There’s something weird I’ve noticed over the course of this pregnancy – strangers tend to respond differently when I tell them I’m having a boy than they did when I said I was having a girl. “So what are you having?” the barber/postman/waitress will ask. When I say a boy is on the way, their eyes light up.
“A son! Lucky you! Wow! You must be SOOOOOOO excited!”
I never got this kind of over the top reaction when I told people I was expecting a girl (most people just offered a subdued response like, “Girls are nice.”), and frankly I’m starting to get kind of annoyed about it.
I realize, of course, that a lot of these people have only the best of intentions, especially if Annie is with me and they see I already have a girl, but with others it’s pretty clear they assume men want sons and not daughters (or at least prefer sons to daughters). They don’t just reserve this attitude for dads-to-be, either. I’ve also heard it when people talk about older men and say stuff like, “Poor, Frank. He never got his son.” It makes me sad to think girls might be getting the message from this attitude that they’re not as important as boys, or that their dads don’t care for them as much as their sons.
Part of the reason people feel this way is because, unfortunately, there are a lot of dudes who do want boys and feel like they wouldn’t know what to do with girls. Luckily, a lot of these guys end up being great dads to girls once their little lady arrives, but not all of them do.
Personally, I love being a Dad to little girls, and would have been just as happy to have another beautiful little girl. I think more men would feel the same way if they worried less about gender stuff when raising their kids. I never assume Annie wouldn’t be interested in something just because she’s a girl. I expose her to all the stuff I like, like baseball games and robots, and she loves them too. And the traditionally girlie stuff she’s into like tea parties and princesses? I’m having fun with those too.
Of course, this is an incredibly complex subject that would take a lot more than a blog post (or even a few thousand) to get to the bottom of. With that said, I do think only good can come from people making the conscious effort to treat expecting dads with the same level of excitement regardless of whether they’re having a boy or a girl.
Interesting post Mike!
I’m in the other camp (kind-of)… I have 3 stepsons and in September had a son myself! Im in a house-full of boys!
I constantly get comments about having a girl/needing a girl etc. My child is precious to me beyond anything I could have imagined. Some have asked quite rudely if I would have preferred to have a girl (????!!!) which I just can’t tolerate. A child is just pure joy, pure happiness. Why should it really matter if its a girl or a boy??
Expat Mom says:
I have three boys and people keep asking if we’re going to try for the girl. Uh, no. During my last pregnancy, most people assumed we were rooting for a girl to finish up the family and when we said we were thrilled to be expecting a third boy, they were shocked. “Oh, that’s too bad.” What?! I love my boys and while a girl might have been interesting, I’m pretty darn happy that I got all three sons.
Haven’t you had the classic ‘one of each, now your family is complete’ comment yet!!
Classic, indeed! The first time we heard that one was when our twins were only a day old. In the NICU, not sure whether we would ever get to take the both of them home with us. “A boy and a girl! Great, now you are done!”
Oh man I get that all the time! “So are you done having kids now that you have one of each?” They call them “rich man’s families”, too! So annoying! I wasn’t having kids until I had both genders!
Awww, I’m sorry you’re running into this. With me, I feel like I err the other way. Several co-workers lately have had boys and 6 out of 8 kids in my (almost one year old!!) girl’s childbirth class were boys. So whenever I hear someone is having a boy, I have a hard time mustering as much enthusiasm. It’s not because I have a huge preference, but more because I have a feeling there will come an age where gender matters more in friends and I want Vivian to have some girls around.
I totally agree with you, that kind of attitude drives me crazy! My dad just had two girls, no sons, and he actually wanted girls from the beginning. He had three brothers so I think he was sort of over the crazy-boys-everywhere thing I think he would be insulted if anyone ever said, “Oh, poor you, never got that son.”
I had the opposite! But the same theory I guess. When I found out I was having my 2nd boy I got “Oh! I’m sorry. You can play with my girl whenever you want!” Uh, thanks.
Guys don’t always want girls. Why people assume that, is just old fashion. We have 2 daughters, both girly teens now. The youngest is both as girly as you can be, wearing dresses, straightening her hair, wearing make-up but also likes to play sports with the boys. She can throw a spiral football better then most! Also an excellent softball player. So my husband is thrilled with our girls, we used to get comments about having ”one more”, but my severe hyperemesis and our last pregnancy ending in an early second trimester miscarriage put an end to any of those comments from our friends/family. Strangers sometimes still do, despite having almost grown children, smh. I say, love what God gave you!!
