When I first discovered that my first child would be a boy, I was dismayed to find that I was a little dismayed to be expecting a son. After all, prior to that discovery, I’d been telling others and truly believing that I had no preference one way or the other. In fact, had I been forced to pick, I probably would have defaulted to boy. I used to really want a big brother when younger and said silly things like “I’ll adopt a boy if my first child is a girl, so she can have an elder brother!”
The main source of my dismay was the sudden realisation – knowing the baby’s gender allowed me to imagine a baby boy grow up into a little boy grow up into a teenager with a low voice – that I know nothing about Being A Boy. How was I going to mother a boy knowing zilch about boyhood, not even in the borrowed sense of sharing a home with brothers? (I have three sisters.)
I recalled those few weeks of brooding recently, while chatting with a few mothers of daughters, all expecting baby #2, all hoping for baby girls. And I found myself having opposite thoughts! Having a son is wonderful (not that I know otherwise), why wouldn’t you want a boy, I asked?
“Girls are easier to bring up, less to worry about.” – I hadn’t realised gender was a contributing factor to how challenging I sometimes find parenting my baby! And funnily enough, I’d recently heard comments to the contrary: “I’m glad I’m having another boy, no teenage girl drama down the road.”
But then one of the ladies elaborated, “You know, if you’re raising a son, you have to raise someone who is going to be the head of the household, to lead his family spiritually, to be able to get a good enough job to provide for the family.” That did give me pause for thought: Woah have I been underestimating what we need to do here with our baby boy?
I came quickly realise: no. There ought not to be that distinction. We do want to bring our son up to be a godly, brave, strong (in every sense, not primarily physically) man. But if we had a daughter, would the calling be any smaller, just because she won’t be the head of the household? I think not. Different challenges yes, but the easier-harder comparison doesn’t seem to be relevant here. It’s perhaps even unhelpful, diminishing the role of women?
Anyway, back to my initial disappointment over baby’s gender: I soon got over that dismay, reasoning that my knowing about being a girl =/= being able to raise a girl well, so why should knowing about being a boy help with raising a boy? And more importantly, I’ve got to remember that this whole parenting thing can’t be done in my/our own strength. So being in a position where I’m more aware of this (“don’t know anything about boys!”) and thus more likely to run to Jesus for help, is a blessing!
There’re so many more thoughts to sift through on gender. Not wanting my child to fall prey to stereotypes, marketing… The dangers of seemingly innocuous comments like “boys will be boys” and “don’t cry like a girl” etc. Trans-gender issues, and how these segue into issues of sexuality … For another day and another post.