Is saying, raising girls is different from raising boys - sexist?

father teaching his son how to ride a bike

The Inspiration

Since the creation of All Dads On Deck ( website, the idea of writing a blog about raising a daughter from a dad’s perspective was a priority but one that I never fulfilled – until now.  A month ago, a new subscriber to All Dads On Deck reached out saying how he is now a father to a beautiful new baby girl.  I sensed in his email his excitement and worry about 1. being a father and 2. being a father to a girl. His frisson (feeling between thrilled and scared) ignited this blog article, Is saying, raising girls is different from raising boys – sexist?

I am a father to a 12-year-old daughter, and I sure could use some help myself.  Unlike my previous post where I write from experience, I felt inexperienced to write about raising a girl from a dad’s perspective, yes, despite 12 years of hard-lived experience.  I was so excited to get started because this was going to be a win-win situation, helping my new subscriber and myself at the same time – but “boy” did I get a lesson. 

Surfing the Internet

Naturally, my research started with Amazon. I scanned many book titles and summaries.  I read reviews from different buyers as well as total page count.  After about 30 minutes, I came across a book titled, Father to Daughter – Life Lessons on Raising a Girl, by Harry H. Harrison.  A multimillion – copy series that contained 374 pages, would surely be big enough to contain a lot of information.  I was eager and mentally ready to absorb all the information this books would provide – but what I actually learned could shock you.

raising girls

The Arrival

With Amazon Prime, the book was delivered within days.  Checking the mailbox on my way to work, I was excited to see a package and immediately opened it.  My enthusiasm quickly turned to shock then disappointed and then to outrage after reading the introduction.  I put the book down. Bringing the book to work, I showed it to three other people, two of the three people had a similar reaction.  I was somewhat intrigued and relieved that not all three of my colleagues had my reaction.  Was I just being oversensitive or too reactive? 

The Breakdown

So you may be wondering what caused my initial negative reactions? First, the size of the book. Recall, I found my much anticipated Prime package while heading into work.  Although I was driving, I tore upon the wrapper and realized that while the book boasted 374 pages, it was only 4 inches by 6 inches – slightly larger than a cellphone and about an inch thick. Once I arrived at work, I eagerly flipped through the book and while I was hoping to read about researched based philosophical approaches to raising girls versus boys, each page offered the reader anywhere between 4 to 30 words.  I resigned myself to owning a compilation of adages from other parents. 

Picture me not thoroughly deterred, I thought it best to start at the beginning so went to the introduction which contained about 90 words.  The first six words of the introduction re-ignited frustration – “Raising a girl takes two parents…” Wondering what year this was written, I looked for the copyright and was flabbergasted that it was published in 2013.  Is that considered, back-in-the-day thinking?  I foraged on.  “…..  A mom to show her how to be a woman and a dad to encourage her to be fearless,” is where I put the book down.  This was when I started to really develop my personal conceptions about how to raise girls and the beginning of Is saying, raising girls is different from raising boys – sexist?

The Book

The book is divided into many parts, for example The Wonder Years, The Mystery Years and Girls and Spirituality.  Each section contains statements from parents that the author compiled.  I will admit, there were many quips from parents that I did find useful, but as the same time, could apply to boys as well.   Until I can grapple the question Is saying, raising girls is different from raising boys – sexist? I am not in the position to recommend the book or not, and I certainly do not want to pass judgement on anyone ever in my life.  While I disagree with some aspects of this book, it did ground my own personal belief about raising girls AND boys.  And for that, I am thankful that I choose this particular book. 

The End Game

After a few days of reflecting, calming down and getting back a growth mind set, I read the book again.  In the end, I did gain takeaways.  While I didn’t learn anything specific about raising girls, it did cement an idea in my mind.  An idea that, in my opinion, is the golden rule to raising girls.

Children are sponges of explicit and implicit information and actions; as such, it is my interactions and modeling appropriate behaviors with my spouse, children, friends, extended family, acquaintances, and strangers that is helping to raise my children.  My spouse is my equal – she is fearless, courageous and the smarted woman I know.  My wife feels the same about me (I did check with her first ahead of time).  Neither of us is in charge of nurturing, breadwinning, athleticism, or cooperation.  The first sentence of the book goes, Raising a girl takes two parents: A mom to show her how to be a women, A dad to encourage her to be fearless. Yet another disappointment. While it may be easier with two parents, it is not a requirement.  My son and daughter will grow up with the same beliefs about woman and men because of the people or person who raised them. So, where did my thinking end up about, Is raising girls different from raising boys?  Perhaps raising girls is different from raising boys but the parenting style and the set of values are the same. 

While modeling appropriate behaviors was identified as my family value this time, add a comment below what may have been your family value? Describe it with your family and place it on your Family Values Roadmap worksheet, downloadable as a free PDF on my site for free when you sign-up. Click here to sign up.

Share my story with a friend and ask them what would be their family value connection!


Sign up below to stay connected and receive a free Family Value Tree template and parent flowchart. Be on the lookout for more articles to help shape and "grow" your family value tree.

1 thought on “Is saying, raising girls is different from raising boys – sexist?”

  1. I have raised both and find them often different in their needs but they do respond in similar fashion over a long time lind- say 20-30 years. Stick with it and keep plowing.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *