As a parent, are there things you do differently if you have both boys & girls, rather than if you just had children of the same sex?
I grew up with only sisters, though my family was very modest and silent in the areas of personal issues, including body changes and sexuality, I never gave much thought how that might influence the dynamic of a home.
When we had our own family, the three oldest being boys and then the youngest being a girl, I started to realize a shift in my thinking. I had concerns I don’t believe I would have had if I didn’t have mixed genders. I had also read in the early 2000s, James Dobsons “Bringing Up Boys”, and one thing he talked about in there, that has never left me and has heavily influenced me, was how he would never recommend a teenage boy to babysit, nor would he ever allow his own teenage son to be put in a position to babysit. His reasoning was that teenage boys have testosterone raging through their bodies, and though they may never go in with the intention to do something wrong (e.g. molesting), if the opportunity presented itself, temptation may overtake them. He wanted to protect them from that temptation, and that potential life altering and damaging situation. Right or wrong, I have done all I can to protect my own children from being harmed or harming others.
Some ways I believe I parent different because of having mixed gender children:
- I had to start thinking about how they ran around dressed or undressed in the house…i,e naked after a bath, sleeping in underwear, etc.
- I was leery of my daughter innocently slipping in bed with a brother when she was scared and couldn’t sleep.
- I was leery of them sharing a bed when we traveled…we often used sleeping bags that gave them their own sleeping space and covering.
- I had to be more conscientious of how my developing daughter was dressing because of her teen brothers.
- I don’t like them having friends over, and especially no sleepovers, because 1) I don’t want false accusations brought against a son (I wouldn’t put it past some of neighborhood girls), 2) I don’t want to even place them in a place of temptation to do something they shouldn’t, 3) I don’t want my daughter to be placed in a vulnerable place of being used or abused by an older boy.
Have you noticed any differences in your parenting? What are some freedoms you may have with children of all the same sex?
That just makes me rage, the notion that teenage boys (or men for that matter) would even CONSIDER molestation just because they have testosterone coursing through their bodies. I was molested as a young child and have had men leching at me throughout my life time so i know what i’m talking about.
Thankfully i’m married to a wonderful man and my sex life is also wonderful (although i had to work hard at overcoming a lot of issues because of the abuse). I admit i’m often in a quandary about how sex is at the top of a mans needs and that a good Christian marriage should acknowledge and support that–which yes, we’ve actually needed to have a paradigm shift in that regard but that there also is a HUGE problem with incest, molestation and rape. It’s something i just don’t understand.
Sorry that probably doesn’t answer your question at all, i do see a need to do what the Scriptures say and that is to carefully control ones sexuality and keep it within boundaries.
Parents have every right to protect their children, so I understand where you are coming from, SC. However, I think Dobson takes it way too far. His ideas remind me of the whole ‘boys will be boys’ attitude. Feeding into the mindset that boys can’t control themselves is just a way to excuse bad behavior, in my opinion. With his line of thinking, it would mean that brothers and sisters should never be alone in the same house, which I find absurd.
To answer your question, I think that the differences in parenting in our household were more about birth order and personalities than about different genders. My kids knew to shut the door when they got dressed, used the bathroom, etc., but I don’t think that would have been any different than if all were the same gender. Some of my kids’ fondest memories were of their ‘sleepovers’ where they all slept in one room with sleeping bags. I honestly never worried about it, but maybe it was because my daughters were the older siblings. And being a SAHM, I always encouraged my kids to have friends over so that I could get to know them.
It sounds like you have made some very wise choices on this front, SeekingChange! I only have a daughter, so some of the things you mentioned never occurred to me. My daughter definitely has some freedoms your daughter doesn’t. She runs naked between her bedroom and the bathroom (a very short span, but still), although she always gives us warning so DH especially can make himself scarce. She leaves bra and underwear laundry wherever, unconcerned about a brother playing with it. She talks freely about her periods (actually enjoys embarrassing Daddy; sometimes she waits til he’s trapped in the car and asks him questions he finds incredibly awkward just to see him squirm.) We have a very playful household and she is intellectually advanced and mature for her age, so we have tried to just make all sexual topics matter-of-fact and fun (or at least not deadly serious) so that she will always feel, if not totally comfortable, at least not UN-comfortable talking with us about anything. If there were boy children around, we probably would have had to do that a little differently.
