Raising Girls vs. Raising Boys: Did You Have a Preference before Your Child Was Born?

Posted July 27, 2011 by

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A few months ago, I had posted a blog about raising boys vs. raising girls.  Then in February, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl. Naturally, I was surprised, as I hadn’t found out the gender and had prepared myself mentally for another boy. I cried out of surprise and happiness. Oddly enough, the first thing my husband and I both said was that we would get to use the name we loved so much. (We still weren’t committed to the boy name we had picked at that time.)

After we posted our news and pictures on Facebook, we received tons of comments that mostly said “you finally got your girl.” Like our boys weren’t as important. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a girl more than I ever thought possible. I’d still love my baby if it were a boy, but I sometimes wonder if society would love a boy just as much. I even wonder if I’m one of the few people who is honestly thrilled when someone I’m close with has a boy. I sometimes wish for my friends to have boys before I find out they’re having a girl. It just seems like girls are more revered by society these days. Cuter clothes are made, along with lots of baby accessories. There’s a lot of “pink” in the air. It seems like the baby girl clothes section at Target dominates the baby boy section. In the meantime, I’m sharing my sons’ old (but also very cute) clothes with mothers who are new to the whole boy scene. I’m glad someone will benefit from them, even if our daughter won’t. (Some of the clothes are hard for me to part with, but I’m trying not to hoard them too much.) I’m also becoming a shopaholic for my daughter (although my mom and sister are too), if I wasn’t one already.

In the first few weeks after coming home from the hospital, I would sometimes imagine reactions if we were to have had a boy. I would wonder if we’d just get a standard wish of “congratulations” and that would be it. I’m extremely thankful for all the good wishes we received when our daughter was born (and that we still continue to receive), but doesn’t a boy deserve just as much praise and attention? I don’t remember generating this much excitement over the birth of my boys (other than from family and friends). I told a friend the boy name we had picked out and she actually said to me that she was glad I had a girl so I didn’t have to use that name. So, what if we had a boy and did use the name (even if we were going to shorten it to a cute and fun nickname)? Would we have gotten less “feedback” on it (such as if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all?)

In Orthodox Judaism, girls don’t get celebrated the same way as boys do. Boys get to have brises (not sure that they actually want them, but it’s a covenant) and their name is revealed at that time. Girls can be named in shul any day the Torah is taken from the ark, which is usually a Monday or Thursday, along with Shabbat and holidays. (We chose to wait until Shabbat, as we wanted to share her name with as many people as possible at one time.) There’s also a Shalom Zachar (celebration on the Friday before the bris) and sometimes a Pidyan HaBen (depending on the circumstances of the birth and birth order). They also have a haircutting ceremony at age 3, called an upsherin. (We made a big deal out of it for both our sons.) Then there’s the Bar Mitzvah, when they can read from the Torah at age 13. Our friend appreciated that we had a Simchat Bat (similar to a Shalom Zachar..usually the first Shabbat after the baby is born) because girls don’t get as many celebrations in our religion. When they have a Bat Mitzvah, they don’t get to read from the Torah. (I did, as I grew up reform, so it’s strange for me that my daughter won’t get to when she’s 12.) People make a bigger deal over a Bar Mitzvah than a Bat Mitzvah. So why wouldn’t they be excited when it’s a boy in the first place?

I recently read an article about a woman who wanted a girl and was disappointed when she found out she would be having a boy instead. My overall opinion is once a child is born, all gender preferences should go out the window and you should just cherish your child for who they are. I did mention in my previous blog how I had wanted a girl the first time around. However, when E was born, I was thrilled because he was adorable and healthy and I knew I would love him regardless of his gender. I do love that he’s a boy though. I can’t even imagine him being a girl. And when M was born and I was eagerly hoping for another boy, I would have loved him just as much if he were a girl (and even if I didn’t get to use the boy name I had wanted to use for ages).

Overall, I just wish that there was more excitement from society over boys. I’m still crazy about my boys and love them more and more every day. They blow me away with the cute things they say and they make me laugh and smile all the time. (Except when they get in trouble, but even then they try to “cute” their way out of it.)

About

Melissa A. and her husband have 2 young sons, E and M, and a new baby daughter. Melissa's son E has hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant. Melissa works as an administrative assistant for a non-profit and also runs a bullying prevention group and a book-related fan group, in addition to blogging for Empowering Parents. You can check out Melissa’s personal blog here.

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