It's safe to say Mila Kunis is a celebrity parent who prefers to keep her two kids, 3-year-old Wyatt and 1-year-old Dimitri, out of the public eye. From Kunis choosing not to share pictures of her children online (she has a very compelling reason for this, BTW) to shielding them from the paparazzi during family outings, it's rare that fans get to see her in action as a mom. But the good news is Kunis doesn't shy away from talking about Wyatt and Dimitri's lives in interviews, especially where it concerns their budding personalities. And on Wednesday, Mila Kunis explained the "differences" between daughters and sons, because she has *a lot* of feelings on the topic. Apparently, Kunis believes that girls are "more on it," a sentiment that some parents might find troublesome.
Back in June 2017, Mila's husband, Ashton Kutcher, got candid about the developmental differences between Wyatt and Dimitri. “It’s weird because girls advance apparently faster than boys,” Kutcher explained, according to People. “I didn’t know this, but researched early childhood advancement. My daughter is 2½ [and] she speaks three languages; she’s got Russian and Spanish and English. She actually understands and speaks them.”
As many parents probably already know, research shows that girl and boy brains do develop differently. Studies suggest that the left hemisphere of the brain, the part that controls language acquisition for most people, develops earlier for girls than it does for boys. Additionally, the part of the brain that plays an important role in memory, the hippocampus, is thought to be larger in females than it is in males. Therefore, some parents notice that their daughters are more verbal than their sons at a young age, a phenomenon that Kutcher is all too familiar with at his house.
When speaking about Dimitri's verbal skills, Kutcher added: “The boy is just like a ‘thuck.’ Just a chunky, like, ‘BAAHHH. He sounds like a pterodactyl, and he’s not coming around.”
But how is Dimitri's language acquisition doing these days? Per Kunis, Dimitri still has some ways to go in comparison to his big sister.
“They’re incredibly different,” Kunis told Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday, according to Us Weekly. "My boy’s like a sloth. He’s wonderful, and I love him — ’cause one day he’ll probably watch this and be like, ‘Why did you say that?’ — but the truth is, women are smarter than men. And I have this evident from my two different humans that I created.”
Of course, it's awesome to hear Kunis boasting the intellectual prowess of young girls. Kunis, along with other celebs like Smart Girls co-founder Amy Poehler, is doing society a world of good by using her platform to debunk the gender stereotype that girls aren't as smart as boys. It's very important and necessary work, especially since this harmful stereotype is still common.
But it's what Kunis went on to say about Dimitri that some people might take umbrage with. “Girls are just on it and boys are like, ‘Dum da-dum da-dum da-dum,’ ” Kunis added, according to People. “They’re more like little linebackers going through life, and like … Neanderthal-ish.”
For starters, Kunis' gender stereotype of Dimitri seems to encourage the idea that "boys will be boys." This stereotype is problematic because if boys are simply grunting their way through life like little Neanderthals, what does it mean when they do something wrong? Should they not be held accountable for their actions because they're just ploughing through life like linebackers? The dum da-dum da-dum da-dum part of Kunis' comment seems to back this up, because it implies boys aren't to blame for not thinking through their decisions — a defense that is often used to normalize the poor actions of young (and old) men.
Secondly, from a teacher's perspective, the gender stereotype that boys are more physical than intellectual can be detrimental to a child's learning. Assuming that a young boy is less verbal than a girl just because that's "the way it is" could lead to a parent possibly brushing aside a problem at school, like bullying, for example. No matter what, professionals should always do their best to find a learning environment that works for each individual child —operating from gender stereotypes would be disastrous in a classroom.
It's important to reiterate here that Kunis likely didn't mean anything by her comment. Kunis, like many celebrity parents before her, just wanted to share a lighthearted anecdote about her kids. It's still worth pointing out, however, how her comment might perceived by parents and why it might be problematic. The more conversations about these issues people have, the better.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.