really, anything they want.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:58 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


Oh, as for love of reading, lots of boys love to read. But sometimes they don't love to read what you love to read. My son loves non-fiction while my daughter loves fiction. He could care less about Harry Potter, but a book about knights, World War 2, sharks, frogs, electricity, whatever - he chews through them like a rottweiler through an unattended baby (rottweiler owners: just kidding). Unfortunately, it's hard to find as many pages of non-fiction as fiction books tend to be longer until you get to university textbooks. But for parental-read story time, he loves everything as much as his sister does. If I dare stop ready "Anne of Windy Poplars" before the end of the chapter I get an earful. Even a book like "Little House on the Prairie" which really lacks any significant male characters for boys to identify with holds his attention. Our trick is to never ask the kids their opinion: they get whatever book we pick at story time. Pick the books carefully and they never cotton on to the literary benign dictatorship at work.
posted by GuyZero at 11:06 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, congratulations!

I've only been parent to a boy for 15 months (I'm female), but I had a certain amount of fear about the foreign-ness as well as a vague sadness over the lack of adorable smocked dresses. I can't help you on the dresses, since we buy him boy clothes, but here's what I wish I had known when the ultrasound tech said, "Look! two little testicles!"

My son is totally himself, and I can't imagine having a different kid. He's a boy and he's also physically adept and talkative and has fantastic pitch and is fascinated by trucks, dogs and my husband's camera. He's a really cool, very small person. He's relentlessly enthusiastic in embracing the whole world.

He definitely has a lot of typically-boy characteristics, but I don't think about his being a boy nearly as much as I expected to.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:09 AM on June 23, 2008


In a patriarchal society, raising a kind boy can be an act of subversion and revolution.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:17 AM on June 23, 2008 [19 favorites]


Another thing (and of course the usual YMMV disclaimers apply to generalizations): whenever I'm around groups of girls (I do a lot of school volunteer work at a K-5), I've noticed they mostly talk about other people they know. The groups of boys I'm around tend to talk about things or concepts. As a woman who finds conversations about other people a painful trip to Whogivesafuckistan, I tend to enjoy boy conversation more.
posted by jamaro at 11:26 AM on June 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


Raise a boy who knows how to be kind to women, children, animals, even other men, and you have done the world a great service. These men exist, but we could always use more.
posted by arcticwoman at 11:34 AM on June 23, 2008 [8 favorites]


We're expecting a boy and really wanted a girl. (we don't know 100% for sure but there were indications I can't post b/c Mr. Llama doesn't know about them). And when I say expecting, I mean, like tomorrow.

Mr. Llama especially wanted a girl--I think largely because his father wasn't particularly affectionate with him (they're close intellectually but not emotionally) and he feels like he could be more huggly-snuggly with a girl, whereas with a boy there would be a built in formality between them. Like maybe he'll meet his son in labor and delivery and they'll just shake hands.

I wanted a girl for something close to the reason the disappointed dad posted about having wanted a son: to repair something I felt was missing in my childhood -- I wanted to give a girl the thing I didn't get, which was permission to be any kind of girl she wanted. (Mom and Dad wanted a girly girl, someone who would always stay close to home and value God and country and authority and etc., and it turned out I didn't value any of those things.) Ironically, though, by creating a fantasy of her based on what I turned out to be, I pigeon-holed my imaginary daughter. Yay for passing on the neurosis! It's what parenthood is all about.

At any rate: good things about boys: I like men in general, their straightforwardness, their tendency to be more direct than women, their jokes, their tendency toward pragmatism. They're not all fart jokes and snips and snails. I am pretty sure I've never heard Mr. Llama say the word 'fart', and as a child he raised bunnies and like me, enjoyed 'let's all put our heads down on our desk' time in school more than was perhaps healthy.

There are as many ways to be a man as there are to be a woman. One of the freaky things about becoming a mother is we don't know our children yet. These kids could be anyone! I remember when I adopted my dog, how awkward it felt at first. I remember our first walk together on a leash, she pretended we weren't really attached and wouldn't pull on the leash at all because then she'd remember she was attached to me and get all creeped out--who is this person I'm walking with???, and I felt really shy around her because I didn't know what kind of dog she was or how to be a dog owner, and we were both really awkward and shy, like a blind date before the first round of drinks gets there. It took a while before we were really able to assess each other and go, hey, I like you. You're okay.

