I used to read Erma Bombeck’s columns in my mom’s Good Housekeeping magazines when I was a girl. (Please don’t look up the years.) I loved her hilarious tales of motherhood. So, I quickly handed over two quarters when I ran across a hardcover copy of her book, Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession , at my library’s used-book sale. When I got home, I started scanning through the chapter titles, and one in particular caught my eye: “Who Are Harder to Raise—Boys or Girls?” I’ve often pondered that question myself as the mother of four sons and no daughters. When I walk into my kids’ classroom and see the little girls sitting daintily at the table coloring, while the boys are off in the corner throwing blocks at each other, I have to answer that question with “boys.” When we come out of summer camp, and I pass three little girls walking nicely with their mother to the car while my twin boys are racing each other through the parking lot, I definitely have to answer “boys.” So, imagine my shock when my beloved humorist failed to agree with me. Here’s what she wrote:
“If you want to stir up a hornet’s nest, just ask mothers, ‘Who are harder to raise—boys or girls?’ The answer will depend on whether they’re raising boys or girls. I’ve had both, so I’ll settle the argument once and for all. It’s girls.” What??? However, here is what she cited as the “benefits” of boys:
“With boys you always know where you stand. Right in the path of a hurricane. It’s all there. The fruit flies hovering over their waste can, the hamster trying to escape to cleaner air, the bedrooms decorated in Early Bus Station Restroom.” And that’s a good thing? There’s more:
“I knew of [a] mother who said, ‘Boys are honest. Whenever you yell upstairs, “What’s all that thumping about?” you get an up front reply, “Joey threw the cat down the clothes chute. It was cool.”’” So it’s okay to throw the cat down the chute as long as they’re honest about it??? I don’t know . . . I’m just not convinced yet that boys are easier.
In an About.com poll of 533 parents, however, 40% said boys are easier to raise, 34% said girls, and 24% were undecided. Again, a little too close to convince me . . .
Of course, we can’t paint all kids with the same brush based on their gender. Certainly, there are girls who are well-behaved and those who are wild. And the same goes for boys. According to Renee Bacher in her article, “Who’s Easier: Boys or Girls?” ( American Baby magazine, May 2004), “The key to successful parenting, whatever your child’s gender, is to figure out what makes him tick and how to make his personality work with your own. . . . [W]hether you’re raising a male or female, there’s always more than enough difficulty to go around. So every parent should look for the joy buried in the tough stuff and run with it.” So, that’s my plan . . .
Now when my sons smear paint all over the table, I’ll joyously proclaim, “Look how creative they are!” And when they climb on top of the car and jump off in their best imitation of Superman, I’ll rejoice, “My sons are so brave!” And when they smash my brand-new Tiffany lamp that I saved for months to purchase, “I’ll . . . I’ll . . .” okay, that one would be hard to forgive. But I do agree that a good sense of humor—and a lot of prayer—can go a long way in successfully raising boys. And, yes, girls, too.