Social Question

longgone's avatar

Do you treat boys a certain way, and girls another one?

Asked by longgone (12629points) June 18th, 2014

…How about your parents, did they treat you different from your siblings? Do you think one should?

Inspired by a story @gailcalled started to tell on @GloPro’s question.

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34 Answers

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cookieman's avatar

No. In fact, it is one of my biggest pet peeves when parents do treat them differently.

dxs's avatar


thorninmud's avatar

Probably, in subtle ways. This goes completely against what I think about the matter, and I try to be aware of it and compensate for it, but it seems to come from subconscious biases that have nothing to do with reason.

I feel differently toward girls than toward boys. That goes way back. I feel more tenderly toward them; I’m more inclined to like them; I feel more at ease around them. Realistically, all of that feeling differently must translate into a different way of interacting with them.

I have a son and a daughter, both adults now. I think it’s perfectly normal for parents to have different relationships with each of their children regardless of gender, so it’s hard to know how much of that difference is due to gender, birth order, personality, etc. I do treat them differently, not in blatant ways related to how I think boys and girls ought to be treated, and certainly not in preferring one to the other, but in ways that I only catch when I’m paying close attention.

Stinley's avatar

There are measurable differences between boys and girls, physically and psychologically so we are bound to treat them differently. Indeed we must if we are to be fair in our dealing with each of the genders. Treating boys the same as girls does not cater for individual needs and preferences. However I would say that like @thorninmud I do feel differently about girls, preferring their way of dealing with things and activities they like. I think you have to work harder with boys to help them conform to social norms. Saying that I am anarchistic enough to want to show all kids that you have to learn the rules before you break them

jca's avatar

I have only one child, a first grade daughter. My mother had two children (me and my sister), both daughters. Her mother had three daughters. We are a family of women (as I like to say “beautiful, smart, funny women!”). However, I know from what I observe that in general, girls play differently than boys. Girls go off in intimate groups. Girls usually will sit more calmly. My daughter, my sister (who was a whole lot younger than I, so I observed her more like a parent would), and I all like to take stuffed animals, put blankets on them, take them in the car or in baby carriage and treat them like babies. Boys seem to be more active in their play, wrestling, pointing things at each other (sticks if you let them have them), stuff like that.

Just my observation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would like to say no, I don’t. But that isn’t quite true. If it was, I wouldn’t feel a shifting, a kind of a click when I find out that a person I thought was a girl is actually a guy. It’s happened a few times here, on Fluther. I’m not sure how my behavior changes, either. I wish there was a study done on this.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca and those differences start early. I have the twins, you know. When they were about 13 months old I handed a baby doll to Savannah. She petted it, looked at the dolls face and was very gentle. I then gave the doll to Kale. He grabbed it by the arm and whacked it on the floor! If Simone were here she’d say that this behavior had somehow been taught to them, that they were exhibiting the gender differences that we expected them to, but I don’t know how that could be at such an early age.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Oh hell yeah. I treat boys like boys and girls like girls. They are after all two separate and unique life forms made from different stuff.

Let’s see if I can remember… Boy are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails whilst girls are sugar and spice and everything nice.

Of course they need to be treated differently.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it depends, @Dan_Lyons. If you put certain restrictions on what a person can and can’t do, just because of their gender, that’s wrong.

I used to own a mower repair shop. We had one old guy who came into the shop often, and he’d just freak out if he saw me working on a mower. He’d literally come to the back and physically pull me away saying, “This is no kind of work for a girl!” Pissed me off. I told the guys that, from now on, all his stuff was MINE! I got a quiet chuckle every time he gushed on and on to the guys what an awesome job they did on his equipment. He would have fainted if he’d known it was me he was actually praising.

Unbroken's avatar

I treat them according to personality. But I guess I don’t have much experience with children. I try to be aware of things like according them roles they didn’t ask for but really many of them have already adapted certain ideas of what it is to be male v female.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


I wouldn’t circumcise either.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I never said anything about putting restrictions on them based on gender @Dutchess_III

Dutchess_III's avatar

So in what ways do you treat them differently, @Dan_Lyons? I mean, I just responded to the “Boys are snakes and snails and puppy dog tails and girls are sugar and spice and everything nice,” comment you made. You seemed to agree with that, and apparently so did our old man customer. The way he saw it, “sugar and spice” doesn’t jive with getting greasy and dirty and working on carburetors.

As a woman, I can tell you that men have tried to put SO many restrictions on what I should and shouldn’t be doing, according to their idea of a “woman.”

