Sunday, March 18, 2012

Advice for Parents of Boys

I received this email from a parent of a boy who heard me talk about boys/men's issues on KGO yesterday:

Hi Marty-
I just heard you on Michael Finney's show. I am a mother to three-year old twin boys. I am so hyper-aware of male discrimination. I'm quite concerned for my boys. What could you suggest to this mom?

Beth Wald

Here's how I responded:
  • Try to get your sons in classes with teachers who are boy-friendly. Too many teachers, if a boy is active and unwilling to sit for hours at a time reading, in cooperative learning, etc., unduly disparage him and/or recommend he be put on a Ritalin leash. So each spring, visit the possible teachers for next year. Watch how each teacher treats the boys.
  • Don't, as many moms do, try to unduly quell your sons' "boyness." Aggressiveness and competitiveness are pluses if used wisely--ethics and wisdom must always be primary.
  • Because so much of the media portrays boys and men as idiots or evil, rent movies etc that portray boys and men positively--for example, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and, when he's older, The Never Ending Story and the Harry Potter movies. Unfortunately, most movies portray the female as the hero and males, on average, as lessers. For example, see THIS list of famous children's movies.
  • Encourage adventure play: scavenger hunts, relay races, heroic role playing, etc.
  • When they're older, you may, alas, have to tell your sons what parents of Black kids used to tell them: You may need to be twice as good to go half as far, but I'll support you all the way.
  • Read the excellent book, The War Against Boys.


Dulantha said...

I suggest that men who have both physical and psychological masculine orientation, must protect boys and educate them.
Not only movies, both movies and video games are promoting feminism and washing out the brains of younger generation by portraying women as heroes.

Maria Lopez said...

Harry Potter impressed me as an excellent positive characterization of a young man. I think your suggestion that guys shouldreadhimis a very good one.

Anonymous said...

Some more things that are helpful:

Try to get your sons involved in out-of school activities such as sports, Scouts, and church youth groups. They provide lots of opportunities to be active, and also give your sons more chances to succeed than just in school.

Expose your sons to lots of positive male role models and call attention to men doing positive things.

When your sons get to be teenagers, talk to the men in your sons' lives to find a positive "rite of passage" for your sons. Some of these may be camping trips, Eagle Scout projects, religious events like bar mitzvahs/confirmations, etc. where your sons get lots of time with other men to learn about growing up.

Anonymous said...

When I watched the Academy Awards recently I asked myself, "Where are all the leading men? Where are the John Waynes of today? Where are the heroes? Even Russell Crowe seems to have dropped out of the picture.
I have a three year old grandson being raised by my daughter, a single Mom. I worry about good male role models as he grows up.


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