Let’s talk about raising boys for a few days! For those of you raising daughters, I did a few posts specific to fathers and daughters here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/18/fathers-and-daughters-part-one/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/20/fathers-and-daughters-part-two/
Here is another one: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/23/raising-a-daughter/
For this topic of raising boys, I really like the book (once again!) by Don and Jeanine Elium entitled “Raising A Son: Parents and the Making of A Healthy Man”. You can find this book here: http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Son-Parents-Making-Healthy/dp/1587611945/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276131538&sr=8-1
My husband and I also recently read “That’s My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys To Become Men of Character” by Rick Johnson. This is a quick read, and very interesting. My husband and I really enjoyed this one. You can find this book here: http://www.amazon.com/Thats-My-Son-Influence-Character/dp/0800730771/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277684591&sr=8-1
I was wondering what mothers out there are finding most challenging about raising boys? I would love to hear from you, please do leave me a comment in the comment box!
Boys are wonderful. I happen to very much love a little boy who grew up to be a terrific man. But, the question for many parents of boys seems to exactly be “how to raise a good man.” After all, the statistics regarding boys quoted in Rick Johnson’s “That’s My Son” are rather dire:
- Boys are six times more likely than girls to have learning disorders
- Boys are three times more likely to be drug addicted
- Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed as emotionally disturbed
- Boys are twelve times more likely to commit murder
- Boys have a 50 percent greater risk of dying in a car accident
- Boys are five times more likely to commit suicide
- Young boys are seven times more likely to be admitted to mental hospitals and juvenile institutions than girls of the same age/socioeconomic background
- Boys are twice as likely as girls to have autism and six times as likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Boys stutter more than girls and are diagnosed with more speech disorders than girls
- Boys are more likely to have birth defects, mental retardation and even genetic diseases.
When boys seem to have so much stacked against them, how can we go about raising a good man?
I think one of the first places to start is to understand what makes a boy tick. Physically, boys are different than girls.
For example, a boy or a man uses mainly one hemisphere of the brain at a time. Women’s brains have a larger corpus collosum that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain, so we tend to use both. This may account for differences in perceiving emotion and multi-tasking.
Males have less serotonin than females and have up to twenty times more testosterone. Testosterone is a cause of more dominant behavior, and also causes more muscle growth and hair. Males are bigger, faster, stronger. Rick Johnson writes: “Due to higher levels of testosterone, males tend to act out in times of stress. Females tend to become withdrawn in similar circumstances. In stressful situations (during their parents’ divorce, for instance), adolescent males often become angry and aggressive, getting into trouble and acting act, whereas adolescent females are more prone to becoming depressed and withdrawn.” Males also have a larger amygdala, the portion of the brain that orders the adrenal glands and other glands into action during times of stress. This also contributes to increased dominance as compared to females.
But this is just the physical side, and we know that people are more than just their physical bodies. Males *typically* are better at math, science, spatial relations, logic and reasoning as shown by brain scans.
The Eliums write in “Raising A Son”: “…a man tends to fix problems first and consider his relationship with his spouse or partner later, whereas most women consider the relationship in the solution. Men tend to focus on one problem or task at a time (as at a bull’s-eye on a target) and see any other occurrences in their lives as distractions to ignore.” Men tend to take in less sensory input from their environment and have shorter overall attention spans than females.
Competition, rules and order are more important to boys. Clear, firm but loving guidance is really important to boys. In Chapter One of “Raising A Son”, the authors point out that boys want to know things. They want to know who is the boss, what the rules are, and are you going to enforce the rules. “To have a strong relationship with a boy, you have to be the boss, and a very kind one. Only set rules that you can enforce, and always enforce them. Then you have the basis for the relationship. From here comes respect, and more importantly, trust. Then you can be kind, he’ll listen, and he knows that you are on his side.”
Obviously, all children, boys included, are developed through biology, psychology, culture, the unique and individual “I” that every person has. However, firm, kind, consistent are words that have come up over and over in the literature I have researched in dealing with the guidance of boys. Some of you have wonderful boys who may not have needed this approach, but most of the literature seems to support these traits in raising boys.
The other thing that has come up over and over and over in my research is that boys need a man mentor. A woman just cannot teach a boy to be a man. Positive male role models are extremely important in a boy’s life. Typically a boy starts identifying more with their fathers than their mothers around the age of five. It is important that fathers have an active relationship with their sons. This does not mean that mother is no longer important, or the tie to mothers must be severed, but that the relationship of a boy to other men is important in learning how to be a good man. The Eliums point out in their book that “Ancient peoples wisely anticipated the first show of testosterone’s power. When boys became unruly, hard to handle, aggressive, and difficult, community members knew the time was ripe. It was time to make a boy into a man.”
Lots more to say, but will stop there tonight. Thoughts?