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