When I was pregnant with my boys, one of the books I read was called The Hair-raising Joys of Raising Boys by Dave Meuer. This quick and easy read was full of Dave’s anecdotes about his wins, losses, and lessons learned when raising his two boys. Knowing that I was carrying two myself, I was anxious to talk to people about raising children, particularly boys, and when I saw this book, I thought it would be another interesting perspective. Where I’m from, it is a belief that raising boys is easier than girls and, like many other countries in the world, boys are raised differently. They are taught different perspectives and to appreciate different things from girls.

 

Boys and girls are different so they should be raised differently, right?

Let me confess, I had that same view that boys are different from girls so they should be raised differently. I also thought that boys were easier to raise too (and I wrote a blog post about it!), although this was heavily biased by the fact that I am terrible at combing girls’ hair and can barely do a two-strand twist. As I mentioned earlier, it is entrenched in my culture that boys should be raised and treated differently and I saw examples of this in my own family. Like many others, I have lived it and I am still living it.

However, as time goes by and the world changes, I have thought about it, especially as I recently read some books that have touched on the topic, a key one being We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It led to serious introspection and I have so many thoughts swirling through my head that I didn’t even know where to start. I remembered that I wrote a blog post about boys being easier to raise than girls a few years ago, and read it before writing this post. I realize now that it was a very simplistic view. As we have marched on and progressed further, I believe that it needs a few revisions and additions.

 

Here’s my take on why boys and girls shouldn’t be raised differently.

I wholeheartedly believe that we should not raise boys and girls differently. The world has changed in such a way that the dangers are the same - bullying in schools, cyberbullying, the threat of drugs, sex, and pedophiles, etc. While some may say that one sex is a more likely target than the other, the fact still remains that both sexes are still a target. Here are a few of my thoughts.

  • The belief that a girl should learn to cook and do household chores from an early age while a boy does not is outdated. I never subscribed to this thinking and have made sure to teach my boys all the household chores, have them clean their own rooms and have them participate in general household cleaning and maintenance at least once a month.
  • The belief that a girl cannot or should not learn how to perform “manly” duties like changing tires or anything mechanical, technical, technological, etc. is outdated. Girls are just as talented, hands-on, detailed and attentive enough to carry out these duties as effectively and efficiently as boys.
  • Men or boys should always “pay the way” is an outdated rule. I believe that there’s nothing wrong with splitting the bill. (You see guys, I’m not one-sided in my argument 😊).
  • I don’t believe you should teach a boy to not cry and to “be a man” and “be tough”. And if this is the case, why can’t girls do it too? Why should we always be quick to burst into tears? And then, to add insult to injury, this penchant for girls bursting into tears is also a means by which we are teased and ridiculed. Depending on the circumstances, boys can and should cry too and girls can and should be tough! Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her book We should all be feminists “We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons.”
  • In We should all be feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says “Marriage can be a good thing, a source of joy, love, and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, yet we don’t teach boys to do the same?” This one hit me like a ton of bricks, because, until she said it, I never realized it. How many girls do you know have their weddings planned or have thought of elements of it from an early age? How many boys do you know have done the same?
  • And finally, I believe that virginity should be treasured for both boys and girls. Again, I have to quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “We police girls. We praise girls for virginity but we don’t praise boys for virginity” Intercourse is an intimate act between two people and if virginity should be sacred for a girl, why shouldn’t it be sacred for a boy too?

 

Here we go with the F word 😊

Some may say boys and girls are biologically different so they should be treated differently. To answer this, I will take another excerpt from We should all be feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. “So in a literal way, men rule the world. This made sense – a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival, the physically stronger person was more likely to lead. And men are physically stronger. (There are of course many exceptions). Today we live in a vastly different world. The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes.”

And yes, some may say I am spreading a feminist agenda and I ask you “What is wrong with that?” The Oxford Dictionary defines feminism as “the advocacy of women’s right on the basis of the equality of the sexes”. I honestly believe that anything a man can do; a woman can do too. There are great female engineers, computer programmers, astronauts, etc. just as there are great male chefs, hairdressers, nurses, etc. I say, male or female, let’s not put limitations on our greatness!

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below. I welcome the conversation.

Thanks, and stay tuned for the next post!

Published by Krishta-Gay Lewis-Harewood