Sugar, spice, and everything nice. Snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails. At a young age, kids are told repeatedly that boys and girls are polar opposites. A whole different species even. Parents overall want their children to live long, happy lives. But they all expect different things from their children as they go along the path of life. This is especially true when it comes to the gender of each child. Parents want their sons to be adventurous and rich. Parents want their daughters to marry well and have plenty of kids. Almost all women can recall a time when their mothers told them they “want grandkids”. As society pushes more principles onto the youth, parents develop stereotypical standards for both genders.
Parents as a whole are concerned with the academics of their children, but it seems that they’re a little more concerned with their sons’ rather than their daughters’. In the New York Times article, “Google, Tell Me. Is My Son a Genius?” by Seth Stephens- Davidowitz, talks about the prejudiced opinions parents have against their own children such as their appearance and intellect. “Parents are two and a half times more likely to ask ‘Is my son gifted’ than ‘Is my daughter gifted’ Parents show a similar bias when using phrases related to intelligence that they may shy away from saying aloud, like ‘Is my son a genius?’” (Stephens- Davidowitz par. 3). Parents are more inclined to be interested in their sons’ academics rather than their daughters even though girls actually show signs of intelligence at a younger age by doing things like using lengthy, fluent sentences. But parents are too concerned Googling whether or not Timmy is gifted even though he’s trying to eat a wooden square peg. Girls also are smarter in general. “In American schools, girls are 11 percent more likely than boys to be in gifted programs.” (Stephens- Davidowitz par. 4). Although women as a whole are smarter, people refuse to admit it and insist that men as “superior” beings are just smarter because why not? In the Newsweek article, “Why Parents May Cause Gender Differences” by Sharon Begley, she talks about the different standards parents uphold their kids on. “And the belief fuels the drive for single-sex schools, which is based in part on the false claim that boy brains and girl brains process sensory information and think differently.” (Begley par. 6). The male and female brains are actually, practically identical to each other. There are no outstanding differences between the two, it’s just simply a brain. Simple as that. Yet people thinks that kids think differently because of their sex, when that’s not at all true. The true reason they think differently is because they are all entirely different people and it’s based upon their personality rather than their genitalia. In the Miami Herald, “Beyond the Classroom: Should parents treat their sons and daughters differently?” by Laurie Futterman, she speaks of the blatantly different standards parents have for their different gendered kid. As a mother herself, she even admits that she expected all of them to be good, but wanted more from her girls (Futterman par. 5). Though women aren’t expected to be smart and hardworking, and aren’t supposed to amount to much, they’re still expected to be perfect nonetheless.
So if parents are concerned about the academics of their sons, does that mean they’re not concerned about their daughters? No, but they’re more concerned with something else. “Parents are one and a half times more likely to ask whether their daughter is beautiful than whether their son is. But they are nearly three times more likely to ask whether their daughter is ugly than whether their son is ugly.” (Stephens- Davidowitz par. 8). Parents want their sons to be scholars, whether they’re handsome or not, but they expect their daughters to look pretty on the outside. Parents are also more likely to be concerned if their daughters are overweight rather than their sons even though there are more overweight men than women. (Stephens- Davidowitz par. 6). Pretty much, parents care about how academically intelligent their sons are and how pretty and thin their daughters are.
At a young age, everyone is all brain washed into these terrible stereotypical categories. All children are forced to conform into one cookie cutter shape, even as babies. If anything, especially then. “But as Eliot points out, 6- and 12-month-olds of both sexes prefer dolls to trucks, according to a host of studies.” (Begley par. 5). Even though they are literally pieces of plastic, kids still have to play with different types because certain toys seem too “girly” or too “masculine” all because of colors and what it is. Why can’t kids simply play with their Legos and Barbie regardless of what sex they are? Why do they have to play with certain ones because of what aisle the toy was in? Why are all things assigned a gender if it honestly doesn’t even matter?
Though there may be plenty of articles that may claim that parents are not at all biased about their children, most of the studies they may pick are cherry picked and may not actually have enough research behind them to truly be accurate (Begley par. 3). “‘Kids rise or fall according to what we believe about them,’ she notes.” (Begley par. 6) Parents and other figures in the lives of young, impressionable children are the ones who truly limit their full potential. They are expected to do different things with their life. Parents have “Think outside the box, but stay inside the circle” mentalities. They all want their children to achieve greatness in their life. That’s what everyone wants for their children, they wouldn’t purposely make the lives of their own offspring horrible, but they do have sets of requirements that those children have to reach for them to truly be proud of them.
This may seem like this is all a bunch of phony baloney, but it’s all very much true. “According to Kate Hilpern of the Independent, 88% of moms admitted that they treated their sons and daughters differently, despite thinking that this was wrong. And on top of that, mothers are twice as likely to be more critical of their daughters than their sons.” (Futterman par. 6). As much as everyone may deny it, parents have different expectations, the numbers show it. Parents expect their daughter to stay in line and let their sons to just go out and do goodness knows what. “Moms tend to ‘type’ their children according to gender. Boys are referred to as funny, playful and loving, while girls are viewed as argumentative, manipulative and serious.” (Futterman par. 12). Has anyone even thought to stop and think that women are protracted as “manipulative” and “serious” because it’s their way of trying to get freedom from the cage society puts them in? Society puts women on such a short leash and then complain when they try to pull away? “And one in five moms of sons and daughters admit to letting their sons get away with more — turning a blind eye to a behavior in boys for which they would reprimand girls.” (Futterman par. 12). In the world all humans live in- a world that has flown to the moon and attempted to grow plants in space- people are still prejudice and unjust. They are letting about 50% of the population get away with anything they so choose, and then blame the other 50%. “If a dad doesn’t approve of emotional displays in his sons, siblings might call him a wimp if and when he does. Dad’s disapproval makes the teasing seem OK.” (Futterman par. 23) Treating kids with stereotypical gender stereotypes at a young age can and will have long lasting long term effects. This is the reasons why men think it’s so bad to show emotion. This is why men think it’s so terrible to cry. This is why men think it’s so terrible or be weak and vulnerable. And it’s not just the guys being affected. “Girls tend to carry parental disapproval into adulthood and are more self-critical than men, who often have a more relaxed attitude when it comes to making mistakes and moving past them. Boys often grow up thinking that they somehow deserve more freedom than women, and that women need to be taken care of.” (Futterman par. 24). Again, another example of long lasting effects. The way parents treat and teach their kids will permanently change their perspective. This is harmful to women and is exactly why sexism is still is a problem. The pending question is “How is this able to be fixed?” Simple. “We should teach our daughters that trucks, trains, and fire engines are pretty cool; boys are not dumb; no one is allowed to hit them ever; they can be political and business leaders; math, engineering, science and information technology are great careers; no one should ever tell them to cover up or strip down; they can say no. And we should teach our sons that: it is good to express your emotions; it is OK to like flowers and sunsets; girls are not sissies; violence is not an acceptable way to resolve disputes; women and girls are people, not objects; they can be stay at home dads; they should always respect no.” (Futterman par. 27). That’s simple life lessons everyone should know. No one is above someone else’s needs and they don’t get to determine other people’s lives. They must treat everyone with dignity and respect. Simple as that.
All in all, parents do treat their kids differently. Daughters are coddled and smothered. Sons are played with and tossed up in the air. Though most people may not notice it, they do have different expectations for males and females. Unfortunately children will probably have to live with these labels for years until someone or something stops this unjust treatment.