In case you have just joined this blog this week, I have a daughter and a son, both of whom I happily talk about whenever I can find even the most tenuous link to a blog post... But today, I actually have a semi-strong connection to discuss.
I have constant wonderment as a parent about the differences between my two kids – is it gender? Birth order? My ever-changing parenting style? The temperament they were born with?
Before becoming a mom, I swore I would mold the “perfect” child but now I feel like I am doing a good job if I am able to impact the margins. Mostly I just hope to soften the edges a little bit, help my kids grow to be better citizens and, ideally, make informed, positive choices.
And this last point gets us to the data for today….
According to the study we conducted for the Girl Scout Research Institute (that has been discussed throughout the week), boys and girls are equally unlikely to make poor choices that directly impact their academic performance, like cheating on a test or lying to a principal.
- Cheating on a test—Boys (8%) vs. Girls (7%)
- Lying to a principal—Boys (27%) vs. Girls (27%)
However, teenage boys are more likely to make decisions that can aversely affect others – ending a friendship with a gay and lesbian peer, choosing to have sex, advising someone else to get an abortion. And, they are also less interested in volunteering to support their community.
- End a friendship with a gay or lesbian peer—Boys (20%) vs. Girls (7%)
- Have sex if their significant other wanted to—Boys (38%) vs. Girls (18%)
- Advise friend to get an abortion—Boys (12%) vs. Girls (6%)
- Volunteer to support community—Boys (77%) vs. Girls (81%)
Following stereotype, while girls appear to be more focused on the “other” (their community, their friends) and making a difference in the world around them, they are also more likely to make risky choices for themselves.
- Drink alcohol with friends and not worry about it—Boys (14%) vs. Girls (20%)
- Take money from parents without asking—Boys (2%) vs. Girls (4%)
Clearly the dialogue with boys and girls needs to offer a slightly different lens. We see hints of the differences in this data, but also throughout our youth research whether it be on health, politics or employment.
We very much appreciate the insight on Wednesday from Judy Schoenberg, Director, Research & Outreach, Girl Scouts of the USA on what the Girl Scouts are doing to translate teens’ good intentions to good actions.
And wondering from you, what else should we all be doing as parents, friends and mentors?