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abalashov 120 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite

This article assumes a priori that talking to boys differently than to girls is bad, then attempts to substantiate the claim, in part, with references to obvious bullying -- a very different topic. But it overlooks the obvious: that boys and girls are different!

I have two daughters and three sons. I love them all. I speak to them differently because they need to be spoken to differently for them to be understood, and for me to provide appropriate instruction. Contrary to this article's thesis, the kids actually lead with this. As is typical, the girls are more sensitive, and tend to seek approval and understanding. The boys are more rough, need to be spoken to much more bluntly, and view me (their father) as an intellectual companion / wrestling partner, depending on their age. I imagine most parents find themselves in similar situations, and we respond according to the needs of their children. It may not be PC, but in my experience, those needs are often correlated to the chromosomes of the people involved.

So, the one really interesting (new to me) part of the article is that they mention a study according to which boys are born more emotionally sensitive than girls.

If this is true, then society is doing something that is clearly against nature.

The other side to this is -- okay, boys and girls are different, but why? Society's influence is an extremely powerful force. Your own influence is huge. How could you possibly be sure whether the differences you see in your children are the result of your upbringing (and the influence of others) or not?

How would you be able to tell the difference, given that most people treat babies differently based on gender before you can really interact with them in any meaningful way? (It already starts with people buying different types of clothes!)

Finally, it should be obvious that any kind of stereotyping is bad and should be minimized, because it's an obstacle to people pursuing what they're really passionate about. Those obstacles certainly lead to waste and a net negative for our society.

Simple answer, they typically start genetically somewhat different, which then feeds back into parents, society and back into kids.

You cannot prevent such feedback without an extremely strong force. More importantly, it could be dangerous in the extreme, messing with procreation like that.

If you don't have experimental data, it would be going blind too.

>As is typical, the girls are more sensitive, and tend to seek approval and understanding. The boys are more rough, need to be spoken to much more bluntly, and view me (their father) as an intellectual companion / wrestling partner, depending on their age. I imagine most parents find themselves in similar situations, and we respond according to the needs of their children

You raised these children, your idea of "typical" is going to be reflected in their behavior. They want your affection and attention, and from an early age they've noticed that you react in different ways to their attempts. Combine that with the well defined stereotypes in media, and you get a disparity in how they want to be treated.

I'm not trying to chastise you for this, actively working against it would be difficult and possibly worse for the child. And there are some differences caused by hormones. You are the driving force in their behavior though.

At best 50% of the driving force and it is feedback not force. It is not reflection either and kids tend to be partly similar in disposition to parents genetically too. (Look up twin experiments.)

Unless you feel particularly despondent (which is outmoded by the way), society has more hand in raising your kids than you, not to mention genetics.

I'm not big and strong, and definitely not "very cool", and my child sample size is 5 times smaller than yours, so I wouldn't know by experience, but I agree on the missing link between communication differences and bullying, and indeed boys and girls may well have different brains and needs, on average.

The article doesn't make that point, but kids with communication needs more into the other gender's distribution also exists. I would say as you do, look at your kids, treat them according to their needs. Outcomes are of course fairly unpredicatable in any case. I guess there is always the possibility that a parent's behaviour before children express their need clearly can steer the children's behaviour.

I do wonder about cultural differences. Hyperbolically, I find US masculinity as different from say its Norwegian version as I find girls from boys.

> This article assumes a priori that talking to boys differently than to girls is bad, then attempts to substantiate the claim, in part, with references to obvious bullying -- a very different topic. But it overlooks the obvious: that boys and girls are different!

The assumption should be the other way: talk to your children the same unless proved otherwise. Do what's best for your individual child, don't hamstring them by talking to them by what you think is the best way to talk to a girl vs a boy. If your daughters are more sensitive and need external validation, great! talk to them like that. But you don't need to generalize to all or even most girls.

"the kids actually lead with this". No. You spoke to your child for months before they started talking back to you and leading you. You shaped them in a period that you you don't even seem to be acknowledging.

All fair points, however all the author is recommending is asking you son about his feelings once in a while.

This! It's not super hard either if you just remember that although you are a man, there have been times when you were afraid, weak, scared, sad and lost in life. Just try to be a guide and role model to your child in all situations, don't be a part time dad that is absent when the scariest feelings hits.

