When I was a kid, out strolling with my mum, we would often meet a lady of similar age to my mum who’d had a child that suffered from Down’s Syndrome. Back then in the 1960s / 70s, it was a rare sight to actually see a child with Downs out and about. Many died relatively early, and others were institutionalised. This lady had chosen to keep her child at home with her. He was a happy child – I would see him on and off until I left home. I think he was a wee bit younger than I was. What her reactions would have been when the child was born I had no idea; I can only imagine. But in later life whenever I mother and son they seemed perfectly happy, despite the difficulties they both faced.
I was reminded of this lady this morning when, on my scout through the online editions of various Sunday newspapers, I came across this article about a ‘psychological condition’ known as Gender Disappointment. This is the condition suffered by women (and their partners) who give birth to a perfectly healthy child who’s the wrong sex – they get a girl when they wanted a boy, or vice-versa. Now, I can see that it may be a severe disappointment to know that you’re going to get a little girl when you already have 3 or 4 boys; but that, I’m afraid, is genetics and biochemistry for you. That’s the way the cookie crumbles – there may be things you can do with diet and such to make conception of a child of a particular sex more likely, but I’m not sure how effective they are. And yes, it can be heartbreaking if you have 5 or 6 girls and desperately want a boy for whatever reason.
But here’s a quote from a woman suffering from this ‘condition’:
“Another mother of three boys writes: ‘I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get over not having a girl. I think about it every day, and the disappointment never goes away. I will carry this agony with me for the rest of my life.'”
I’m sorry. Three healthy sons. This ‘disappointment’ is a slap in the face to the childless. This ‘agony’ is an insult to those who have given birth to a disabled child that will require constant care, or that will die in childhood. And what do her own children feel about this? That they’re ‘second best’?
The perceptive amongst you will by now have gathered that, as I put the term ‘psychological condition’ in inverted commas, I’m not at all convinced. Post natal depression is a psychological condition. OCD is a psychological condition. ‘Gender Disappointment’ is not a psychological condition; it’s an excuse given by some whinging couples to feel sorry for themselves because, possibly for the first time in a long time, they haven’t got exactly what they wanted. The ‘perfect family’ they envisaged ain’t going to be perfect because they have boys rather than girls, or vice-versa. I have a name for folks who bitch when they don’t get exactly what they want. It’s called being SPOILED.
So, sufferers of Gender Disappointment; grow up, get over it, get a grip, stop whinging and appreciate the fact that you have healthy children. Count your blessings and accept them for what they are – one of the great miracles of life.
Children are acutely aware of how their parents feel about them, and will often pick up slights that only exist because perhaps a parent was a bit clumsy with their turn of phrase one day. People who whine in public about how they wanted children other than the ones they have deserve every ounce of their perceived misery, because they have told their own children “you’re not good enough”. And even if they are genuinely upset, they should be grown up enough to keep it to themselves. Gender disappointment my arse.
I think that is SO true about children being sensitive – I hope that none of the kids whose parents were profiled in the article ever read the piece and ‘spot’ themselves. So cruel.
I’m disgusted by your article. What gives you the right to judge another person’s right to grieve over something they don’t have and dearly want? You make the assumption that someone suffering from gender disappointment doesn’t love the children they have enough. Have you ever heard a mother say “I wish I had never had my because I wanted a “? I very much doubt it. That’s not what gender disappointment is about. It’s not about not loving your children, it’s about feeling a deep disappointment that you don’t ALSO have a child of the other gender.
The desire to have a child can be completely overwhelming (just ask any couple who battles infertility), and the desire for a particular gender can be almost as strong.
One person’s grief over not having a child of a particular gender does not take away the grief of a parent with a handicapped child, or that of a child-less couple. Each is entitled to their own grief. Grief is about experience. One person’s level of grief is measured against their own past experiences.
You call the sufferers of gender disappointment “spoiled”? Well I call you narrow-minded and insensitive.
And in case you think I’m biased, no I’m not. I have a pigeon pair and am thankful every day that I am lucky enough to have the precious experience of mothering both a son and a daughter.
I’m sorry you’re disgusted. One of the nice things about the Internet is that I can express a viewpoint and you can choose to agree with it, disagree with it, or whatever. You know bugger all about me, so I think you’re making some assumptions about me that are inevitably going to be wrong.
Feel free to call me ‘narrow minded and insensitive’ – I’ve expressed an opinion that I stick with. That’s why the site is called Joe’s Jottings – they’re my opnions.
Thanks for dropping by.
I used to feel exactly the same way you do. And then yesterday we found out we were having a girl. I really thought I’d be okay with that but then last night I broke down into tears – huge tears as in grief. It was surprising to me how much loss I felt. A dream was dying and being replaced by something else. While I know that I’ll be fine and that I will love my child, I now realize that there really is something to gender disappointment that I didn’t recognize before. While being introspective last night, I even realized that some of this stems back to my childhood! Did not expect that since I feel I had a good childhood.
So while I agree that there should be acceptance from parents who go through this, I believe that for some people it can really be a grieving process that may take time. The journey may even come with steps or milestones to cross with acceptance being one of them in the end.
Thanks for sharing – I guess I come from a perspective of ‘a healthy child is a blessing’. I’m old enough (early 50s) to remember the number of babies born to family / friends of family when I was a kid that didn’t make it.
Like you say, grief takes time to work through – may you and yours be well and I wish you a happy and successful pregnancy!