Gender Differences in Infancy and Beyond

Twinfant Tuesday: Gender Differences in Infancy

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Categories Different Gender, Parenting, Parenting TwinsTags ,

I am so thrilled to be a twin mom, especially one of boy/girl twins. Long before I was pregnant, I thought I would have a house full of boys, so the fact that I have my little girl is such a thrill (even more so because she is an absolute mini me).

From a human development standpoint, I get a giddy excitement (it’s the total nerd in me) in comparing Audrey and David and how their gender identities play such a huge part in their personalities. I mean, let’s face it: moms of boy/girl twins have a constant psychology experiment in their house.

I know that we are in the 21st century and breaking down barriers of traditional gender roles, but to be honest, they still exist. I want to be very clear that these are not my personal belief (or experience), but they are some of the stereotypical ideas.

Boys are traditionally be thought of as:

  • active
  • rough
  • hit
  • bounce
  • dirty
  • tough
  • destructive
  • having behavior issues
  • fight for 3 minutes and then go back to being best friends
  • mischievous
  • get into everything
  • like trucks, blocks, building, tearing down
  • hit milestones later than girls
  • better at math and science
  • don’t express emotions
  • if take charge: “leader”

Girls are traditionally thought of as:

  • sweet
  • imaginative
  • kind
  • look out for others
  • fight with words, not actions
  • hold a grudge
  • like to be helpers
  • like dolls, dress-up
  • hit milestones earlier than boys
  • better verbal skills
  • express emotions
  • if take charge: “bossy”

So let’s look at my experience with my boy/girl twins. Here’s some background: My twins were born at 36 weeks 5 days. They didn’t have any NICU time. Audrey (Baby A) was 6 lb 3 oz when she was born and David (Baby B) was 5 lb 1 oz. While they were small on the growth chart, we all went home together after a 3-day hospital stay. They were breastfed exclusively from birth until about 4-5 months, and then we did a formula bottle only every few days, eventually doing formula once a day at about 7 months. They were breastfed until the day they turned 15 months. Why did I feel like I needed to go into that? I wanted to show that these are rather healthy babies (despite their small size on the growth chart), so that doesn’t play a part in this comparison.

Gender Differences in Infancy and Beyond

Now, from their first day in the hospital, we immediately noticed character differences in Audrey and David. Audrey was observant: looking around, taking it all in, trying to figure this thing out. David was the one who cuddled up to us, wanting to be held and comforted and loved on. Audrey’s cry was more of a whimper (hoping to get attention at some point, but not demanding it), whereas David’s was a high-pitched, blood-curdling “I-need-you-right-now!” scream that made his whole body shake. Yet, both could be comforted almost immediately with being held or food.

As we got home and started breaking free from the haze of new parenthood (which is especially demanding with multiples), the characteristics from the hospital became even more apparent. Audrey (older by 8 minutes) would comfort David if she could. David would gladly nuzzle up to her if Mommy or Daddy was unavailable. Audrey would look around calmly to take in her mobile, the music, or whoever was new in the room. David, on the other hand, would move, “squiggle,” dance, and shake when he was exposed to new stimuli. Audrey’s laugh changed often to mimic our laughs (as if finding which one would be the best Audrey laugh to please those around her), and David’s laugh was a huge belly laugh that literally took over his whole body (I’ve never heard such a loud laugh from a little body). In fact, David’s laugh from infancy is still the same as now that he is a toddler.

Once we started doing more activities with them, these gender differences came out even more: David liked reading books (with us and by himself), looking at things that moved, and trying to dance. Audrey was happiest when she was with someone else. If David didn’t want to sit back-to-back with her, she would want to be with me (or another adult that she knew)- in our laps, being held, interacting in some way. Audrey was wary of new faces, but David never met a stranger. Both would become horribly jealous when the other got attention. Audrey’s fits would be a mock-cry and maybe dance in place to show her upset, and she would quickly get over it. David, on the other hand, would collapse on the floor, flinging his head and body around.

Now that they are toddlers, we see these stereotypical gender roles come out even more. It’s fascinating! We have the same toys available to both, the same books, the same activities. But Audrey wants the dolls, dress up, blocks, and puppets, while David wants the cars, trucks, and blocks. That’s not to say that they don’t both play with the other toys, but they gravitate to the toys that fit those gender roles. And this is without ANY prompting from us. The only thing we have done differently with them is dress Audrey in pink and David in blue (to diminish people asking about their genders).

It’s truly incredible to look at these two and see their differences. Are they just character differences or are they gender differences?

What experiences do you have with your children and meeting/breaking stereotypical gender roles?

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dorydoyle

Dory is a teacher-turned-SAHM to her fraternal twins Audrey and David. She also writes for her blog Doyle Dispatch, is an editor with The Wise Baby, and is a Young Living Essential Oil distributor and educator with her Healthier Oil the Thyme team.

3 thoughts on “Twinfant Tuesday: Gender Differences in Infancy”

  1. This sounds like our house! Our B/G (now 4.5) also gravitate towards gender-specific toys when they choose their own activity. But when they play together, they will play with either dolls, puzzles or even cars. Until they started daycare at 2 years old, we never dressed Missy up in pink, but now that is all she wants to wear! Mister identifies with blue… anything. I think that is how they identify what belongs to them :-)
    Love the comment about the constant psychology experiment.. so true!
    Ambereen recently posted Preschoolers’ Favourite ThingsMy Profile

  2. You may know I’m passionate about gender stereotyping. It’s so interesting to read your experience having one of each gender.

    I have been very purposeful about having a variety of toys at our house, most of which are gender-neutral toys. I kind of snicker when I see the girls at friends’ houses. Particularly before they started school, they had no clue what a tiara was. HA!

    (And by the way, it’s hard to believe your BABIES are getting so big! It seems like yesterday they were born!!! I’m thankful to follow along on FB and your blog…reminds me of so many sweet moments with my two. <3 )
    MandyE recently posted Little LambsMy Profile

  3. My b/g twins were the complete opposite of yours. My son, who was the older by 33 minutes was easy to soothe and pacify, whereas his sister had the blood curdling cry that demanded immediate action! My son was all go, go, go. I used to comment that he was more work then his three sisters combined due to his endless energy! My daughter, she loved books! To the point that in jk the teacher commented that she spent too much time looking at books and not interacting with other children.
    They will soon be 17, and my son is still laid back, happy go lucky, take life as it comes. My daughter, she is always immersed in drama, either of her own creation or in the middle of someone else’s, she rebels against everything and everyone.
    I think birth order and household happenings would play a role in this development as well though. When I brought my guys home from the hospital, I also had a 2 and 3 year old at home. The twins would of known of their existence, having heard their voices inutero.
    Each child is special and unique, be it one, two, three or more being born.

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