I think that is a very good advice.

Reminded me of my conversation with my son when he was three years old:

“I want to be brave. Tell me how to be brave” asked my darling son today before leaving for his school. I didn’t have an answer. As my eyes welled up, I asked if he is scared of anything in particular.”No, I am brave. I am not scared of anything” came back his reply.


While correlated to the chromosomes (ie gender), let me put a different hypothesis.

Kids will as part of of growing up start to emulate the parent of the same gender. The default is to seek approval and understanding of both parents, but boys will at some point start to emulate the father and girls will similar emulate their mother, while continuing seeking approval and understanding from the other parent.

If the parents follow gender roles and social expected behavior you will also get different behavior from their children of different gender.

Thank you. I hope someday humans can get past the idea that uh oh, something is different, and that means something is wrong, and something must be done to fix it.

It is fine that children are different. The problem is when parents and society start assuming that it is correlated to gender, and start treating kids (and adults) differently based on their gender, no matter their individual personality.

To reply to the grandparent comment: I don't know if male and female children behave intrinsically differently, but this is going to be hard to measure in a society where everyone, including parents, are biased and subconsciously treat them differently based on their gender.

Uhm I dunno if you read the comment above, his point was that certain differences do in fact correspond with gender, e.g. Rough and tumble play is more appropriate for most boys than it would be for the majority of girls. Do we have to prefix everything with NOT ALL to have a generally valid generalization?

This caught my attention particularly, since it touches on some harsh truths of my own life experience:

  Women often say they want men to be emotionally
  transparent with them. But as the vulnerability and 
  shame expert Brené Brown reveals in her book, 
  'Daring Greatly,' many grow uneasy or even recoil 
  if men take them up on their offer.

  Indeed, a Canadian study found that college-aged 
  female respondents considered men more attractive 
  if they used shorter words and sentences and spoke 
  less. This finding seems to jibe with Dr. Brown’s
  research, suggesting that the less men risk emoting
  verbally, the more appealing they appear.
I'm a native Russian-Armenian, though I have been in the US since I was six. As a function of both cultural background and academic family rootedness, I'm still coping with the facet of Anglo-American culture.

I think a lot of my problems in the dating and relationship realm come down to a failure to understand that although American women say they'd like a guy with character and opinions and who actually talks, instinctively, this culture is programmed with strong-and-silent John Wayne stereotypes.

This differs considerably from the stereotype of masculine ideal promulgated in my native cultures, at least within the intelligentsia. The notion of interesting man that I was inculcated with was clearly very different: interesting, attentive, charismatic, observant, original, worldly, conversant. A man in those cultures is not supposed to be "effete and sensitive" either—no, indeed, they are relatively patriarchal—but he is supposed to be entertaining, intelligent, present and intellectually engaged — definitely quite verbal.

I've found that doesn't play so well over here. In fact, in my anecdotal experience (and I very much realise this does not data make), most of the intelligent and conversationally active women I know seem to end up "dating down", very often with less educated, or in rarer cases comparably educated but otherwise rather introverted, laconic and unassertive guys, despite their stated preference to the contrary. They are not looking for peers like themselves, that much is a very clear pattern. From the vantage point of my native cultures, this would be rendered as "they are looking for simple and pliant pets to command", and it would be seen as humiliating and pitiful for a man to acquiesce to such a circumscribed role.

I immediately thought of Vladimir Nabokov, another Russian expat, who fits your lists of desirable traits. "Interesting, attentive, charismatic, observant, original, worldly, conversant...entertaining, intelligent, present and intellectually engaged - definitely quite verbal." Also, I can add that my anecdotes agree with yours. Seems as if it's usually a mistake to not be taciturn, not be a blank screen to receive a woman's projections.

Well, to put it mildly, I (and most people) hardly merit comparison to Nabokov. :-) He was an exceptionally distinctive literator.

> Seems as if it's usually a mistake to not be taciturn, not be a blank screen to receive a woman's projections.

Indeed, and I hate to engage in this kind of provocative gender stereotyping, but as a factual matter, it agrees with nearly all of my dating experiences in my adult life.

