Dads love their children no matter what their gender may be, and there is a special bond which will often form between dads and their children. When mom is pregnant though, most fathers secretly - or overtly - hope that their bundle of joy will be a son. In fact, men have told the National Bureau of Economic pollsters that they would rather have a boy by more than a two-to-one margin whereas women have only a slight preference for daughters.
Why do men want sons? Rather, why do men want sons so much more than women want daughters? In our household, my husband is over-the-moon in love with our daughter and would do anything for her. He's a proud papa and is raising a strong woman. Yet, when conversations turn to having more kids, he brings up how much he wants a son. What gives?
This affinity men have for sons doesn't stop at a baby's gender reveal either. According to the PEW research center, divorced fathers are 11 to 22 percent more likely to have custody of their sons in all-boy versus all-girl families. For those fathers who were married with a child between six and 12 years old, they spent nearly 40 more minutes per day with their sons than with their daughters, mostly doing things like playing sports and watching television.
These statistics are most likely subconscious biases rather than intentional actions. In the following article, we look at multiple reasons why dads prefer sons and what inspires this preference.
20 They Understand What It's Like To Be A Boy
After all, fathers were young once and they remember what it was like to grow into a man. There are the rites of passage which include dating to sports to eating more than your weight in steak. When it comes to parenting, having a framework to go off of is invaluable. Most moms can relate to this mentality when it comes to raising daughters as well. Fathers have been shown to be statistically more worried about becoming a parent than women are. By having the framework of boyhood to work from, fathers feel like they can be more successful at raising a son.
19 There's Pride In Passing Down The Family Name
Most women are not concerned with passing down their family name. Women take their husbands names, or hyphenate, or keep their maiden names; it's the modern age, after all. However, men have thousands of years of generational influence pressuring them to produce "an heir." If you lived in pre-modern times without a son, your resources and wealth would go to the next male kin even if you didn't like him. The pressure of having a son has been rooted in male mentality for thousands of years, and a women's revolution that is less than 100 years old doesn't remove that subconscious pressure.
18 They Don't Know How To Have "The Talk"
It's awkward for anyone, but men, in particular, find female reproduction discussions mind-boggling. Men don't have a monthly reminder of the weight of what it means to be female, and because it's an awkward topic would rather avoid the discussion altogether.
Then there is the frightening possibility for a father that he will have to help his daughter through the uncertainty of birth control, tampons, and leaks. If his partner isn't around, it would be up to him to step up and help his daughter navigate her monthly cycle. While many men do this admirably, others are shy about the subject and don't know how to approach it.
17 They Feel Like They Would Connect With A Boy More Easily Than A Girl
In reality, men often feel less intuitive as parents than women do. Even from the moment when a mother discovers her pregnancy, many fathers find it takes longer to connect with the baby. Men do not have the physical dependency which a mother has as she nurses her child or can discern her baby's cues based on physical instinct.
Not only do fathers take longer to initially connect, they are often stuck at work during the day. “A lot of men complain that when the baby arrives they don’t know what to do with themselves,” says Sean Grover, a family psychotherapist in New York. “Once you get past their bravado, they are really lost.”
The belief that some fathers have that they will connect more with a son stems from their attachment to the idea that at least a boy will need him to throw a ball around. This may not be accurate, but it's often an idea that men will cling to in order to cover their insecurities.
16 Raising A Modern Daughter To Be Successful Is Not Easy
Fathers are in the midst of a female empowerment movement where more women have opportunities to achieve high-power positions in the corporate world. Unfortunately, fathers don't have a handbook on how to prepare their daughters for these positions while navigating the sexism and bias which will naturally impede their professional development. In reality, most fathers nowadays are in open water when it comes to raising a successful daughter in a "man's world."
Men might find it easier to raise a son because they do not have to navigate this complicated world of gender bias and professional success. For fathers who have daughters and are navigating this complicated circumstance, they are laying the groundwork for future generations of fathers to raise their daughters to be successful.
15 They Feel More Useful When Raising A Son
A father who feels the pride and responsibility of raising a boy into a man naturally feels more useful in the parenting process. According to Grace Malonai, a clinical therapist in San Francisco finds that sons make mothers feel more inept as parents.
