Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Raising Children

A little ways back, I made a comment to Buck about Jesse wanting to be a pilot being fascinated by all things that fly. Buck replied with something about considering the USAF. Here is my response: At one time, we considered a military career for Jes and the thought still rolls by us now and then. She would be great because she is a courageous and upright young lady (not to mention smart), but I have some thoughts on the subject that I will have to share with you some other time or place so as not to offend anyone.

Then a few days ago I read an interesting post at Requiem about raising his young daughter wanting her to be able to do anything that she wanted and being happy with whatever she chose in life, but there was also the implied questions “Do we raise girls differently than boys, and do we protect our daughters more than our sons.” I find the these questions to be thought provoking and since I have not offended anyone (that I know of) lately, I might go ahead and spout my thoughts on the subject of raising kids.

First of all, I think we do raise daughters differently than sons, subconsciously or not. And why not? They are different. As a public school teacher, I realized that all kids were different, all learned differently, and all were not equal. To be a good teacher, you had to know your students and meet their needs accordingly. It is the same with parenting. For those children who cry “She’s playing favorites!” get over it. Some kids are more needy than others. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them all.

My brother, Craig, is thirteen months older than I. Did our parents raise us differently. Yes - probably because we were very different, besides being male and female. Yet, they raised us almost like twins. We did almost everything together growing up, including wearing each others clothes (jeans and t-shirts). I was a tomboy. I could do anything Craig could do. I wanted to play with him and his friends. I loved playing sports and army. About the time we got into public school, he did not want to play with me if his guy friends were around, although, I often did, because his friends liked me. Craig did not want to play with “girls”. He didn’t like for me to wear fingernail polish or “girlie” stuff. Sometimes I met his requirements in order to play with him; sometimes I flaunted my feminine ways to aggravate him. I don’t think that was taught by our parents; I think Craig picked that up somewhere else, and it was an age thing. When he began to think my friends were cute, things changed. I became a little more useful to Craig.

My dad did expect more from Craig in school, sports, and protecting me. Dad did not think I was as smart as Craig until he had our IQ’s tested. Mine was a little higher than Craig’s, but still expectations for Craig were always higher than for me. Craig took honor classes and I did not. Dad went and visited Craig’s teachers when he did not think they were teaching well, but not mine. On some level, this bothered me, but not really. Like I said, I was a social creature who loved fun and friends. Craig loved school and learning and homework. There could have been a subconscious thought that being a girl, I would marry and be taken care of so I did not need the education that Craig did. I never asked my parents why they pushed Craig harder than they did me. I was just glad at the time that I did not have to take hard classes:)

I do remember the day that I realized that Craig was physically stronger than I was. We were about nine and ten years old. We had gotten into an argument (not unusual for us) and I hit Craig. He lost his temper and decked me with one punch. Hmm, the light bulb came on. I would never be able to physically overtake Craig and there was no point in trying. But using my intelligence, I could hurt him. I became the queen of paybacks. It is something I still struggle with and try to overcome.

As I look back on my growing up years, I know that I was just as smart as Craig, but some expectations were different. I played all sorts of sports and was just pretty darn good, after all, I had been hanging with my brothers all of my life, but Dad never thought my sports were as important as Craig’s athletic career. I wanted Dad to teach me to jump the high-hurdles. I wanted him to come to my games, but it just never occurred to him that it was important. On the other hand, my dad did not neglect me. I was a daddy’s girl. I went everywhere with him. He woke me up early on weekends to take me with him wherever he went - junk yards, jr. varsity football games, have coffee with the men, etc. Dad talked to me like I was special. We did things that he never did with his sons. Looking back, I think my brothers envied me those times. Did Dad mean to leave them out? No, but at the time, the boys were not interested in tagging along with Dad. I don’t think Dad made a conscious effort to leave them behind. He just used that time for me and other special times for them. It is just the way things go with parents of four kids.

How my parents raised us had a definite impact on how I raised my children, but I will stop for now and write more on that later. Eventually, I will explain Jesse's choices and probably offend someone.


Buck Pennington said...

Since I don't have girls, I can't comment on how parenting differs between the sexes. But your comments about the differences between siblings ring true. Especially siblings who have different moms. But we won't go there, coz I really could and probably WOULD offend someone!

Shelly said...

I also only have a boy so I can't really say how I would do on that subject. I do know that not only were my sister and brother treated different due to our sex but also our age... I think we are still paying the therapy bills for this..

catherine said...

I can't wait for tomorrow to hear about Jesse's decision! ....

I'm not sure if was a matter of age or what, but I think my brother got to do a heck of a lot more than I did! (though he may say differently!).

Dale said...

Lou, If you remember I was one of Craigs friends that used to join in on some of that fun! What a blast we used to have. I guess I just viewed it differently then you did, because I don't recall Craig ever not welcoming you to play, but of course he wasn't my big brother either. I do recall that your mom played a big role in evening things up. She was always the peace maker when things would get a little out of hand. Wow what a flash back moment! Thanks :-)

Bag Blog said...

Dale, Craig always let me know I was not wanted when he was playing with his friends. Sometimes Rhonda and I would ask if we could play, and the guys like you, Bob Whitecotton, Mark Wilson, or Phil Young, would say yes before Craig could over-ride the vote. It also bothered Craig if you or one of the guys stopped by my room to play with me. Craig was a little slow to be interested in girls - unlike some of you :)

Becky said...

I'm sure I will offend someone by saying this, but it is true. Boys and girls are different. Men and women are different. And not just in reproductive capacities. The way we think, experience life, express emotion is different.

Now, I'm all for equal pay for equal work, but one of the minuses of radical feminism is that society is slowly emascualting our little boys. Typical boy behavior is now labeled as a disorder, and the boy is drugged to supress these "bad" behaviors. Other typically boy behaviors are labeled as a propensity to voilence and the boy is put into phychological care to rid himself of these "evil" behaviors.

Girls on the other hand, are told that they must be like boys to be thought good enough. They must be aggressive, career minded, and fiercely independent. Women who want to stay home with their children are frowned upon, and called pathetic losers with no sense of self worth. Society insists that these girls be put into psychological care so that they can gain some self esteem.

The way I see it, we need to let boys be boys and let girls be girls, and we'll all be the better off for it.

Bag Blog said...

Becky, I agree. What you said is part of what I am trying to say.

Dale said...