Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's (Not) a Boy Thing

Jason and I are asked many questions about our family. A family of six tends to be attention grabbing; add on the fact that all four children are boys and people lose all self control. They just can't help but ask us what it's like. We don't mind, as long as the questions are polite. (You'd be amazed--or maybe you wouldn't--how rude people can be.) The question I love the most is one that isn't asked often: What is your favorite thing about having four boys?

One of the aspects that is most interesting about all our children being the same gender is that we get to truly see how different they are. I think we are able to appreciate how each of their unique characteristics make them individuals in a way that parents with offspring of both genders can't. I know that sounds kind of bad, so let me try to explain what I mean.

My parents had two kids: a girl and a boy. Nate and I are nearly nine years apart in age and could not be more different if we tried. (I mean that in a good way. My brother is awesome.) In conversations I have had with my dad he has told me that it never occurred to him to attribute the differences in our personalities to anything other than the fact that we were different genders. I personally believe that's very common given the sheer number of general "gender statements" that I hear parents make. So when I say we understand our children as individuals, what I mean is that we see past the stereotypes of what a boy is supposed to be and simply see the child.

Our boys have the same parents, live in the same house, and people can usually tell that they are brothers; however, that is where the similarities end. There is only one dare-devil out of the bunch. We have two (so far) who appear interested in sports; the other two, not so much. All four kids adore books; they are also ridiculously excited about video games. We have two obsessed with cars, one who preferred trains, and one who never had much interest in toys of any sort. One of the kids pretends that stuffed animals are "babies"; another adores Ariel. Only one of them has ever listed blue as their favorite color; three have gone through a pink phase and one of them really likes purple. Given the choice, the two little ones prefer princess shaped noodles in their soup. In terms of stereotypical boy traits, our kids don't score all that high when rated against each other.

These are the kinds of things I'm thinking as we go through our daily routine. Sometimes I feel like some sort of sociology professor, studying nature vs. nurture. (I'm not, of course, but it's fun to pretend!) Here are two boys, born of the same parents, raised the same way, and given all the same materials for painting:

Zander and Izzy Painting

One prefers to use his fingers, getting messy while daubing color onto the paper in circular, rounded patterns--

Zander's painting

--while the other prefers the slightly neater use of brushes and straight, linear designs.

Izzy's painting

And I get to sit back and watch, all the while marveling at how wonderfully different these two little boys are. I get to see that they are individual children with interests and traits that are all their own and which we don't believe have much at all to do with their gender. They view the world through their own individual perceptions. Their personalities are wildly different and have been since before birth. I find that fascinating and it is, without a doubt, my favorite thing about being a parent to four boys.

What kind of gender role beliefs do you have in your family? Respectful disagreements are welcome!


  1. Such a great post! I love learning more about your family. For gender roles in our house? Hmmm...does this count: we call our girl dog Princess and our boy dog Buddy some times. ;)

  2. My fiance is always pushing gender roles. Zack can't do this because he's a boy, he acts that way because he's a boy, etc. For the most part it doesn't bother me but as far as I'm concerned if he likes purple... good for him. I just want him to be happy. I love your take on each of your boys. My parents had two girls, two years and 12 days apart who couldn't have been more different.

  3. I am always amazed at how different kids in the same house can be.

  4. Awesome post. You might be the only female ( human) in the house
    But it's got to be better than the only male to
    4 female. (poor Will) You already know my kids personalities
    I just hope he can convince Olivia to fish with him since hanna and sam won't.

  5. LOL! We just have the one dog and we call her "Princess" often.

  6. Thanks, Heather. :) Jason used to be very "he's a boy, don't let him do that" but he's relaxed a TON through the years. I can't begin to tell you what a relief that has been for me because I, like you, just want them to be happy! If an Ariel coloring book is what he wants, then why force him to get the dinosaur one? It's so nice that he finally agrees. Hopefully that transition will happen for you too. ;)

  7. I know! I don't think I'll ever get over it.

  8. Aw, they still have time to come around. I'm a little surprised that Sam won't do it now, though. I would have guessed she would. (We haven't even been apart for a year and I'm already guessing wrong. *sob*)

    There are tons and tons of reasons that I love being around you guys but the instant gender equality isn't too far down that list. It's nice to not be so ridiculously outnumbered every once in awhile. I'm sure Will can relate. lol

  9. I hope I don't have those stereotypes with my kids. Though, I think they might be kind of backward anyway. Little Butt is a crazy, active, dare devil, sports type person. Whereas, even though he's not born yet, I can tell that Baby N is definitely a cool cat. He doesn't move around nearly as much as Little Butt did when I was pregnant with her. She flipped off the ultrasound tech while this guy yawned. I am so excited to see the differences between their personalities and I hope I don't attribute it to boys and girls. Great post and thanks for sharing!

  10. I don't think you will have that problem at all.  It's pretty obvious that L.B. is a spitfire of a kid from the blog.  I don't think you are a stereotype-living kinda gal, Manna.  :) 



Related Posts with Thumbnails