Reader Mom to Boys writes:
I was wondering what your thoughts were on having a strong gender preference for your children? I have two beautiful boys ages 1 and 3 months. I have always wanted children and believe myself to be extremely blessed to have two healthy babies (it took us over a year to conceive our first so there was a time I wasn't even sure I would get to have children). They bring a lot of joy to my life.
However, I struggle with a lot of sadness over not having girls. I'm actually a bit of a tomboy myself so I'm not sure what the root of this gender preference is. I find myself thinking often about how my boys will be overwhelmingly active as they grow up rather than quietly playing with toys and doing artistic things. I feel like I won't be able to relate to them very well. One of my biggest fears is that they will grow up, leave home, and have a distant relationship with me.
I try to remind myself that each child is an individual and so much more than just a boy or girl but knowing this in my head doesn't really change my feelings of sadness and jealousy towards friends with girls. I fantasize about having a third child who is a girl but we're not even sure a third child makes sense for our family. I also know it wouldn't be fair to the child if I haven't gotten over my issues. Do you have any advice on how I can move on? I kind of feel like a monster for caring so much about something that can't be helped.
I empathize with you! I thought I wanted girls too! And then, you know what? They are so loud (yup, girls don't just sit around and braid each other's hair) and they fight all the time and they never EVER EVER STOP TALKING. Ever. Also, everything is a drama. They bump their toe and it's the cause for rumination for an hour. Pictured is my boy, who is straight forward, physical, and drama-free. Of course, he also tantrums and hits other kids at the pool if they don't share their super soakers.
My point is, everyone has a favorite child, often a different one at each moment, and sometimes the same one all the time. And some people like one gender better, even a gender of child that they don't have (of course, because if you had a girl you'd notice all the stuff I just mentioned that is... challenging.) So cut yourself some slack! Of course you fantasize about having a girl! Totally natural. But you know, you could have a loud girl that wanted to get messy all the time and moved across the country for college and never looked back. Then that would super suck, since you would have had all these high expectations for her. (Read my mom fantasies piece here for a laugh.)
So, look at it this way, if your boys bring home girlfriends/wives, you're going to be the best mother-in-law ever because you'll give them all your stopped-up yearning for a mother-daughter bond (assuming you can keep this in check and not show up on their doorsteps with bags of Pringles every Monday to make them watch The Bachelorette with you). And if you have a female grandchild, you can spoil her with baby dolls and tea parties. Another idea (although of course it's not the same as having your own daughter): can you hang out with other little girls somehow? Nieces? Cousins? Neighbors? They really aren't all quiet and artistic. And plenty of little boys ARE quiet and artistic.
It would also be interesting to examine your hopes and expectations in light of the family relationships you saw growing up. Are you especially close to your mom? Did you have brothers or male family members who were more distant? It's interesting because the "mama's boy" stereotype is so ubiquitous and so many women I see in counseling can't get over how their husband treats his mom like a canonized saint. So the whole "boy leaving home and being distant" thing is definitely not a certainty, unless you make yourself abhorrent to his wife.
I think once you stop berating yourself for being a "bad mom" and accept that your fantasies are just normal fantasies, then you can move past them and think about whether to have a third child with a clearer mind and heart. Or just enroll your boys in art and drama classes or something. Oh and incidentally, little boys express their love to their mommies way more openly than little girls, in my experience. The little girls are like, "Daddy, Daddy!" like Elvis just walked in. Little boys are all about the mom. Research also shows that having girls increases a couple's risk of divorce. Wow, this turned into a pretty anti-girl post. Possibly because it's being written while my girls bicker unceasingly at the tail end of a long weekend. However, I do love them.
Good luck and thanks for writing in. Leave this poster some love and support in the comments if you've ever struggled with wishing you had a different type of child, in any way. Till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Really, They Aren't Quiet.
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Pre-order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family.