“Hello, my name is Paula, and I am guilty of gender discrimination.” There – I said it. Whew – glad to get that off my chest. I’ve got a daughter and a son, and as much as I’d like to believe I treat them pretty gender neutral, clearly I don’t despite my best efforts. Here’s what I mean…
Real-life example #1: Interaction between me and 7-year-old daughter
“Mommy, why is my room pink?” My daughter asks with furrowed brow as we gaze around her frilly bedroom. “Well honey, when I found out I was expecting a little girl, I decided to paint the room pink.” Her furrow turns to a frown as she says, “How did you know, if you never even met me yet, that I was gonna like pink?” My sheepish reply, “Good question, honey”. Busted.
Real-life example #2: Interaction between me and 4-year-old son
“Can you just sit for one second??? Why can’t you be more like your sister just for one minute?!?!” I shudder to admit that these words passed through my lips in a moment of frustration. “Mommy, I’m not her – I’m ME.” My 4-year-old son stated proud as peacock, unknowingly lancing me in the heart with wisdom beyond his years. Busted, again.
Being a mom of a girl and a boy has taught me many things and made me a voracious reader about how best to parent them. There’s tons of material out there, so I’ll simply direct you to a Globe and Mail article to whet your palate.
I honestly can’t tell you whether boys are from Mars and girls from Venus, but what I can tell you is that my daughter has been “easier to parent” than my son. Hubby and I jokingly say that our puppy better prepared us for our son than our daughter did. She is compliant, polite, kind, and considerate, and read and wrote at a young age. She is also slow to make friends, fearful of trying new things and non-athletic. My son is a hurricane – you CANNOT miss him in a room. He is active, enjoys “bathroom” words, is totally uninterested in academics, and walked (more like ran) at a very young age. He is full of hugs and kisses, makes friends readily, and boasts the speed and agility of a cheetah.
I use excuses (ahem – I mean, information) from gender-based literature to explain –more like make myself feel better about — why my daughter is compliant, almost to a fault, and my son is…well…not. What I’ve learned is what parents like us should be doing is appealing to their individual temperaments and personalities.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Play with them – lots! Follow their lead, and listen and respond to them with an open mind and heart – whether they are teeny-weeny or tweens to teens.
- Spend “down time” with them – do nothing at all but be together and chat.
- Praise them – with specific examples of what they’ve done well and discuss strategies for tackling challenges.
- Ask about and observe their likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, emotional and physical needs, what lifts them up and what holds them down.
- Love each of them – lots! And give them what they need to love themselves.
The bottom line is to GET TO KNOW YOUR KIDS! Spend less time scientifically explaining their every tendency and more time just being together.
As an aside, my daughter is “easier to parent” now…but check back with me in 10 years!!
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- Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
About this guest blogger:
Paula D’Orazio is a Public Health Nurse specializing in Preschool Health and Parenting with the Halton Region’s Early Years Health Program. She is an accredited Triple P Positive Parenting Program individual counsellor and trained facilitator in both Nobody’s Perfect and Beyond the Basics. She is also co-author and facilitator of Halton’s Parenting Basics group curriculum. A busy, working mom, Paula believes in living healthy and relishes her “live, love and laugh” time with her young family.