My wife is 19 weeks pregnant, and the first question on everyone’s mind is, “Do you know what you’re having?” Well, we’ve narrowed it down to boy or girl (it’s definitely not chicken wings.) So our question has become, do we want to know what we’re having? And additionally, do we have a preference?
Having been part-time care-givers to our now four-year-old nephew, my wife and I have a better understanding of what’s involved in raising a boy. We tell him that eating his breakfast will make him strong for the day, drinking milk will make him tall, and feed him a steady dose of spinach-to-Popeye references – not to mention telling him how darned handsome he is.
Boys are competitive by nature, and while we encourage him to try his hardest and that it my lead to winning, we also try to emphasize that regardless of the outcome it’s important to congratulate your opponent so it’s not always about the result, but that being a good sport is also important.
But now that we are expecting, we have begun to wonder how prepared we will be if we have a girl. If it’s not about being big, strong, fast, and handsome, what is it about? It has to be about more than being pretty and cute, right? My question led me to Care.com, and an article that focused on raising confident girls. In the article, the author, Alonna Friedman cites several experts and offers a list of ways to help raise confident girls. Among them, Friedman reminds us to praise our young girls.
“As a parent there are endless things you love about your child. Tell her! It's so easy to tell her she looks pretty or she did a good job. Now dig deeper and get specific,” she explains.
"Recognize then verbalize what is good about her beyond looks she will incorporate it into her self-esteem. There's nothing wrong with helping your daughter feel good about her exterior but she needs to know that it is not enough -- looks change," says psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, Psy.D., Care.com's parenting expert.
Friedman also encourages expecting parents to start young, like now in my case. Talking to the baby in-utero is a great way to connect with the mother-to-be and baby.
“You might dream about all the pretty clothes you will buy for your daughter and about how beautiful she will be, Boston-based psychotherapist Karen Ruskin, Psy. D., suggests. You don't need to picture your daughter as a rock climbing instructor or a lead scientist finding the cure for cancer, but daydream about all the possibilities she will have in life and all the wonderful personality traits she will have” she says.
So, is there a difference in raising boys and girls, or is it simpler than it seems? Should the goal across the board be to instill those qualities and confidences that are based on what’s on the inside? Do boys need to hear they’re strong and girls need to hear they’re beautiful? Yes, but they equally need to be reassured how smart, thoughtful, polite, clever and funny they are. For that matter, we all do.
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