I already have a boy and am pregnant with a girl and I get all the silly comments too (“One of each!” “Perfect family!”…yadda yadda yadda). People totally assume that I was hoping for a girl when, in fact, it’s my husband who has always wanted a girl…I didn’t really care.
Lisa D says:
I have 2 boys and people assume the opposite–that I’m itching to do it again so I can have “my” girl. Um… no thanks. Even if you did get to select your gender with #3, I’m perfectly happy being the mom of two boys. Especially every year when the halloween costume catalogs come out….
Try having 3 boys. When I was pg with my youngest, some people acted like they were genuinely sorry for me! WTF.
Great post. My dad has three girls (the youngest of whom is 18), and he STILL gets comments like, “I bet you really wish you’d had a boy.” His response is always along the lines of, “I would have loved to have a son TOO, but I love my three daughters more than anything and wouldn’t change a single thing.” Nothing bothers me about that response. It acknowledges that raising a boy would have its own amazing and fun elements, but that he would never even so much as think of saying, “I wanted a boy INSTEAD of my girls.”
My sisters and I do sometimes tease each other that it will be a competition to see who can get Dad his first grandson. (We say this only because Dad is surrounded on all sides by estrogen: four sisters, three daughters, my stepmom … even every single one of the family pets is a girl!) But, at heart, we know that he would be happy as a clam if he had all granddaughters.
With 3 boys, I am constantly asked if we are going to try for a girl – just one more? My husband always says we only make boys and we are blessed to have our 3 healthy sons. (Oddly, a man with 3 daughters did come up to me at a party and asked if we wanted to trade one of our boys for one of his girls which I think is horrible!)
My four year old has said more than once that we are supposed to have one more baby, a little girl and I think it is because of what these strangers are constantly saying to us! I find that really sad because we have a complete, happy family and I want the boys to appreciate that and never think that we wished one of them was a girl!
I’m sure that man was joking! Yeesh, lighten up…I would have laughed!
When we were expecting our first child, my husband called his brother to tell him that we were having a girl. We were thrilled. When he told him he said, “Oh. Are you ok with that?” My husband was so confused. He was still very excited but then of course he was hoping for a boy the next time. Had he not received that response from his brother, I truly don’t think he would have ever cared about the gender of his children.
I try to avoid those typical comments…because I get that “oh, lucky you, you get girl, boy, girl, boy”!! My comments tend to be funny…So, it goes for you…Now “you guys” will get to say, “Hey, should I go with the 50 inch or 42? And of course, you’ll look at each other and say “50” with a fist bump or high five!! Yeah, baby!
I think there’s some of the reverse true with women and girls, though. I have an aunt who was adamant about having a daughter (she had two boys) and basically made it her mission in life to have a third and have that be a girl (and the third was, which is good because I don’t know how many children she would’ve had to “get” her girl, you know?). I think the assumption that women want girls and men want boys is super strange. I am childless, but lemme tell you, the thought of ever having a daughter actually terrifies the pants off me. I would much rather someday be the parnt of boys.
My mom would have been really sad if she’d had a boy. Seriously. I am her only child and she ONLY brought a girl outfit to the hospital when she had me — so, you know, thank goodness I was a girl, right? Just because the universe works this way, I’ve gone out of my way to break every female stereotype ever since, and she never got that “girlie girl” she so desperately wanted.
We have 2 little girls (41/2 and almost 3) and are now expecting a boy in June. We get the “Wow your husband must be so excited”, but in truth he wasn’t, he’s just happy we are able to have healthy kids, and the girls love Star Wars, so that’s all that matters I am just sick of getting the “finally a boy aren’t you glad you tried one more time?” I just don’t answer anymore, because I come off as rude. It’s funny that people assume we are done having kids because we are having a son, that the reason for having 3 kids was only to have a son…
Decades ago we had two children, a boy and a girl, each about ten pounds. Starting in the hospital, the boy was routinely called “a big bruiser” while the girl was “so cute.” Sounds like not much has changed.
