I’m reading a book right now (which I love so far), called The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers. I’ll let you know when I’m done with it. 😉 This book and a conversation I had with a friend recently, has made me think a lot about raising boys. As a mom, I feel like there are things I rock at (like having sleep routines) and things that I suck at (like doing fun crafty activities… I really hate doing crafts with little kids… 😣). Something I am consciously going to work on right now is letting my boys be boys.
Now I’m not referring to that old saying “boys will be boys” which often implies that aggressive, sexist, sexual behavior should be overlooked because “that’s just how boys are”. Gross. No, boys are not naturally animal-like creatures that lack self-control. I truly feel that boys are misunderstood these days. Did you know that boys are falling behind in academic and career achievement, and have for some time? There are many arguments that try to explain the reason for this crisis. Here’s my theory:
- Boys, as a general group, tend to need more physical activity and hands-on learning than many classrooms and schools are providing.
- Boys tend to be high-energy: what happens when they can’t channel that energy into their learning, but are required to stifle it? They disengage from learning.
- Girls are encouraged and applauded and praised for their achievements, especially since for so long girls and women were treated like second-class citizens. Do boys get encouraged, applauded, and praised as well? I feel like they don’t- at least not to the extent that girls do. What’s another intelligent, succeeding boy, after so many males have gone before him to shape the world? It’s the girls’ turn! (Insert sarcasm)
- Boys do not have productive role models. Think about the mainstream role models geared toward boys right now: superheroes, singers, professional athletes? What do these groups have in common? They have big, attractive bodies and they can pretty much do whatever they want.
- There is such a double-standard of what it means to be a man. Are good men intelligent or are they dumb and humble? Are good men physical or are they weak? Should they be tough or should they be sensitive? Is it better for boys to be more like girls, to help mold their character into more evolved, mature, higher beings? (Again, insert sarcasm)
I am worried about the kind of world we are raising our boys in. It is NOT second-best to be a boy. Girls and boys, males and females, are needed equally and should be treated with the same respect, love, and encouragement, and given the same opportunities. I do not wish that I had daughters instead of sons.
Here’s my plan for raising my boys to love that they are boys:
- I’m going to help them understand that it’s okay to cry and be emotional.
- I’m going to introduce them to male role models that portray and encourage kindness, intelligence, respect, happiness, and ambition.
- I’m not going to stifle their energetic spirits; I will give them plenty of opportunities to be physical as well as teach them about when it’s appropriate to sit still and be calm.
- I will teach them how to be reverent and thoughtful.
- I will play WITH them!
- I will let them choose what activities, sports, etc. they want to do. If they want to play basketball, great! If they want to do ballet, great! If they want to be on the chess team, great!
- I will show them that I am interested in what they’re interested in.