How different is it raising a girl versus a boy? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 25 Old 12-21-2005, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know all kids are different, no matter what the gender, but I was hoping to hear from some of you who have both genders and the general differences you have observed. I am not one of those mothers who is too hung up about gender differences, my ds has tons of My Little Pony toys, girly toothbrushes, etc. So I don't expect to treat a girl any differently. But since finding out I'm having a girl I've heard many many people tell me how different raising a girl is from raising a boy- regarding temperment, discipline, how they like to play, etc. What have you guys found in your experience?
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#2 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 01:13 AM
 
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I don't have a boy, just girls, but from what I've observed I believe people place stereotypes on their children, especially younger ones. My MIL constantly has to comment on how my girls are just as active as boys. I think that they are just as active as kids, but that's just MHO. DH's family loves labels, everybody has to have a label, maybe to just to be safe.
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#3 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 01:21 AM
 
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I don't know, I only have boys. I have seen girls behaving badly though But my friend wasn't the best of parents either. Now a friend of mine has two girls and one boy and she said the girls are way more active. I guess it probably just depends on the individual children.

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#4 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 01:55 AM
 
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I asked my mom about her experience raising both genders - she thought for a moment and said, "Well, you guys just handled things differently. For example, if we were driving past Thomas pond and you girls saw a group of your friends skating together, you would be all hurt that they had not invited you to skate. If your brother were in the car and it was a group of his friends, he'd beg me to stop so he could jump out and go play too!"

My ds is only a year, but so far my two are quite similar. From working with kids (counseling and teaching) I would say that there often is some validity to the girls "acting in" behavior and the boys "acting out" when they are older, but that is still a generalization, and of course probably has a lot to do with environment and its influence on the indivudual rather than the true nature of each gender.
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#5 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 02:05 AM
 
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I have two boys and a girl, have not really noticed any differences yet (DD is only 6 months old), other than the fact that people cannot stop buying her pink things! Everyone tells me how different it will be with a girl too, I'm not sure what they're expecting. Friends and family have commented that my boys (espeicially the oldest) don't behave like "typical" boys - they are usually quiet and mild mannered, like to read and do crafts, which I guess are seen as girly things? I'm eager to see what differences other mamas have noticed, maybe they are more pronounced as children get older?
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#6 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 02:22 AM
 
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Michael Gurian has wonderful books about this "The Wonder of Boys" and "The Wonder of Girls". I would encourage you to read them both.

With my children I have noticed the differences in little things like agression. My girls being verbally agressive started at a much younger age than my son. Actually my 11 year old is learning this from his sisters

I noticed at birth one difference was what got their attention. If I was moving something and talking to my son it held his attention much longer. If I just held up an object and talked he would get bored. My girls on the other hand would cry if moved the object. **This came from reading an article about boys getting talk to less and less eye contact. Trying to compencate and not get caught up in gender roles I try to over compensated. This frustrated my children. My son was much happier if I talked to him on the move verses the staying still and eye contact my girls liked.

I had a doll for my son. He was much rougher with it. He would rive his cars over it or under it. By the time my oldest dd was born the doll had been lost. I didn't rush to get her one. Dh and I were in no rush to push her into the feminime girly mold that the grandma's were trying to do. We had stuffed animals. Wouldn't you know it she was 9mths old and saw her first doll at a WIC appointment. It was a nasty, dirty, germy doll. We are talking blacken with dirt. We couldn't keep her away from it.
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#7 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 02:36 AM
 
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I have two girls and now a boy. I have to say that I do notice differences. Ds at 12 months runs round the house yelling "Dada!". He is fascinated by wires and tools - only yesterday I found him with a screwdriver he'd climbed to get. He is far more interested in going to dada than the girls, even though I think dh handles him the same. He just seems to like the 'boy stuff' that dh does. He also makes a beeline for cars/trucks/trains - even though he has the exact same choice of mixed-gender toys as his sisters. How the heck he learned 'choo choo' as he pushed a train round at age 10 months I'll never fathom. My girls never did that.