And yet the common complaint from young women is that men are simple and don't relate or exhibit much emotional connection. Well, I've tried, and it tends to scare them off.

I fail to grasp the idea of the article. Apparently parents treat their children differently. Not only between sons and daughters, but also among siblings. What are the benefits of treating them equally? And should we do so anyway? On one hand we educate our children based on their interest, characters, capabilities and so on. Now we talk about how different we treat our children.

I read the same article. My takeaway was not "treat them equally" at all costs. It was "give them the same possibilities to have all the feelings". I don't think the feelings of being afraid or weak is biologically determined so I would help my kid deal with them the same way, by talking with them and exploring the feelings, learning how to cope with them, no matter what stuff they have between the legs.

It does not seem that you have failed to grasp the idea of the article, but rather that you are not persuaded of the correctness of its idea. :-)

You are right! Yet I would love to be persuaded given there are obvious merits to children. Right now I am more in line with the sentiments of other comments.

I got a better idea, how about you don't go around performing sociological experiments on your kids.

Boys and girls are exposed to different doses of hormones, those are essential to forming their personality, and, therefore, their needs are going to be distinct, and their differences are only going to become stronger the older they get.

Two generations more of this constant hammering on boys and people will have to start writing "Talking ot Boys Like They're Not Inherently Evil" to begin work on fixing the damage.

No matter how you behave with your kids you are performing a "sociological experiment" with them. There are no answers in child upbringing!

Just treating boys like boys and girls like girls is not a guarantee that their needs will be met, you need to actually deal with your kid without staring blindly on their gender and then sort them in the corresponding bucket. It's hard yes, but no-one said having kids is easy.

Thing is by changing just a few words I could make your comment into sth someone might have said about blacks just a few centuries ago. These days we think differently (well, most of us).

To better ourselves, we have to overcome those preconceived notions. That is only possible with what you call "sociological experiments" and will also likely involve some initial overcompensation.

Still, challenging whether females biology actually predetermines their purpose in life to daycare and kitchen seems to me like a goal worth exploring.

I wonder how we'll think about the differences between personalities in maybe 20 or 30 years, once we actually understand how the brain works and develops.

So far and as far as I understand a wide range of experiences seems necessary to form a worthy personality. Having strong gender rolls and other preconceived notions can limit what kind of lessons are learned.

This is a problem deeply routed in society. Men are seen as the strong hunters and protectors that have to take care of their family in physical ways and women are seen as the subordinates that stay home and take care of the kids and their men after a hard day. It's really hard breaking out of that way of thinking when kids and teenagers grow up being bombarded with that role model their entire life.

The perfect example for that would be how superheroes are being portrayed based on their gender and barbie dolls in particular are a bad offender of subconsciously changing girls and young women into that role model of always looking perfect and aiming for that marriage as their life goal.

Edit: Someone commented on this, telling me how Black Widow, among others, don't fit that stigma. Since he deleted his comment before I could respond, the answer to that is simple. Black Widow isn't directly portrayed as a 'typical' woman, but think about the way she acts. Does she show brute force and kicks asses everywhere she goes, or does she use cunning and her looks to make men dance around like puppets?

She may not fit the role model at the first glance, but on a deeper, more abstract level, she works as well as any at subconsciously influencing teenagers into roles based on their gender.

I don't believe in gender theory, I think it's promoted by people that are not comfortable with themselves or are fooled by the utopia that ideology can trump biology.

I remember reading about an hermaphrodite, she said that when she was a teenager she received hormones and the way she felt reading a comic book was very different depending where in the cycle she was : more emotional at the beginning, more analytical at the end of the cycle.

Yes, I remember that hermaphrodite, when it was a male, It was never afraid, and when it was a girl it never felt brave and strong. Biology is super confusing but at least I don't have to talk to my sons about how it feels to be afraid.

I don't know the story. Just from what you said, an alternative hypothesis is that the hermaphrodite internalized the societal norm of both genders, and thus subconsciously switched from the male norm to the female norm according to their body's state. Not saying that this must be the case, but it seems equally supported by the data that is available to me from your descriptions.

No, I like being a cold heartless stoic skeptic. I remember that moment in first grade, I remember feeling isolated and unlike all of my peers, and I've grown to accept it.

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