Since a mother has no experience as a young boy who must navigate the social pressures of boyhood, it's normal for her to turn to her husband for advice and insight into her son's behavior. Through this discussion with her husband in the parenting process, the mother validates her partner's ability to parent and makes him feel more capable in turn. Everyone wants to feel needed, especially with something as personal as raising a child; this dynamic influences a father's desire to have a son.
14 They Don't Want To Be Outnumbered By Women In The Household
It's hard feeling like you are outnumbered by the opposite gender. A father in a household of daughters can be found complaining about everything from bathroom time to shopping bills; it comes with the daughter territory. A father naturally wants to maintain some kind of fair balance between monster truck rallies and Disney princess shows.
This reason a father wants a son is especially true if he already has a daughter in the home. I have even had friends who had several daughters and their husbands insisted on only adopting a male dog "to increase the testosterone in the house." As silly as it might seem, maintaining the gender ratio is a contributing factor to why a father hopes for a son!
13 They Might Want A Re-do Of Their Father-Son Relationship
If a man doesn't have a great relationship with his father, he might see having a son as an opportunity to have a "redo" of that lost relationship. There is a sense of loss that many men feel in not having a good relationship with their parent, and a father may look at parenthood as a way to "get it right" by not repeating the failed relationship with his child. This desire is often subconscious and it's certainly possible for a man to build a healthy relationship with his daughter, but many men hope for a son because it introduces the possibility of healing their own relationship with their parents.
12 There Is A Cultural Expectation That A Man Should Have A Son
This cultural expectation stems from thousands of years of generations where family security rested in male lineage. It wasn't until 2012 that the United Kingdom passed a law which enabled a child to inherit the throne regardless of gender; the idea that a man needs to have a son doesn't disappear overnight.
The pressure to have a son can be seen as recently as the one-child policy in China, which only permitted families to have one child. So prevalent is the idea that a man should have a son, over 30 million more men than women will reach adulthood within this next generation.
11 They Think Boys Are More Emotionally Self-Sufficient
There is a cultural misconception that men have less emotional fluctuation and therefore need less emotional help than women. With this belief permeating our culture, it makes sense that a father would hope for a son because it would be "easier" to raise a child with less emotional needs.
However, this belief that men need less emotional regulation than women is utterly false. "There's a ton of research indicating that it's really good for children to talk about their emotions and so if we're doing that less without boys, that's a good thing to realize," says Ashley Welch of CBS News. Teaching children to identify, express, and work through their emotions are important skills for sons and daughters to grow into emotionally healthy men and women.
10 They Enjoy The Rough-And-Tumble Play With Boys
Rough-and-tumble play is most often associated with boys, even though studies show that father-child roughhousing is beneficial no matter the child's gender. According to studies published by the National Institute of Health, rough-and-tumble play by parents can help young children better regulate their emotions.
Traditionally, men express their emotions in conjunction with physical activity. A father who has a son might find that he is able to connect with his child on this roughhousing level and teach emotional regulation without ever discussing specific feelings. This contributes to a father's sense of ease when he discovers he is having a son, because men feel as though they are able to communicate more easily with a member of their own gender.
9 They Don't Know How To Talk To Daughters About Puberty
Puberty is a difficult subject for anyone to have to discuss with their children, but discussing it with a child of the opposite gender can be downright awkward. Dads, who traditionally have a more difficult time discussing emotions, have an overly awkward time discussing the birds and the bees with their daughters. Nine times out of ten, dads tend to avoid discussing it altogether.
Not only is it hard to talk about puberty, but fathers have a more stringent fear that their daughter will one day battle with teenage pregnancy ... and they don't know how to handle that possible situation with their daughter or the boy in question. With these additional pressures associated with raising a daughter, it makes some fathers a bit nervous.
8 They Believe Having A Son Equals A Better Quality Marriage (Which Studies Confirm Is True)
According to American Financial Review, "Couples who have a son stay together three years longer than if they have a daughter. Fathers of boys were not only more likely to say they were excited to become a parent but also more helpful around the home. Mothers of boys, in turn, were more likely to praise their husbands as fathers and were happier in their relationships than those with only girls.
Researchers have found that sons reduced divorce rates by over 20 percentage points. Boys glued these couples together partly because fathers appeared to be more co-operative and attentive at home, but also because many of these mothers agreed with the statement that “parents should stay together, even if they do not get along.” A major reason why many women with sons stayed with their husbands was, it seems, concern for the welfare of their children."
