by Tashica Jacobson
The past 5 months has given us additional stressors, anxiety, sweet moments, and tons of excitement. While these could be the emotions of any typical month, ours are amplified because we are expecting a baby, and have started to share the exciting news with family and friends. And just as university professor, Tim Rarick states in his article the question that seems to arise the most when someone new learns of the pregnancy is “when do you find out the gender” or a question along the lines of biological sex. At first it seemed odd to me that, aside from congratulations, this is the first thought that people have.
Starting out there are the pregnancy myths about the difference between boys and girls, how fast the heart is beating, or whether my belly is high or low. But there are other myths that last longer. Girls liking pink, and boys blue; girls are bad at math and boys at English. Aside from these myths there are scientific facts about the dramatic differences between boys and girls, and these differences will affect so much of our baby’s life. I realize this and all those people asking about the gender realize it, which is why the question arises.
In his book Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax shows how these differences go beyond the physical characteristics of male and female, to actual differences in brain development. Even as newborns, males prefer to look at moving objects while females prefer to look at faces. This difference observed at birth also is seen in elementary class rooms. Girls draw in nouns, boys in verbs.
Differences arise in how children learn, in what areas they develop faster, how they deal with and view school, drugs, and sex, the type of friendships that they will have, and even how they should be disciplined.
To emphasize the profound differences between genders Dr. Sax states “every child is unique. I’m not saying that all boys are the same or that all girls are the same. But the fact that each child is unique and complex should not blind us to the fact that gender is one of the two great organizing principles in child development—the other principle being age. Trying to understand a child without understanding the role of gender in child development is like trying to understand a child’s behavior without knowing the child’s age” pg. 35.
For some the question of whether it is a boy or a girl stops the moment the child is born. They try to promote the idea of a gender neutral society. But when we fail to recognize the differences between boys and girls we do more harm, because we don’t teach, discipline, or interact with a child in a way that will be the most beneficial to them. So by recognizing these differences parents and teachers can find ways to best meet a child’s needs.
Sax, Leonard. (2005) Why Gender Matters. Doubleday Inc.