Have you ever wondered whether it’s more difficult to raise boys or girls?
Well, it turns out there’s research on this very subject. And guess what? It’s a bit of a mixed bag.
But there are certain lessons that are more easily imparted on certain sexes.
“I think parents use ‘which is harder?’ as an expression of whatever our frustration is at the moment,” says family therapist Dr. Michael Gurian, Nurture the Nature author. “Boys and girls are each harder in different ways.”
Discipline: Boys are harder
I call my house a three-ring circus. One son will feed off his brothers’ energies.
When I tell them to knock it off, they appear not to hear me.
Are they simply ignoring me? Maybe not, Gurian told AlltheMoms.com. It turns out, boys’ hearing is not as sensitive as females. Therefore listening becomes a learned skill over time for males.
Boys will often “need to be picked up and plunked into a time-out chair,” Gurian said.
Girls, however, are more inclined to respond better to praise or warnings. Think, phrases like: “don’t do that” or “use your words.”
Physical Safety: Boys are harder
Gurian said boys are generally more “rambunctious and aggressive.” They take more risks, and that lights up the pleasure centers in their brains.
But the positive of multiple visits to the ER for broken bones, stitches and staples? Parenting expert Dr. Wendy Mogel said such behavior in boys builds character, self-confidence, resilience and self-reliance.
Mogel said because boys are natural risk takers, they need encouragement to slow down, whereas girls more frequently need to be encouraged to take more risks.
Self-esteem: Girls are harder
Girls’ self-esteems suffers because they often quickly learn to push down “(their) own needs and desires underground to please others,” said Dr. Jenn Berman, a pyschotherapist, author and media figure.
Berman said body image plays a key role in overall self-esteem. And negative body image — especially in the face of societal pressures that celebrate a slim body type — disproportionately impacts women.
From a young age, girls tend to be more aware of whether their parents are dieting and partaking in exercise regimens.
School: Boys are mostly harder
Kids are spending more time in school at a younger age, and the environment tends to be harder on boys than girls, Sax said.
Parents will often see challenges in their sons in areas like attentiveness, self-control, language and fine motor skills.
Bottom line: Parenting can be fraught with challenges no matter what your child’s gender. But it’s so worth it, right?