posted: March 17, 2017, 4:09 am
By Jamie Lincow
The other day I was contributing to a long list of congratulatory responses for a friend who posted a picture of her new family of four. The proud big sister was holding her baby brother, and I was in awe of how happy and well-rested everyone looked just a few days after the new arrival. After I posted my comment, I skimmed some of the other congratulatory remarks until I came upon one that I still can’t stop thinking about. It read: “Congratulations. A rich man’s family!”
The other posts commented on how cute the baby is, how adorable the big sister looks, and how a new baby is a blessing, but this comment focused solely on the baby’s gender. Since a baby boy was born, and now the family has a child from each gender, they are deemed rich.
For a moment after reading the comment, I had to stop myself from riding the rollercoaster of thoughts tumbling through my head. I began to wonder why a family with a boy and a girl is seen to be richer than a family with children of the same gender, or even families with more than two children.
Regardless of its original intent, the saying does create a type of competition between families, leading you to feel that you are not as rich as those that have a son and a daughter. As a competitive person by nature, this notion lights a fire in me. I had heard the saying before, but those words were never said to me after any of the births of my three sons.
Each one came out happy, healthy, and loveable, but nobody ever used the adjective “rich” when describing my ever-growing family. In fact, it was quite the opposite; friends and family constantly commented on the high cost of having children and that we would never be rich after paying for clothes, sports, college, etc!
Days after reading that initial remark, I can’t stop wondering what makes a family with a boy and a girl “rich?” The internet gives many different explanations for the saying, including the idea that in an agrarian society the boy would happily take over his father’s land and inheritance while the daughter would eventually provide grandchildren and help the family prosper. Therefore, the stereotypical gender roles are equally balanced, with the son taking control of the finances and the daughter continuing to provide in the home.
When I asked my mom for her interpretation, she gave a very practical answer. She seems to think the saying comes from the idea that only a wealthy family could provide new clothes for both the son and the daughter, since they will not be able to share clothes between siblings. There may be some validity in this interpretation, since passing down clothes within my boy tribe definitely has its perks!
Nevertheless, the saying is outdated and certainly doesn’t relate to today’s modern family that constantly defies any traditional, antiquated set of values.
Just because my family does not fit the stereotypical mold we aren’t are any less rich in tradition, spirit, and love. At the end of the day, there’s no competition when it comes to gender in the family, especially since each child is a blessing and gender is not something we can choose.
When your little one (or your many children) gives you an unsolicited kiss, takes your hand in his, or just nuzzles up next to you, the gender lines blur and the individual miracle that you created and helped to bring into this world is all that you need to enrich your soul.