Real Life. Real News. Real Voices.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.
Join HuffPost Plus
Parents

Respect Women. Early.

If there’s one thing that’s going well in 2017, it’s the continued push for respect and equality for women. I live in the Bay Area where the community is especially loud, but honestly, there’s still a deep, man-made chasm that separates us.

In fact, even in the Bay Area, male and female feminists alike fall victim to a subtle notion that makes me cringe.

In a nutshell…

You’re lucky you have a little girl.

Let me explain.

I have a 4 year old girl and I’m at that age where people all around me have kids.

And for the last 4 years, there hasn’t been a day where my wife and I don’t sit on the sidelines and rattle things off like…

  • She cracks me up
  • She learned a new thing
  • She cleaned up her mess
  • She hit that dab
  • She’s trying so hard
  • She’s beautiful
  • We’re blessed

Is everything flowers & rosebuds? Of course not.

We also go through things like…

  • Were we patient enough?
  • Were we too tough?
  • Was I too tough?
  • Are we doing enough?
  • Next time I’ll…
  • What do the books say?

It almost feels like we’re having daily retrospectives in our kitchen. That said, I’m sure this is common practice — I assume all our friends do this.

Herein lies the problem.

I hear stories from parents with sons. And more often than not, they start the conversation by bucketing their child into one of two groups.

The good group:

Oh. Johnny? He’s a good kid.

The…not-so-good group:

Oh. Johnny? Well...girls are easier.

Similarly,

Oh. Johnny? Let’s just say… you’re lucky you have a girl.

At first, I didn’t think anything of it. But after the last couple of years, it has really started to get to me. They’re not saying, “You’re lucky you have a child that happens to be a girl.”

What they’re really saying is, “You’re about to hear some problems that you don’t have with your daughter. Know why? It’s because you have a girl.”

Sadly, dads aren’t the only ones bringing this up; moms are saying this too.

My thoughts.

When you describe your son based on the luck of me having a daughter, you’re effectively not acknowledging…

  1. Your son’s strong points
  2. That every child is different
  3. That children grow at their own pace
  4. Where your son could use a little more help
  5. How you could offer that help
  6. That there are parents with sons that don’t have the same “problems”

You’re also not acknowledging…

  1. My daughter’s strong points
  2. That my daughter is her own person
  3. That she’s growing at her own [amazing] pace
  4. That my wife and I are constantly trying our best
  5. That half the time she doesn’t accept our help, she pushes through on her own
  6. That being a “good girl” isn’t something that comes for free. There’s a lot of hard work behind the scenes

When you discount the worth of a child at this age, you risk discounting them when they’re older. You begin to accept Locker Room talk because, boys will be boys. You start to accept women getting paid less. After all, they don’t have to try hard to do great things, right?

You start to believe that men can get away with anything, and that women should be rewarded nothing.

You’re not alone.

If you’ve used this line before, don’t feel bad. After all, it’s a common saying at this point. But with every “You’re lucky you have a girl” sigh, you’re subconsciously spreading this notion that boys should be given a curve, and that girls have it easy.

This isn’t true. And please — don’t try to use science to make you feel better. It’s a very slippery slope. :)

Oh. And one more thing. I want to set the record straight.

You’re damn right! I am lucky to have a girl.

She’s overcome tantrums and tough lessons. She’ll go on to overcome challenges, stereotypes, and obstacles. And she’ll do this not because it comes easy for her gender, but because of her own spirit, grit, and determination. She won’t do this because she’s a woman…

She’ll do this while being a woman.