Dad's Diary: 'There I was, conforming to the sort of gender bias I was seeking to avoid'

Nature or nurture? It's the perennial teaser that sociologists and psychologists, parents, politicians and even the police have posed when trying to understand the behaviour, or sadly more usually the misbehaviour, of young people.

And it's a question I can't help but ponder myself – almost on a daily basis – as I observe the constantly evolving character traits of my young son.

Krishan is now almost three and a half years old, and over the past few months I've observed a radical change in the way that he treats both me and my partner.

From when he was born up until a few months ago, Krishan would always run to his mum for solace. If ever he stubbed one of his tiny toes, tripped over a toy or just got frustrated with something through lack of sleep, he'd always seek salvation in her arms. If ever I even attempted to comfort him, he'd turn away, sometimes even lashing out in the process.

The parameters were quite clearly defined – whenever anything went wrong, whenever he was tired, in fact any time that he felt out of his toddler comfort zone he'd go to her.

But now things have changed – specifically, his attitude towards me. Where before he'd actively seek my partner out, now he seems just as happy (on the majority of occasions) to be consoled by me. Obviously, mum still tops the "cuddles pecking order", but at least dad now registers on the scale.

What warms my heart the most is the way that he waits for me to come home. Nowadays, he genuinely seems delighted to see his dad, and he's clearly aware that there are some things he can do with me that he can't with my partner.

He knows that with me he can wrestle and play fight. But my partner is certainly not in the least bit happy to have our three-year-old attempt to punch her on the nose (however playfully).

This "male-ness" has certainly started to rise to the top in recent months. Where before he would happily run around playing with anything, now his toys and games have taken on a more masculine flavour.

When he was much younger, Krishan used to enjoy pushing around a baby's pushchair. At first, my male ego was appalled – that my son was playing with what usually is a girl's toy. But no sooner had I conjured these thoughts than I was ashamed to have them. There I was, conforming to the sort of gender bias that as a balanced parent I was seeking to avoid. And, more to the point, didn't I spend half my time pushing him around in a pushchair anyway? Surely a pushchair is not an innately feminine article?

Now, on most days, our flat looks like a miniature car-wrecking yard. There are toy cars of all shapes and sizes littering the floor. Visitors have to be careful where they tread – you could risk life, limb or (perhaps, worse) a toddler's wrath if his prized HotWheels suffers a busted axle from your misplaced foot.

So where does he get this love of four-wheeled vehicles from? Admittedly, some of his first cars came from an uncle who'd safely squirrelled away his own prized childhood collection in his parents' attic.

But it's not just toys – he loves fire engines, police cars, dumper trucks, even the dustbin lorry. And if we're on the motorway and pass some roadworks with their assorted maintenance vehicles, the squeals of joy from his car seat can be deafening.

In fact, it almost – almost – makes up for the disruption in the journey. It certainly makes those maddening cone-counting moments pass more easily.

So is this nature coming to the fore? Is there some deep-seated petrol/large vehicle love affair lying dormant inside all little boy genes?

Perhaps we just have to accept that boys and girls are as polar opposite as the "sugar and spice" and "puppy-dog tales" from those old nursery rhymes. And any attempt to try to change this internal chemistry is futile.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

    £19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

    Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor