Raising a Man

 

How are you raising your child to become the adult you want them to be?

I grew up with sisters and am learning about raising boys in real-time. Boys were always a puzzle to me growing up. They could be caring and kind, and then aggressive, dismissive and cruel. What makes them act this way?, I’ve often thought. I’ve heard throughout my life (both as a child, teen and now parent), “It’s easier to raise boys than it is girls.” This never made sense to me. The beauty of girls is that we are allowed to have emotions.  And while there may be room for improving how we experience or work through our emotions, we are not conditioned to hide or repress them. Boys don’t often tell you what’s going on. My oldest son talks to my husband and I and is pretty open about what’s going on — yet he too really struggles to understand the emotion(s) he is feeling and what’s causing them. He lumps them all into two categories: those that make me feel good, and those that make me feel bad.

Watching my sons grow, I am starting to see them exhibit those same confusing behaviors I saw from boys when I was growing up. Particularly from my oldest. He can be loving and kind, empathetic and thoughtful, and then on what seems like a turn-of-the-dime, he can be rude, dismissive and cruel — whether its to his classmates, friends, brother or my husband and I. Consequences seem to have minimal impact, it’s almost like he can’t help himself. My biggest concern as I watch him grow is what kind of man he will be. I want to believe that what my husband and I are teaching him the ‘right’ things: appreciating diversity, equality, and what you have, being kind to one another, and sharing your gifts with others. He’s for equality, diversity, fairness, and taking care of the planet, yet I see him struggling with being kind. He often directs feeling of negativity towards his younger brother, or us. I understand the desire to vent to those that you know will still love you and be there for you, but it’s draining on my husband and our patience and takes a toll on his younger brother. He shared what he deemed a ‘good day’ that included playing volleyball well in P.E. (I’m good with this), and then watching a female classmate miss a shot and fall in a way that was ‘hilarious’ – “Mom, I couldn’t stop laughing,’ he said (I’m not good with this). I attempted to ask him how he thought the girl felt (I’m sure embarrassed) and he acted as though I were purposely trying to be a killjoy. “Mom, I said I had a good day.” and he immediately ended the conversation.

I want my child to be happy, but not at the expense of others. Particularly not at a women’s expense. Maybe I’m overly sensitive because overt sexism and misogyny are finally getting the exposure we women have needed to change what is ‘acceptable’ behavior. I feel like I’m at a pivotal point in my son’s maturing and need to ‘up’ my parenting skills a notch to ensure we’re guiding him down a path toward manhood that he’ll one day be proud of. I want him to be kind to others. I want him to see the benefit — not only to others to how he’ll feel. I don’t know how else to do that then exhibiting the behavior myself, and getting him to think (rethink) how he interacts with others.

What challenges are you facing in helping your child to grow to be the adult you hope they will be? How are you helping your child?

 

 

 

 

Masterminds and Wingmen

I had taken my boys in for haircuts when one of the employees came to me and said, “I know your boys are a little young for this, but you just have to read this book,” and proceeded to tell me about Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World by Rosalind Wisemen. I was a bit skeptical, but her enthusiasm convinced me to check it out. I have not been disappointed.

The book is written to help parents better understand their sons and provides strategies for how to better handle situations. With each page I read of the book, I felt like I was discovering something new about the opposite sex. I was amazed how little I felt I truly understood about the male experience growing up. I immediately went to my husband and said, “I need you to read this, and tell me if there is any truth to it…if there is, I feel like we’ve struck gold!”

I am passionate about parenting with no regrets and this book is greatly appreciated. It’s hard to get something right when you don’t know what you don’t know. What struck me about this book is how little of us are talking about this (the differences between sexes and our experiences growing up)…there is great information in here, why wouldn’t we want to use this to have more open dialogue with our sons and daughters. Reading this book feels like something that needs to be shared and discussed.

The book has made such an impression on me, I’ve recently picked another Rosalind Wiseman book: Queen Bees and Wannabees: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World. Based on the reviews I’m guessing it’s as good as Masterminds and Wingmen. Assuming so, while the book is targeted at parents, I’m leaning towards sharing both books with my boys in their teens. Parents may need to understand their sons and daughters, but kids need helping understanding themselves and the dynamics potentially going on around them. I’m hoping these books will help shed insight I would have benefitted from growing up. Don’t just watch me navigate child and teen-hood, help me understand what is happening and why, so I can have a better understand what is happening and why.

I’m grateful the hairdresser made a point to let me know about this book. She inspired me to share it with you.

What parenting information has inspired you?