This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer, Diana @Hormonal Imbalances.  She asked our writers,

“Are there any differences in your culture on how boys and girls are raised?  For example, is there a change in discipline when dealing with one gender versus the other?  Education? Expectations in behavior?  Changes in rules as they grow up? Do you agree or disagree with your culture’s parenting methods?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Mama B. of Saudi Arabia writes:
“Where to start?  I am going to generalize now so… in general, in our culture there is a big difference between what is expected of boys and what is expected of girls.  As far as discipline goes, girls get the iron fist, while boys get a slap on the hand.

In education Saudi schools are not mixed but there isn’t a huge difference in the educational material now.  Women have less fields in universities.  It used to be that a woman could be a doctor, a teacher or work in a bank, but that is also changing and diversifying.  A lot of women are in the work force in many different fields and sometimes are the sole bread winners for the families.

But still, when girls are growing up there isn’t a lot expected of them as opposed to what’s expected of boys.  Society is more lenient on them, but a boy is raised with the expectations that he will take care of his parents, his brothers and sisters if he is the eldest, and his wife and children. Again, I am generalizing.

In my family the same is expected of women as it is of men.  Many of the girls I know who are in high school now think of doing some volunteer work or taking courses to go on their CV’s.  And others are looking for summer experience to help them in their college applications.  It keeps getting better but it won’t change until society begins to expect the same from women as they do from men and vice versa.

Not much is expected of men when it comes to family matters.  The woman takes care of everything and makes all the decisions.   As long as men bring in the money then they fulfill their duty.  Forget about helping with the children or any household chores. Again, generalizing about the Arab world.  There are MANY amazing fathers out there and things are changing… slowly… but they’re changing.”

Multitasking Mumma of Ontario, Canada writes:
“In Ontario it’s pretty much equal.. however, sexism still exists. Boys and girls are still raised with “boy” toys and “girl” toys and with certain expectations of what a “boy” job is and what a “girl” job is and it is rare that a man will stay home with his children and the woman go out to work, but if he does he is applauded.”

Tatterscoops of Indonesia writes:
“Wonderful topic.  Indonesia in general is still very patriarchal so boys are taught from early on to toughen it up and crying is for girls.  The results are men who have difficulties when it comes to opening up about their feelings.  On the other hand, I am trying to teach my son that it’s OK to cry when he’s sad, there is nothing wrong with that.  Hopefully by being more open about ‘feelings’ with my son he will grow up with the skills to express himself and know that he is still a human that has emotions.  Teaching him to work through different kinds of emotions is part of the job of being a parent.”

Hamakkomommy of Japan writes:
“I had a talk with my husband AGAIN about this just this morning.  He’s always telling our daughter “Girls shouldn’t do that,” or asking her who she wants to marry when she grows up instead of what she wants to be.  It’s like he can’t fathom that she would ever be anything but a housewife.

The oldest son is traditionally responsible for caring for the parents in their old age.  In many families, the parents live with the oldest son and his family.  Even my friends, who are in their thirties, expect this.  I’ve heard friends talk about saving money to send their son to private school, but figure the local school is good enough for a girl.  They don’t see that as sexist though.  Paper credentials mean a lot here, especially when finding employment and especially for men.”

ThirdEyeMom of Minnesota, USA writes:
“Very interesting topic which as a parent of both a girl and a boy, I am sometimes struggling with.  I often find myself being harder on my son mostly because he tends to be more aggressive than my daughter.  She is also the younger, smaller one who tends to get beat on more so than my son.  Yet I am trying to be a fair, equal parent and I expect the same from both of my children regardless of sex.  Discipline is tricky.  I am sure I’ll get payback when my daughter reaches her teenage years!  As for expectations, I expect the same and equal for both my children.  I am glad they live in a place where they both will have opportunities for education and careers, regardless of their sex.  The glass ceiling is breaking each and every day!”

FireCrystals of India writes:
“Living inIndia, I imagine it is the similar to most Asian countries.  Boys are fawned over, while girls are often ignored. When a boy grows up and starts hitting or beating up others, people tend to say – “Oh! Boys will be boys.”  A girl does the same and she gets – ” You are a girl! What will people say if you behave like that?!!”  And this is the refrain commonly heard whenever a girl attempts to do anything that boys are permitted to do without any problems.  A boy can come home at any time – A girl steps out (or rather steps in) after dark, and people (usually family) say – “What the hell were you doing out so late? Can’t you see that it is DARK??!!”.

