Raising Boys vs. Raising Girls: A Case for the Double Standard

Posted September 6, 2011 by

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Which of the following scenarios scares you the most?

1. Your 16-year-old son hops into the car to pick up his girlfriend and you don’t know where he’s going. You think you gave him a curfew but you can’t remember.

2. Your 16-year-old daughter hops into a car full of guys and says she’ll be back, “later.”

Who would you worry about more? Their personalities may play a part in your decision, but in general, most parents would feel uneasier about allowing their daughters to go out. Is this a sexist double standard grounded in old-timey thinking? I don’t think so. I believe it’s a sexist double standard that has a proper place in raising teens.

Every teen is different, but you’re going to be less inclined to worry about your 200 pound boy than you are your 110 pound girl and let’s face it, they have much different needs. Your son may get a bloody nose from running his mouth, but a girl’s potential for trouble is the stuff of nightmares. Boys could be in horrible scenarios such as driving too fast and crashing, but give him the tools and he’ll hopefully not kill himself. Put a girl too far into some risky situations and she may be unable to get out. Looking for acceptance, she may do more than smoke a cigarette. The boy, you have to protect from himself, but the girl, you must protect from others.

Here are some suggestions for both sexes to help them find their way with your guidance even when you’re not around.

  1. Cell phones – What teen doesn’t have one these days? They might not realize it but this cell phone helps you keep track of them. Sort of loses its coolness factor doesn’t it? Initiate policies that require them to answer when you call. Don’t worry them to death but keeping in contact with them verbally will keep them mindful of their behavior.
  2. Safety plan – What would your daughter do if she did get into trouble? Does she know what trouble looks like? Convey your values and expectations to her early and hopefully she will head them when she’s challenged. Plus, a girl who can take care of herself will get a great deal of respect. You don’t want her to be a victim.
  3. Explain – Do your children know why you make the decisions you do? Nothing can infuriate a teen who thinks you set up rules, “just because.” Be honest about the curfew times and of your concerns. Don’t trust one of her friends or even his? Talk to them about it. Maybe they’ll see your point of view, and if not, hopefully they will before it’s too late.

Basically, raise your kids the best way you know how. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing or really even what happened to you. What do your children need to thrive and survive? Give that to them.


Dale Sadler is the author of 28 Days to A Better Marriage and How to Argue with Your Teen & Win. By day he works with middle schoolers and by night he is a family counselor specializing in marriage, parenting and men's issues. He works hard to be the husband and father his family needs. Follow him @DaleSadlerLPC or visit www.DaleSadler.net

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  1. Christineg33 Report

    I have a 31yr old daughter and two boys one 15yrs old and a 12yr old. I do have different worries due to the different type trouble they could have while away from home. My daughter was always able to handle herself. But I insisted on meeting the parents of her friends before she could hang out at thier home. I still do the same with my boys. You have to let them have freedom relating to thier responsiblility. Always be mindful of other parents rules or lack of. Once we meet our daughters friends parents at thier home prior to a party. I agreed my 13 yr old daughter could attend. When my husband went to drop her off at the party he noted many teenagers on the property drinking canned alcoholic drinks. He immediately turned around and came home. Needless to say our daughter was upset. We explained to her it was not in accourdance with our beliefs that teens could drink and for the adults on the property not have enough supervision to monitor teens. We explain to our children it is part of our responsibility as parents to protect our children from dangers we are aware of. It’s still hard to let them go. The more responsible they act and make good choices the more freedom they recieve.

  2. Mom-Mom Report

    I can say that I can relate to both the boy and girl. I have a 33 year old daughter and a 19 year old son. The girl was really diffenent, but in some ways their reactions was the same. both had the same rule, one hand more money only becase life got a little better. Daughter rules was that I had to have friends Phone no. and address. her friends thought that it was wrong. and if she left one house or was running late she had to call to let us know her were abouts. Son had the same rules but did not go out much and did not really have friends he hang out with. just a handful but they was here with us most of the time. Son have a girl friend but she mostly with us too. the go out and yes we know along with her mother. Both children are independand. They both had their day with the unfriendly streets but handled it.Sometimes had to pull it out of them to know what really happen. both also know the love of God; Who keeps them on the right path. Boy or Girl it’s how ya teach the; give the some rule with the same love and understanding and let God take care.

  3. Leonaura Rhodes Report

    Great article! Glad I have boys! It’s really important that sometimes you have to be very explicit with kids. My 11 year old son decided that as he used to walk home to our old house (a very safe route and 10 minutes faster than the bus) he could walk home to our new house (twice as far and no sidewalks!) With all kids, we parents need to remember that we need to explain the rules to our kids, if we don’t who will?



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