Gender difference in kids – A mum to boys opinion 18

As a mum of two boys it sometimes feels like I am parenting aliens. My best friend has four boys aged between three and eleven.  So my main experience is with boys they are different to how was as a child and they are different to the girls I know (I have two nieces).

Young brother and sister holding each other on white background


Different doesn’t mean less or more.

It doesn’t mean that boys are better than girls.

It means they are different. Yes there are exceptions.

The sooner we start acknowledging their differences and stop being politically correct the better.boys and girls

Embrace the difference in boys and girls


All children are individual, unique and precious.  Boys and girls.

Yes I am a feminist and I am saying that we should embrace our childrens’ differences.  By this I do not mean going down the blue for boys and pink for girls route.  No, I applaud designers like Donna Wilson who imagine their children clothes range to be unisex and campaigns such as let toys be toys.  Both of my boys had dolls and prams and we never had boys toys and girls toys.

Maxi has collar length hair and Mini has short hair, this is their choice.  I encourage my boys to craft and be creative, but they still play football and fight, just as I am sure many girls do to.

However, my boys pee standing up and as any mum of boys will tell you the toilet is a constant battle and once they find their penis with their hands, then they never lose it! I don’t know any girls who pee standing up, do you?

Additionally boys and girls mature at different rates, which means there is a difference between a ten year old girl and a ten year old boy and they are biologically different, this is something you can not argue about.

embrace the difference

There are plenty of studies that confirm that the gender divide is widened and intensified by our gendered culture. Children don’t inherit intellectual differences. They learn them.

As a mum to boys, I feel it is my responsibility to teach them that girls are amazing.  I want them to know that girls are equal to them and that being a girl is not a bad thing.  I would not use phrases such as “scream like a girl”, just as I wouldn’t use “boys will be boys”.  I do not see either gender as a negative and will not use it as such.

When I say that Mini has issues with fine motor skills and poor handwriting and that boys struggle with handwriting more than girls.  I am not saying one gender is better or worse, but I am saying the boys and girls are different, they learn differently and they play differently, this is my experience.

I totally agree that toys and activities should not be gender specific, but sometimes parenting needs to be.

By arguing about this, I fear we are missing the point, we should be using this energy to fight against companies advertising to our children about companies producing gender specific toys.

So remember when I share with you a post on The Mad House Facebook about How Boys Learn or Girls Like Science, I am not saying one gender is better than the other, just that in my humble opinion and experience they are DIFFERENT.

18 thoughts on “Gender difference in kids – A mum to boys opinion

  • Pinkoddy

    Ah I have to admit I am disappointed with this post in that I thought I had found someone who was like me. I do think you are right – boys and girls ARE different and they ARE equal. More work needs doing for both genders in making sure they are both going the right way (for example boys need not be told they should be assertive (eg aggressive) to be masculine.

    BUT I disagree with the whole toys be toys thing. It is taking away choices. Some girls (and indeed some boys) LIKE pink toys. Males and females ARE different and play differently – making things uniform takes away from developing things that suit them.

  • Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    I really enjoyed reading this. I started parenting thinking that I can raise my girl “gender neutral”, and I did in a sense that she is a tomboy who loves science. But when I watch her and her best friends (who just happen to be all boys) play together, I see a huge difference that can not be forcefully “glossed over” by whatever amount of politically correct gender-neutral activities and toys we give them. It’s actually fascinating and encouraging to watch.

  • Jess

    Let Toys Be Toys doesn’t aim to restrict anyone’s choice pinkoddy. A doll is a fine toy for any child that wants to play with it, and pink is one of the many lovely colours available. If boys and girls’ preferences are different naturally, there is no need to point children in the ‘correct’ direction by telling them that some toys are for girls and some for boys. All those labels do is make the many children who don’t fit the mould feel bad (and no-one fits the mould all the time). The Let Toys Be Toys campaign is just asking that toys are marketed in a way that allows children to make that choice for themselves.

    The fact that there are observable differences in behaviour between boys and girls doesn’t tell you whether that difference is innate. Whatever the efforts of a parent, children receive an onslaught of gendered messages from books, TV, advertising, toys and the adults and children around them. There is no control group of children who’ve grown up without gender conditioning.

  • BluBearWood

    Yes boys and girls are different but they are also very similar (excluding physiological differences). It is ok to write about your experience with your boys but we all need to be careful about sweeping statements. Not all boys will behave like your boys and some girls may show similar traits. Children need to be brought up in a society where neither gender is excluded or made to feel excluded and as children grow up this becomes more difficult because of the way society is structured.

  • Erica Price

    I do think there is too much pink – I have no objection to some pink, but I think it can exclude boys from toys that they would otherwise have played with. It can be difficult to find certain toys in colours other than pink and I think that’s wrong. My son loved pink until about a year before he started school. I never said pink is for girls or anything like that, but he picked it up from other children (and probably some adults). From then on, anything pink was off limits.

  • Michelle

    A very emotive post. Boys and girls are different, and, as you say equal. My son grew up with “boys toys” as it were, and I remember buying him a play kitchen when he was around 2. His nan (my MIL) said “why are you buying him girls toys? I just rolled my eyes at that one.

  • NInjacat

    Let children be children .pink blue rainbow ~ a child should choose . And yes as a 5 year old girl I once tried to pee like a boy . But at the same time channeling my inner lady/ girl can mean an elegance when I do choose

  • Mums do travel

    I quite agree, boys and girls are different and equal. Mine had all sorts of toys when they were little, there was no division between girls’ and boys’ stuff.

  • Kara

    I like to think I treat my children equally and yes they are all different. I hate gender specific toys but Eliza adores pink and I cannot get away from it. Sebby is more than happy to ride in her pink Little Tikes car though

  • Joanne Dewberry

    I have a son and two daughters, my daughter had lots of hand me downs from my son even now. I’ve never been precious about clothing, toys or anything but my children seem to gravitate towards gender specific items. There’s nothing wrong with this. There’s nothing wrong with the girl who wants to wear a dinosaur t-shirt. My girls have been known to climb trees dressed like Disney Princesses, can’t we just let kids be kids?

  • Rachel

    There does seem to be a lot of stigma attached to girls and boys toys, even now in places like Hamleys where there is clearly a gender divide x

  • Foz

    I only have girls and pink is big in our house! But I do buy them toys that are ‘traditionally’ seen as boys toys like cars etc.

    I thin it may be a long battle to stop this mentality of boys toys and girls toys! Let kids play with what they want and let them be the individuals they are!

  • Fritha

    I do find it weird that some toys are labelled boys or some girls. Wilf loves playing with the few dolls he has just as much as he likes cars! x

  • Sarah Bailey

    I don’t have kids so I can’t really comment on the differences from that perspective as a child though I was a tomboy but still played with dolls from time to time.

  • Emma

    The toy issue began when we started treating children as consumers and therefore marketed at them. weare all so consumer led.

  • Globalmouse

    I’m really pleased to see that companies are realising that pink doesn’t have to be just for girls or even for girls at all….and trains and diggers don’t have to be for just boys or for some boys….I think it’s a shame so many places do the “girls toys” and “boys toys” thing.

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