Ask three parents the question “Are boys easier to raise than girls?” and you will likely get three different answers. So who’s right? They all are, they are simply recounting their own experiences and because every child is different, the experiences of their parents will be different too. However, if we ask a thousand parents that same question, it is likely that the trend will lean towards boys being the easier sex to raise. Christianity Today published an article by Courtney Reissig entitled “Why do we keep saying boys are easier?” that explores this perception but, unfortunately, in this article she jumps to some very unwarranted conclusions. Courtney contends that by voicing the opinion that raising girls is more difficult, we are engaging in “anti-girl rhetoric” that portrays girls as being less valuable than boys. The premise of her article is based on several wrong assumptions that I would like to explore here.
Does equality require that everything be the same?
Our modern culture too often accepts the premise that equality is achieved only when the outcome is exactly the same. However, this is not the biblical picture of equality. God did not create us to be identical, he created us to be equal. Yes, there is a difference. He has gifted each one of us very differently (Ro. 12) so that together we can we can use our gifts and abilities to build each other up and support each other. But our value does not come from our gifts, or our abilities, or our sex, or our race, or anything else we see, our value comes from God alone and is a reflection of his love for us. It is this truth that is echoed in these words from our Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” True equality never results from the pursuit of “sameness,” far too often the pursuit of “sameness” results in inequality and injustice.
Is being easier to raise equal to having higher value?
While Courtney rightly raises concerns about cultures where women have been, and continue to be, devalued, she wrongly assumes that anyone who suggests that raising girls is more difficult also believes that girls are less desirable and/or less valuable; the connection she makes here is entirely unwarranted. Some of the most difficult things in life are also things that are the most prized. Paul even describes the Christian life as being like one who endures difficult training in order to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24-27); the difficult path is often the path we are compelled to take and not the one we should avoid. As a father of four girls and two boys, my own experience tells me that, in general, raising girls is a little more difficult. Even before puberty, the life of a girl can often be an emotional roller coaster with higher peaks and deeper valleys than experienced by most boys. A girl’s whole world can come crashing down in a matter of seconds because of an unkind word, an unmet expectation, etc… Girls tend to need more time to talk things through than do boys and almost always have much more to say about everything. They are at times more winsome and at other times more hurtful with their words, and they themselves are more easily hurt by the words of others, words that would hardly raise the eyebrow of the typical boy. However, this doesn’t mean that daughters are less valuable or less desirable, it just means that they are different (just as God intended them to be). God has blessed me with four daughters (and two sons) and there is not one I would trade in for another of the opposite sex. The reason that many say that raising girls is more difficult is because it, like many stereotypes, is generally true; however, raising girls is also a blessing that only a fool would trade away for a chance (by no means a guarantee) at an easier path.
Does it really all come down to “SEX?”
Courtney rightly rejects the “double standard” condoning sex outside of marriage for boys but rejecting it for girls but she is wrong about this being the core issue, it is not. Many who believe that raising girls is often more difficult than raising boys are just as appalled with this kind of double standard as she is. The existence of this “double standard” is not the basis for their conclusions; it is not even a consideration. While it is true that dealing with an unplanned pregnancy will be more difficult with a daughter (even when the boy takes full responsibility), I personally can’t recall a parent ever suggesting that they would prefer to have a son because of this potential difficulty.
Raising girls, like raising boys, is a wonderful gift to be celebrated and enjoyed but it truly is different and recognizing those differences is not “anti-girl rhetoric.” We can love and cherish our girls just as much as we love and cherish our boys without denying the realities involved in raising them. We do not need to pretend that the challenges are the same in order to prove that our love is the same.