Thursday, October 16, 2014

Girls Are So Hard!



I love having 3 girls.  Individually, collectively I love it.  The dynamic, their personalities, the fancy stuff, the girly-girlness of it all.  I feel like I won the lottery.

Of course, OF COURSE, it should go without saying that had my lasses been lads, I would have loved them just as much.  Boys are awesome too.  In general, I'm a fan of humans.

But here's the rub... I can't count the number of times people have said, Oh boy... just wait until they're teenagers.  You're in trouble!  or Yikes, girls... that's a lot of drama.  or Girls are just hard!  Or something of the like.

And lets take a step back to get a broader look.  Mean girls--it's a cultural thing.  And trust me, I know it's real.  There are definitely mean girls.  I had my fair share of drama with the queen bee's of middle school and I was not completely innocent of mean girl behavior myself from time to time.  And I know this goes far beyond middle school.  Mean girls are a real thing at every age.  But often we talk about "mean girls" and it seems that we are creating the issue just by talking about it.  Again I'm not saying mean girls don't exist--they do. At every age.  Check and check.  But have you ever been together with a group of women and heard something like, Well you know how women are to each other!  We're just so mean to each other.  Women love to tear other women down.  I have totally been in that conversation.  Yet when I step back I think... Actually my friends are pretty freaking awesome and treat me well.  My women friends lift me up, help me when I need help and cheer me on when I need cheering on.  Yes there are mean girls, but on the whole my experience with other women in my life is and has been positive.  Like way disproportionately in favor of positive female relationships.  So I feel like talking about it the way we do--like this is just how we are so get used to it--sabotages ourselves and reinforces a phenomenon as 'normal' that I see more as an outlier.

So back to my girls... I don't like being told how awful it's going to be, how much drama my girls are going to cause simply because they're GIRLS.  I grew up with quite a few brothers and let me tell you, boys can be drama too.  Boys can be mean to each other, boys can hold grudges and boys most certainly can bully.

Often the way we verbally frame things can shape the outcome.  For example, if my husband and I say things like, Oh just wait until you're a teenager...then you're really going to blah, blah, blah.  Or when one of our daughters is being dramatic and we throw up our hands and say, Girls! then it follows that whole self-fulfilling-prophesy thing and we've just told our daughters that we expect bad behavior and that it is normal simply because they  are females.   For those of you who've talked with me about feminism before, doesn't this all feel very anti-feminist?  Yikes.  Why are we teaching ourselves and each other that females are so bad, moody and mean?  Of course this doesn't just happen in the context of girls.  Another example of this framing idea is when people talk about "middle child syndrome."  I feel like this is one of those issues people tried to push on me as a kid (and now even Lamp gets it!).  Oh well of course you feel that way, you're the middle child!, and I was confused then and am still confused now.  I didn't have issues with being a middle child, but I do remember taking cues from the adults around me and acting the wounded middle child part from time to time.  I'm not suggesting that we don't discuss things that need to be discussed, but that we're careful with how we discuss it.

I'm not naive enough to think that positive verbal reinforcement is somehow going to solve all our future issues that can come with teenagers and the female psyche.  The truth is we may have drama in our house as the kids get older.  And I do believe that girls on the whole come with different issues than boys on the whole.  But they're not worse issues.  And I'm not going to talk to my children as if I expect this behavior and I'm certainly not expecting it simply because they're girls.  


What do you think--are women really more drama than men?  Do you feel like you have more positive female relationships or more negative female relationships?  Are there mean boys?  Can anyone else relate to the idea of being labeled a certain way and then acting out to fit the label?  I'm not in favor of complete gender neutrality--I do think boys and girls are fundamentally built differently.  I just feel like we come down hard on females for behavior that is more of a human problem than a female problem.  I'm sure this goes both ways--what are you mothers of boys warned about?  Discuss.  


*Art--Backstage by Michael Carson

15 comments:

  1. i have long felt this way about how we talk about teenagers in general. kids grow up hearing about how terrible the teenager years are and i think it can cause them to feel worse about themselves in an already emotional unsure time of life, as well as justify poor behavior/decisions simply because they are teenagers and, well, they're supposed to be brats. the teenage years can be so great - tons of creativity with hardly any responsibility to stifle it. kids are starting to gain some real intelligence and be able to interact with adults in really meaningful ways, and the world keeps telling them how awful they are. i hate it. i can't wait for my kids to be teenagers and my husband and i are really careful about how we talk about teens in our house for lots of the reasons you mentioned in your post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! In fact my grandma says that when she was growing up there wasn't all this talk about "teenagers." It wasn't a thing to expect teenagers to be these overly emotional people incapable of making rational decisions and controlling their emotions.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous10:56 AM

    I completely agree with you! I grew up in a family of 5 girls! And, we had a wonderful childhood. I don't think we were too much for my parents - it just wouldn't have been allowed. I have a son and a daughter who are college-age now. I used to dread the teenage years because everyone would tell me how difficult it was. But, I just didn't experience that with my children. Of course they had their moments (like we all do) but I can honestly say that I enjoyed those teenage years with them. Look forward to all the stages of their childhood. It goes too quickly! Lisa C.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So good to hear. In fact when I was writing this I was thinking about a few families I know with all girls--some just 2, others with 4 or more--and it seems like they got along great! Some really, really well. And thank you I do look forward to all the stages of their childhood. :)

