Archive for January, 2013

Raising Boys to be Men

I am a girl, my two oldest children are girls, I have a mother, a sister and girlfriends.  I ‘get’ girls; understand the way we think, what makes us tick and what shuts us down. It makes sense that we cry for reasons unknown and that we have a compulsion to save the world. Girls make sense.

Boys, do not. I should ‘get’ boys, I married a boy, I have brothers and fathers (yes plural), I have ‘boy’friends and uncles. I even have a son.

‘I have a son’. Right there is where everything I thought I knew about boys falls apart. Why do they make those noises? What is the fascination with fart jokes and peeing outside? Do they ever sit still and just think? Is it possible to leave a boy alone with a stick, a wheel or a bag of marbles and not end up in the emergency department? I need answers, better ones than I get from my husband when I look at him with saucer eyes pleading for an explanation “WHAT is he doing?!?!”

“He’s being a boy.” does not satisfy my natural female instinct to understand things. In all seriousness there are some real questions I would like logical explanations for so that I can help my son thrive, in a world I do not comprehend, using the ‘talents’ bestowed upon him through the blessing of testosterone.

Why doesn’t he like school? Why does he despise homework so very much more than his sisters did? Why does winning make him so happy and why doesn’t he feel as bad for the ‘other guy’ as I think he should? Answers to these questions would go a long way. I wasn’t getting satisfactory ones so I did what I always do; I bought a book.

Boys Adrift by: Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

Thank you universe for guiding me to this book!

I’m finding a lot of answers. The biggest… I’ve been raising my son the way I raised my daughters; like a girl. I didn’t even know I was raising my daughters like girls. I was aiming for gender neutrality. It turns out that my gender neutrality is bias towards female perspective (go figure) that means my girls did okay, but I’ve thrust a lot of expectations on my son that boys simply aren’t wired for.

It is comforting to know there are actual reasonable explanations for why boys can’t sit still, need to win, don’t do homework, grow unhappy with school, do the opposite of what you ask and why sticks, wheels, and marbles might be heck on a mother’s nerves but are essential to a balanced boy.

Boys Adrift is a giant ‘ah, that’s why’ light bulb that has me thinking about the number of parents I talk with who are really struggling to get the best out of their boys. I want to send them all running for this book. Learning how boys think and what my son needs from me, from school, and from life to be and feel accomplished is changing the way I ask questions, discipline, coach and comfort.  I still don’t know why fart jokes are funny but I am learning that they are important.

So this post turns into a book recommendation. To quote Dr. Oz… “A must-read for any parent of boys.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Other books by Leonard Sax, M.D.,Ph.D.  which address gender uniqueness are Girls on the Edge (this is next on my reading list) and Why Gender Matters.

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

 

Having Everyday Success

by Michelle Iuelo

Here we are on the starting line, the beginning of a New Year. I’m going to use the ‘R’ word here…Resolution, did you make one? Maybe you made several. There is always a compulsion at the beginning of something new to declare our intention of effort, we make plans, talk strategy and celebrate ourselves as though success is fait accompli. In reality our success, or promise of, lasts about as long as the ice in our cocktail. Real change is hard to work into our lives permanently.

I often wonder what affect all of this declaration and defeat has on our children. Do they get the message that self-improvement is doomed for failure? I heard my oldest daughter make a resolution one year to be nicer to her little sister. She promptly finished the statement with “that should last a couple of weeks!” The room erupted with laughter. In my head I was calculating the odds at two days not weeks. I was right; while her attempts to treat her sister nicer were valiant her success had the life span of a bowl of cereal. That was the last year New Year’s Resolutions were declared in our home.

Change, self-improvement and growth should be an everyday goal anyway, right? Not a thing explored just once a year. We’ve replaced New Year’s Resolutions with New Year’s Reflection, an opportunity to acknowledge the activities, people and events that make us happy and bring us joy, in an effort to add more of the same to our everyday lives.

I love the switch from Resolution to Reflection, but what about the changes and improvements we need to make simply as a matter of personal growth? They can’t be tossed aside because they are too difficult. How can we help our children to be successful? How can we help ourselves to be successful?

It may be as easy as turning breakfast into a planning meeting. Ask your kids over a glass of OJ what they have planned for the day, what they are looking forward to and what they want to accomplish before they brush their teeth and climb into bed at the end of the day. Very successful grown-ups do this every day with themselves. They plan their day ahead on paper, list everything they desire to accomplish, then they head off. I promise they accomplish more before noon that most people do in a week!

Knowing what your children what to be successful at in a day provides the best chance we have as parents to support their efforts. It gives us clues to the opportunities and tools to put in front of them. Knowing their goals prompts us to keep them accountable to themselves by asking follow-up questions throughout the day and at the end of the day. It gives us most importantly reasons to celebrate! I finished reading my book is a high-five. I aced the spelling quiz… a celebratory hug. I perfected my somersault… pure happy dance material.

Experts recommend setting small, realistic, attainable goals and breaking large goals into bite sized pieces; “I want to get all of my homework done this week.” is easier to face than “I’m never going to miss an assignment again.” I need to lose 20 lbs. is easier when you focus on the 2 you are working on this week.  It’s easier still, when you focus on the food and exercise for the day at hand. This may be what makes breakfast work. By focusing simply on the day at hand we have greater opportunities to be successful, a better shot at turning resolutions for self-improvement into positive, doable accomplishments. Our children can see goal setting as a successful endeavour not a doomed to failure exercise. It is no secret that success fuels success.

All the best to you and your family in 2013! Here’s to a year of celebrating!!!

 


 

Candace also blogs for
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