ROSE NOLEN: Boys', girls' upbringing very different

Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — When your child is in high school, it’s hard to be considered a perfect parent if you don’t love sports. This is, of course, if your child happens to be a boy.

If your child happens to be a girl, then all she has to be is pretty and popular, and as a parent, you get to be popular by default.

This depends on whether you happen to go by high school rules and really don’t care if your child gets an education. Otherwise, you get to be a normal parent and can worry about college test scores as you move closer to graduation.

I was not a perfect parent. I disliked sports of all kinds. I do not like it when kids get hurt. And it seems they are always getting hurt in sports. My son was a baseball person, and baseball players seem to get hurt less often. But most of my friends had children involved in basketball and football programs. So, consequently, someone’s child was always hurt.

Most schools close at the end of May. For most parents this means that most children are out of harm’s way from sports injuries by then. So, unless your child has learned to be a hunter, one can look forward to a safe summer.

I was an adult before I realized how many differences there were between the way we raise boys and the way we raise girls. That’s about the time I began to realize that there must be some activities for boys and men that do not involve bodily injuries. It seems ridiculous that from young adolescence to early manhood, male children, even when involved in play, are subjected to acts of violence and injury.

Interaction among young males is almost constantly confined to physical activity. There is almost always a ball to bounce, a ball to throw or a ball to hit. There are no activities that call for them to just sit quietly and observe. On the other hand, females sit quietly and learn to sew, or they move slowly and learn to cook, or they move in rhythm and learn to dance. Considering the differences in the way males and females usually interact as young people, it’s surprising that there is not more conflict between the two groups.

Interaction between men and women usually begins to take place during romance and evolves in marriage. Even as friends, men and women do not behave as either two men or two women. They often behave like a man and a woman thrown together in a mismatch.

Most of the time, men and women have had such different upbringings as young adults that it could strike one as amazing that they would not require infinitely more socializing before they agreed to marry.

Nonetheless, in spite of how things appear, once men and women seem to take a liking to each other, a major change seems to occur. The habits of the child, the young male and the young female, seem to disappear, and merging in their place are the completed portraits of young adults ready to walk down the aisle and join hands.

Life is full of mysteries. It makes one happy not to know all the answers. Sometimes one just has to wait and see.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact Opinion Editor Elizabeth Conner.

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