Since I became a parent, I have heard a truism that has bothered me a lot. When people discuss the difference between raising boys and raising girls, they often say, “Oh, boys are easy. Girls are the ones with all the drama.”
This statement bothers me for a couple of reasons. The first is that it flies in the face of my own experience and that of many of my friends.
When they were little, my boys’ constant level of energy often left me exhausted. While my daughter could sit through high tea with barely a peep, my sons made a trip to the mall or the grocery store seem a Herculean feat. As they grew up, my boys gave me many more sleepless nights than did my girls.
Adolescent boys’ tendency to take risks often puts them in harm’s way – or on the wrong side of the law. I have spent too much time in emergency rooms due to this tendency with my own boys. This questionable judgment, accompanied by a social milieu that rewards boys for being tough and even defiant, makes raising boys stressful.
The second reason I resent the adage that boys are easy is that it reinforces stereotypes of both sexes. Implying that girls are full of “drama” minimizes the very real emotional turmoil of growing up. It suggests that female relationships are all fraught with back-stabbing, gossip, and excessive emotion. At the same time, it implies that boys have no rich emotional life. They are just easy-going, “whatever” types of guys, and nothing really bothers them.
Such stereotypes do a disservice to the emotional lives of both boys and girls. My sons and my daughters all care deeply about their personal relationships. They strive to be there for their friends and family members. And at the same time, they can be hurt by exclusion or unreciprocated love.
Let’s stop assuming that boys are “easy” and girls “hard” to parent. Instead, let’s give all our children the emotional support that will allow them to be themselves and grow up to be happy, healthy adults.