You can thank Yahoo and a link I saw there much too early this morning for this post. (Of course, now I can’t find the link.) It was with a great deal of trepidation that I clicked on the link. Anything that basically says “Here are X-number of rules for raising boys” sets off my internal alarms. As the mother of a grown son, I’ve already raised my “boy” and, if I do say so myself, he didn’t turn out badly at all. Still, I am always curious to see what the current thought is.
For the most part, the advice was solid — and could be applied to boys or girls. I’ll try to remember each of the points, or at least most of them. Of course, my own opinions will be added.
1. There will be bathroom problems.
Well duh. There are always potty training problems with kids. Some will fight bring potty trained. Others will take to it like a gem but will have accidents because they refuse to go anywhere but their own potty. Still others will forget to go and will then strip off their training pants/diapers and go commando. Their poor parent won’t know it until they get flashed or they find — usually by stepping on it barefoot — the discarded wet, or worse, diaper. Sure there are a few boy-only issues but they are to be expected.
2. Boys won’t automatically love to read.
Again, duh, but that applies to both boys and girls. Most children need to have the love of reading modeled for them. If they see their parents reading, if their parents read to them on a regular basis and if reading is framed as something that is fun, boys will love to read just as much as girls do. To imply that boys automatically don’t love to read, or that they love to read less than girls do, is to paint with much too broad a brush.
Now, as boys get older and start looking for books that interest them, well, that’s where another problem might arise. There simply aren’t as many good books for boys, especially middle grade boys, as there are for girls. Then there is the fact that most books being pushed by schools right now are all about the current issue or social stance du jour. Boys, usually, want the derring-do or books about heroes they can identify with. Beyond that, most kids don’t want to read to be depressed or to have a negative world painted for them. Heck, most adults don’t want that.
3. Find an outlet for competition.
Once again, this applies to girls as well as boys. This simply illustrates my problem with lists like this. They make it seem like boys are the only ones who are competitive. Far from it. So, as parents — even as teachers — we have to find a way to channel that competition in ways that will help the child mature and learn to deal with victories as well as defeats.
4. Teach a boy to be compassionate — by letting him play with dolls.
Ooo-kay, this is where my head exploded. My first thought was, “Sure, let little Junior play with dolls and see how often he gets picked on at school.” My second was that was not the way to teach compassion. You teach it by modeling it for you child, boy or girl. You show through your actions and words what it is to care for yourself and for others. You set the example and, when you see your child not behaving in a compassionate manner, you let him know what he did wrong and what the proper response should have been. Simply putting a doll in your child’s hands — again, boy or girl — and letting them play will not teach compassion.
5. Don’t fret over toy guns.
Thank you! At last a note of reason. Toy guns can be used as a teaching opportunity as well. It gives you a chance to talk to your child about proper gun handling and safety, etc. You can teach them the proper respect for a firearm. Hell, let’s face it, we didn’t have generations of mass murderers that almost killed off our species because they played with make-believe guns or other weapons. It’s a modern concern, a false concern in my mind.
6. Don’t buy into the “boys will be boys” excuse.
I’m torn on this one. Yes, boys will be boys in that most are more active and often more “adventurous” than a lot of girls. But excusing bad behavior simply because he’s a boy doesn’t work, at least not with me. However, we do have to recognize that boys are different from girls. Oooh, I know, I know. We aren’t supposed to admit that but it is the truth and I, for one, am glad.
There were others but I can’t remember them right now.
Look, the best way to raise your son is to model good behavior for them. Be there for them. Talk to them and read to them and teach them that there are consequences to their actions. That latter is especially important since our schools, including our colleges, are failing where that is concerned.