I'm kind of expecting that with the baby.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:51 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


He'll have more options and an easier life than a girl would.
posted by sondrialiac at 11:58 AM on June 23, 2008


The things that are great about raising a boy, mostly, are
the things that are great about raising a girl. Mostly.

You'll do a fine job of it.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:15 PM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


For me, raising my sons is the most feminist thing I can consider. I have a chance to put forth two kind men who have empathy, inclusiveness and strength. And who can do household work and cook dinner. My sons are young, but I have never felt prouder than when my elder boy started breastfeeding, rocking and soothing his doll....I am building men.
posted by acoutu at 12:36 PM on June 23, 2008 [7 favorites]


The Real Dan has it. You're going to be parenting a human being. If you are sweet and kind there is a very good chance your child will be as well.

Having a boy is not anything to fret over. I have two boys and they are the sweetest, most wonderful human beings. They both love superheroes and ninjas, and guns! They also love reading and flowers and gardening and animals, and the color pink. Boys and girls are complex humans. We don't know what they're going to be interested in.

Maybe you won't curl up with them and read The Secret Garden, but maybe you will. It depends. Parenting boys is the most wonderful and rewarding thing I have done in my entire life and nothing will ever top it. I'm sure I would feel the same if I had girls.
posted by LoriFLA at 12:37 PM on June 23, 2008


My sons are young, but I have never felt prouder than when my elder boy started breastfeeding, rocking and soothing his doll....I am building men.

Well, tbh everything was fine but with that sentence I wonder if he may grow up quite confused at the very least.
posted by the_ancient_mariner at 12:49 PM on June 23, 2008


As a 5-week-old parent of a boy, I'd say the waterworks can make diapering more of an adventure.
posted by drezdn at 12:55 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love having boys, just as I would love having girls. I think one of the differences is emotional - while my boys still get hurt feelings at school from other boys, they don't tend to hold grudges and will play with anybody. Growing up as a girl, I found the whole social aspect in school to be more tiring and stressful than the schoolwork itself. Something my husband said about being a boy: after getting into a fight (usually involving fists) with another boy, they would usually end up friends once things were resolved. Not so with girls.
posted by carmelita at 12:56 PM on June 23, 2008


The_ancient_mariner: he has no confusion. He just said he had no other way to feed the baby, so he had to be the mommy for a while. He wasn't aware that bottles existed.
posted by acoutu at 1:01 PM on June 23, 2008


K8t, that's excellent news! Congratulations. I have one of each -- a little boy and a baby girl.

So far, there has been little difference between his first eight months and hers. He was a little more frantic than she is, she's a little more organized than he was, but both of them have/had high needs for cuddling and frequent nursing. The good news is that the baby blobby stage gives you a chance to observe your child and to figure out his temperament. You don't have to commit to your ideas about boy-rearing right away (and hey, you'll be too busy dealing with diapers, yelling, head-bonking and crying to over-theorize your role as a mother to a boy).

If you need to fulfill your desire to dress a girl in cute things, find some little girl in need and find a way to get her birthday/Christmas presents. Become the fairy godmother for one of your friends' daughters. (This may not be your situation but it's a common thing. I am terrified of the teen girl years and my best friend is all ready to do the girly stuff with my daughter so I am spared mother-daughter spa day.)

You're going to have a boy and that's a different ballgame. You don't know how they operate, and that's OK. Maybe after delivery, you can make a deal with him -- sort of a "I don't know the answers but I'll do my best, and we'll make this thing work, OK?" Because you do learn as you go. My guy was mama-centric until he reached 2 and 1/2. Then it became all Daddy all the time and I was so much chopped liver. I found that my husband was much more willing to let our son explore and take risks than I was but DH was also quicker to see that our son was ready to get out there and experience the world.

Um, not to be graphic, but get ready for your son's fascination with his boy parts. It's a little alarming but funny, too, to hear things like "I can pee without holding my penis!"

Even if you hate Superman, expect to go through the age of the superhero, where the nearest towel turns into a cape and there is much flinging of the body off handy ledges.