So, my experience so far has been different. Fascinating too!
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#8 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 07:05 PM
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I've read similar discussions elsewhere and one thing that was agreed upon by several moms was that overall, boys tend to be more into snuggling than girls when they are babies/toddlers. Don't know if there is any truth to that.

I don't have a girl, but my 21 month old son is very energetic, LOVES trucks, LOVES dolls, LOVES making muffins and is super-snuggly and all about mom (though he adores his dad too). He enjoys reading and crafts, shaving and putting on make-up. He's a wonderful mix of stereotypical girl and boy preferences as well as stereotypically non-sexed preferences.

He has been kicking a soccer ball around since he was 9.5 months or so (was a very early walker) and is a great kicker. I never even thought to link this to his sex. To me, it's just him doing something he loves to do. I was surprised when a guest saw him kick away and remarked that "he's all boy." Peugh.
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#9 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 07:54 PM
 
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People tend to act differently with kids depending on their (percieved) gender. As time goes by, this will generally become internalised by the child and they will act accordingly.

I believe that the difference between boys and girls are pretty small, compared to the difference between individuals. Most of the percieved difference is societal.
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#10 of 25 Old 12-22-2005, 09:50 PM
 
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My son is only 15 months but he's definatly diffrent then my dd was. He is more physical, loves to wrestle and climb. DD also had better fine moter controll at that same age.
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#11 of 25 Old 12-23-2005, 02:05 AM
 
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I think it's super hard to make any generalizations about gender differences. The author of the book "Growing a Girl" made the point that differences between individuals are far greater than any gender differences. I think that's right on.

IF I had a dime for the number of times I was told to get used to having an active child now that I had a boy - all the time I'm thinking - this is a walk in the park compared to my daughter!

~Eve
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#12 of 25 Old 12-23-2005, 09:06 AM
 
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I have a girl and two boys and I have to say that I agree with whoever said they're INDIVIDUAL differences and not gender differences.

The only big difference I can see is with friendships. My older DS can play with a group of boys fine and dandy, but those girls can get really catty and you can't have an unequal amount of them together or someone is bound to be left out. I've seen it alot here on the boards too, in the childhood and preteen boards, it seems to be the thing with young girls.
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#13 of 25 Old 12-23-2005, 09:40 AM
 
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There are big differences here with our 2. Our ds is more physical, but he is also more physical than most boys his age. He is incredibly coordinated and an amazing athlete. I think that's just him. He is also drawn to all things mechanical and always had been. Our dd has never been exposed to girly things because we don't have any and all my friends have boys (weird, but true) and she still gravitates toward softer stuff. She is a stuffed animal FREAK. DS likes them fine, but doesn't seek them out. They both like cars and trucks. I think the difference is simply in the physical play. DS is wild and dd is more subdued. Just my experience.
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#14 of 25 Old 12-23-2005, 12:10 PM
 
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I've only raised a boy, but my observation from nannying has been that there are differences, but the differences aren't finite. It's more that they exist on a continuum with some definite overlap in the center.

To me, it seems silly to deny that there are organic differences between boys and girls. Boys are boys and girls are girls. They have different hormones (and, in the cases of common hormones, different levels). I believe it's also been shown that brain activity is different.

This doesn't mean that boys can't be verbal and sensitive and girls can't be active and aggressive. It also doesn't mean that traits that might be inherent to boys and girls aren't egged on by society - they absolutely are! IMO, though, there's both a natural element and a societal element to how these traits manifest themselves.
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#15 of 25 Old 12-23-2005, 12:39 PM
 
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i have 2 boys and a girl, and the only thing i have really noticed is how verbal she is. (of course both of my boys were late talkers so i am not sure i am basinng that on what is "normal") they are all so ddifferent just like the OP said, not reallly gender specific. she enjoys dressing up but so does my son. i could go on forever there. as far as physical activity goes, she is as much or more active as they are. one of my sons best friends is a girl and she has 2 sisters, they are all as wild as my son is. while i do agree that there are biological differences i feel that most differences are based on society and gender inequality.
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#16 of 25 Old 12-23-2005, 04:35 PM
 
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DS1: He's now 12, but I'll only talk about him up to 2.5.
He was snuggly, artistic, very verbal, very physical (used to think he'd be an acrobat or gymnast). He loved music, especially singing. He liked to get out and run, but also loved cuddling his baby doll. He was quite a sunny little fellow, overall. He had one temper tantrum, over a candy, which I mostly ignored, and he never had another one. He could draw a recognizable fish when he was about 18 months old...very good fine motor skillls. He never wanted anybody to be hurt in any way, and hated to see anyone cry. He loved (still does) toy swords and martial arts.

