In spite of, or perhaps, due in part to the common social expectation of boys to be less emotional and more resilient than girls, research is beginning to suggest that boys are actually more sensitive than girls to life’s disadvantages. Such disadvantages can include being raised in poverty or in a difficult neighborhood, and the impact of a single-parent home that often is the result of divorce. Divorce and other disadvantages, obviously affect both boys and girls from all backgrounds, but researchers have looked a little deeper into the issue and found some interesting connections.
A team from Northwestern University recently released a study that looked at the disparity between boys and girls academic and behavioral performance as it relates to various factors. Throughout the project, the researchers examined the health, disciplinary, academic and graduation records for more than 1 million children born between 1992 and 2002. To account for many of the variables present between separate families, much of the research focused on opposite-sex siblings being raised in the same households. Particularly in homes of low socioeconomic status, boys tended to have much higher rates of truancy, behavioral problems, and academic struggles than those of their sisters.
A second study, this one led by an economist at the University of Chicago, also looked at the gender gap, which echoed the Northwestern study’s finding that boys fare worse in disadvantaged homes. It also found boys to be more responsive to parental time and family resources.
Previous research has shown that the differences between boys and girls begins in the womb, where boys are more sensitive than girls to extreme stresses, and have more uneven temperaments. Once they are born, society tends to condition boys to show less vulnerability and reaction to issues. Boys are expected, culturally, to be more stoic, and emotional suppression is encouraged from an early age. Thus, boys are expected to manage emotions on their own, without external support and comfort, often shamed and ridiculed for expressing any level of vulnerability.
With a severely curtailed range of expression available to boys, they tend to channel their aggression toward competition and leadership. Without proper family guidance, which is often difficult for single mothers—the overwhelming majority of single-parent homes are run by unmarried or divorced women—boys can quickly get into trouble, skipping school, and eventually dropping out altogether. The familial support more frequently available to girls, as a result of relating better to their mothers, the research suggests, keeps more girls out of trouble and in school longer.
If you are considering a divorce and have concerns over your children may be affected, contact an experienced St. Charles family law attorney today. We understand your worries and will work with you to ensure your children continue to feel the love and support they need to grow and thrive. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.