Difference Between Raising a Son and a Daughter in Singapore
Growing up in the generation that straddles between traditional values and modern mentality, I find that this is the era of great change and confusion. Gone are the days when you can have Toys for Boys in a department store without offending the sensitivities of some left-wing mothers, though such extreme gender issues seem to be pronounced in the West than it is here in Singapore.
The difference in gender issues has been a soaring point especially in the last decade. With increasing feminist empowerment and the push towards gender neutrality, I wanted to find out how has that impacted Asian, and more specifically, the Singaporean mindset of raising children.
So off I go to my trusted group of opinionated friends who are parents of very young children. And coincidentally, one of them was celebrating her daughter’s first year birthday. I am tempted to buy her daughter a G.I. Joe action figure and hide behind the cover of Gender Neutrality when she throws it back in my general direction; but discretion is the better part of valour.
In the midst of some inane discussion about preferred baby products and post-natal advice, I slid in the topic of my research.
“Hey, so – what’s the big difference between raising a son and a daughter, huh?”
Moment of silence as everyone started thinking of politically correct ways to present their ideas. You can see it in the faces and the subtle facial tics.
“We can doll our daughters up,” offered Felicia, mother of two daughters, ages 5 and 2. To which her husband, whose name I don’t recall, followed up with, “and not to mention, much costlier too.”
Others chimed in on their observations too but Sharon’s comment got everyone thinking deeper. “The difference is that boys seek dominance and control while girls tend to seek out emotional connection. Which often led mei mei getting bullied by her elder brother.”
“Yeah but if not kept in check, he is growing to go up to be a jerk,” Felicia said.
Tips poured freely from the mothers on how they would like to raise their sons. Some of the popular suggestions are traits like having respect for others, accepting rejections, and taking responsibility; which no one disagreed with. Then there are some eye-brow raising suggestions like teaching sons that it is okay to cry and to be more in touch with their emotional side.
The latter category was responded with unanimous uproar from the fathers at the table: No son of mine is going to be a cry baby, I ain’t raising a sissy, and he needs to learn to walk it off are the three prominent retorts.
“But what about daughters?” I asked. “What if you had daughters? Would you inculcate in them the same values or different?”
The group acknowledged that the values that they suggested for their sons were good for the daughters too but they weren’t as pressing. This time the respond was more consensual with both fathers and mothers agreeing that they want their daughters to grow up to be independent and free from limitations; to be more resilient against society’s harsh expectations of them.
Hilarity ensues when the discussion got to the topic of dating and adolescent issues. Fathers seem hesitant to let their daughters start dating below the average age of 35 and many wished that gun laws were made legal when their daughters come of age. This time it was the mothers turn to raise torches and pitchforks. The topic on gender issues continued with a lot more laughter and less political correctness.
As the evening came to a close, I pondered upon the insight I gleamed from the ‘survey’. Unlike our grandparents’ era, the gender of the baby mattered little. Though on the surface we talk about both genders being equal, intuitively we place different priorities on values we want to teach our sons or daughters.
Do you agree or disagree with the findings? Do you have a radically different approach? I would love to hear your views on raising your sons and daughters.
Next, we look at the difference in treatment between the first and third child in
Written by Eugene Tay, founder of Brain & Butter and Monsters Under the Bed.
When Eugene was a young boy, he wanted to be an astronaut. When that didn't take off, he decided that he was going to be like Indiana Jones and explore the world as an archaeologist. Eventually, he figured out how he can do both. That's when he became a writer.