We are fortunate that she was able to play with some neighbor boys as a young child and they took care of some of the natural curiosity that is normally addressed in a mixed sibling family. One day they all peed outside together. I was glad; this way she knew early on “how the other half lives” so to speak, and wouldn’t have to wonder (and possibly try to find out.) And now as a young teen, we allow her friend group to gather at our house regularly so she is starting to get the idea about hiding her bras, etc. too. (Nothing like knowing friends-who-are-boys are coming over to make a girl want to make sure her new box of tampons are stowed away!)
As parents, we had only boys. Morality was modeled and required. We never had issues with dress relative to modesty. We never had issues with even those that they dated over the course of more than twenty years until one day. There was a gal, a date, a guest who dressed to slice bread (Pr. 6:26). She wore a bikini and though I did not see it, the DW tells me it was in poor taste. It upset the youngest who would not go swimming that particular day. My wife had a talk with her and, well it did was not accepted well at all.
In some ways, girls are more difficult than boys.
@SongOfAngels, I understand where you are coming from. I also realize that we are sinful humans, and boys/teens, even if they know Jesus, may not have matured enough in their walk to exercise self-control to the same extent as a more mature believer. I see my own rules, that I have in place for my childrens proctection, much like how the New Testament describes the Law…it’s there as a tutor, as a guard, until they actually move from child-thinking to man-thinking. (Which there are many grown men who still have child-thinking.)
I can’t say how I’d parent differently if I had all one gender. We are just getting to the point where we are starting to think about this as our oldest three children are all pretty close in age and when they were younger it didn’t really matter. I am working on getting everyone to close the door when they are in the bathroom (my three year old is still learning that he can’t just drop his pants and pee when we are out and about like he can in the backyard lol) or getting dressed but modesty is a work in progress around here. They do have “sleepovers” in each others rooms and it’s something we are not concerned about. Obviously it won’t last forever and will be phased out as they get older. I do want them to have friends over, because I am there and can supervise, I think that’s a good way for them to have the opportunity to play where I know they are safe, any kids that sleepover are kids we already know very well as a family not just neighborhood kids. We are very selective about where they go to play without us and or spend the night, it does happen but with a select few.
Good question. I only have a toddler daughter and I let her see me naked and even shower w her. I might feel differently around a son? I’m not sure like maybe I’d try to be covered more at least private areas. I dont have a son yet so i havent thought about it much
I had three boys who were post HS (then 17-24) and out of the house and DW brought two teen/preteen daughters (then 11-14) into the house. I’m always aware of my dress or lack thereof, so walking around in my underwear is off the table unless they’re at school and I try to wear a shirt around the house if they’re home. DW on the other hand, can easily walk around any way she wants, though it’s typically a robe if she’s in a state of undress (although I’ll NEVER complain if she wants to be in a complete state of undress!) 😀
I have to remind or inform DW that some of their clothes seem a little small and/or need more coverage. It can be awkward, especially since I’m not their bio dad but as I tell DW, I’ve heard it all and this is how guys typically think.
Hormones…periods where not a part of the household for over 10 years so it’s been quite a shock to the system to have multiple females with cycles. One will argue while being COMPLETELY dead WRONG just for the sake of doing so. “The sky is blue. NO, IT’S NOT. IT’S YELLOW. HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?” (That one doesn’t say the last part but they might just as well.) The eye rolls? If looks could kill, I would’ve been dead a long time ago!
The girls didn’t know how to play rough or dirty. The boys? The competition is fierce. No one wanted to lose. Last man standing wins and it’s everyone for themselves so good luck. There were a few tears shed by the girls when they were messing around together until they figured out how to “fight back”, that anything goes, all’s fair in love and war, and that boys like to play rough so be ready. Then I had to remind the boys that they also need to treat the girls with respect and gentleness sometimes too.
Oh…and the girls discovered that boys will play “ball tag” just to mess with each other. Wanna talk about sex? I don’t mind but it’s just a little awkward sometimes. The youngest has asked some pretty interesting questions over the years that have led to a lot of laughter…and my youngest (closest to their age) gave them a “sex education” talk, answering any questions they had since they were now in public school (vs homeschooling up till then) in our presence with our permission while on a family-bonding vacation together with the entire gang. Hilarious!