The Cocktail Party Contrarian: Especially for Girls

Woke warriors can wrestle with theories about gender neutrality and the adverse effects of gender-specific child-rearing all they like. In my home, theories don’t raise children.

Magda Ehlers via
As the mother of boy-girl twins I find myself marveling, almost daily, at the obvious differences between my son and my daughter. Magda Ehlers via

Parents living amid the gender confusion of post-binary America have yet another political correctness challenge to add to their list while trying to raise well-adjusted, sane children: We are not supposed to recognize differences between boys and girls. Yet as the mother of boy-girl twins I find myself marveling, almost daily, at the obvious differences between my son and my daughter and the different parenting choices I make for each.

What I hear myself saying all the time is, “especially for boys” or “especially for girls.” Woke warriors can wrestle with theories about gender neutrality and the adverse effects of gender-specific child-rearing all they like. In my home, where theories don’t raise children, there is no escaping the reality that boys and girls are different and need different guidance.

My teenage daughter berated me, woke-style, when I politely suggested to her that she refrain from dessert after a big meal. “You didn’t tell him that,” she pointed out with a nod to her brother, who was devouring his brownie. All of the warnings about girls and eating disorders flashed through my brain as I momentarily debated what I was going to say next. I had broken every modern rule about girls, food, healthy body image, and equality. Then my instinct for honesty overrode my cultural conditioning for coddling. 

“Right,” I answered my daughter, “I didn’t tell him that because he is a boy and you are a girl and you are different.” Her eyes widened. I fumbled through whatever I could remember from nutrition class about men and muscle mass ratios and their metabolisms in contrast to women’s. Then I explained to my figure-conscious daughter that I didn’t care at all if she ate all the brownies, but she would do so knowing the consequences, which were, in fact, not the same for her brother.  

Female hormones are real, no matter what anyone with a gender studies degree says on Tik Tok. Her brother could likely eat his weight in cake and burn it all off by breakfast. Her — not so much. If that didn’t bother her, then fine, have at it. But she was going to enjoy that dessert, or refuse it, while understanding reality, not pretending it didn’t exist.

There isn’t a women’s magazine in America that would sanction my non-PC response to my daughter, but I don’t care. They aren’t raising her. Their socially acceptable stories about being “healthy at all sizes” and their absurd blurred lines between the sexes serve their need to feel relevant, not my daughter’s need to honestly face the world. Telling the truth, not repeating the narrative, is important — especially for girls. Especially now. 

When I finished, my daughter shrugged and nodded in what I think was appreciation. Then she took a bite of the brownie and that was that.

Teaching emotional resilience when girls perform psychological warfare on each other in high school is another practice I find useful when parenting, especially for girls. My son never recounts what friends have said to him or the tone in which they said it. My daughter does. Girls parse every word, and read into every word omitted. They get emotionally invested and offended by things boys don’t even register. 

The last time this came up, I believe my exact words to my daughter were, “Oh, man up.” Again, probably not the American Psychiatric Association’s recommended response, but my daughter laughed and let the drama of the day dissipate. Learning that other people’s behavior is almost always about them and not you is a universal life lesson — but especially for girls

It all sounds like archaic stereotyping until the rubber meets the road where actual parenting happens, and then the stereotypes grate less and make more sense. They became stereotypes for a reason, and in my case, they mostly apply as though they were written about my boy and my girl. Pointing that out only helps. Also, it isn’t only about emotional adjustment — sometimes it is about physical safety.

We have rules for roaming around New York City with friends, especially for girls. The truth is that boys are less aware of their surroundings and more inclined to act the fool when let loose on the streets. So, I worry about my son stumbling into a pothole in ways I don’t worry about concerning my daughter. 

I also have a whole set of fears reserved for a pretty girl with “vulnerable” written all over her 16-year-old face in a world of bigger, stronger men that I don’t have for my boy. There are many ways for all teenagers to get into trouble out in the world, especially girls. I remind her of this in excruciating detail all the time. 

Others can eye-roll, but I would bet they whisper some of the same messages when their own daughters are headed out the door on a Saturday night. Some truths overcome ideology — maybe especially for girls.

The New York Sun

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