“I’m Having a Daughter”
So you learned the baby you helped to conceive is a girl and not a boy. Already frightened by the idea of fatherhood, already concerned about all the hardships and sacrifices parenting entails, already disoriented by the potential radical change this requires in the way you envision your future, you feel now — even if only slightly — more inclined to want your partner to abort.
Perhaps it’s natural. You know how to relate to a boy. With a boy, all you have to do is wrestle on the floor, make some ripe fart sounds and squish a potato bug between your fingers — and you are a legend. You could take a boy to the Boston Celtics, but cannot abide the thought of taking a girl to the Boston ballet. You wanted to show your kid how to play Diablo III (or whatever version is out by then), not Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom. You understood the hit you would be taking to your wallet and your social life, not to mention your sex life, but you balanced the ledger against baseball games and taking pictures of your little gangsta and busting out the old Transformers collection. Now, you’re supposed to stick around and help take care of a girl, a girl who will probably show an absolutely irrational preference for the color pink, a girl who will be fascinated with faerie princesses and Hello Kitty and (God forbid) Barbie, a girl who will probably prefer your wife and conspire with her against you.
So now you’re fantasizing about an abortion again, how one visit to a clinic could give you back the future you wanted, how you could escape from the whole situation and all the pressures it brought with it. You don’t feel ready for this. Your heart does not feel big enough. You’re still so selfish, so lazy, so irresponsible — and those are the things you like about yourself.
Don’t do it. Do not do it. Your daughter is waiting for you. She will expand and soften your heart. She will make you a better man. A daughter too is a blessing beyond measure. Give yourself to this, and she will make you into a protector and provider.
A Gallup poll taken last year found that 54% of young men prefer to have a boy, compared to 19% who prefer a girl. Young women showed no statistically significant preference and older women slightly preferred a girl.
Another study, this one published by Arthur Shostak in 1984, surveyed 1000 men who accompanied their wives or girlfriends to abortion clinics; 45% confessed that they had pressured their partners to abort (and these were the men who were “supportive” enough to accompany their partners to the clinic). If young men are likely to pressure their partners to abort, and young men also show a stark preference for boys, it would seem to follow that young men are more likely to press for an abortion when the baby is a girl. Even the ultra-pro-choice Guttmacher Institute acknowledges that sex-selective abortion appears to take place among some American populations — and such “gendercide” has been in the news recently with Live Action‘s undercover films showing Planned Parenthood clinics facilitating the practice. Yet the problem is especially severe overseas, where the imbalance between baby boys and baby girls is sometimes shocking.
This was not a problem envisioned by early advocates of legalized abortion. It emerged as new technologies like ultrasound imaging made it common for expectant parents to know the sex of the baby in the womb. Economic pressures are only one factor. Sex-selective abortion is as big a problem in wealthy Korea as it is in rural China, and all but unknown in some of the poorest nations in the world in sub-Saharan Africa or Latin America. Sex-selective abortion is most common where (1) ultrasound imaging is easily available and (2) the prevailing culture is patriarchal and places a greater value on men for their earning potential, their capacity to help with physical labor, their responsibility to care for parents in their old age, and their ability to acquire a dowry with a bride. Many of the same cultures where infanticide was common, but now outlawed, have simply found in sex-selective abortion another form of exterminating unwanted females. A Population Council study of 301 induced abortions in China found that fully one-third of the abortions were undertaken specifically because the unborn child was female. The problem is also severe in India and other parts of South and East Asia, and in the former Soviet bloc nations, where few girls, especially when their parents already have a girl, survive the abortionist’s needle.
Every Man Should Have a Daughter
I had told myself that I just wanted a healthy baby, boy or girl. But when I first learned that the child growing within my wife’s womb was a girl, I felt a pang of disappointment. I had always looked forward to the father-son relationship. This will sound egotistical — and it is precisely that — but I had also wanted to see what a boy with my genetic inheritance, but with the opportunities and direction I could give him, could accomplish.
By the time I got back home, however, I had dissolved into an utter emotional wreck. I had a daughter. A daughter. She was not even born yet, but she was already there enfolded in my wife’s body, and the love I felt like a Leviathan within me was surging out of the depths and it was mysterious and primal and uncontrollable and immense. I have never recovered. After years of scarcely feeling anything, suddenly I found myself broken by grace, shattered with gratitude into a thousand happy pieces. I would dissolve with emotion at random times throughout the day; the mere thought of holding my daughter, protecting and providing for her, making sure she knew that she was loved through and through, left me undone. And every time that gratefulness shatters my heart, it pieces back together into something bigger and better, stronger and yet more tender. Even now I cannot write about this without a lump in my throat and the sting of salt in my eyes.
My firstborn is a total daddy’s girl, a free and brilliant spirit with boundless energy and courage and curiosity, a pseudo-tomboy who likes the Little Mermaid but loves to play in the mud on the riverbank. Although she won’t (yet) squish bugs between her fingers, she loves to wrestle and she thinks fart noises are the height of comic genius. I would have enjoyed watching my son beat the other boys in sports, but I’m really going to enjoy watching my daughter beat the boys at sports. Even if they were not athletic or high-spirited, however, both my girls (like their beautiful mother) have me charmed me body and soul.
Every man should have a daughter, if only for his own sanctification. If a daughter comes your way, know the truth that she will love you with all her heart if you let her. Cherish her, and she will be a daddy’s girl. Love her, and your heart will expand to encompass the immensity of her soul. Sacrifice yourself for her, and soon you will discover that you will do just about anything to make her happy. Even if it requires you to grow up a little.