Raising Boys into Men
When we had my daughter, my husband looked at me and quoted Chris Rock “A father’s job is to keep his daughter off of the pole” (hear that Billy Ray?). But what is a father’s job when it comes to raising boys? This amusing article from Esquire has some thoughts on that.
What is my role? Well, I would like to discourage my boys from funding the girls on the pole but also I want my boys to know that men are as emotionally complex as women. I want my boys to know that burping and farting at the table is OK but only sometimes, that not all girls are mean girls or dorks and that as they say in Free To Be You and Me: It’s all right to cry.
Child psychologists who specialize in boys warn of the “boy code”. The insidious idea that boys must bury their emotions and be strong at all times. This generation of dads may be more tuned-in, sensitive fathers than their own dads but they can still be turned off by the sight of their son crying or being “girly”.
In past generations anger was the only emotion that men were allowed to express, and it is still considered a sign of strength not weakness. But anger, says Dan Kindlon is just a sign that there is another emotion underneath. It is that underlying emotion that is the signpost of what is going on inside. It doesn’t matter how much mothers cajole boys to discuss their feelings, it is the example of the male role model that will teach them how to integrate their emotions into their lives in a healthy way.
William Pollack, in his book Raising Boys: Rescuing Our Boys from the Myths of Boyhood writes, “a boy observes how his dad resolves conflicts, cooperates, and works as a partner in marriage and family, in the community, and at work. In all arenas of his life, a father’s actions speak more loudly than his words, and a boy is listening carefully to both.”
We are used to the idea that boys take physical risks (except in my house, my daughter is the risky one); I would like my boys to take emotional risks – to learn to voice their emotions instead of reacting angrily and taking it out on each other’s bodies, or the Wii remote.
I have had a lot of discussions with my friends how do we raise our boys to go beyond the traditional boundaries of masculinity? How do we bring up boys that can have Nerf gun fight in the park and then come home and tell us how they felt about it?
When I’m not sure what to do , I turn to some of these resources on how to parent boys: