nature vs nurture

Girly-girls and Princesses: Are We Really Born That Way?

June 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm , by

My three-year-old son and I recently stopped into a hardware store to buy some spackle. Scott carried the spackle and a plastic putty knife to the front of the store and put them on the counter by the register. “You’re helping Mommy,” the cashier gushed at him. “What a good boy!” Scott scowled and shot back, “I am NOT a boy. I’m a PRINCESS.”

I’m not sure who was more taken aback, the cashier or me. Scott’s pretty rough-and-tumble, for one thing, and there have literally been no princesses, no stories about princesses, no movies about princesses, not even any commercials about princesses in our house. But he does have a couple of good friends who are girls and apparently it didn’t take long for him to suss out that a princess, whatever that is, is the thing to be.

I’m always amazed when people speak confidently and sweepingly about the vast differences between boys and girls and how innate they are. How could any of us really know? Moms get excited about future mother-daughter mani-pedis the minute they get the amnio results, and 4-month fetuses are assumed to have a strong future interest in football, if they are boys. Nurture is so powerful and starts so early that it’s hard to tell what nature really intended. Read more