RATTLE OF THE SEXES; ONLINE ROW SPARKS DEBATE ON GENDER DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUNGSTERS as SMOGs (Smug Mums of Girls) Clash with DMOBs (Defensive Mums of Boys) on Net, Three Women Tell of Their Experience of Raising Kids

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Byline: Maggie Mallon

PARENTS have a tough job raising children - and that's a widely accepted fact.

There's loads to cherish and enjoy from having kids, obviously.

Historically, it didn't matter whether it was girls or boys needing attention and loving care - the highs and lows, the fun and the exhaustion for mums and dads were not dictated by the sex of a child.

But today - following increasing internet website discussions - an online battle of the sexes is raging.

On one side are the SMOGs (Smug Mothers Of Girls), who seem to think that their little darlings are all things nice with sugar 'n' spice.

To them, little boys are noisy, naughty and troublesome.

Mums with boys, naturally, have taken the hump, hitting back at the SMOGs under the banner of DMOBs (Defensive Mothers Of Boys).

The debate between them has sparked a lot of comment and downright hostility. So is the female versus male child argument a real, live issue or not? Edinburgh child education expert Sue Palmer and author of Toxic Childhood said: "Developmental disorders such as ADHD are around four times as likely to affect boys.

"In general, girls find it easier to sit still in class and are more socially aware, so they want to please people."

But Sue doesn't believe it is helpful for parents of well-behaved girls to look down on mums with boys.

She said: "Anybody being judgmental of another parent who is struggling with their child's behaviour should stop and think, 'There but for the grace of God go I.'" Here we speak to three mums at the sharp end. One has only girls, one has only boys and a third has a daughter and a son.

MOTHER OF GIRL AND BOY JOANNE Mallon, 40, is the mum of Caitlin, eight, and Jamie, five.

"It's great having a boy and girl as I think it makes for a good family dynamic," said Joanne, a product manager who lives in Edinburgh with husband, David, 42, a civil servant.

She has learned that there are significant differences between boys and girls.

"Jamie needs to get outside and run wild more than Caitlin does.

"He has loads of energy, which means I have to build physical activity into our day."

When Joanne only had a girl, she observed that her friends with boys had a harder time.

"Boys need rules because they don't embrace them as readily as girls.

"Caitlin always liked my approval as a toddler. I just had to look at her and she'd stop misbehaving. Whereas Jamie didn't care as much, so I had to use different tactics."

Joanne loves having a boy as much as having a girl.

"Jamie is very affectionate and loves his cuddles. Caitlin loves her cuddles too and my husband David has a special relationship with her.

"Jamie is more of a mummy's boy.

"Boys and girls are different but I wouldn't make allowances for Jamie because he is a boy. …