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I was thinking, as I often do, about parenting boys...

(121 Posts)
BertrandRussell Wed 25-Apr-18 09:37:59

.....and wondering about how people negotiate the "toxic masculinity" minefield. And specifically, how your boys' fathers negotiate it. How do they contribute to the raising of emotionally literate, non stereotyped men? Is it something they consciously think about? I know my dp does- he was brought up in quite a traditional family, and he is really enjoying things with ds that he didn't have as a teenager - like nice clothes-for example. And he tries very hard (with varying degrees of success!) to model sharing feelings and being vulnerable without being angry. And I try very hard -I was horrified to find myself doing this- not to baby him. I realised that I was expecting far less of him than I did of his sister at he same age in terms of personal responsibility and rapidly tightened the ship! I didn't realise that at all-dd told me

DadDadDad Wed 25-Apr-18 11:22:47

You raise interesting (and important) questions. As a father of boys (and a girl), this is something I am aware of, and as a MNetter I can't help but be aware of the problem of toxic masculinity, as well as stuff that may not be toxic but reinforces stereotypes.

Sometimes I worry if one of my sons will become one of those men who will be selfish or even controlling around things like money in a relationship. (One son in particular I can see the potential seeds of that in his character, but I'm a bit ignorant about what kind of personality / life experiences would lead to that behaviour in adulthood, so I may be worrying unnecessarily).

However, it's one thing to be conscious of the concern. The hard bit is how to behave as a parent to guide my DC to the right outcome. I think all I manage to do is (try to) model the right behaviour, ie treat my DW as an equal partner, respect her, avoid automatically assuming that certain tasks are "women's work", getting my DS to do tasks like loading dishwasher or hanging up washing.

I also wonder how I can help prepare my DD to have good judgement in her relationships when she is an adult and how she learns to set boundaries etc. But that's probably a bit off topic.

I hope I'm not missing the point of your questions...

LaContessaDiPlump Wed 25-Apr-18 11:26:53

I don't think you're missing the point Dad3 <pauses to check for superscript button - disappointed face>

I worry about this with my two boys as well op; it's interesting though about you expecting less of them than your DD, as I believe studies have shown people expect more of boy babies on terms of physical ability than they do girl babies. Maybe the reverse is true for organisational ability/maturity as they get older?

UterusUterusGhali Wed 25-Apr-18 11:28:33

I'm separated from my boy's dad and I find I have to work twice as hard at counteracting it.

ExH is terrible for it, but I don't think he intends to be. His family are a massive problem, but he does stand up to them in front of the boys. (Eg his parents mocking sons for, amongst other things, having long hair, letting DD paint his nails, bring vegetarian.)

DD is 16 and helps enormously by being awesome.

PaddyF0dder Wed 25-Apr-18 11:32:23

I’m a dad of three very young boys. The eldest has only just turned 4, so it’s early days.

I’d regard toxic masculinity as such an extreme thing, that (rightly) is in the spotlight currently. I’m just focusing on raising good kids as best as I can. Kids who know they are loved, who feel safe and stable and who learn how to manage emotions in a healthy way. And we’re doing that by modelling it as parents.

There’s a lot of standard things in our family that go against traditional gender roles. I do as much of the housework as I can. We buy “girl” toys as well as “boy” toys (I HATE that division, but you know what I mean). We talk about feelings a lot. I kiss my kids far more than my dad probably kissed me. We try to be a stable, warm home.

I kind of figure that, if we succeed in raising good kids, then by definition they won’t come to toxic masculinity.

JoandMax Wed 25-Apr-18 11:37:35

We just try to raise our sons in an environment where DH and I are equal, there’s no girl/boy jobs, everyone is treated fairly and respectfully in the hope that will become so normal to them it will make them naturally develop into adults who behave this way. DH and I are both conscious to never make disparaging remarks about either gender and try to counteract any negativity they hear elsewhere.

Our 8 year old currently thinks girls are better than boys anyway as they can have babies and do everything else a boy can!

Fightthebear Wed 25-Apr-18 11:41:12

2 x DS here. We try and actively talk about sexism and gender stereotyping with them.

