Gender Preference and Its Effects on Families in Iraq
                                                                                          Suzanne Sahib

            In almost every country, parents prefer to have a son rather than a daughter.  Almost everywhere, the birth of a son is celebrated with great festivity. This is very common in my country, Iraq, because most families believe that boys will carry on the family name. I believe this preference for boys can be stressful for the mother who has girls and can have a bad impact on the way that children are brought up.

            First, mothers who have girls sometimes go under a lot of stress and their feelings might get hurt. Iím one of these mothers. When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and his family were always talking about the boy I was carrying, choosing his name and imagining his looks. If I said, "Maybe it will be a girl," they would say, ĒGod forbid! Donít say that.Ē When I was seven months pregnant, I took an ultrasound and it showed that I was carrying a girl. I started to cry. I loved girls very much, but I felt as if I had done something wrong and I had to face the disappointment of my husband and his family. Moreover, when I gave birth to my beautiful girl, my husband was really sad and wasnít interested in carrying the baby. He said, ĒI was hoping that the ultrasound was wrong." When I first held my baby girl, I felt as if I had the whole world in my hands, but my husband didnít share that wonderful moment with me. Moreover, when people  congratulated me, many said that they hoped I would get a boy next time.  That was eleven years ago, but it still hurts me when I remember it. Fortunately, not all husbands act the same way, but it is very common.

            In addition, the favoritism for boys has an impact on the way children are brought up. In most families the father and the grandparents and sometimes even the mothers have double standards at home. They give more attention to the boy than to the girl. They will be very strict toward girls and more open to boys. The boys have more privileges and exceptions. Sometimes if the family has only one boy and the rest of the children are girls, the boy will be very spoiled. The girls should give him whatever he wants and not let him cry. That way of raising children will affect both the girls and the boys. The girls will grow up with the idea that boys are more important than they are, and the boys wonít learn how to give and take. This way of bringing up children is learned from the parents and has a harmful influence on all of the children in the family and sustains gender bias in the culture and society.

            In conclusion, I believe that favoritism toward boys can be stressful for mothers who have girls  and harm their feelings. Showing gender bias in the family has terrible consequences for the children as females will not receive the affection and attention shown to their male siblings, and boys won't learn to treat females as their equals. Having a baby is a blessing that everybody in the family should be very happy about whether the child is a boy or a girl.