You will learn the answers to "How does it work?" and "Why?," even when you have to make them up.

If it moves, it grooves. Cars, trains, trucks. You will learn their names so you can teach them to him and then be corrected when you get one wrong.

These are generalities, YBMV and all that, but remember, it's not about how boys operate, it's about how your particular boy operates. Observe him. Do what works for you guys. Reevaluate your thinking as he moves through his stages and adjust accordingly. It would be great to have the set of answers about rearing a boy but the answers come with experience, for better or worse, and you just have to trust in yourself that you're capable of learning about, responding to and loving your unique and amazing boy.

Good luck. It's going to be fun.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:03 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a 5-week-old parent of a boy, I'd say the waterworks can make diapering more of an adventure.

As a father of a nearly-3-year-old daughter and a barely 2-week old boy, I can wholeheartedly concur with this statement.
posted by dan g. at 1:03 PM on June 23, 2008


Our plan was to adopt a girl. I'm a girl, after all, and I figured I could understand girl(s) better than boy(s) as a result. Instead... we adopted three boys.

And they are *amazing*. They snuggle, they want to play (with everything), they're adventurous, they're rowdy, they're sweet, they're loving.. they're protective and adoring and funny as all get out.

Much like every stereotype, there are some truths here and there. They suck at hitting the toilet when they pee and, on occasion, they've been rolling around on the floor punching each other.

But the little one asks me to paint his toenails. The middle one likes to snuggle - constantly - and tell me how wonderful I am. The oldest one is protective and funny and sweet and frequently says, "Boys are EXACTLY the same as girls, Mom." by which he means, the core essence is the same. They want to be loved, cared for, laughed with, and snuggled.

I have zero regrets about adopting boys instead of girls - something that still totally surprises me.
posted by VioletU at 1:17 PM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was kind of in the same boat. I had a precious 7 year old daughter and "knew" girls. I had the clothes, knew how to fix hair and loved pink!! When we got pregnant, I said I wanted another girl but when we saw the goods on the US, I was excited. This was an adventure, something different and unexpected!! Now, my little man is 14 months old and I couldn't imagine a sweeter, more loving child. Everybody told me that boys love their mama and it's true. My daughter has been my husband's from day one but my son is definitely all mine. He loves his Dad and to watch my 6'5'' husband "wrestle" with this little guy is tons of fun but at the end of the day, he wants me. He loves to read, is incredibly curious and loves an adventure.

I so agree with what other posters said about raising a man who is loving and sensitive and sweet. My husband is and I want our son to be too. I think about my children's future partners/spouses often and what I can do now to insure that they have a happy life together. Embrace and enjoy your time with this precious baby boy. It will go so fast and you will treasure every moment.
posted by pearlybob at 1:50 PM on June 23, 2008


I have a boy and a girl, twins. Some of their major differences are just the result of them being different people, and some are about them being a boy vs a girl, but here are a few key points to remember:

1. My wife was very worried that she wouldn't "bond" with a boy, and wouldn't know how to deal with him. In retrospect, she says it was a complete non-issue; she loves him, he loves her, and they're as tight as my wife and daughter are. She also said she feels silly now having worried about it.

2. They're almost three, and while my daughter spends a lot of her playtime pretending, my son does the same thing, and while my son spends a lot of time running around and making noise, my daughter does too. Ultimately they're both interested in the same activities, albeit at different times.

3. On the whole, as much as I hate to pigeonhole them, at the moment my son is by far the more polite, more patient and cuddlier of the two, and even though sometimes he doesn't want a kiss or a hug (whereas my daughter always does) when he does want to cuddle, he hugs harder and for a much longer time, and with a much bigger smile, than my daughter.

4. He has a penis. Yes, this is a benefit, because it's fun to help him try to pee standing up. So much so, in fact, that last week my daughter ran off to go potty at a local gym, and when we caught up with her she was squatting on the urinal trying to pee standing up like my son does. She succeeded for the most part, too. Afterwards she told my wife "when I am older I will grow a penis so that I can go to the bathroom standing up."
posted by davejay at 1:55 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've got one of each, the youngest is 15. I have to say, it's not about gender. Seriously. Oh, unless you let it be, or encourage stereotypes. My boy is a sweet considerate witty gentle soul. I love spending quiet time with him watching history docos, or just walking together. My daughter is fiery and outgoing and noisy and cuddly. I love spending time with her, wrestling and chatting.