I have four young daughters. It’s always amazing to me what people will say to us. “You certainly tried to get a boy” or “Maybe the next one will be a boy”. Or best yet by my FIL when I was 20 weeks pregnant or so, “I figured since you hadn’t made a gender announcement yet it must be a boy.”
I try to respond kindly however, one glance at my daughters faces makes me crazy mad. I never got pregnant with any of them to try to get that boy. We were always thrilled to welcome a new daughter. Our daughters have always been worthy of an eagerly anticipated arrival. Our lives are complete without a son.
I can’t wait to see pictures of and hear about your son though!
I am pregnant with our 4th boy (and most likely last child). I was so excited to have another boy (while my hubby was sad to not get to raise a daughter). But so many people assume that I would be devastated. It’s so weird to me, because I really just want healthy kids. I have finally started saying, “isn’t that exciting!?” When asked what I’m having, ans then saying we are super happy. It makes the other person realize that they sound like a jerk when they push the “didn’t you want a girl?” Comments. And, when someone does ask, “when are you going to get your girl?” I just say, “never” and walk away. Some people don’t know when to shut up.
I feel the same! Never!!!
It goes both ways. Some women desperately want a girl, and I’ve known some to be sad to have second boys. I love having a boy, and would be happy with more. Or with girls. My honest ask is for healthy babies! I believe you get the child you’re meant to have.
My mom was the third girl, and she always knew she was supposed to be a boy, and had the second girl been a boy, my mOm wouldn’t have been born. That would be an awful thing to know!!
I toally agree Mike! I am experiencing a similar situation. I have a 3 year old little boy and I am expecting another little boy in May. When people find out that I am not having a girl, that put on a sad face and say “well, I guess you will need to try again for a girl”. They always seem so disappointed for me, like having two boys will never be good enough.
I am SO sick of it. I wish poeple would just be happy for us that we are expecting. Maybe it’s my pregnancy hormones, but it is getting really old. Man, it feels good to get that out!
It makes me sad for my beautiful daughter when people say that we must be so excited this one is a boy.
Everyone thinks men want sons and women want daughters. When I was pregnant with my first (a boy) people were like, “awesome, Brandon must be so happy”. When I was pregnant with my second, a girl, people were like, “OMG! YOU must be so excited!” (and believe me, I totally was). When I was pregnant with #3, a boy, people said to me, “Well, at least you have one girl” (crazy right?), and then said how excited my husband must be (which he was, but he would have been excited with a girl, too). So, there you have it.
I get the same thing. I have a son and am now expecting twin girls and people always assume I am relieved/excited to have girls. All women want a girl more than a boy too, apparently.
It’s funny how people assume you must be done now that you have one of each.
As others have commented previously, it’s also assumed that women prefer/want girls. As a mama to two boys, I can’t count the number of times people have asked me if/when I’m going to try for a girl. I’m not thank you! I’m perfectly content and blessed with my beautiful sons…besides this way I’m the queen of the castle.
I think that when women tell people they are having a boy they get a similar reaction….”Oh that is nice…” and excitement when they say they are having a girl. And, then there is the dreaded “So are you trying for ___” and fill in the blank of what they don’t already have. In other words, people say the dumbest things.
I never got that with either of the girls but people have gone a bit OTT about this boy. “Oh, boys are so great!” I think boys AND girls are great, especially since they are all MINE!
I wanted a boy, thought I was having a boy. I wanted a boy over a girl because I was nervous that the girl would be exactly like me. That was of some concern… A little me, scaaary! And sure enough, she was a girl. She is very much like me. And I could slap myself silly for being temporarily disappointed to be having a girl. She is hilarious, fearless and I love her to death! We will probably not have another one. But if I did have another, I would hope she’s a girl. Because that is what I know now. I’d be like a boy? What do I do with a boy? Funny how things turn out. But like my daughter already knows, girls are smarter than boys (sorry Mike). It is just the way it is. Annie will always be ahead of little bro- go Annie! Girls rule!!!
When I was a kid – maybe 8 or so – my dad took me to a party hosted by one of his friends I had never met before. I was in the room with all the men and they were talking about kids and I distinctly remember one of them saying “It takes a man to make a boy.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I thought about it again years later it really upset me. It was a supid, macho thing to say in general, but especially in front of a little girl.