And to top it all off, the sex ratio in India is so skewed in favour of boys that so many are unable to get a bride.  What else can be expected with people praying and wanting only boys?  The boy is expected to care for the family and take care of his parents during old age.  The girl is ‘Paraya dhan’ – meaning ‘Someone else’s fortune’.  Quite literally, a girl is brought up by her parents just so that she can be married off and be part of some other family.  These are still the medieval mentalities in place in India even today (and imagine, it is the 21st century in most of the world exceptIndia!).  Slowly (at a snail’s pace), they are changing, but a great deal more work and reforms are needed before girls are really considered equal to boys.”

Ms. V of South Korea writes:
“A very good question.  And a topic about which I have a lot to say … probably too much, so I’ll try to be brief.  There’s the culture I was raised in – and the culture I currently live in, and the answer to the question for both cultures is definitely “yes”.

In the States, despite a lot of emphasis and work on gender equality, I think that the attitudes that led to gender inequality in the first place are still rampant, and these of course affect childrearing practices.  When I was pregnant, we opted not to find out the sex beforehand, and I was stunned by the reactions we got when asked if we knew what we were having.  “What will you buy?!”, was the most common cry.  An almost stranger actually told me that I wasn’t going to be able to feel a bond with my baby in utero without knowing the gender!

Boys and girls are genderized from the womb to be princesses and superheroes.  Girls are pink and frills and tea parties and boys are blue and rough and sports.  Despite this idea that boys are tough and girls are delicate, though, I think as a culture, in all areas from education to discipline to expectations we are much harder on girls than boys.  As if “boys will be boys” so they get a pass, while girls are expected to behave “properly”, to be studious, and not to rock the boat too much.  I think boys get the raw end of the stick, though.  While girls are presumed to be soft, but expected to be tough at times, boys are expected to be tough all the time, and not given permission to show a softer side.  As success in the world becomes more and more dependent on emotional intelligence, I think our boys who have been raised within the confines of traditional male-dominated roles will suffer.

These are of course broad generalizations.  I know plenty of parents that are raising their children based on who they are and not on society’s expectations for their sex.  This gives me hope that things are changing, and I honestly feel like my generation is going to move further and further from that as we raise our kids.

Here in South Korea, the differences is raising the two sexes is even more pronounced.  Boys are definitely preferred as offspring.  Every time we leave the house with our son we are congratulated on our good fortune in having a boy.  The cultures of Asia in general are becoming more and more westernized, but traditionally it is felt that the more sons the better, as this makes the family stronger and bigger since when they marry, their wives move in and become the primary care-givers to the husband’s parents. In general, girls are expected to be submissive and boys are expected to be successful.  Interestingly,Korea’s emphasis on education in the last 50 years is forcing a bit of a change, though.  Because all children, no matter the gender, are expected to excel academically, parents spend a lot of time and money educating their children.  This means that having a child is very expensive and so many families are opting to only have one, even if the one they have is a girl.  I think that over time, this will do a lot to change the way girls are parented, as parents won’t have a son/brother to compare their girls to. Also, women inKoreaare becoming more and more educated and opting not to marry at all.  So, who knows how this will change things?

In both cases, I completely disagree with treating people differently based on sex/gender.  I think every person should be raised, disciplined, educated, etc. in the way that best suits their own unique personality.  You have to parent the child you have, not society’s idea of who your child should be.  There are a lot more differences among boys and girls than there are between them.

I could go on and on … I’m sorry. That’s my (very long) two cents.”

Eva Fannon of Washington State, USA writes:
“Based on my upbringing with my mother’s Venezuelan culture, I would say that the biggest thing I have noticed about difference in expectations based on gender is that daughters in the family are expected to be caregivers for their parents when they are elderly.  Putting parents into a nursing home when they can no longer care for themselves is unheard of.  They should be taken in by the oldest daughter (or the responsibility should be shared among the children).”

What about you… are there any differences in your culture on how boys and girls are raised?  

And do you have a question you would like to pose to our WMB writers?  If so, email us at to see what they have to say.

Don’t forget to visit us tomorrow to check out the travel itinerary!

– World Moms Blog

Photo credit to ntr23  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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