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Raising Boys By Design: The Gender-Brain Spectrum [BOOK EXCERPT]

University and laboratory scientists in the field of gender science have used a variety of positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imagining (fMRI), and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans to study male and female brains. They have also utilized in-depth biochemical analyses of both animals and humans to develop primary research on male-female biochemical differences.

This data has been combined with psychological, anthropological, and sociological research, and this multidisciplinary approach to human development yields remarkable insights into how males and females learn, grow, think, and relate differently to the world.
This research also reveals both similar and different needs in male and female development.

“Male Brain” and “Female Brain” Defined

It’s important to point out that, no matter our differences, we exist on a spectrum of more than seven billion people, approximately half of whom are designed as male and half are designed as female. Talking about “male brain” and female brain” is not a matter of stereotyping but of discovering the spectrum of boys and girls.

It seems parents sense this spectrum.

You may have more than one son and might have noticed, “Brian is so ‘boy boy,’ but Teddy is less so — he’s more verbal, more into his and other people’s feelings.” This is the gender spectrum on an individual scale. Parents know that while all boys have certain internally designed qualities, no two boys are exactly alike.

At the same time, boys in general are different from girls in general, so let’s take a second to see where the design differences come from.

Three Gender-Forming Stages

Scientists have learned that the human brain undergoes at least three gender-forming stages that determine its gender design. Your son, wherever he fits on the boy-gender spectrum, will have developed his version of maleness in the first two stages, and it will be refined and directed in the third stage.

Stage 1: Genetic markers on the X and Y chromosomes (XX for female, XY for male) control fetal development of the female or male body and brain. Thus, the first stage of your son’s (or daughter’s) gender design occurs at conception. It is then brought forward on your child’s chromosomes and chromosome markers during gestation.

Stage 2: Between four to six weeks and six months in utero, a fetus’s chromosome markers trigger hormonal surges that help the developing body and brain grow as male or female body and brain. By the time the child is born, much of the formatting of the male or female brain and biochemical system is already accomplished.

Stage 3: After your child is born, a combination of nurture, socialization, and culture further shape his or her proclivities. Parents and others tend to nurture a child as a boy or girl, depending on how they perceive these genders. All the while, of course, biology plays its parts — this is especially true in adolescence, as puberty affects body and brain. A great deal of what parents, schools, and communities are doing during a child’s adolescence — as we nurture and refine and guide and direct the boy or girl — is to help him to become a man or her to become a woman. The child’s nature is present from birth, but parents are called, as adults, to nurture that nature.

Thus, combining religion and science, we can say that who we are as a male or a female starts in certain prebirth aspects (Stages 1 and 2) of our God-given nature and grows, matures, and is affected by how we are nurtured.

Everything we do affects our design while, at the same time, some nature-based facets of our personality and gender do not change much. Thus, what happens in stages 1 and 2 has, in scientific terms, “low plasticity.” It is our baseline.

The above is excerpted from Raising Boys By Design: What the Bible and Brain Science Reveal About What Our Sons Need To Thrive by Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, and Michael Gurian.

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