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.


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