The ‘Happiest’ Families Have Two (Obedient) Daughters

Raising two children could never be deemed a small undertaking, but according to this study, families raising two girls are the “most harmonious.” The survey discovered that the two girls in the combination tended to be “well-behaved,” yet the researchers seem to be aligning that definition with obedience — a questionable trait to be reinforcing in self-assured little girls.

The article over at TODAY Moms, reads:

The survey of more than 2,000 families with different combinations of siblings found two girls are most likely to be: well-behaved,  play nicely together, easy to reason with, and rarely try to push each other’s buttons.

Little girls who are “easy to reason with” and “rarely try to push each other’s buttons” read to me like pushovers who say “yes, mommy” and dutifully eat all their vegetables. While that image may incite a smile in many parents, the reality of a little girl not being encouraged to voice her discontentment may have terrible results later on. After all, what’s the difference between a father saying, “because I said so” and a manipulative boyfriend? Or a mother insisting that her daughter just do things without questioning them and a schoolyard bully pressuring her to do something that she suspects is wrong?

What makes me suspect that there are some hyper-gendered approaches to parenting here is that two girls are the only combination to have garnered these remarks. Meanwhile, four girls (ranked at the bottom of the family harmony list) are considered horrible for having “all those hormones.” Families with four girls cite all kinds of problems like “fighting and arguing,” suggesting to me that it’s harder to keep four girls “well-behaved” than two. Disagreements in the ranks of sisters sound more authentic to me than two muted children who “play nicely together.” And while it reads like praise, comments like these on the obedience of girls have strong roots in encouraging complacency in females.

Having children who listen to reason is to be cherished, but raising children of either gender who are told never to question it is cause for alarm.

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