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I wrestle with boys and rough house with them harder than I do with the girls.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Societal stigmas require big bad man not roughhouse with little girl.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK. Well, as you said, that’s a social expectation, not a necessity. So “of course they need to be treated differently” as you said above, just means you’re buying into the social expectations. You probably don’t even know why.

majorrich's avatar

I am one of three boys in our family and in all of my cousins there are only two females. I was significantly younger than the main body of cousins. Then I have one son and of his cousins he sees regularly two girls. I basically take parents lead on how to act around girls. I probably curb colorful euphemisms a little more and am a bit more hands off than I would be with my own son. Aside from that they all get the same treatment.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Of course it is a necessity. there are some social expectations which must be observed far more closely than others.
Recognizing this has saved many men from wrongful accusations made by petty little people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Dan_Lyons you can still be accused of molesting little boys.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

That would be patently absurd @Dutchess_III

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it would be patently absurd to accuse you of molesting little girls too, yet you’re concerned about it. Little boys get molested all the time. Probably not as much as little girls, but it happens.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

You must not get out much. A single adult male can no longer sit at a park watching the kids on the swings or other toys and games.
And it is precisely because they get accused of merely considering molesting the little girls.

(Although if I were a Catholic, I suppose they would worry about their boys too).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, we were talking about roughhousing with little kids. I assumed in your own home with little kids whose parents know you.

Ha ha! When we were at the cabin over the weekend, Chris told me about a splash park that he took the kids too. It was just fountains and water cannons and stuff. So on Sunday, when Rick, Blake (my 14 year old grandson) and I were just driving around looking at stuff around the park, I said I wanted to go see the splash park. My grandson said, “Great Gramma! You wanna go creepin’ on little kids!”
I’ve never heard that term before but I got the gist! From then on, every time somebody wanted to do something they were “creepin’” on something. Blake wanted to go fishing. I said, “Great. You wanna go creepin’ on helpless fish!”

Paradox25's avatar

@Dutchess “Little boys get molested all the time. Probably not as much as little girls, but it happens.” I’m not so sure about that, but it simply appears boys are less likely to report it.. Society will never resolve its social problems, even women’s issues, until male issues are taken more seriously as well.

cazzie's avatar

I always thought my parents weren’t tough enough on my brother who was just a few years older than me. He got away with murder and got horrible grades at school and he was never grounded. When he finally managed to graduate from high school, they bought him a bloody fishing pole and he continued to live at home for years and years, coming home drunk and messed up. When I graduated with Honor Society and awards, they bought ME a set of luggage. I got the hint and left as soon as I turned 18.

cazzie's avatar

But, I can honestly say, as a child care worker, I meet every child as they come. Not every girl suits being told they have a pretty dress on today, while others absolutely relish being told that. Not all boys are rough and tumble. Some are quiet and really want to sit on your lap with a book. I adore each and every one of their beautiful, individual selves.

Dutchess_III's avatar

There are a couple of incidents from my life that I wonder if my parents would have handled differently if I’d been a boy.

The first is, when I was 4 years old there was a book that my Mom read to me a lot (It was Prince Bertrand the Bad.) I couldn’t read myself, but I had that book memorized. One day I was “reading” it to myself, sitting on the floor in the hallway. Mom came over and sat down and watched me curiously She said, “Did you know you’re reading it backward?”
I said, “Yes.” Remember, I could not read!
I was starting with the last word and working my way back to the beginning…..As an adult now, that would have been a pretty big flag that there was something pretty ‘pecial about that kid and I would have encouraged it. But this was in the early 60’s, pre-woman’s lib, when it was taken for granted that men were naturally smarter than women.

In Jr. High they gave us aptitude tests. I assumed I’d score highest in things like psychology. I scored high in everything, but the one area I scored highest in, with a 98%, was engineering.
Never heard another word from anyone about that. Makes me wonder why they even bothered to test us. I do wonder if it would have been followed up on if I’d been a male.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My brother (65), sister (57) and I (51) were recently together and discussed this. Yes, our parents treated us very differently by gender. Dad would only take our brother bird-hunting, despite my begging him to do so for years. The brother was never required to do any inside housework, but was expected to handle yard work. The girls were expected to help with all of the in-house chores. The brother had a later curfew and was allowed to drive the car more than we girls.

It went beyond our parents’ treatment. In middle school, I signed up to play the drums. Two years of the male band teacher telling me that “girls don’t play drums”, and I finally got fed up with it and opted out by the third year. During a meeting with the male high school guidance counselor, he told me that while my SAT math scores were high, there was no point in pursuing a college degree in a science or math-based field because women don’t do well in it.

What I learned from all of this is to avoid treating a person in the stereotypical way based upon their gender. Upon learning more about a person, it is easier to treat them the way that they want to be treated.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I went through that same crap @Pied_Pfeffer. Sad, when you think about it.

I guess I’m kind of glad I didn’t have a brother….

I don’t think I treated my kids differently by gender.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Dutchess_III It is unfortunate, but that is often the way it was back then. It would be interesting to hear what your children had to say if you asked them, “In what ways have you been treated differently because of your gender?” and just let them talk out loud without any interruption.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I often ask them questions after a discussion on fluther.

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