See Mom Run: Boys vs. Girls—Who’s Harder to Raise?

Robin had it easy with Liv. Then along came Eli …

The adorable Raskin kids, Eli and Olivia

]Before I had kids of my own, I can remember spending a day with some friends and their kids. A boy and a girl of similar ages, the girl sat on the couch with us ladies, snuggled up with her mommy, and looked at a book. The boy ran all over the house flipping the light switches on and off for about two hours. I can remember my friends saying that this exemplified the difference between little boys and little girls. Having nothing but this (and memories of my own childhood, which included my very mellow little brother) to base my opinions upon, I had to wonder if this was true. Were little girls hardwired to be chill and little boys to be maniacs, or was it more about genetics?

Fast forward a year and along came Olivia who was, for all intents and purposes, a really easy kid. She slept well. She played well with others and shared. She was affectionate. She was funny and curious and ridiculously adorable (if I do say so myself). People would meet her, then look at my ever-expanding pregnant stomach and tell me that I shouldn’t get used to it, because it wasn’t going to be this easy the next time around. I didn’t believe them. I was holding fast to the belief that if two children came from the same gene pool their temperaments had to be in the same ballpark. Even if number two was a boy (we weren’t finding out), I was sure that he would be similarly mild-mannered and life would move along smoothly.

Hilarious.

I started doubting myself while Eli was still in the womb. Olivia’s in-utero personality was precisely the same as it was extra-utero: swimming leisurely through life, not a care in the world, with a few lumps and bumps thrown in here and there. With Eli, it felt like there was an MMA fight going on in there. One night he was kicking so hard that I was convinced a foot was going to slice through my abdomen, “Alien”-style. Because of his insane womb gymnastics, I was not at all surprised when the doctor announced that it was, indeed, a boy. I was going to be able to test this boy/girl personality thing out for myself.

From the get-go, Eli was a completely different animal – in every sense of the word. He was, and continues to be, a horrible sleeper. He whines. He screams. He throws himself on the floor when he doesn’t get his way or win at whatever it is he is doing. Sharing is not in his vocabulary. He likes to throw things. When I tell people these things, they shrug and say, “He’s all boy.” Is that what this is? Is he just being all boy? At first I thought there was something wrong with him (or possibly my parenting) because I was using Olivia as my benchmark and he was just not measuring up.

(For the record, he only seems to do these sorts of things when he is with Eric and me. The grandparents report exemplary behavior and sleeping until 7:30. WTF??)

A few nights ago, Eli went for a solo sleepover at my parents’ house. Suddenly it was the original Raskin threesome again. I forgot how easy it was to just have one kid (especially THIS one) to take care of. The house was quiet and clean. Dinner was a snap while the three of us sat around eating and laughing. After dinner we all snuggled up on the couch to watch “Charlotte’s Web.” Liv showered and got herself ready for bed, we read a book, and she passed out the minute her head hit the pillow. While bedtime is, by far, my least favorite part of the day, I hadn’t realized how incredibly stressful it was because of Eli and his antics. Without him there, I was relaxed and we breezed right through it.

And so, after conducting a 3-plus-year experiment on the temperaments of girl and boy siblings, I must concur with my colleagues regarding the hardwiring of temperaments. Obviously I had a very small sample to work with and I realize that this is not the case in every household. I am aware that, while girls are easier at this age, they can be royal bitches when they get older. I am preparing for some vicious battles with Livvy, much like those I had with my mom, over everything from going to the mall on a Friday night to driving in cars with newly licensed boys. I also know that while Eli is currently in his “treacherous threes,” this behavior will not last forever. When he turns to me out of nowhere and tells me that he loves me and that I am the best mommy ever, my heart bursts wide open and I know that I am raising a little mensch.

(One who likes to give me wet willies and pee on the carpet.)

>> Parents, what’s your experience raising boys and girls? Who’s easier? Who’s harder? Share in the comments.

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  • Marla

    I love this topic because I think it has so much more to do with birth order than gender. Without exception everyone of my friends who had a daughter and then a son proclaims him to be wild/crazy/etc. because “he’s a boy”. On the flip side my friends who had a son and then a daughter find the girl to more whiny and difficult and tantrum-prone than the boy. And then there are the people like me with two children of the same gender (in my case two boys) where you might expect second girl/boy to be like the first, but they are most definitely not. My first son is calm and reserved. When we visit friends who don’t have someone for him to hang out with he sits on the couch with the dads and watches whatever sporting event is currently being televised. This is while younger son is running around like a lunatic. I know this isn’t only because he’s a boy. I believe wholeheartedly it’s because he is my second child. He came out screaming and has been entertaining us ever since. I think the second children know from day one that they have an amazing older sibling to compete with. They need to start early on making sure we focus on them as much as big brother or big sister. And how better to do this than by being funny, silly and generally crazy. My husband and I shake our heads on a daily basis and wonder where the second child came from (we are both third children which is a whole separate topic). Having only sons I can’t say whether it’s harder to raise a daughter vs. a son, but I am sure we ought to all keep our eyes on those crazy second kids.

  • gayle

    Samantha did not get the memo about girls being easier!!

  • http://www.tentotwentyparenting.com Kristen Daukas

    Well…. I have 3 girls so I’m not sure which is easier but when I get around my friends who have boys, I wonder if I could ever do it and I know they think the same thing. Each sex has their own energy.. I used to think that I would want a combo but now that I’m used to the crazy, dramatic world of girls (as much as one can be), I’m not sure I could handle the “other” energy level of boys.