7 They Want To Teach "Man" Things
Our society has a strong dichotomy of "man's-work" and "women's-work" which, statistically, men tend to buy into more than women. “My husband feels it’s his job to do the man things. He is trying to show our sons how a man behaves, what a man does,” says Amanda, a social worker in her mid-30s with two young boys in leafy Newton, Massachusetts.
These patriarchal man-jobs include: taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn, and any handy-man kind of work. Since these are most likely the kinds of things their fathers showed them how to do, it's normal that fathers would want to continue the tradition by passing this knowledge to their sons.
6 They Think There Will Be More Shared Interests With A Son
Multiple research studies reveal what many people already know: men, in general, tend to like “bonding over a third object”, such as technology or sports. Bonding over these third objects might seem easier with sons rather than daughters.
“Men are much more gendered in their behavior, and in their expectations of the behavior of their kids, than women are,” says Michael Lamb, a professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge whose research investigates parent-child relationships. “Fathers tend to be more involved and engaged with sons than with daughters, and this distinction only gets more marked over time.” Whether the distinction is intentional or subconscious, fathers tend to expect gendered behavior overall.
5 They Know How To Make Boys Happy
“I really identify with him,” Matt, a father in his early 40s, told 1894 Magazine. “He just looks a lot like me, and he’s like me in certain ways. Every time I look at him I see myself when I was four years old.”
Of course, he adores his daughter, “but it’s just different. I don’t know how to make a little girl happy the way I fundamentally know how to make a boy happy, so I worry I’m going to somehow screw that up." This sense of ease and self-identification is part of the reason fathers prefer sons because every parent wants to be able to make their child happy.
4 There Is A Cultural Belief That Men Are More Capable (Despite The Data)
So pervasive is the belief in our culture that men are more capable than women that a recent analysis of anonymous search data found that Americans ask “Is my son gifted?” more than twice as often as “Is my daughter gifted?”. This search data discrepancy occurs even though young girls are more likely than boys to be enrolled in gifted programs in school.
To further illustrate the power of cultural stereotypes, parents also ask “Is my daughter overweight?” nearly twice as often as “Is my son overweight?”, even though boys are more likely to be fat. With these differences embedded in our culture, it is much easier to go with the cultural flow rather than point out its inaccuracies.
3 They Want To Raise A "Mini-Me"
With the advent of technology in the 21st century, the mini-me phenomenon took hold of our culture in a new way as parents were able to espouse their child's attributes on social media. This desire from parents to create a mini-me, however, has spanned generations.
Vienna Pharaon, a marriage and family therapist in Manhattan, states that "Parents hope to create someone who is both similar to and better than themselves. "By granting their children opportunities that they themselves lacked, and by behaving as the parents they always wanted, many seek to remove the same obstacles they believe were set on their own paths as they were growing up." Naturally, the closest "mini-me" a father could have would be his son.
2 They Think A Son Would Need Them More Than A Daughter Would
According to 1843 Magazine, moms have become all too aware of the need for a “restraining male presence” in a son's life. Oftentimes, a son’s respect for women declines when he turned 13 or 14 – a time when “the peer group asserts more importance than the parents,” and boys seem particularly disinclined to listen to their mothers.
Louise, a writer based in London with a 17-year old son, is finding it more difficult to impress upon her son the need for self-control. Because of her sons lack of respect for female figures, she relies more on her husband to “teach the boy how to master himself, his aggression, his destructiveness, those typically male attributes.” This sense of leaning on a father figure for help in raising a son naturally makes fathers feel like their sons need them more than their daughters.
1 They Want To Teach The Next Generation What It Means To Be A Man
Men feel a distinct sense of kinship with their sons as they enter adolescence, and with this kinship comes a feeling of responsibility. Louise, the mother with a teenage boy in London, told 1843 Magazine that “the father’s influence with a boy is absolutely key.”
She adds that male friends with sons have confided to her that they are more apprehensive about abandoning their families. “They worry more about the guilt and the damage they may cause.” There is a distinct sense that fathers feel that it is their responsibility to teach their sons how to be men for the next generation.
References: pewresearch.org, .nber.org, cbsnews.com, independent.co.uk, afr.com, today.com, .theepochtimes.com