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Child raising has taught me a great deal about human nature and caused me to change my mind on a few key issues regarding the human condition.
When I was younger and my generation was working to change the world, sociologists and psychologists were having many discussions and writing all sorts of books on the subject of nature vs nurture; questioning how much of human behavior is somehow innate and ingrained in a personality from conception, and how much is formed through environmental factors and experience. There were those who claimed that the major influence on the ultimate nature of a person was almost entirely dependent upon environment and experiences of the formative years. Many of the early feminists claimed that there were absolutely no distinctions between men and women other than the obvious differences of human biology. I bought into both of these theories primarily because I was young and idealistic and looking for reasons to support an egalitarian philosophy of the world. I was too young and inexperienced to make the fine distinction between equality in terms of rights and social issues and the basic differences between us all. Parenthood pretty much sucked most of the air out of both those theories and subsequent advances in genetic research and the human brain took care of the rest.
The fact of the matter is that raising my children and spending most of my time among children generally taught me that there are some aspects of personality and nature that are carved in stone from day one and all the nurturing in the world isn't going to change them.
There is no doubt in my mind that boys and girls are different in numerous ways. I was always under the mistaken impression that my oldest son was a person who conscientious about his basic responsibilities to the family and did not need a great deal of prompting or coercion to do his duty. Boy, was I wrong. I have come to realize that my oldest son did his duty because his sister nagged, hounded, threatened, and shamed him into it. She kept him moving in the direction I requested because she felt a sense of responsibility to me and felt the need to help me. Her brother, on the other hand, probably wouldn't have done much on his own if he hadn't had her to nudge him along. In retrospect, I recall having to do the same thing with my brothers growing up. Boys have a way of getting out of things that is really unique. When given a job they deliberately do it so badly that you will be thoroughly disgusted and never ask them to do it again.
It has been scientifically proven that the brains of men and women function differently. No kidding. Spend enough time raising a batch of them and you'll have all the scientific proof you need. It isn't that one is better than the other, but they are undeniably different. Even factoring in the fundamental idiosyncrasies of personality, boys and girls think differently, react differently, make choices differently, and interact differently. They have needs that are different and form relationships differently. You can say that a lot of these differences may be a reaction to how they are treated within the family and society, and that is probably true, but no one will ever convince me that there are not some very basic, primal differences between boys and girls that run so deep that they defy all input and exist independently of influence.
Historically, civilization, or the evolution of a society, has been driven by women. The West was not tamed by the Winchester Rifle, it was tamed by women, who brought with them schools, churches, social and communal interaction, and the need for laws to protect it all. Women have been the great civilizers throughout history.
My experience with the generations after mine has made me question if women have not abandoned this vital and important role in society and wonder what the ultimate result will be. I confess that I find certain aspects of the behavior of modern girls somewhat disturbing and I can't help but wonder, if the traditional civilizers of society become so uncivilized that that the distinction is obliterated, what will that mean for society at large? Will the roles reverse or are we all destined for a future of unbridled lack of restraint? If behaving badly is perfectly acceptable in all people on all social levels, where does that leave us? Life, it sometimes seems to me, is becoming more and more like really bad TV.
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