When they were little, I try to force non-stereotypical play on them, but they just swapped the toys and did what they wanted to. He gave her the dolls, she gave him the trucks, they played together with the blocks and in the mud and up the trees.

She always wanted more excitement than he did. When she was about 2 and he four, their uncle was dragging them around the backyard on a piece of cardboard. She was the one screaming, "faster, faster!"

So, just try to forget that you think you'd get on with one gender better than another. You'll be totally surprised as a parent how much personality your kids are born with and how little of it is tied to gender cliches.

(Oh, btw, puberty was MUCH easier with my boy. MUCH MUCH MUCH).
posted by b33j at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mom of two girls and one boy here (the boy is the youngest). The clothes for little girls are a lot more fun to buy than the clothes for little boys and that made me sad, but other than that, the differences based on the three being different people are far greater than the differences based on gender. All three were snuggly, all three got less snuggly when they hit puberty but all three remain sweet and caring. A few things that really only became apparent recently as the boy hits age 14:

-- the boy already towers over me unlike either girl and for some reason, that is kind of fun, a bit like reliving the fast-changing toddler years all over again.
-- the middle school friend drama for the boy is a LOT less intense than for either girl. This is consistent with what a lot of other people have said about boys and girls during those years. This may be a gross over generalization but it seems to be shared by quite a few people I know. The good part it that those years seem to have been much less painful for the boy than the girls.
-- he doesn't care what kind of jeans he wears! Yeah!
-- he was a sensitive, thoughtful kid and has remained so at age 14.

Good luck with your baby!
posted by bluesky43 at 2:00 PM on June 23, 2008


In a patriarchal society, raising a kind boy can be an act of subversion and revolution.

As much as I appreciate the spirit behind the politics of comments like the one above, please whatever else you do, don't ever let yourself see your little boy as a political instrument or an expression of your own personal agendas. After the parenting experiences I've had with my own baby boy, I barely even know how to begin answering your original question because it seems to me there is so much that is deeply flawed about our tendency to view identity in terms of simple, reducible characteristics and cultural stereotypes. You're not giving birth to a baby boy, you're giving birth to a human being. He'll have a lot more to say than any of us ever could about what raising him is going to be like. But from my own experience, I can tell you it's a hell of a lot of fun and more rewarding than anything else I've ever done--while at the same time, it can also be the most frustrating thing I've ever done. So it's kind of like building any kind of human relationship, only writ large.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:39 PM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


My husband and I have 4 boys between us...it's a yours-mine-ours situation. They are now 17, 15, 13 and 8. I can't imagine having anything other than boys at this point! The funny thing is that you can look at each one of them and say "He's all boy" but they are still all so different from each other. The eldest is quiet and dreamy, sensitive and stoic. The next is athletic and self-assured, with a fierce temper and no fear. The next is goofy and silly with a worried, serious side and the youngest is stubborn and sweet, analytical and cuddly. As they grow and their voices change and their shoes take up the whole entry hall it's kind of amazing to remember that I was disappointed when I first found out I was having a boy.

I have been bummed over the years at the lack of cute clothes for boys. I remedied this urge to dress my children in frilly finery by becoming their costumer. I have made wizard's capes and Jedi clothes and pirate gear etc etc and that has been really fun.

Once you have your baby you'll be amazed how quickly the mind shifts from pink princesses to cars and dinosaurs. He'll change your perspective on what's fun and interesting and someday you'll be amazed that you ever thought a life without Bionicles was worth living!
posted by Biblio at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


By the time your boy is a year old (if not much earlier), this will not be an issue. You will be raising YOUR baby, not a generic "boy."

On the issue of gross behavior. . . all babies and toddlers are gross. There will be a lot of wet wipes in your immediate future. But, again, it will be YOUR gross, lovable child, and so it won't matter.

Parenting is dialog and compromise. Don't be surprised if your child takes on some of the qualities that you most desire. Also don't be surprised if you find that -- in the actual moment -- you don't care that your child doesn't have all the qualities that you right now think are important.

