parent opinion

"I bet you're desperate for a girl": The 'lighthearted' parenting comments we need to retire.

Why does society believe a parent is happiest if they have a child of each gender?  

Prince Harry even said it in THAT interview recently. 

"To have any child, any one or two, would be amazing. But to have a boy and then a girl, what more could you ask for?" he told Oprah. 

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Video via Mamamia.

What more could you ask for? 

I’m a mum of two healthy boys. Hand on heart, I’ve never been concerned about the gender of my children. If I did go back for a third child, I’d solely be wishing for another healthy baby. 

I have friends with sick children and friends who can’t have children – do you think they care about gender? 

Two weeks ago, I was sitting at a bar with my girlfriends, having managed to "escape" my toddler and five-month-old for an hour to scull two drinks and have an adult conversation without interruption.

Enter an old school friend of ours, someone we haven’t seen in more than a decade. 

"I see on Instagram you have two boys" she says to me. "I bet you’ll be going for a third so you can score a girl."

I’m sorry? Why would you think I’d be desperate to have a girl?

If I’m really honest, I did feel pressure during my second pregnancy to have a girl, having already had a boy. My husband and I made the decision not to find out the gender because we didn’t mind either way.

If you do have gender expectations, that is also fine. But I certainly didn’t. I enjoyed the guessing game, but ultimately, gender would never determine my love for a child. 

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This pressure came from societal expectations. The comments were relentless.

Many people who discovered I didn’t know the gender (even a midwife during my labour!) would say to me, "Aww, I bet you're wanting a girl."

I’d awkwardly say, "No, I really don’t mind."

And they’d look at me like, "I really don’t believe you."

Can someone please explain to me why society thinks we are "happiest" as a parent if we have one of each gender? 

The most ideal family configuration isn’t necessarily a mum, dad, son and daughter. These days, some children have two dads or two mums and some children aren’t quite sure about their own gender identity.  

One of the friends I was sitting with at this bar, Courtney, is a successful professional and married without children. 

In fact, she and her husband don’t want to have children... ever. Period. 

Courtney and her husband Dayne are often asked by virtual strangers when they are having kids.

Courtney and Dayne on their wedding day. Image: Supplied.

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She explained to me how shocked people are, some even slightly disgusted, when they share that they have zero desire to be parents. 

"Gasp! What will you do with your time?"

Excuse me, Gary, but you don’t even know this couple. What if they can’t have babies? What if they financially can’t afford to have children?

Or, what if, shock horror... they actually just don’t want children – can this just be okay as well? 

"We just don’t want to be parents. We have heaps of children we love around us, but we like our time together. It’s a lifestyle choice. But I shouldn’t need to justify myself," says Courtney. 

Choosing not to have children is not a selfish act. 

I believe it would be more selfish to have a child you didn’t want just because society expected you to procreate.

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My friend Elleri is a mum of a three-year-old girl and a business owner. She and her husband decided long ago they only wanted one child. 

"I love watching her grow up. When she grows out of a dress or toy – I literally say 'bye' and give it away. I’m not holding onto anything for a second baby."

Elleri, who is also an only child, explains to me how when she went shopping recently with her three-year-old, a woman said to her, "Aw, what a sweet little girl. Are you going to give your husband a little son too?"

Now that is an answer that’s just too hard to explain in one sentence, lady. But it’s also none of your business. 

Being a woman can be hard work, often made harder by societal expectations on what our lives should look like. 

Next time you go to ask about gender expectations, number of children, or having children at all – stop. Is this someone you know well? Is this someone you’d ask about their health? 

If not, it’s probably none of your business. 

Feature Image: Supplied.