No, We're Not Trying For A Boy

If I hear one more person say “Oh, poor Dad,” in reference to him being in a family of all women, I might just explode.

He’s not a “poor dad,” just like a mom of only sons is not a “poor mom.” Do they long for a child of the opposite sex? Perhaps. Are they outnumbered in terms of watching Peppa Pig vs. Bob the Builder? Maybe. But aren’t we evolved enough to know that children of either sex can watch both? They, of course, are blessed to have the children that they have.

It’s also perfectly okay to be initially disappointed when your baby’s sex is revealed. As many as 1 in 5 women admit that they were disappointed by the gender of their unborn child, although most of the gender disappointment dissipates once the baby is born. But what if you had a girl after girl after girl, hoping each one after the first was a boy? What if there was extreme familiar pressure to have a male child? Would that mean your family was incomplete because you only had children of one gender and never tried for one last boy/girl?

Absolutely not. You are not missing out if you have all girls or all boys. In fact, many people prefer it. One set of clothes, one set of toys. They can even share a room! There are many perks to having a few of the same gender children. Many mothers and fathers are proud of their status as a #boymom and #girldad, tagging their social media posts with these hashtags.

The truth is you only have so much control over your pregnancy, but very little in terms of choosing sex. Of course, there are the old wives tales about certain positions or a certain number of days before or past ovulation, but ultimately it’s up to science and DNA. You can say up and down that you just want a healthy baby, but there is probably some part of you that preferred one gender over the other. You may have your reasons or maybe it’s just that you think you would be a better mother to boys or girls. Maybe you are terrified to have a daughter because you remember how nasty you were to your mother as a teenager.

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I myself could never wait to find out the gender of both my children (a girl and a boy). I needed to prepare for each child based on their gender. If my second was another boy, I didn’t need anything, as my first was also a boy. If my second was a girl, I needed lots of pink! All my life, I longed for only sons, for no other reason than I remembered what it was like being a teenage girl and how rotten I could be to my mother. I was terrified of my child being as rotten as I and many of my friends had been to their mothers.

When my firstborn revealed (after lots of coaxing and the promise of a car at sixteen) that he was a boy, I felt relieved. For my second, I hoped for another boy, both out of ease (as we had all the items prepared already) but also I had got it in my head that I wanted two boys and a girl, mostly to protect my daughter and keep her in check. She was a beautiful baby girl and she is sassy and sweet, and couldn’t imagine life without her. I pray she always thinks I am the greatest person in the world, even as a teenager.

My brother has the blessing of being the last male to carry on the family name. He’s the only boy in the family of an only boy. Without him having a son, the family name stops at him. His wife and himself have three daughters, and while a son would round them out, they are also perfectly content with their three beautiful girls.

They didn’t find out the gender of his firstborn. We all waited for months and months, guessing what the baby would be. I still can’t believe that it was a secret until she was born. But I remember getting the news that a healthy baby girl was born and was perfect. My brother stepped into the father role better than I ever could have imagined. He lit up around his daughter.

Never being “too girly,” his daughter loved the way he tossed her in the air (much to mom’s terror) and making her do baby gymnastics to stop her from crying. She also loved when he was rough, using tactics like aggressive tickling and play wrestling. He never treated her as a stereotypical girl- he just treated her as his child, willing to both wrestle her to the ground and then let her put barrettes in her hair.

For the next baby, they did a surprise gender reveal party. They acted surprised and happy, but there was the slightest hint of disappointed on both their faces. The whispers from the crowd didn’t help either, “Well, they are going to have to go for another so they get their boy,” already planning their next baby before their current one was even born.

Another phrase that kills me is, “So are you going to try for a boy?” or “Were you trying for a boy and ended up with three girls?”  For many years, male was the preferred gender. Many believed that a male would be more successful, carrying on the family name and earning enough money to care for elder parents. Many cultures also preferred to have male children because of the second rate status of women.

The New York Times reported that in a study from 1941 to 2011, the preference remained unchanged, approximately 40% preferred to have a boy. After 2011, it started to change. A recent study, conducted in 2013, shows that gender preference has shifted from boys to girls. More often, parents of girls are less likely to continue having children, indicating that not as many parents are trying for that boy even after they have a few daughters.

I didn’t hear from my brother and sister-in-law after their 20-week ultrasound for their third. We waited for weeks to see if their third would be the long-awaited boy. When I found myself texting her at the end of the day, all she could muster was “Oh yea… it’s a girl.” I knew she was upset, but I pressed on, disappointed for her yet excited to have another niece. She was upset with herself for being upset, but with some careful reassuring words, we ended the conversation talking about how fun another girl would be.

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A few weeks after finding out their third was a girl, my sister-in-law told me the story of what happened moments after she found out. She could tell my brother was visibly upset, so she got really upset. But instead of them both wallowing, my brother reassured her that everything was going to be okay and that he was full of love for all four of his girls. He mustered up the support she needed at that point and told her what she needed to her. And they are the most perfect little girls, and both my brother and sister are the best parents.

Gone are the days when a father longed for a son so that they could play catch together and take them fishing. These days, a daughter is just as apt to participate in traditional “boys” activities as their male counterparts. Girls want to play catch with their fathers and boys want to go shopping with their mothers. So, if we are such an evolved society now, then why are we pitying the father with all girls?

Next time you are out, and you see a family of five (or six or seven), a married couple with their daughters. Instead of looking at all the girls at the table and thinking, “Poor Dad. All girls. Poor guy,” take a look at Dad. He looks around at his beautiful daughters and never considers himself a “poor dad.” He sees himself as the luckiest one at the table.

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