We have 4 girls and my husband did want a boy with our last one but was equally excited at the ultrasound when we found out it was another girl. He dotes on her and loves her to absolute pieces and we’ve talked about it a lot. He has said “You know, I know girls. A boy would have been cool but Dannica is just awesome and I can’t even imagine not having her now that I’ve got her.” “She’s a little rough and tumble and likes cheering on the Tampa Bay Bucs and watching Nascar with me, she is my boy.”
Interesting post for sure Mike. My husband still gets the weird expressions and “Oh, sorry!” when he tells people he has 4 daughters. If I’m with him I will sometimes chime in and say “nothing to be sorry about, they’re awesome!”
We got a lot of comments about how my husband must be glad to have a boy (true, we are glad to be having a baby, we would have preferred a girl, but didn’t care either way.) And EVERYONE comments that my dad (who has two daughters and now a granddaughter) must have been SO glad to finally get a grandson. Funnily enough, my dad keeps calling the baby “she” or “her” or telling him what a sweet little girl he is. So, obviously he doesn’t care that much!
This stuff makes me so sad. I know others have examples of “too bad you didn’t get a girl” after having several boys. However, the “boy preference” happens right from child #1 for so many people. It is both a result of and a continuing contribution to gender roles, stereotypes and sexism in the world (which affect both genders negatively, not just girls). And how about those people who feel that way about their own children and continue that sentiment for years (“I wish you had been a son”)? Uber-yuck. I’m glad there’s another guy in the world who “gets it” though! Hooray for progress!
This is such an important post and topic. Thank you for writing and sharing it. It makes me vomit in my mouth that THIS is still where we are as a society. I was just telling my husband the other night that when we have children, I will not be able to handle all of the ridiculous comments from others. Will drive me CRAZY. I would love to hear more of your perspective on these types of topics and what you encounter as a dad that might be different than what people say to Heather.
I I have two boys 10 months apart. Both were micro preemies. My first was 26 weeks and my second was 25 weeks. Lots and lots of medical issues so I guess I was lucky nobody thought I should try for a girl. But I have always wanted a girl. I was lucky and had three wonderful nieces that are like daughters to me and we are very close. I am one of those people that wish everyone has a girl. Not sure why I love my boys and they know it. I just really like buying girl stuff! My girl therapy dog (chocolate lab) has many girly collars with bows on them. A really healthy baby no matter the gender is great! I wish I could have had at least two more children. I love all babies!
I hear ya! Don’t get me wrong, my 4th is a girl and I cannot imagine life without her (7 months old) but I have 3 boys prior to that. I hate hearing things like….you finally got your girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I never tried and cared if I had a girl or not. I always felt badly when people said it in front my boys like they weren’t “enough” or something. They never took it that way though. It was even worse because I never knew what the gender was ahead of time, although my husband did with this one. So, people had LOTS to say about what it would be and how I should feel about it. Thanks for posting, congrats! One of the subjects I find VERY interesting and love talking about!
Great post, Mike! There was a great article out a few months ago how “I don’t want a daughter” culture is terrible for girls.
As one of three girls, and always being concerned that my dad was missing his son, I LOVE this post.
I have four daughters and I still receive comments ‘want one more’. I always smile and say we were meant to have all daddys girls. They are precious.God knows what I can handle.
I have two boys. When I was pregnant with my second many people gave me the sad clown face when I told them it was a boy. Especially when they said this infront of my older son. He actually asked me if I wanted him to be a girl when he was in my tummy. It also bothers me when people come up and say how cute the baby is and completely ignore the older one. Or when we are with my neice and they comment on how cute the little girl is but say nothing to my boys. Again, my 7 yr old gets it and it hurts his feelings.
I do think people have the best of intentions but just need to figure out a better way of expressing those intentions.
I really wanted a girl so I could experience bows and dance recitals. When I learned our second was another boy, I was disappointed at first – to be very honest. I love boys but I am very close with my mother and my brothers are not. I would love to have a daughter to be close with but we are two and through. No more kiddos for me. My boys are very into their mom at their tender, young age and I just have to hope my boys stay closer to me than my brothers did to my mom.
Sorry for the long story – but some of us did want at least one of each. I am blessed to have the children God gave me and I am enjoying each and every moment.
