Find Out the Sex of Your Baby? What It Tells About You

I admit I did it.  Found out the sex of my baby.  But it took me so long to get pregnant, I wasn't interested in any surprises.

Now a study has found that moms (and dads) who want to know the sex of their unborn baby are perfectionists, and "may be giving subtle clues about (their) views on proper gender roles," according to

 The study found that women who choose not to learn their child’s sex may be more open to new experiences, and combine egalitarian views about the roles of men and women in society with conscientiousness.

I've always thought of myself as a risk-taker, but this would prove otherwise.  After losing two pregnancies, I wanted to know everything about this baby -- the health of his heart, his other vital organs, the length of his fingers and toes, and how many.   My husband was more a nervous wreck than I, not sure he really wanted to have children at all.

Expectant mothers who scored high on a test of parenting perfectionism were more likely than others to learn their baby’s sex, the Web site reports -- though I bristled at other characterizations researchers pontificated about.

“These results suggest women who choose not to learn their baby’s sex may not worry about having clothes, toys and colors for their child that match traditional gender expectations,” newswise quotes Letitia Kotila, lead author of the study and a graduate student in human sciences at The Ohio State University. “We don’t know this for sure yet, but expectant mothers’ choice on whether to find out their baby’s sex may show gender role attitudes that will shape how they raise their children.”

Gender role attitudes?  What does that mean?  That I'll try to make sure my kid can read by age two (though I do know some babies who can; sadly, not mine!).   But then I read more, and calmed down.

The strongest effect "was found in women who combined egalitarian gender role beliefs (the belief that women and men should share parenting roles) with conscientiousness."

Now there, I fit right in.  Unfortunately, it never worked out that way!   For most of my son's infancy and toddlerhood, dad let mom handle everything.  (Of course, I'm a control freak so that's probably also why.)  But once said son reached the age where he could hold a tennis racquet and watch the French Open, dad was right there.  And soon son wanted only to be with dad.  At age five, Phillip  would sit outside with his dad in the backyard on summer nights, the two of them side by side in beach chairs, and talk.  They called it "the men's corner" and I was not allowed.  (Actually, I thought it was kind of sweet.)

“A conscientious, egalitarian expectant mother may want to wait to find out the sex of the baby because she doesn’t want to create an environment that reinforces old gender stereotypes," added Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, another study member and associate professor of human sciences, Ohio State. “A conscientious, egalitarian expectant mother may want to wait to find out the sex of the baby because she doesn’t want to create an environment that reinforces old gender stereotypes>"


Expectant mothers who scored high in parenting perfectionism – meaning they set unrealistically high standards – were slightly more likely to find out the sex early. More than other expectant mothers, they may think knowing the child’s sex will relieve them of some anxiety during the uncertain pregnancy process, Kotila said. That's certainly where I fell, unlike the mothers who were more relaxed and willing to let the pregnancy unfold naturally.

Kind of hard when a lot of the process happens in a lab!

Schoppe-Sullivan's concerns were that “This may affect what paths a girl thinks is appropriate, all the way to what kind of careers she considers.”  And I'll admit, I'm a little sorry that my son isn't very athletic (or, at least, interested in team sports, even though he's quite capable), or likes to toss a football around after school (make that a soccer ball and now you're talking), or refers to girls as "chicks."  (Maybe that's a good thing.)

But when we found out we were having a boy, all we thought about was how good a parent we could be, especially my husband, who didn't have much of a relationship with his father.    So I don't really think it matters much whether you find out the gender of your unborn child, as long as you love and care for that child, and sit outside in the men's corner every night, talking about life and telling jokes, until the mosquitoes drive you in.

Happy Father's Day.

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch


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