When people find out I’m having boy number two, they usually respond with a long, wary look. “Ohhhhhhhh,” they stretch out before adding, “congratulations.” One grandmother in my son’s preschool class simply smiled and said, “Well, you need to try again for the girl.” When I informed her that my aunt tried again for the girl and got my third male cousin, she was speechless. I then looked around at the moms with babies in the hall and said, “It doesn’t matter. They’re all special, no matter what.”
The bottom line is that these are tiny humans we’re having. Precious cargo. Human life is in short supply these days. You don’t need to know the statistics that show reproduction is on the downward slide in America. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, you see it every time you take your child to a near-empty park, or you wind up being the only pregnant woman in a room full of women talking about getting their tubes tied and moving on with their lives. Boy or girl, we should simply be grateful that any woman still sees the need, let alone finds the joy in growing a family.
But, it seems like boys are getting a tough rap these days. So tough, in fact, that Americans are starting to prefer having girls. According to the New York Times, the latest Gallup polling shows that once a couple has a girl they are less inclined to try again for the theoretical boy. The reason? A “growing bias against boys.”
…the status of women in the United States has undergone a revolution in the last four decades. Women still face deep inequality and sexism, but they are now more likely to pursue rewarding careers and have a greater role in family decision-making. They are also more likely to be college graduates than men.
Men without college degrees are struggling in the modern job market, which rewards brains more than brawn. And teenage boys and men are almost entirely the bad actors in certain crises the nation is facing, like mass shootings and sexual harassment. The diminishing preference for sons could indicate, among some parents, a growing bias against boys.
The bias is embedded into the structure of the family life as well. While dads have come to accept that little girls like to play sports and get dirty, too, single moms have a blatant preference for girls over boys.
Researchers theorize that the changing nature of education and the job market greatly impact a parent’s desire for a girl over a boy. Kindergarten classrooms focus on quiet, independent work and job markets aim toward soft skills like socialization and group communication, all skills that favor girls. Today’s overwhelmed parents don’t want to take on the challenge of raising a boy who doesn’t fit into or struggles with cultural demands. “For parents, raising a girl can seem as if it’s about showing them all the things they can do, while raising a boy is telling them what not to do, researchers say.”
As for me, I couldn’t be more thrilled about having another boy. And if that means I’m bucking a trend, so much the better. But, perhaps that is because being a mother—a good mother—requires a level of fearlessness severely lacking in today’s culture. It’s almost as if, women especially, are admitting they just don’t have the ovaries for the job.