A Note to Dads: Treat Boys and Girls The Same 78% of the Time
Anyone without some kind of agenda who has actually spent time observing children will agree that boys and girls are different. And it’s more than just different private parts.
Girls talk sooner and have larger vocabularies and longer attention spans. Boys are more physically aggressive – more likely to grab, push, wrestle and throw things. Girls relate. Boys explore. As has been said, “Girls need nose-to-nose time with dad and boys need shoulder-to-shoulder time.”
Now since every child is different, some “boy” traits show up in girls. And vice versa. Some boys are quite verbal. Some girls are explorers. Generalizations give guidance, not absolute direction.
But it seems like every study done in the last half century has set out to prove the opposite of what is true. Researchers with an agenda decide an outcome ahead of time and then attempt to justify their prejudice. A supposed groundbreaking study was published in the September 2005 issue of American Psychologist magazine. The title of the article by Professor Janet Shibley Hyde of the University of Wisconsin – Madison is “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis.” The 12-page article is quite impressive. Dr. Hyde looks at a wide variety of personality and cognitive traits including memory, self-esteem, social behavior, small motor skills, negotiation, smiling, coping, delay gratification, cheating, assertiveness and anxiety. Her conclusion is that 46 meta-analyses confirm that men and women are unequivocally and undeniably very much alike. But buried deep in the article is this statement, “78% of gender differences are small or close to zero.”
Did you get that? Boys and girls are not the same. 78% of the time they are. But research from more than 2,000 studies reveals that in 22% of the categories, men and women are significantly different. Shouldn’t that have been the title of the article?
So your gut instinct is true. Boys and girls are different. I’m probably oversimplifying, but 78% of the time your interaction with a daughter will be the same as the interaction with a son. Both boys and girls will delight in piggyback rides, ice cream cones, and first-place trophies. They will both be sad when they are cut from a team, punished for disobedience, or get a rejection letter from a college. But the other 22% of time, a daughter will be different from a son.
Your job, dad, is to become a student of your child – boy or girl – and bask in the challenge of discovering and guiding them toward their own very individual hopes and dreams.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:27
Jay Payleitner is a radio producer, popular speaker and author of ten books including 52 Things Daughters Need from Their Dads and One-Minute Devotions for Dads. For more, go to jaypayleitner.com.
Article: “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis,” Janet Shibley Hyde, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison; American Psychologist, Vol. 60, No. 6.