DD: She's 2.5. She's aggressive, in-your-face, usually won't cuddle unless she's sick. She makes my very active ds1 look as though he was in a coma in his childhood. She throws temper tantrums daily, sometimes more often. She has a huge vocabulary, and seems to grasp math better than her brother did (she counts and seems to be trying to get a handle on adding and subtracting). She always wants to write and draw, and is very frustrated by her inability to make things look the way she wants, although her fine motor skills are amazing. She throws things, yells, and constantly tries to kick anything that she's upset with. She'll tuck her baby dolls in with tender loving care...then throw them across the room, because the blanket slipped. She pokes her baby brother to make him wake up, and thinks it's funny when he cries...but if he starts crying for some other reason, it upsets her, and she'll hug and kiss him to make him feel better.

DS2: He's only 5 months old. He rarely cries, except a brief spell at bedtime when I'm brushing my teeth (every night). He's snuggly, smiley and easy-going. As long as he gets lots of snuggles and attention, and some tummy-time on the floor, he's happy. He's just a big ball of happy baby.

My only conclusions so far are that my kids are all very different personalities. DS1 seems to be kind of in the middle, in terms of contentment and aggression and such. DD is at the far end of aggressive and in-your-face, and ds2 seems to be at the other end. I have no idea how much of any of it is gender-related.

My mom had one boy (very hyperactive...she modified his diet long before there was any real info on that stuff) and two girls. She swears up, down, left and right that girls are way harder in the teens, and there's really not much difference in childhood.

Lisa, lucky mama of Kelly (3/93) ribboncesarean.gif, Emma (5/03) ribboncesarean.gif, Evan (7/05) ribboncesarean.gif, & Jenna (6/09) ribboncesarean.gif
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#17 of 25 Old 12-24-2005, 01:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NaomiLorelie
I don't have a boy, just girls, but from what I've observed I believe people place stereotypes on their children, especially younger ones. .

That's what I thought, too, until I had a boy as well as a girl!
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#18 of 25 Old 12-25-2005, 02:31 AM
 
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I have a boy and a girl, and they do react/play with things differently. For example, when my son (now 7) was real small, he was interested in anything that moved - cars, planes, boats, motorcycles. My daughter, at 26 months, on the other hand, also plays with cars & trucks, but prefers animals and dolls.

My son played with dolls when he was a toddler, but it was more "action oriented play" like tryng to make them go somewhere in vehicle, or jump off a cliff with a parachute, or fight dinosaurs. My DD feeds them, puts them to sleep, and gently nurtures them.

Interestly, we bought DD a tool bench about 4 months ago. She has lots of fun with it, but not the way most boys do. She does use the hammer to bang around with, but generally, she'll come over to a family member and try to comb their hair with the screwdriver or massage their back with the wrench, telling us she is going to "fix us."
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#19 of 25 Old 12-25-2005, 03:11 PM
 
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Dragonfly: ITA! I use to be big into believing that it was ALL cultural and the only diffrences between boys and girls were having a penis or a vagina, but Ive come to realize that there ARE diffrences, like you said, hormonal and structural.

Thats not to say culture doesnt play a HUGE role, maybe even a bigger one. But I have been a big time feminist most of my adult life and make a point not to generalize, stereotype or lead them in any way. And yet they are diffrent.

StormBride: You have age diffrences just like me! ds1 is14, dd is 2.5 and ds2 is 11mos.!!