I've got a 4yo boy and a 6yo girl. I had a preference, and in the end it was irrelevant.
posted by ferdydurke at 2:56 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


What is this 'life without Bionicles' you speak of?

In case Bionicle is still around when your boy gets bigger, don't try to make sense of the books. (Yes, there are Bionicle books.) Just don't. You son doesn't care for the over-reliance on deus ex machina in the plot development. There is along list of character to memorize and there is surfing on rivers of lava. Those are the most important things (in any book really).
posted by GuyZero at 2:59 PM on June 23, 2008


Your child will not meet your pre-conceived notions. Your child will be her own person, and you will fall in love the moment you lay eyes on her, and her gender is not going to be an issue. The fact that you are aware of your preference means that you can choose to get over it. Boys are great and so are girls. Really, it will be fine.
posted by theora55 at 4:09 PM on June 23, 2008


Mine (one girl child and one boy child) are grown and so I can speak to the long term future. The deal is...you don't control them. They will be what they will be. My son loves to read, hates sports, is funny and smart as anything. He has loyal friendships and calls his Mom everyday. My daughter works hard, plays hard, throws wonderful parties, and forgets Mothers Day...every year.

They are both so different...and any parent of more than one kid finds themselves asking "how can these two kids have come from the same parenting?". And the answer is that you don't make them who they are...you just might get to mold them a little. So relax...this baby coming your way already has thoughtful caring parents, and that's the best recipe for raising good adults. It's gonna be fine!
posted by what-i-found at 4:37 PM on June 23, 2008


Our boy is 6 - we originally wanted a girl. But we found that after he was born we couldn't be disappointed - he wasn't just a boy, he was our baby. We are both constantly surprised how sweet he is while being a real superhero-obsessed boy. We didn't know boys could be so sensitive. I guess I'm glad because I expected to completely adore a little girl, but I had no idea how crazy I could be for a little boy. He'll probably be an only child but we have no regret.
posted by krikany at 8:13 PM on June 23, 2008


Thanks all for your comments and thoughts.

Of course I realize that this child will be a person and gender is only a facet of his identity, but please understand that male gender stuff is pretty foreign to me and in preparation for this little human being, thinking about how his world around him will be different from the world around a woman is important to me. This has become especially important because I'm living in a society that prefers boys to the extreme, which I disagree with. And I am not opposed to snips, snails, dirt, etc. - just less familiar. I'm probably going to the other extreme by putting non-masculine clothes on the registry, buying very non-boy clothes myself (no vehicles, construction tools, or sports things). This might not be great either.

But thanks again to all. It will be an adventure.
posted by k8t at 9:50 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


PS, as I said in a MeMail to someone just now, I am also worried about what happens if a real boy's boy pops out and I don't know what to do with him. Obviously not all boys are "snips and snails" and there are degrees of interest in this. But, for example, I am the least athletic person I know and I worry that I won't be able to help/appreciate any sports-related activities (in a boy or a girl).
posted by k8t at 10:00 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


As the sleep deprived mother of a 5 week old boy right now I can say that 90% of the time he could be a turnip in regards to what gender he is. Most of the time is just working on putting things in and clearing up what comes out (yes you will be peed on at some stage no doubt - but after being puked and dribbled on you get beyond caring).

A real boy won't just pop up - you might not even notice the changes in how you view things as you watch him get involved in activities. It won't be like meeting someone else's little boy - your little guy is going to be with you almost all the time and you'll be relating to him as his own little person. Also the world in which he will grow up in won't be the same one as your husband, father or grandfather did. And to be honest at this stage you don't know whether his personal world will turn out to be more like the one you are accustomed to.

As for clothes we've been having lots of fun dressing Elliot Mason up. There's lots of cool boys baby clothes out there. Most of his clothes have animals on them actually - and what kid doesn't like those?

* Note to GuyZero - your kid is right - carrots ARE best served raw than cooked. I insisted on this until I was about 15 and even at 36 still prefer raw. You can't win this argument.
posted by gomichild at 12:21 AM on June 24, 2008


Well I can't help you much with the social issues, but I do understand where you're coming from.