Karen, I totally understand what you’re saying! I was sad when I found out my second son was a boy. I wanted a girl so badly! My husband doesn’t want any more so that’s it for me! That being said, it makes my heart soar seeing my boys play together and watching them grow up together as brothers. I love them both beyond words and an so thankful for healthy, beautiful boys!
As one of two daughters, I grew up hearing others talk about “what a shame” it was that my sports-loving, rough-and-tumble dad never got a son. In hindsight, I guess I should have taken offense — but I really felt sorry for them for even questioning whether Dad would have been upset about that. My dad loves his girls and has always been a proud papa to two ladies! Now that my sister and I are grown up and marrying, though, I have a feeling he’ll be gunning for a grandson…
Very thought-provoking post, Mike!
Interesting – I always think the opposite – Daddy’s Girl (which I most definitely am) and Momma’s Boy. I have four sons. I missed out on the pink bundle but figure I will just enjoy their wives whenever that takes place.
I have to agree- I am a Momma to 4 boys and get frequent questions about trying for a girl. I love my boys so much and IF we have another, I will be thrilled no matter what, but at this point think another boy would be easier!!
I don’t have kids yet and don’t have a preference for when I do.
I mostly wanted to comment to say how excellent I think it is that you don’t worry about or push Annie towards “gender specific” things. I think more parents should be like you and Heather.
This post brings up feelings of rage I can’t explain when people say of my only son (I have 1 son, 3 daughters) that it must be hard that he never had a brother, or they feel sorry for him because he never had a brother. I feel offended for my daughters sake. I feel angry that my daughters are considered not good enough as siblings, that his life would be improved should he have had a brother instead.
Yes, I would have loved to have given a brother to my son, that would have been really cool. But my daughters are blessings and I wouldn’t change them for anything!
I don’t understand all the fuss about boys vs. girls. When I was pregnant with my daughter (my second child), everyone thought I would be so thrilled to be having a girl because my first was a boy. I couldn’t care less, either time. I wanted a healthy baby. That being said, I do enjoy having one of each because their relationships with each other and with us are very different, but if I’d had two boys or two girls, I would have enjoyed watching those relationships develop, too. Enjoy your girl and your boy, Mike
I’m currently pregnant with my second child and if I get one more “I hope you get a girl this time”, I am going to come unglued. I absolutely do not have a preference, especially since it took 5 years and lots of uncomfortable treatments to get pregnant again. I just want a happy and healthy baby. What ever gender you get is meant to be. . . everything happens for a reason.
Mike, you are awesome. Thank you.
I have two sons and to be truthful I really wanted a son second time around. I wanted a daughter so I could share all those girlie, feninine mother and daughter type things. You really can’t help the way you feel. It was so sad when people would say in a disappointed tone “Oh you’ve had another boy, I guess you are going to try for a girl now”. Try for a girl? Do you ask for a refund if it is another boy. My boys are now 20 and 18 years old, they are so close and I realise you get what you are given and you cant do anything about it so enjoy what gender you get.
You know part of it might be that these people have a son, and know the kind of love you are about to experience. My first is a girl, followed by 2 boys. Before I had my son I thought boys were boring and not so exciting. I mean the clothes aren’t nearly as adorable and you can’t put bows in their hair so what’s the point I thought. I wanted 3 girls! Well when I find out my 2nd was a boy I was super happy, because the old cliche is true I just wanted a healthy baby. But I started to see reactions from moms with boys. A little sparkle in their eye with their “oh my goodness a boy that’s wonderful!!” I didn’t get it. Until he was born. Now I love my daughter more than anything don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t possible love her anymore than I do. But I was so “in love” with my son it was a feeling I hadn’t experienced before. And now I have 2 of them. My goodness the way a mom feels about her son is unexplainable! Now I get why mother in laws can be so crazy. You stole their boy away! Anyways I now find myself reacting over the top when someone has a daughter then has a girl because I know they are about to be shocked at how they feel about their little guy. You love them te same of course, but there’s just a little extra something you will experience with your son
I remember asking my neighbor what she was having (she already had two sons) and she seemed to hesitate before she answered that it was a boy. So I smiled big and said his brothers must be so excited and she seemed relieved that I didn’t have a negative response. How sad people would ever greet such good news with negativity.
