Regardless of the absurd efforts of some to marginalize the differences between men and women, our developing sons and daughters are created by God distinctly male and female (barring any chromosomal abnormalities—which are less than 1% of all births). From a biological standpoint, the contrast between a man and a woman are extreme in both form and function. From the onset of conception, the body of each sex is systematically developed toward its final destination of gender uniqueness. As a parent, to not acknowledge the blatant biological and physiological differences between the sexes can set up our children toward a life of confusion and frustration. We must raise our sons and daughters differently, because they are different.
I asked my seven-year-old daughter to explain to me the differences she sees between the girls and boys she knows.
This is what she shared:
• boys run ahead of the group
• girls like pink and purple, boys like blue and green
• girls have long hair, boys have short hair
• girls like to play with dolls, boys like to play with legos
• boys typically run faster than the girls in our games
• boys pretend they're shooting each other—they're a "bit more violent" than us girls
• girls like flowers and pretty things, most boys don't
• boys like dodge ball and girls like the three-legged race
While boys and girls share a lot of overlapping interests and patterns of behavior, it's interesting that a seven-year-old girl has already begun to see the opposite sex differently (something the main media fails to recognize).
When viewed without prejudice, not to imply my daughter is prejudice-free, boys and girls clearly display different characteristics that are more unique to one sex than the other. This is not to insinuate that a boy that likes flowers or a girl that loves to run ahead of the group is gender-confused. However, it's acknowledging the obvious behavioral trends that are commonly evident among girls and boys. By the way, my daughter loves to run and play with legos, which simply makes her a girl who loves to run and enjoys playing legos with her big brother. Yet it doesn't take away the simple truth that she is very different than her brother...so different.
As a young lady, my daughter's body is engineered to become a mom some day. Whether or not she becomes one is a mute point. Her body is hard-wired to nurture—both biologically and emotionally. My son, no matter how sensitive or caring he is, does not have the ability to become a mom. Without question, he is destined to be a father, if God wills him to have kids some day. And this is key—regardless of what the main media and prevailing pop culture of our day may say, there is a major difference between moms and dads.
What does this mean for me as a parent? As a dad one of my primary goals is to raise my sons and daughters to be successful based on who God has made them to be. This encompasses their distinct roles as developing men and women, along with their unique gifts and passions. This translates into cultivating growth opportunities that help my boys to become better men and my daughters to become better women.
Dr. Dobson wrote two best-selling books on these topics (Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls). It would be wise for every parent to read them. I can still remember my wife's comments after going through a group study on Bringing Up Boys. My wife grew up in a family of girls. While she knew that boys were different, she had no idea as to how different they were. This brings us again to the obvious truth every mom and dad must embrace when it comes to their sons and daughters: We must raise them differently, because they are different.
As early as the eighth week of life, the male brain is saturated with a bath of testosterone. From there on, the male brain is radically transformed and different from that of a female. Moving forward, our boys have twenty times more testosterone surging through their bodies, which may well explain the differences that my daughter of seven years is already seeing clearly (see Bringing Up Girls). For every dad out there, don't underestimate the needs for our sons and daughters to be affirmed within their unique roles. How you support your sons and daughters during their developmental years is critical for their healthy maturation into men and women.
Two of my favorite books on this topic are:
King me: What Every Son Wants and Needs From His Father by Steve Farrar
She Calls Me Daddy: Seven Things Every Man Needs to Know About Building A Complete Daughter by Robert Wolgemuth
For the moms out there, both of Dr. Dobson’s books, Bringing Up Boys and Bringing Up Girls are great resources to help train their sons and daughters into becoming men and women.
I'm continually humbled to be a parent. It's one of the most amazing blessings in the world, and yet it is also one of the most profound and influential responsibilities that I'll ever undertake. I'll end with what I believe is the most important priority for me as a father. Regardless of my child's sex, their greatest shared need is to know who Jesus is. Every day this is my main goal as a dad—to live and share Jesus Christ to my children. That's why I need to be parenting more on my knees. What about you?
*On a related topic, Al Mohler, leading evangelical thought leader, broached this topic on his daily podcast (April 12, 2017). He reports that studies are revealing that millennials are more apt to be "traditional" in how they think about the male and female roles when it comes to family matters. As he suggests, the mainstream liberal-leaning media isn't happy about it. The audio is only about 10 minutes long and is quite revealing. Listen to it here: Study shows millennials more traditional than previous generations when it comes to family. Why?