While I always hate making generalizations along the gender divide, this question is about that and besides this has proven 100% true in my experience:

One positive thing about having a boy is his relationship with you, his mother. He will adore you above everyone else. (There's a reason wives supposedly have issues with mothers-in-laws... it's hard to compete for love like that.) Whereas girls generally grow away from their mothers beginning with puberty. But as I said, this is only my own experience talking.

Don't worry about not being able to help him with things he may love, like sports. There are plenty of clubs and teams out there that you can use to help facilitate his interests. You don't have to provide everything for him yourself - and letting him get out there and see that everyone is different and that that's OK is good for his social skills, too!
posted by GardenGal at 2:59 AM on June 24, 2008


for example, I am the least athletic person I know and I worry that I won't be able to help/appreciate any sports-related activities (in a boy or a girl).

I have the most unathletic father in the world. A real academic. He's active and fit, but not into sports in any way and probably couldn't name the last time the Red Sox won the series, despite growing up in Massachusetts. My mother is more aware of sports, but not at all physical. Yet my siblings and I are constantly amazed at how involved they were in all of our sports activities: swimming, baseball, soccer, cycling, kayaking, etc. When we've asked them about it their answer is basically: "No, I don't really like sports, but I've always been really interested in the things that interest you and what you enjoy about them." (This applied to more than sports, too.)

I can completely attest to this with my own 3yo son. I love seeing his joy and curiosity and determination - and when it's directed at fire trucks it makes me curious about fire trucks, too. What do all those valves on the truck control? How do those hose hookups on buildings work? How heavy is the pack they wear? It's not about tailoring our interests to meet theirs or protecting our own. Interests change anyway. It's about discovering the world together.
posted by cocoagirl at 3:43 AM on June 24, 2008


I only have experience raising boys (and the one I have isn't really that old). So I'm not exactly sure about all of the differences between boys and girls. My guess is that the difference is like having a dog and a cat for pets. You would love them both, but the cat, like a girl, is a little more complex emotionally, etc... and the boy is a simpler, clunkier creature who is content to be so. But also, however, as owners of both cats and dogs may concur, like these very different creatures, I don't think you can really compare boys and girls as much as love them for who they are individually.
posted by boots77 at 6:09 AM on June 24, 2008


I posted this in the other thread:

k8t:... why am I bummed about a boy? Cuz I am a woman and I had a sister, so I don't have a clue about boys. Also, as far as I understand, boys are sort of gross (farting, barfing, playing in dirt, playing with worms and bugs, etc.). Boys are also, to the best of my knowledge, not sweet. But what I am most stressed out about is that the child that I hope for (sensitive, smart, curious, love of reading, sweet) seems to be in some conflict with what society wants a boy to be (strong, tough, a little macho)

I was a little disappointed when I found out that I was having a boy for pretty much the same reasons you described. I had a fantasy about raising a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners type of girl. I felt like I had no idea how to raise a boy. My dad was awesome, but it seemed like the cultural pressures on men pretty much ate him alive. How could I possibly ensure that he would have a positive sense of his own masculinity?

Then he came and I haven't looked back. He's almost two and he is the center of my world. He is a very sweet kid who has a vibrant curiosity about the world. He likes trains and trucks but he also likes purple flowers and gardening. He can be a bit overenthusiastic in his attentions to the cats (and me), but he's learning how to be gentle. He has clued me in to the natural wonders of the world and because of him, I'm getting over my bug phobia. I've had to fight with people who tell me to discourage his clinginess & force him to be independent (fercrissakes, he's two) and that being indulgent of his desire for affection will make him gay (WTF!). Yes there are a lot of toxic attitudes in our culture about what a boy should or shouldn't be - it's your job to make sure that your son is strong and confident enough to resist these pressures.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:38 AM on June 26, 2008


"Your child will be her own person, and you will fall in love the moment you lay eyes on her, and her gender is not going to be an issue. "

Not necessarily true. Child will be their own person, sure. But it's not uncommon for people to GROW to love their child, and the "you'll love them immediately" is another stereotype that's not true for everyone. Same thing about gender - gender could be a huge issue, how can one know? Just think that society needs to move away from the cliched thoughts about parenthood. It's different for everyone.
posted by agregoli at 10:29 AM on July 16, 2008


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