Growing up, Laura always figured she’d be a mother to both girls and boys. So much so, that it never even occurred to her that she could end up with either all sons or all daughters.
Having grown up in small, tight-knit families, Laura and her husband knew they wanted four kids. They started off with twin boys, so, naturally, hoped their third would be a girl. However, number three also turned out to be a boy.
“When he arrived, it was at that juncture we were really hoping the final child would be a girl to balance all that testosterone and because we both wanted a daughter just to have the experience of that,” Laura said.
Laura and her husband hadn’t given up hope. The last child, they figured, would definitely be a girl. But contrary to their expectations, their fourth born, too, was a boy.
“When I knew that our fourth and final child was a boy, I felt crushed, but I want to be crystal clear that this had nothing to do with not wanting my son. I love having sons, it was just knowing we’d never have a daughter that was painful,” Laura said.
Most people have certain expectations of parenthood
Like Laura, many people have a certain idea of what parenthood will look like. Perhaps they always assumed they’d have all boys or one boy and one girl. Maybe they hoped for twins or always dreamed of raising sisters.
However, as it is with most things in life, what you plan for is not always what you get.
Mayrides, a licensed clinical psychologist based in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, works with a lot of pregnant women and new parents who carry regrets about not having a child of the opposite sex.
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“Often people find that they had been fantasizing about being a parent to a girl, or being a parent to a boy,” Mayrides said, “and because our culture operates on a lot of gender stereotypes as short cuts, it can feel destabilizing and difficult to change your mindset when you now have to incorporate this other factor that, perhaps subconsciously, you were giving so much weight.”
Gender disappointment is completely normal
If you always dreamed of having a little girl, but are having a boy, it’s natural to feel disappointed. You can’t always control your feelings and emotions, especially when you’re pregnant. Do not get down on yourself. You are not a bad person.
Even celebrities are guilty of gender disappointment.
"I would really like to have another baby, a girl," boy-mom Britney Spears told InStyle in 2013. "I think she would be like a mini-me. I think it's going to be crazy. I'm not going to feel as alone in the world anymore. I'm going to feel like I have a second person, like, that's me."
"I thought it was going to be a girl," Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi told InTouch during her first pregnancy. "I was hoping it would be, because all girls want girls." She is now the mother of both a boy and a girl.
"I found out I was having a boy, and I cried for a week. Or two. Maybe even three," Rachel Zoe admitted on an infamous episode of her reality show.
See, you’re totally normal for having these feelings!
More: Gender Differences
Focus on why you wanted either a girl or a boy
Most people have a specific reason for wanting either a boy or a girl.
Perhaps you’re concerned about having a boy if you only had sisters growing up. Or maybe having a girl meant having the same difficult mother-daughter dynamic you had growing up.
According to Mayrides, new parents should focus on why, exactly, they were so keen on raising a son or a daughter and identify the specific behaviors they were concerned about.
Oftentimes, people can get caught up in the idea of what it’s like to have a boy or a girl and feel disappointed that they can’t do certain things with their child if they aren’t a specific gender.
Take a look at the gender stereotypes you may be applying and try to break them down.
For example, just because you’re having a boy, doesn’t mean you can’t teach him how to dance or cook. Similarly, you can still pass on your love for football if you’re expecting a girl.
How to cope with gender disappointment
How a person communicates and behaves has much more to do with their personality and how they are socialized in their family rather than with their gender, according to Mayrides.
“So considering what kind of relationship you want to have with your child at a young age and start engaging in behaviors with them very early on that speak to the kind of relationship you want to have – be it talkative, respectful, warm, etc.,” Mayrides said.
“That way,” she continued, “you can help develop the kind of relationship you'd like to have with your child, regardless of if they are male or female.”
Nowadays, Laura couldn’t be more grateful for her sons. Sure, a small piece of her may always want to know what it would have been like to raise a daughter, but the mother-son bond has proven to be nothing short of wonderful.
“I assumed they’d be all about dad, but, no, they share a lot with me,” Laura said. “They like to sit, chat, and hang out. We’re extremely close, and that makes me feel good.”
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