Raising Sons

(116 Posts)
BertieBotts Thu 29-Nov-12 18:05:41

I'm sure this has probably been done before, but I thought it might be nice to have a new thread on it to discuss opinions/experiences/ideas.

I'm finding my 4yo DS hard work at the moment (I put a thread over in Parenting if you want to know details, I won't replicate it here) and I've had a lot of reassuring replies about testosterone surges but also a lot of the standard "Boys need exercise" and suggestions to read Raising Boys. (And I think these are great helpful suggestions and am very grateful for the responses so please don't think I'm complaining about these blush) - it's just that responses of this type always make me come back to my feminist views and wonder if it's really a boy thing about needing "exercise" and whether you really need a specific book about raising boys, or not.

My gut feeling is that although I don't think girls and boys are fundamentally different, things like hormonal changes obviously will happen at different times and it's worth being aware of these, and also, because we live in a gendered society which has such different expectations for men and women there probably are some differences in approach needed. So I wondered if anyone knew of any books, articles, resources etc about raising boys to be aware of their privilege (without totally disillusioning their sense of self!) respect women/girls as equal, minimising the (societal) link between masculinity and aggression, etc.

The only thing I can offer is the film "Tough Guise" which is very good about society's link between masculinity and aggression. It used to be on youtube but the full thing isn't there any more - it's around 10 years old and American but very relevant here I think too. If you can get hold of it without too much trouble it's really interesting to watch, if not there are various articles, blogs etc about it online.

AbigailAdams Fri 30-Nov-12 10:00:40

Oh yes Bertie. That dreaded case of "over-thinking". That just won't do! I really am not understanding the insults and hostility on this thread.

All Bertie has asked is basically how do we go about counteracting some of the patriarchal influences that boys will encounter. She wants to stop putting them in the "boys need more exercise" box and also look at how male privilege can be questioned by them as they grow up.

Societal influences will have a huge influence on them as they grow up. So just treating them as a person rather than a gender is probably not going to have as much of an effect as you like as no-one else will do that. In addition there are many behaviours that we exhibit towards girls and boys that we aren't even concious of. Our expectations and the way we interact. We are conditioned too. So surely some kind of couteraction and reaction to the patriarchal influences is necessary?

OwlLady Fri 30-Nov-12 10:03:13

I agree with scottishmummy, I actually think children are that simple, love and chreish them and do your best and things can't go that wrong can they? smile

antimony Fri 30-Nov-12 10:12:11

I'm an overthinker too. Right now (have a 7 yo) I'm focusing on responsibility and domestic jobs a bit - partly because I read an account of boys being much less ready to take responsibility at school for their learning (and tidying). I think being conscious about these things is always good. I have always poured scorn on boy colours/girl colours and toys; but at the same time point out to my son that yes, he's learned the rules that society and advertisers are preaching - but he doesn't have to swallow them. I wonder how far fiction can help? We haven't gone down far the 'boy books' path as both me and him find them boringly formulaic and he still seems very happy to read those many books with female lead characters, which conventional wisdom says boys can't identify with. Will have to see how that goes.

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 15:42:20

I answered the question- you counterbalance it by everyday life - you do not need to do more. DCs do as you do and not as you say.

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 15:44:24

I'm thoroughly glad I'm not a boy as some people have made up their mind that you are privileged without knowing a thing about you and your circumstances!

merlottits Fri 30-Nov-12 15:49:55

I really liked the Steve Biddulph book and think there is some really good information that rang true for me in there. But I'm someone who thinks boys and girls are different.

FrothyDragon Fri 30-Nov-12 16:41:08

I love that people still aren't understanding male privilege... Am restricted to phone til next week- could someone link to feminism 101's article about privilege please?

It's things like realising that males are statistically better off in almost every aspect of life, due to their sex. I blame the patriarchy. Anything that holds DSs back is likely to be outside factors, that would affect a female back to a greater extent. You can't escape male privilege, but men can challenge how they use it.

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 16:49:22

As the only girl in the family and the eldest I was the privileged one!

FrothyDragon Fri 30-Nov-12 16:56:45

You truly believe that, do you?

Do your brothers have children, exotic? If so, how much time did they take off to raise a family? How was their career impacted by having children? Did they ever have to deal with threatening harassment? If they ever experienced violence, who was the perpetrator?

You may have felt privileged in the family, but look at the bigger picture. Who fared better in society, with the lesser effort?

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 17:10:27

I am immensely privileged that I had time off to have a family. I adored being at home with DCs and wouldn't have missed it for anything. Unfortunately my brother hasn't had the chance to have time off work- he would have loved it. He is stuck in his job until retirement and would love to get out. My other brother doesn't have DCs. As men they have experience violence- I haven't.

Doing family history we come from a long line of farm labourers - very poor- I think that if they were around they would laugh at the idea they were privileged!

Luckily DH didn't want time off to raise DCs or I would have been very upset to leave him at home and commute to work.

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 17:30:00

And my SIL has had a wonderful life with horses- not hindered by paid employment!

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 17:30:42

Anyone would think DCs were a penance not a joy!

BeerTricksPott3r Fri 30-Nov-12 18:39:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 21:28:28

I would say that we were the privileged ones to have the choice. I was able to spend the first 5 yrs of my DCs life at home with them,and loved every minute, SIL has been able to have a life with her horses, other SIL has been free to be a writer without a day job and other SIL has been able to teach yoga and do counselling (neither earn a living) -that is real privilege rather than be a wage slave on a career ladder.

scottishmummy Fri 30-Nov-12 22:23:21

it's sad you're so fatalistic in expectations of son op
you seem to expect son be privileged,to grow up watching porn,lording it
really this is all very fraught and handwringing about how son may turn out

exoticfruits Fri 30-Nov-12 22:41:43

A boy can't win-whatever he thinks he is labelled- merely because he is is male.

