The gist of the conversation was that the Moms of boys mention all the things their boys do, but Mom of girls see their kids do this too. Then there were some who had both genders in their home, and said their daughters did some "boyish" things their boys never considered and visa versa.
We circled this round and round. Mom's of boys said "well what's wrong with saying "you can NEVER understand?'
Mom's of girls said, "We feel invalidated, we're not trying to compete- for goodness sake it's not a competition! But if we deal with __________ to day after day, week after week too- it can't just be a 'boy' thing. Yes they are girls...but they are all different kids... why are our struggles discounted because our kids are girls??"
So if girls do it to is it gender specific? If boys are into it as well, what does it mean? Is it nature? Is it nurture?
Both "sides", if you will, had one thing in common: The Mom's all felt strongly that their children never be shamed for being who they are. It wasn't their personal "nurturing" or encouragement- it was an organic interest or trait of their child. There were a lot of things I hadn't experienced (that both genders dealt with)- I mean I only have three children myself. There are things I don't understand. But I can respect that I don't have a child with those interests and I don't know what I would do if I did. What stood out was that my kids are not their kids: I can make no judgement.
We circled around and around, there were some big feelings on both sides. No one wants their baby put in a box or to feel "put down" (though this is an awesome group of women, and everyone tried to word their comments compassionately and carefully.)
One interesting thing that came out of the conversation, and it's some thing I want to explore, is that there is a different energy type that can be generally differentiated between genders. Boys have a different energy from girls. They have a different *feel* from girls. I can whole heartedly agree with this. There are still exceptions, I have met a few, but this is a general rule I can get behind.
Boys do bring a different energy to the table. It isn't louder/bigger/better from the female energy... it's just different! And it explains beautifully some thing I couldn't express.
It's not that boys are automatically rougher, louder, tougher than girls. Or that girls are automatically more dramatic, quieter, softer than boys... it's a feeling when you hold them in your arms, different in each boy - but a sameness too. That touch of testosterone mixed in with the uniqueness that makes each precious person.
Apart from that though? So much does come down to the unique personality. There is not a single thing that you can point at a child and say "girls/boys don't/can't do ________" because for every rule there are exceptions.
I think what I feel most strongly about in raising my daughters is that they not ever be put in a box. This digging through gender differences is not "sour grapes" because I don't and may never have a son. It's not because I feel I am missing some thing (believe me, so in over my head with the three I have the last thing I want is to add any one else right now!). It is that that my beautiful amazing daughter. My strong alpha-type Friendly Girl never be shamed for the leadership skills, power, noise and push God put in her. There is a stigma about rough girls, especially in Christian circles. She's dynamite and if I survive parenting her through the next 15ish years I am going to see her shake the freaking WORLD.
It's not about the fact that my girls love dirt, or hate to feel it under their nails... it's not the wrestling or the abhorrence of it. It's not the loudness or the sweet quiet tea parties. It's not the colors they like or the activities they enjoy. How they play, interact with others, or their math/reading/social skills (or lack there of).
Let's look at THEM. Let's see people for their unique qualities and gifts!
It's articles LIKE THIS (!!!!!! I could write a blog post ranting there- my point exactly!!) that are such a huge part of the problem.
It isn't fair to say each gender is the same from birth to adulthood. Or that they will face the same challenges all the way up. Because culture and society alone say it isn't. Add in the different feel and qualities and challenges each gender faces: we known that is far from true. There are going to be different challenges- some standing out more starkly than others, depending on the individual.
But I feel strongly that we sully the beauty of the image of God that He wrote into each of us, that we feed the curse itself ("and your desire will be for your husband...but he shall rule over you" Genesis 3:16 that's the CURSE. Which is the old, and not the New I will add more links on this later).
That we degrade the beauty He wrote into His creation when we make a list and say "_________ is what each gender is and does. _______ are their struggles."
That we hurt people with in the church who don't fit into the boxes. We deeply wound young men who are have soft and quiet spirts, who called to nurture and serve with grace and who aren't "wild at heart". We hurt and smother women who are are called to be mighty and powerful leaders...Bringing THEIR amazing and unique energy to the body of Christ. Women who have a God given boldness and strength and a voice that could shake the world for His kingdom.
Because each person is a PERSON, and their calling, skills, and gifts are as unique as the line on their finger tips.
We also waste precious energy when we compare genders against each other, when we say "you can never understand". Yes, I cannot understand what it might like to have boys... I don't have twins either, I can't understand that. But I have had two...three children close together. Is it the same? No. But until last month I had not slept through the night more than 3 or 4 times in SIX years. Most of those years I have had multiple children night waking many nights of the week. I can empathize.
Why does it matter if I "can never understand"? Honestly? I feel that that's a rude and inflammatory statement. It does not speak of grace and "reasoning together" in love (which especially when it is followers of Jesus talking, it should). It doesn't bring any thing edifying to the table.
Do you want a gold star? (sorry, not being snaky, just wondering).
I'd give you one if that would make you feel better. But believe me, I see you struggling. I've struggled to. I struggle a lot these days. Is it the exact same? No! We have different kids, different families, and different struggles. And it sucks to struggle. It sucks to be in over your head. Parenting is HARD work. And it sucks to feel like a failure, or to even (in those dark ugly hours) hate your children-even if it's ever so briefly. To hate yourself or how you're dealing with your situation.
I don't know what it's like to have twins, or boys, or your special needs child. I am not you, walking in your shoes. But I can understand in my own way- and I'm here to listen. Honestly, let's be there for each other.
I'm sorry you're having a hard time. If you feel lonely, out numbered, or scared for the future, know you are certainly not alone. And if it helps you to talk to others, do it. But let's not exclude or use "nevers" or language that doesn't help. Because no one is the exact same, and mother's of amazing and mighty girls have some thing to offer you too.
We're all facing our challenges as best we can.
Let's hug it out.