Most parents are happy with the children they have regardless of gender. Of course, some parents prefer not to leave this matter up to change and may use various coping mechanisms to deal with their disappointment.
Some studies show that women tend to want daughters and men want sons. One survey even indicated that this preference was similar across men and women of different classes, races, and educational levels. Parents are found to have unconscious biases when discussing their preferences for having children of a certain gender.
Still, it's not easy to get a child of the gender that may be desired. Parents just usually make do and enjoy the ride along the way. But what happens when a dad really wants a son and has a daughter instead?
It turns out many fathers have unorthodox methods of dealing with their desire for having a son. At first, even we thought some of the strangest ways they deal with this gender disappointment existed only in films or TV.
Little did we know, but there are many true-life examples of fathers who deal with gender disappointment in some pretty strange, and sometimes adorable, ways. Let's look at both IRL and made up examples of this, shall we?
Let's start with the dads who are raising their girls like boys IRL...
Laurie Abraham wrote an article in The Cut about what it was like to be raised as a boy. She mentions that her father encouraged her to play sports and engaged in the type of rough play we expect fathers to use with their sons. Think wrestling, football, etc.
Thankfully Abraham had a positive relationship with sports because her father encouraged her even if her team didn't always win. Her father even nicknamed her Lawrence. The thing is, she asked her father why he raised her like a boy, but he told her he just raised her. He didn't even notice what he was doing!
Back to Abraham's essay in The Cut, she notes that she also had a sister who wasn't exactly a tomboy growing up. Sure, dad always made sure to play with each daughter and spend time with them, but his parenting style only had a major impact on one of his daughters.
We suppose that if a father wants boys but ends up with daughters, they may raise one "like a boy." It seems that in Abraham's case, her father's just kind of tried different methods and reacted depending on his daughter's wishes. Both sisters still seem happy with their father's influence.
Many fathers who raise their daughters as sons end up doing this so they can share their love of sports. The thing is, a lot of parents become that sports mom or dad.
This YouTube video shows comments from children who have overzealous parents who yell during their games. Across the board, the children mention how important it is that their parents support them instead of trying to become a backseat coach.
It's understandable that young children might get more nervous whenever their dad yells during their games. Thankfully the children in the video also describe how thankful they are for their parents' hard work!
In many parts of the world, parents have an unconscious bias against having daughters. Sometimes this is because a given region is dangerous, and parents feel that a son would be safer. Sachin Gupta, a father from India, wrote about how men are taught that it's better to have a son than a daughter.
However, he mentioned that he was able to share many traditions with his daughter just as he would have if she had been a boy. Gupta recalls the day his doctor showed him and his wife an ultrasound of his daughter. He was still overjoyed that he'd be a father, and he has no regrets.
Though it's true that many women find the prospect of being treated "like a boy" more liberating, not everyone was happy about this. One Reddit user decided to talk about how her father's preference for a son had a negative impact on her life.
Other commenters replied with both positive and negative anecdotes about their father's attitude. The OP mentioned that to this day she doesn't understand why some people have a stronger preference over having a child of one gender over the other. She even cuts off relationships with partners who have a bias against daughters. Good on her for knowing what she wants.
All dads have their flaws. One Reddit commenter mentioned that her father really wanted a boy, so he called her son. Since it's not strange to hear this in a public setting, no one really batted an eye.
Her father expected her to do manly things and encouraged physical activity. Of course, that doesn't mean he was a good father on other fronts. She doesn't specify much, but it seems that being raised to act more like a guy wasn't negative for this commenter. At the very least, she doesn't resent being called "son" in public and being able to play a bit more.
One Reddit commenter mentioned that her father really wanted a son. Her mother brought up that dad didn't like her when she was a baby. Lucky for the commenter, her dad didn't display any of this resentment as she got older. In fact, he was very loving and realized his child's gender didn't matter.
He encouraged a love for risk-taking and adventures. For her, this meant she got to play with toys meant for girls and boys. Plus, she got to wrestle! The commenter also mentioned that her father didn't become overprotective when she started dating. Now that's amazing parenting.
A Reddit commenter talked about how her father basically has an imaginary son. Yikes! She mentioned that even though he encouraged her to play sports, he led her to softball, which he didn't consider a "real" sport.
She also discusses how it was harmful to have her listen to his speeches as a child. According to this commenter, her father constantly complained of how he would've played catch with a son if he had had one, but didn't play catch with her or her sister. In fact, her father still talks about these activities during family reunions. That sounds like no fun.
Reddit commenter SocialIQof0 says her father treated her more like a buddy than a daughter. They went on motorcycle rides until she became older and he felt this was no longer appropriate. They also went fishing, and he even taught her how to use a bow and arrow.
Their relationship was quite positive, but her sister had a son who liked dolls, and the commenter's father took this quite harshly.
She also gave other women advice on how to deal with fathers who didn't accept them. The commenter's father eventually grew out of treating her like a boy over the years.
One woman discussed that she had a brother who wasn't interested in stereotypically male activities. However, she was. She naturally had an inclination to use power tools, do DIY projects, and loved working on projects.