LRDtheFeministDude Fri 30-Nov-12 23:45:26

Wow, I had no idea there were jobs where you could subsist for five years looking after your DC without an income, or being free to write without a day job. Where do I sign up?!

I don't understand why you think boys should 'win', exotic - I prefer the idea of neither gender 'winning' but see that some people are still outraged at the idea of boys not automatically winning everything. That is why boys still need some counteraction of that message from their mums, I assume.

exoticfruits Sat 01-Dec-12 07:28:07

I think that you are taking my 'win' the wrong way. It wasn't meant like that at all- it was just to show that even if they came out of the womb with ' I am not a member of the patriarchy' notice on them they are still perceived that way!
Lots of women stay at home with DCs, write books , do part time jobs, keep hens, have 20 years off as a Home Educator, paint pictures,work a few hours as dance teachers, start a business at home, do B&B etc etc- it is hardly unusual! Lots more of them than men. I'm sure that lots of men would like to and can't. A minority of men manage it if they have a DP who wants to be the main breadwinner. You sign up by becoming a unit where you are not in competition. If you both want to stay on a career ladder then you arrange it that way.
I have managed to do exactly what I want in life which is why I much prefer being a woman. I would hate to have left my DCs in childcare so that I could do paid employment- I have been able to work part time around them.

If you live your life as an equal you show by example - you don't need to hit it home with a sledge hammer. I regret using the word 'winning' - I had no idea that people would take it literally. Why should anyone 'win'?confused

I can't see why anyone thinks it odd for half of a partnership to exist without a day job (man or woman) there are lots and lots of examples all around the country- to be seen at any school gate!

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 01-Dec-12 07:46:26

One of the key groups that have been targeted over the years as underachieving in education throughout their schooling and failing to achieve results in examinations are white, working class males.
Teenage males are amongst the most demonised figures in our society, they often engender fear by merely existing after dark, especially if they are with friends.
I have a girl and a boy. I expected them to take an equal part at home with any household tasks, to talk to others with respect and to take responsibility for their actions and the consequences of those actions. To not use their gender as a reason or a justification for anything, from colour choices to career options to who should do a particular activity.
My OH and I have modelled that to them all their lives.
Good luck OP, love the child you have and deal with individual situations and attitudes as they arise, rather than attempting too much pre-programming.

Yama Sat 01-Dec-12 07:47:53

Bertie - I have looked around at the men I know.

Many have attitudes which I care not for. Generally this comes from upbringing and/or ignorance.

Then I look at the men who are like your dp. My dh and my brothers for three. Brought up in very different family dynamics. Dh brought up an only child of a single mother, my brothers with sisters and parents who are still together.

Somebody else on the thread said it - you and your dp are a huge influence. Keep modelling the behaviour you want him to emulate.

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 01-Dec-12 08:05:26

For example:

" My DS says that xyz are for boys not girls, what a dreadfully sexist attitude, how can I change this?"

" Who deals with the car, who drives when you are both in the vehicle? Who deals with the garage, the power cuts,the bins, the xyz in your house? Who does the traditionally manly man things?
Do you do more of those and does your partner do more of the traditionally female jobs to counteract the messages society sends?"

" Squeak...DH does . Because he likes to do them and I ....um...."

exoticfruits Sat 01-Dec-12 09:10:32

*I expected them to take an equal part at home with any household tasks, to talk to others with respect and to take responsibility for their actions and the consequences of those actions. To not use their gender as a reason or a justification for anything, from colour choices to career options to who should do a particular activity.
My OH and I have modelled that to them all their lives.
Good luck OP, love the child you have and deal with individual situations and attitudes as they arise, rather than attempting too much pre-programming.*

An excellent post-in a nutshell what I am trying to say. My parents lived it-DH and I live it. I can get out a power drill and put up a shelf, DH can do the ironing. DCs take it in as naturally as breathing.
I don't do anything with the car engine because despite a course on looking after your car I hate it. It is all about choice as a couple. I couldn't stand being in a high powered job and missing my DCs first steps, something money can't buy, or saying 'I can't see your nativity play, I'm not in the country that week. It is all personal choice-if you want it then go for it!

TheNebulousBoojum Sat 01-Dec-12 09:26:36

I just think that 4 year old children learn best through first hand experience, and that you are the controller of his world at the moment, so his experiences and interactions are hugely under your influence.
So think about every word you say, everything he observes you and others around you doing, all the interactions and expectations and attitudes he is exposed to from relatives and people he actually interacts with rather than the second-hand media.
In the same way that you would for a girl.

TreadOnTheCracks Sat 01-Dec-12 15:36:43

OP you mentioned you were worried about the effects of porn and the pressures sociiety brings for our children.

I liked this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/21st-Century-Boys-Modern-Drive/dp/1409103382/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1354376060&sr=8-10

Of course lotsof it does apply to girls too.

A very interesting thread and many posts have made me think.

scottishmummy Sat 01-Dec-12 19:01:48

no one needs book about how to raise boys or girls.what a con
raise your children with good values.love,praise and encourage them
our children observe us,live within our norms, are exposed to our values.

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