Raising boys and girls together is like playing two different sports, with different equipment and different rules, at the same time. Their bodies are different, how they think is different, and how they respond to situations is different. And since boys and girls are different, how we parent them should be different.
We all should have a standard of rules and structure in our homes, but we also should respect the differences between boys and girls. There are always exceptions and some things are rooted more in personality than in gender, but generally speaking, here are 3 major differences between boys and girls and why it matters.
Boys: For many boys, discipline may mean you need to be direct with your words. You must watch what you say so as not to demean or belittle. And you must be clear and make sure they fully understand what you are saying. If you find yourself getting frustrated with them for not listening, have them repeat back what you said.
Girls: For girls, discipline is more about how you say something than what you say. The emotions you present with your words are sometimes all they feel. For dads, you must balance your emotions within the truth to discipline in a healthy way.
Why it matters: Understanding the subtle differences lets you know it’s OK to discipline differently. Give yourself grace. Stop worrying about being “fair” and be more concerned with actually training and teaching through discipline instead of punishing and shaming.
Boys: When it comes to encouragement for boys, they are longing to hear that Dad approves. When you see it, say it. Do not hesitate to let him know you are proud of him, not just because he did something great but because he is your son.
Girls: Trust is a big deal for most girls. When you encourage them, you can’t just say it once; you must say it again and again until they know it’s true. Don’t just blow smoke. Be genuine with your encouragement.
Why it matters: One of the easiest ways to build character in your child is through encouragement. Encouragement from Dad is very important. When you understand the type of encouragement they need, you can inspire and equip them.
Boys: Boys are motivated by testing the world around them. They want to test their strength by fighting, test their courage by climbing higher on the tree, and test boundaries by seeing what they can get away with. They are driven by competition and achievement.
Girls: Girls are motivated by relationships. They want to be seen and wanted, they want to do things with others, and they want to draw out the beauty around them. They are trying to figure out who and what they can and can’t trust.
Why it matters: Understanding that boys are motivated by achievement and girls are motivated by relationships can help you understand why they act a certain way in different situations. For boys, try to inspire them by pushing them in new ways. For girls, try to spend quality time with them and encourage them to pursue healthy relationships.
Sound off: What other differences have you found and why do they matter?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some (nonphysical) differences between boys and girls?”