As such, she and her father had a positive bond over this. She mentioned that she never felt that she was treated as "less than" just because she was a daughter. Instead, her hobbies were just a way she and her father could connect.
It's nice to hear that many women had positive experiences with fathers who wanted sons instead. Not everyone can make peace with this dynamic.
One Reddit commenter says her father raised her as a traditional son and this had a few unintended effects. She mentions that her older brother was autistic and wasn't interested in stereotypical "boy" hobbies. Thankfully, she found that doing these activities worked out well for her.
Of course, she's still a bit of a tomboy at heart. Now that she's an adult, she finds that men are often confused about her orientation. Then again, this also means that people still have to let go of gender stereotypes. After all, the commenter seems totally happy with the way she was raised.
And here are some fictional examples...
Blended is a film where we watch Adam Sandler's character Jim raise his daughter Hillary like a boy. Not only that, he has a daughter named Espn, as in ESPN. It seems Jim isn't exactly trying to raise a daughter as a boy out of choice, he just doesn't know what else to do.
At first, Hillary doesn't seem to mind that she looks a bit tomboyish. For her, dad has always just kind of bought her clothes without really asking her what she wants. Drew Barrymore's character decides to do this, and Jim ends up accepting his daughter's decision to be more traditionally feminine.
Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr. got her name from her father, who was expecting a son when she was born. Instead of accepting his fate, he chose to raise her more or less as a boy. She was taught to hunt, fish, and played hockey in Canada.
One day she was making out with someone on the team and Robin Sr. decided it was finally time to accept that he had a daughter. Of course, Robin does a 360 and even becomes pop sensation, Robin Sparkles. But that's a story for another day. Suffice it to say that Robin Jr's upbringing explained a lot about her character.
One of the first things we notice about Shado on Arrow is how beautiful she is. But she still packs a mean punch. She becomes one of Oliver Queen's mentors and is instrumental to his transition from billionaire socialite to level-headed superhero.
Able to take on men twice her size, she handles herself better than just about every fighter in Lian Yu. Her skills were often met with skepticism, but at least Slade—who loves her till the end, respects her. Still, she did bring up that her father taught her to fight because he wanted a boy. Slade famously replied, "Well, he got one."
Jo Yang-sun is different from others who were "raised like boys." Instead, she was raised with the skills and resources necessary to become one when needed. She plays a book saleswoman who has to dress up as a man so she can make enough money to make ends meet.
The show takes place during a time in South Korea where this would be unacceptable. Her family just kind of ignores what she does, knowing that they need her to do whatever she can to help them. Jo Yang-sun also lets us see how other parents raise their daughters to be "like boys."
Looking at this picture, you may think Elly May doesn't really look like a stereotypical tomboy. Let's remember that The Beverly Hillbillies was on TV from 1962 to 1971. People had different standards of what being raised as a boy could mean back then.
May was a pioneering character in her own way. Though she was still a bit girlish for a tomboy, she wrestled and excelled in sports. In addition, she got along quite well with animals and men. Where many women on TV back then were expected to cook, her character was written as a bad cook. That was a big deal back then.
Anyone who saw the classic Remember the Titans will recall Sheryl Yoast, Coach Yoast's tomboyish daughter. She absolutely loved football and was a foil to Coach Boone's family.
Rather than inciting her to be this way, it seems Sheryl Yoast was just who she was and her father went along with it. It was adorable to watch her yell out football directives, support her father's team, and make new friends.
It just goes to show that there are positive media representations of men who raise their daughters "like sons" because that's what their child wants. This seems much healthier than forcing it on them.
When you think of characters who were raised as tomboys, you probably can't imagine Penny from The Big Bang Theory. It's true though! Her father, Wyatt, wanted a boy and even called her "slugger" growing up. He stopped doing this when she hit puberty and had to start wearing training bras.
Wyatt still continued to dote on her as a son though. Penny mentioned he once sent her a baseball and catcher's glove as a Christmas present once. Of course, Penny doesn't seem bothered by her father's choices. Wyatt also seems very caring, warm, and friendly. He seems to always go the extra mile for Penny.
Many people think of Nirvana as just a grunge band, but they're so much more than that. In addition to dealing with their own issues, they also made some poignant commentary on interesting subjects.
"Been A Son" is about parents who wanted a son but got a daughter. The song discusses someone who should have been a son. Though it's quite dark, it examines the life of a girl whose parents were always disappointed at who they got.
It's a great song to listen to understand how someone might feel if their parents have always been upset to have a daughter.
Emma Peel was a strong female lead in the 1960s, but Uma Thurman brought the character back to life in 1998. Known as a great martial artist and scientist, A formidable chess player, she mentions her father groomed her to be an overachiever in male-dominated fields because of this.
Still, in both iterations, Peel is shown to be a fashion icon. The character shows us that being raised as a son doesn't always have an impact on one's appearance. That means you can't judge a character by how they look. After all, the next "girly" person you see may truly be a tomboy in disguise.