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Dealing with gender disappointment

Dealing With Gender Disappointment - Parents Canada

Whether you’ve just announced your pregnancy or you’re ready to pop, you’ve probably been hearing a lot of this: “Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?” Yeah, we know, you just want a healthy baby. Of course. But the truth is many of us harbour a secret gender preference.

Toronto mom Karen Davey always wanted a little girl. “I knew how to relate to girls. I knew how to have fun with them. I would enjoy tea parties and Barbies versus hockey games and fighting,” she says. Then Davey found out she was having a boy. While she was slightly disappointed to see a little penis on the ultrasound, her discontent didn’t last when her son was born. “Watching my husband connect with him is wonderful. I think I get more enjoyment watching the bond that the two of them have.”

It turns out there may be a biological reason for our gender preferences. A 2011 study from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., showed men have a stronger preference to have boys while women tend to want girls. “It comes from an ingrained desire to leave something of oneself for the future,” says Lonnie Aarssen, the study’s co-author. In other words, we see children as an opportunity to create a little mini-me.

The thing is, hoping for one sex over another can lead to tons of emotions—including guilt. While most of these feelings will disappear when your babe arrives, Guelph, Ont., psychologist Maya Hammer says they can become a burden if not dealt with.

Don’t ignore your feelings

“The more you suppress something or avoid it, the bigger it becomes,” says Hammer. Ignoring your initial upset can cause you to unknowingly pass those negative feelings onto your child once he or she is born.

Figure out why you’re upset

Perhaps you grew up with sisters and imagined doing manicures with your one-day daughter; your husband, who grew up with brothers, has always looked forward to weekends play-wrestling with his son. Yes, we know these are old-fashioned gender roles— the point is these musings create unfair expectations. Remember, says Hammer, your child’s gender doesn’t dictate his or her personality.

Chat with other parents

Having a boy even though you absolutely thought you were having a girl? Ask friends and family who have sons what they love most about parenting boys. Watch how they interact with their children and start envisioning your life with your tot. Davey got more excited about having a boy when she decorated her son’s nursery—she went with traditional blue.

Originally published in the Fall 2018 issuePhoto by @jordanbauer_

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