So dd and ds2 are very close in age and we have dolls, stuffed animals, footballs, toy tools, dinosaurs, cars, a toy kitchen etc and its all just thrown togather, no sepearate rooms or even seperate toy boxes. But Ive noticed, I can be in the other room and they'll come out of the family room, dd carrying two stuffed bears and ds2 with a dinosaur. And whereas dd copied me and made things like the dinosaurs kiss each other, ds2 ignores that and makes them roar. Now, I suppose that still could be picked up because ds1 does the roaring when he plays with them. But he did that to dd and she picked the kissing to imitate. Give ds2 a football and he grabs it and runs like he's trying for a touchdown and I have no idea where he learned that other than watching daddy watch football? DD has been watching that longer. DD has been to ds1 football games and she imitated the cheerleaders. Just because they were also girls? Or they were closer to us than the football players? I dont know, I know ds1 has actively tried teaching her to play football with him and shes not that interested.

Now, ds2 climbs more and gets into more and is more active than she was at this age, but dd is definately VERBALLY aggressive, she tells ds1 what to do, and he does it!! LOL!

DD is painfully shy around people outside the immediate family, but ds2 never met a stranger. But those are personality diffrences because ds1 was also painfully shy. DS1 was very quite, artistic, thoughful, polite etc. But he was a very focused on only child.

DD was practically an only when she came along, ds1 being 11 already. DS2 though came into the world with a 19mo. old sister demanding moms attention, so could he be more active and independant for that reason? Dunno.

I guess I havent answered the question at all, because I dont truly know how much of thier diffrences are "gender" diffrences or just the diffrences between individual children. I will say though, that I was astounded at how diffrent dd was from ds1 but then thought, well, they ARE diffrent children, each child will be diffrent and then astounded at how ALIKE ds2 was to what ds1 was like! So maybe there is something to it.

~Me, mama to soapbox boy (1991), photo girl (1997), gadget girl (2003), jungle boy (2005), fan boy (2003) and twirly girl (2011). Twenty years of tree hugging, breastfeeding, cosleeping, unschooling, craziness
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#20 of 25 Old 12-25-2005, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merrick
I know all kids are different, no matter what the gender, but I was hoping to hear from some of you who have both genders and the general differences you have observed. What have you guys found in your experience?
They are human beings, first and foremost. What I have learned is that other people and this society expects certain behaviors. If my son is not interested in tools and cars or whatever, then something is wrong with him. Or my daughters, if they aren't all sweet and cuddly, then they are labeled 'tomboys' or some other label. It is other children and adults that I end up 'dealing' with.
It is, imo, more difficult to raise them with self-worth,m self-esteem, and self-confidence when others are always trying to place them in boxes, kwim? Then, as the parent, I have to teach them that the boxes are not real and how to get out of them/stay out of them.
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#21 of 25 Old 12-25-2005, 04:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anglyn
So dd and ds2 are very close in age and we have dolls, stuffed animals, footballs, toy tools, dinosaurs, cars, a toy kitchen etc and its all just thrown togather, no sepearate rooms or even seperate toy boxes. But Ive noticed, I can be in the other room and they'll come out of the family room, dd carrying two stuffed bears and ds2 with a dinosaur. And whereas dd copied me and made things like the dinosaurs kiss each other, ds2 ignores that and makes them roar. Now, I suppose that still could be picked up because ds1 does the roaring when he plays with them. But he did that to dd and she picked the kissing to imitate. Give ds2 a football and he grabs it and runs like he's trying for a touchdown and I have no idea where he learned that other than watching daddy watch football? DD has been watching that longer. DD has been to ds1 football games and she imitated the cheerleaders. Just because they were also girls? Or they were closer to us than the football players? I dont know, I know ds1 has actively tried teaching her to play football with him and shes not that interested.
Children immitates what we do. And... mostly, girls will imitate what other girls do, boys what other boys do. So unless you live in a vacuum, without any influences of society, your impact is only part of what they see. Also, consider this. SAHM or WOHM.. it is the mommies that tend to do the most of the household chores. So that is something we give to our next generation. Then we have all rolemodels seen on tv and daycare. I'm fairly certain that men working in daycare are at least asrare in the US as they are here in Sweden, so these children are given yet another separation of what is male and female behaviour.