Love this post! My dad always wanted a daughter before he had me. I think it has to do with the fact that he grew up with three brothers and one sister and that she passed away not long before I was born. But we’ve always been very close. He never did anything with my brother that he didn’t do with me. He took me hiking, skiing, coached my soccer team, watched sports with me. In fact, I was a New York Giants fan like my dad long before my brother was. During the men’s and women’s World Cup’s we’d message each other during every match. We are share so much in common.
My family is one girl, one boy. When my mom was pregnant with my brother, she told me that she and my dad sorta wanted another girl. They had one already, they knew girls, and they liked the idea of another. Doesn’t mean they weren’t excited by my brother. But the assumption that all men only want sons was just beyond them. Interestingly, I think my dad’s older brother always wanted a daughter too! And he had two sons instead.
When I was pregnant, I wanted a healthy baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes. Long before when I imagined what my family would be like, I always wanted boys. Not because I was anti-girl, but because I’m not a girly girl. Turns out my daughter isn’t either. She can be, but she’s into camping and sports and the stuff we love – because it’s the stuff we love. But she’s fashionable (she’s my consultant) and into makeup and hair and those things. She’s a great kid.
From the conversations I’ve had, I always get the feeling that men prefer boys, not because they don’t love their little girls, but because they don’t want to have to worry about all the boys chasing after her.
I only have sisters. When people made comments like this to my Dad when we were little he always responded with “I love having my girls. When the girls grow up the boys will show up.” Now that we are grown-up my Dad has 3 son-in-laws and a bonus adopted adult son!
My parents had 3 boys. And then, they had me, the only daughter. Neither of my parents will talk about it often, but I have heard my dad occasionally say how they were hoping I was a girl so they could experience both sides of parenthood. I’m sure they would have been just as thrilled with a 4th son, though, if it came down to it.
Huh — I’ve always felt that most people I know around here are pretty heavily pro-girl and consider sons to be second prize, whether it’s your first baby or your last. Skimming the comments above seems to support this. (Sure, there are countries and cultures in the world where boys are heavily favored, of course, but in much of the US the opposite is true.) Boys are considered to be messy, loud, improper, less fun to dress, less cute, and so on. Just a generalization and not a rule, but many men want a daddy’s girl, and women want a mini-me to doll up.
People are weird as these are probably the same fools that adhere to the concepts of “daddy’s little girl” and “mama’s boy”…basically weird stereotypes!
I have to say, 42+ years ago my biological father not only hoped for a girl but had her name all planned out to be named after his father’s mother, whose name hadn’t been (allowed to be) spoken since she died.
Thank God I was a girl because I think being called Mary would have been awquard for a boy!
Have to say, my dad screwed up on a lot of things, but it was always nice to know he had always wanted a daughter. As for the name, it’s an honor to carry my great-grandmother’s full name and to know that a hurtful silence was broken with my naming.
Mike – I’ve thought about this post for a while because it hit home. I am one of six girls – I have five sisters. No brothers. When people first learn this, by and far their first reaction is “Six girls?! Your poor father!” As a little kid, this comment really hit home and gave me the message that I was less desired since I was a girl. As an adult, I understand that people just say the dumbest things, and statements such as this just reflect their own insecurity. For the record, my dad is hugely spoiled and is the one to call his adult daughters to catch up and discuss everything going on. My mom calls it his networking hour.
I now have two daughters, and when we found out my second baby was another girl I immediately got a sense of dread because, as happy and excited I was too have another girl and for my older daughter to have a sister, I KNEW I was about to get the “oh – another girl – how’s your husband doing?” and this made my stomach turn. And to this day, we do get the questions about trying for a boy. (Side note: why is family size anyone’s business?) After stating that two is enough, my husband always responds that he’s so happy with his girls. And he is. He told me before we had kids that he was hoping for girls. I told him he probably came to the right place……
One final story. At my cousin’s wedding, the mother of the bride asked my mother how many kids she has. When my mother responded that she has six daughters, the woman loudly gasped and said “Wow – you must have really wanted a boy!” My mother walked over and relayed this story to me (in horror) and said “how am I expected to respond to that level of ignorance?” I asked her how she did respond, and she said “I told the woman that I am and always have been so proud of my girls, and I only hoped she felt the same amount of pride for her children.” Go Mom.