Are Boys Easier Than Girls?

Jasper on Fire Island

After an elaborate negotiation with Magnolia about some minute point over the weekend, I turned to Chrissy and quietly spelled out:  “h-e-a-d case.”  Our daughter’s got a lot going on in that little noggin of hers, and it’s often dauntingly complex.

Which is why I found a recent post on Yahoo! Shine intriguing — and, no, it wasn’t 6 Ways to Make Family Memories on Super Bowl Sunday. (By the way, that hasn’t happened, right? All of my Facebook friends who were posting loyalties to one team or another last weekend — that was all playoff stuff, wasn’t it? I am not kidding when I say I have absolutely no idea.)

But the Superbowl thing relates to where I’m going with this post…. We’re a two-mom family — there’s no one here to make sure we know when Superbowl Sunday is, who’s playing, or what the outcome is. There is no sports talk happening. There is no wrestling on the floor or getting physical in a “guy” kind of way. It would be the same for a single mom, and I don’t think it’s bad — it’s just different than a more traditional mom and dad household, where there’s a daily male influence.

And I do think about that lack of male input in relation to parenting styles. Which (finally) leads me back to the Yahoo! post Raising Boys: 5 Things Dads Can Teach Moms About Raising Sons. (A longer version of the post appears on Babble, too.) Despite some of the negative comments it received in both places, I took it as a fun, lighthearted piece — but it also rang a little true. And it made me think about some of the differences we see in raising Jasper and Magnolia.

Basically, the Babble writer says that boys (maybe not all, but some) are less intense than girls — they are more straightforward emotionally, even if they might have trouble articulating their feelings. He says (playfully, I thought), that moms should:

Think caveman. “Boys tend to feel one of three emotions: mad, sad, happy.” His needs are more basic, not complex. Your young son either wants to “eat, poop, or run.” So don’t bother over-articulating whatever the issue is at hand.

I kind of get this, and think it’s sort of true. Jasper‘s kindergarten teacher and I were talking last year about the differences between boys and girls — while we were watching Magnolia have a mini-tantrum over something I’d told her she couldn’t do. Ms. P. said girls know exactly what they want, even from an early age — and if they don’t get it, that’s where the trouble comes in. Boys, on the other hand, she said, pretty much want to be able to eat and run, and if you give them a snack and time to play, they’ll be happy.


The Babble writer/dad also instructs moms to:

Watch your son’s body language, not his mouth. “Jumping up and down with six-inch vertical leaps is the natural state of being and is good. Slumped shoulders are bad. Yelling is good. Quiet needs attention.”

Again, this makes sense to me. I do feel Jasper is pretty straightforward and it’s not difficult to produce a happy reaction from him — moving and running make him happy! So does being loud and silly! Frankly, it’s pretty easy to navigate and manipulate his moods and behavior. Offering a little treat, suggesting a spin around the corner on his scooter, or even grabbing him for a quick tickle or a hug can dispel a bad moment in a hurry. (There’s a nice nod to the just “give a hug” theory in the Yahoo! article, too. Also a funny riff on the importance of poop in a boy’s life. Again, sort of true for us — poop-time is a real “occasion” for Jasper. Read the whole Yahoo! Raising Sons parenting post here, or the longer version on Babble.)

It’s all harder, at least for now, with Magnolia. Getting her mood to turn around if things aren’t going her way, or getting her to do something she’s really dead-set against, is tricky business. And, honestly, sometimes unpleasant. Even at 4, she’s swift with a verbal barb, dismissive gesture, or criticism of how a mom is handling the situation.

I don’t know. Six years into this parenting thing, I’m still making it up as I go along. Trying to figure things out, understand my kids, and do the best I can. But I have to say, I do think in some ways boys are easier than girls.

What do you think? Easier, or just different?


8 Responses to “Are Boys Easier Than Girls?”

  1. 1 dscotti January 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I have an almost 5 year old boy, and a 3 year old girl, and already I agree completely with what you, and the article, are saying. My boy is totally straightforward, and his bad moods rarely survive a silly face or a tickle. My daughter on the other hand is a diva when she doesn’t get her way; crossing her arms, and pouting. I do think in a lot of situations boys are easier to deal with than girls are.

    Thanks for the interesting read!


  2. 2 Amy W January 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    We have two boys…and just last week my darling husband told me that I use “too many words” when disciplining our 4-year-old. So I laughed out loud when I read bullet point numero uno.

    Note to self: Must learn to speak Caveman. “Stop doing that.” should suffice for most offenses.

  3. 3 Cay January 26, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Not having a daughter, I have no boy-to-girl comparison, but I do have two very different boys. While my oldest is what I think of as a “classic” boy (quick to anger, quick to laugh, very active, straightforward caveman, as you said), my 5 year old son is much more tricky. He really holds onto his emotions, esp anger. And while he does not want, ever, to “talk it out,” he also will not be appeased by something as quick and easy as a hug.

    So while I do agree with the biological generalities of boys and girls, I also think it’s a shame to lose the complexity that is an individual person, which is what we all are. I really think it’s less about boy or girl and more about each person’s personality.

    Thanks for the thoughtful piece!

  4. 4 Melisa January 26, 2011 at 11:17 am

    @Denise, My daughter is a diva, too — LOTS of drama and emotion, so I know just what you mean.

    @Amy, C. and I are always saying we talk too much when trying to discipline — we’re trying to be more cavewoman!

    @Cay, Totally agree — sure, we can look at generalizations, but ultimately every kid is different and has different needs. It just so happens that we are finding our daughter to be a bit of a challenge, but I guess that’s just who she is — she’s testing our patience and creative problem-solving skills in ways we could not have predicted!

    Thanks, y’all for sharing!

  5. 5 Paula/adhocmom January 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I only have a girl, so I wouldn’t know per se. But I do know (and I’m willing to admit this) that I wanted a girl so I wouldn’t have to deal WITH SPORTS. And I absolutely got a girl jock. I think I’m going to end up having to deal with football after all. . . sigh. Um, go packers?

  6. 6 Chris January 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    I’m not sure it’s a boy/girl thing as much as an older versus younger child issue. We have an older daughter, younger son. Our daugher (5) is much more reasonable – simpler emotions, easier to talk to concerning what might be bothering her, etc. You can ration with her, and she is eager to please and wants to move past whatever short storm is bothering her. Our son (3), on the other hand,is the challenge. Prone to white hot (and seemingly unprovoked) tantrums, stalking away from the table, quick to whine or wheedle or negotiate if everything is not exactly to his liking. He is far more the challenge. Maybe it’s the age – three is just so awful – but I think there is something to be said for the “pleaser” older child and the more free spirited younger.

  7. 7 Melisa January 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Paula, I bet June could shake things up as a linebacker — is that what they’re called?

    And maybe you’re right, Chris — something about the second child thing. M. has ZERO desire to please, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. 3 sucks, but so far 4 is pretty rough, too…!

  8. 8 Mrs.Mayhem January 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    I don’t think one is easier than the other, but they are markedly different. My boys are 11 and 13, and my girls are 8 and 5. The girls were more emotional and more socially aware from day one. I also think birth order plays a part (I was never a believer until I had my own kids).

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