I truly belive, that the inherrant genetical/hormonal differences in children are pretty small. Correct me if I'm wrong, but children's hormonal levels aren't that different depending on gender. That is what puberty does. The greatest impact is from society.

Do the fathers, or whatever male rolemodels they have, sit down with your son(s) and play house? Do they cook, do the dishes, laundry, and feed, and as much of it as you do. Do you, or other female rolemodels go out and playball and climb trees with your daughters?

Look at the differences portrayed in classical fairytales, and a lot of contemporary stories for children. You have the weak, meek, silent and "ladylike" girls, whereas boys are portrayed as active, loud, strong and even a bit naughty.
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#22 of 25 Old 12-25-2005, 08:50 PM
 
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Here's a funny one: my ds (now 7) used to make his cars drive around and crash into one another and play games where he'd set up a construction area and pretend that his working vehicles would go in to repair things. My dd (now 3) pretends that the vehicles talk to one another and they seem to have complex parent-child / sibling-sibling relationships!

My ds is a wonderful mix of "typical" boy / girl traits; probably what others would call a "sentive" child - likes no loud noises, Pooh-movies were (can still be) scary to him, is not athletic at all, is a gifted violin player, requested several dolls from me througout his childhood (yet rarely played with them other than to tote them around, even though I modelled care-taking with them). But although he is academically advanced, he has asynchrous emotional / social development, so he prefers to get physical before he will talk through something that bothers him and he is somewhat "behind" in social skills (again, not for lack of coaching). I do however believe that he is more of a product of individual temperament than gender, and I wouldn't have him any other way .

Dd, on the other hand, has been nurturing babies since she was an infant herself, and we have done plenty of "typical" boy playing / modelling with her too. She is more athletic, more able to compromise and reign herself in and will "use her words" before getting physical. But again, I believe this to be the product of temperament, not gender.

Gosh, aren't these little people wonderful?

Warmly,
Michelle in NY - homeschooling mama to ds (7) and dd (3)
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#23 of 25 Old 12-26-2005, 04:46 PM
 
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I have a 4 yr old boy and two girls (2 yrs and 10 months). My boy, while he can be sweet and sensitive, is primarily more physically explosive when he gets angry, he is more distractable and he has less patience for things like puzzles, etc. This has been since he was a baby. My daughter would try to figure out a solution (ie: she walked her pushtoy into a corner and can't get it to move) whereas my son would just get angry and have a tantrum.

My daughter is much more dreamy/imaginative. She can be off in her own world for a while. My son needs little cars or toys and has lots of crashes/conflicts in his play. My daughter puts her baby to bed, feeds her, builds something to an end result (not making something crash into it to knock it down).

However, my son can also be verbally manipulative, as well as physically agressive. They both are likely to wonk eachother on the head with a toy when angry at the other, my son just has less patience as a whole, where my daughter is more likely to let things roll off her back before finally having enough!

They both play with the My Little Ponies, baby dolls, etc, it just seems that Trevor is more likely to have conflict filled play where Rachael just plays. I didn't try to "make" them this way. My son seems antiathletic while my daughter loves kicking a ball around, etc. It's probably personality but it might be a little bit of that testosterone in my son that explodes every once in a while.

Married, college student, part time work from home mom to DS (12), DD1 (10) and DD2 (9) and a giant dopey newfoundland, a crazy border collie mix, 3 black cats and two rats.
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#24 of 25 Old 12-26-2005, 06:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anka
I truly belive, that the inherrant genetical/hormonal differences in children are pretty small. Correct me if I'm wrong, but children's hormonal levels aren't that different depending on gender. That is what puberty does. The greatest impact is from society.
That's what I used to believe - until I had a boy and a girl!!
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#25 of 25 Old 12-28-2005, 02:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anka
Correct me if I'm wrong, but children's hormonal levels aren't that different depending on gender.
I'm definitely not an expert, but here are a few articles that suggest that there is a distinct difference:

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neur...b2/asingh.html

http://www.answers.com/topic/sexual-differentiation

I also think that the mere fact that girls tend to imitate girls and boys tend to imitate boys, even before the age where they start to develop gender identity (gender being the social construct) could be indicative of the fact that there is a biological basis for differences.
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