Why Do We Prefer Sons?
This article was originally published on the Good Men Project on 25 September 2015.
“Oh, your husband must be so pleased.” This is the response my wife heard when she told people that our second child was a boy. I thought it was an odd thing to say at first but the more people we told the more I kept hearing it, even from my mother.
Of course I was pleased, but not in the way they expected. I was too relieved when I learn that the baby was healthy to care about the gender. Our daughter was born with birth defects which raised the risk of our son having them as well. The treatments have been emotionally challenging for us all and I was worried how we would cope with a second round.
Why is it that people assumed I was more excited about a son than another daughter?
Did they think I was so disappointed in having a daughter I wouldn’t want another one? That I would be upset if I didn’t have a son, but my wife would be fine with it?
A friend of ours recently found out she was expecting a boy. I said, “That’s great, your husband must be so pleased.” I had just said the exact thing I was struggling with to another parent.
I wasn’t really thinking about what I was saying. It was more of an automatic response, a pleasantry to move the conversation along. Yet for some reason I gave the same awkward suggestion that the father would be happier with a son than a daughter.
Where does this come from? I have no great land and hereditary titles to pass on to a son. Marrying off a daughter no longer requires her to be more a part of her husband’s family than ours. I don’t have lower aspirations for my daughter than my son.
I look forward to teaching my daughter how to install a sink, and teaching my son how to cook. My daughter will mow the lawn when she is old enough, and my son will weed the garden. I don’t see self-sufficiency skills as having a gender. They are things every adult should know how to do, even if they choose not to.
So why do we (I) still assume fathers are happier about sons? It seems I’m left with only questions.
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