      Delete
  3. Anonymous11:56 AM

    Yes, we are doing a disservice to girls and yes, girls due tend to be more dramatic. I see this in the work field a lot. Women need to step up and stop the passive aggressive comments, blog posts, etc... Our daughters learn from us and if we want better for them, then we need to be better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Angelica2:04 PM

    I have 5 grown daughters and I completely agree with everything you said. My girls have always gotten along well together AND had lots of friends, and if I added up all the time that they argued or weren't speaking to each other or they were catty or mean, it would only be a few hours in total. Over 30 years. My youngest daughter has Down's and it really brought all the girls together when she was born. Your girls will be no different. They already have a clear bond and a gift for being sisters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad to hear from another mother of girls on this...so great! I feel like my girls have a very gentle and loving relationship. Yes they argue--yelling occasionally--but they get along so well and are really the best of friends. I LOVE watching that unfold day after day. And maybe they won't always be tight during every season of growing up, but they will always have each other. Even now I tell them friends come and go, but sisters are forever.

      Delete
  5. People don't really comment on what stage I should dread with boys. They just give me a look of pity and say, "looks like you have your hands full" or "I'm sure they keep you busy"... Yes. Thanks. That's the truth for every parent, really.. whether you have 1 or 10.
    It is sad that strangers looking to strike up conversation say stuff that unknowingly, shape the way we, and our kids view gender and the teenage years. It was nice to read this post to get those attitudes or preconceptions out of my brain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As, miss you and those cute boys. :)

      Delete
  6. I think everything has its opposites. Good, evil; black, white, tall, short..... Same with our personalities or our "strengths". We have the capacity to use our strengths/personality/powers for the good that they can be or in negative ways/ their opposite.

    Remember in the 80's superman movie when Superman goes bad for a little bit and wrecks the bar....my memory is hazy, but he uses his good powers for evil.

    I think humans (women) are just like superman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep--for good or for evil. Personally I see and experience more good, so I'm tired of being told it's mostly evil.

      And the 80's Superman was my favorite by far. :)

      Delete
  7. Anonymous4:06 AM

    I agree with everything you wrote.
    My two cents: the "girls are drama" and "women are mean to each others" narrative is untrue, unfair and doubtless sexist.
    I have more positive than negative female relationships and I grew up with brothers too, so I known first hand that, as you wrote, boys can be drama, can be mean to each other, can bully and definitely can hold grudges!!!
    As a single adult woman I'm grateful to have in my brothers some trusty men to rely on, but as child and a teenager I longed for the relationship that my female friends had with their sisters.
    Liseli

    ReplyDelete
  8. I grew up in a family that had three girls and one boy. I'm very close with one of my sisters. I'm also a middle child. I didn't grow up with the middle child syndrome. My oldest sister was very independent and really enjoyed doing her own thing. My younger sister and I were inseparable. We played hard, loved hard and at times fought hard. We were close to our brother, but we liked to do girly things. Him, not so much. As siblings do, we had our great moments and a few not so great. Not because we were one gender or another but simply because we were human. Humans with human strengths and weakness. My parents treated us equally with no more or less expectations because of our gender.

    I have three sons and my daughter was last. There is a pretty big space between my boys and my girl. I LOVE having boys and I LOVE having a girl. Of course there are differences between all my children. Do I think that my daughter is more dramatic or mean etc. than my boys? I think it's personality based. I've seen them all at one time or another be: happy, sad, loving, grumpy, dramatic, kind etc. I don't have a gender preference. I don't think one gender is easier than another. What I got tired of being asked " don't you want a girl? I hope you have a girl? Oh no, what if you have another boy"? That got really old. If I had had another boy then life would have been just as great. Having had all one gender for so long before my daughter was born didn't make me think that boys were better than girls or vise versa. Was I over the moon about having a girl? Heck yes! Would I have been over the moon about a boy? Heck yes! I love what The Lord sent me. I hope my husband and I have taught them to love unconditionally and to place value on a soul and not a gender. ( I to believe that boys and girls have inherently different issues. I don't believe that one is better to deal with than the other)! I have a great group of friends. We don't have much drama. :) I adore teenagers. They are our bright future and we would do well to love them unconditionally.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ironically, as the mom of five boys, people are telling me the exact same thing they're telling you: "You're lucky--girls are SO dramatic and HARD!" And I'm thinking I have always desperately wanted a girl and I AM a girl and I don't think I was incredibly hard! (I know I was overly dramatic as a kid, but I never had the impression it was exhausting or terrible for my mom--and we got along great when I was a teen!) Also, my boys are incredibly LOUD and active and busy and messy and they are HARD! Sometimes they're overly-emotional, petty, and downright mean to each other. But, they're also sweet and smart and funny and we love them anyway. My favorite was the other day waiting in the checkout line (I seem to get most comments on my family while waiting in check-out lines) a little tiny woman who was probably 85 struck up a conversation with me. When she discovered I had five boys she said. "Well aren't you blessed! God made you the way you are so you could raise those boys!" I loved it. What a sweetheart!
    Here's to more positivity and less negativity!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for this! Thank you. I get so tired of hearing about the differences between boys and girls. The fact is, of course differences exist, but differences exist in all people, and there are far more similarities than differences. If you are lucky enough to be a parent, your day to day life will look remarkably similar: potty training, homework, best friends, broken hearts. All kids are hard in some ways, and whether you have boys or girls, you're going to deal with drama, hormones, mean kids, etc.

    ReplyDelete