Sunday, June 03, 2007

what to expect...

...from What To Expect.

Long long ago on a blog far far away I mentioned that I would be interested in keeping tabs on my daughter as she grew to see if all the anecdotal evidence I was getting from other parents on innate gender differences was true. Everyone I talked to, it seemed, was so convinced that this was so, and had so many charming stories about Billy and Susie to back up their convictions, that my own skepticism began to seem arbitrary and ill-informed: yet another wrong opinion about childrearing held by someone who had not (yet) raised any children.

This question still interests me, and as Clare approaches that enormous milestone, her first birthday, I am still wondering if I'm observing any innate feminine behavior, or not.

So as I was catching up on my What to Expect reading for month 12, one of the FAQ's addressed is "Gender Differences." The question is phrased, "We're trying very hard not to raise our children in a sexist way. But we find that no matter how we try, we can't induce our 11-month-old son to be nurturing with dolls--he prefers to throw them against a wall." What to Expect answers with a neurobiology-based innateness hypothesis, and follows up with detailing some of the behavioral differences observed between girl and boy babies. The authors hasten to add, of course, that this only applies to groups as a generalization and that any individual girl or boy may exhibit behavioral tendencies of the opposite gender. But then they go on to describe how boys become more physically active, and are better at math.

It was at this point that I began to be disturbed.

And then I turned the page, and read footnote 5: "Boys who display feminine traits early in childhood, like to play with dolls, and avoid rough sports are more likely to become homosexual in later life if their parents (particularly fathers) try to force them to 'be a man'...these boys become estranged from their fathers and, it is speculated, may ever hunger for male love and companionship in adulthood..."

Well, that just explains that, doesn't it.

Then I read that by letting Clare watch TV before she was 10 months old meant that she was going to become, obese, stupid, and immoral, and it's all my fault.

So I think I'm done with What to Expect now.

I still haven't noticed any particularly feminine behaviors from Clare this first year. When she plays with her doll, she tries to bite her face off. Not exactly nurturing. She does exhibit a clear and enduring fascination with buckles: car seat, high chair, stroller--she is trying earnestly to figure out how they work. Masculine?

6 comments:

Tracy said...

Great thoughts. And again, more reasons for me to loathe the WTE books. All of them have irked me tremendously and I don't even remember reading those comments! sigh . ..

R-Liz said...

Yeah, I say take all of that stuff with a grain of salt. The only reason to keep an eye open to any of it is if you're at all concerned about a child being developmentally delayed. But that's it.

My kids are too young to analyze yet. Also, they were in totally different environments up until 1 1/2 months ago. There are way too many variables involved in a child's life that I think there will always be theories, and very few facts, when it comes to this kind of thing.

nathansethjones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nathansethjones said...

"Boys who display feminine traits early in childhood, like to play with dolls, and avoid rough sports are more likely to become homosexual in later life if their parents (particularly fathers) try to force them to 'be a man'...

Wait, they're more likely to BECOME homosexual? Hmm. I wonder what I could have done to avoid it? I guess I should've thrown more dolls against the wall or maybe tried to bite their faces off. If only I had known.

JTB said...

Perhaps some remedial play therapy is in order? Clare has a doll that can take the abuse...

Casey. said...

Maybe her buckle fascination is that of a burgeoning fashionista. She will soon move on to big belts and buckley shoes.