DH has v traditional behaviour about stuff like housework which is a poor role model, but he does challenge other sexist assumptions. Eg DS1 described a girl in his class as ugly and DH was really firm in saying we don’t criticise or judge girls based on what they look like.

So a mixed bag here. Pleased to hear other dads role model fair behaviour around “wife work”.

Peanutbuttercups21 Wed 25-Apr-18 11:41:38

I do think about this sort of thing, as I have two boys.

IMO, kids do as you do, not as they say. So they think nothing of being emotional in public (as their dad is quite emotional/sentimental), hugging mum in public or things like that. The men around them treat women as equals/respectfully so that is also their "normal"

It is all about what you do, not what you say. From age 8, boys really look to their dad/uncles/sports coaches/famous sportsmen and actors for how to behave. And bloody youtubers grin

Lead by example, and don't overthink things

Fightthebear Wed 25-Apr-18 11:42:56

Ps. I found the Grayson Perry book “the Descent of Man” really useful for discussing the idea of toxic masculinity with DS1.

irvineoneohone Wed 25-Apr-18 11:45:18

It's kind of interesting. I grew up with a sister, so no clue about how the boys should be raised. My dh has a brother and a sister. His father was very traditional, he expected stereo typical boys. My dh is opposite. He doesn't mind my ds doing things considered girly, like sawing or having long hair. But then, he lectures him for nee to protect girls as a boy. I am quite happy about my dh's attitude for raising a boy.

irvineoneohone Wed 25-Apr-18 11:46:31


nagynolonger Wed 25-Apr-18 11:58:35

We have five sons and one daughter all adults now. The three older ones are parents themselves. Very hands on dads who do their fair share of domestic stuff and care for the DGC when they are home. That's the problem really isn't it. When Dad catches the 7 am train and isn't home until after bed time the DC are bound to see Mum doing the day to day stuff.

I certainly tried to make sure my sons did household tasks the same as their sister. All six also mowed lawns, washed cars, and basic diy. They all enjoyed cooking from quiet early on and did their own washing from mid teens.

Sending them all to a mixed secondary also helped. I really can't imagine why anyone would choose single sex schooling in the 21st century. Schools should IMO consider some single sex teaching in certain subjects from 11 to 16.

BertrandRussell Wed 25-Apr-18 12:25:51

Thank you for joining in. I think what worries me is that we can model whatever we like at home, but the outside influences are so strong that it’s hard to know how to counter them. And frankly, the way many young men are now suggests that the approach we’ve been taking doesn’t seem to be working. I know somebody said “don’t overthink it” but it seems to me that underthinking is the problem!

When I said in my OP about expecting less of my ds I did mean in organizational/personal management terms, I think. A silly example my dad pointed out at Easter- ds put the kettle on and I said, without thinking “I’ll make you a cup of tea” Dd said “Why did you say that- if it had been me or dad you would have said make me one too!”

BertrandRussell Wed 25-Apr-18 12:28:01

Incidentally, we’re finding Queer Eye a fantastic trigger for discussion about different ways of being a man- if you have boys from, say, 13ish, I really recommend it.

RedSkyAtNight Wed 25-Apr-18 12:32:03

I think we model pretty well at home (DH and I both work, equally share household type jobs). In our case we struggle with their GPs retaining old fashioned sexist views e.g. DS being told he was far too old to be hugging his mum, expectation that DD will (e.g.) set the table while her brother is never asked, expressing huge amazement of every small thing my brother does for his DC (he takes his own child to nursery - he is so amazing!) ... I always feel I have to have a debrief after we visit!

FlaviaAlbia Wed 25-Apr-18 12:40:01

My eldest is just at the stage of being influenced by others. I'm finding it frustrating that he's coming home from nursery talking about not liking girls or girls toys. I don't think it's the nursery, more the other kids repeating what they've heard. I'm not letting it pass but it feels like fighting against the tide sometimes.

He's only 4! God knows what's ahead of us.

BertrandRussell Wed 25-Apr-18 13:21:45

“I always feel I have to have a debrief after we visit!”

I often feel like that after watching tv or films as well.

InDubiousBattle Wed 25-Apr-18 13:35:05

Bert my dc are little but my sister's three are now 18, 19 and 21 with the middle my neice and the oldest and youngest my nephews. I have noticed over the last few years my neice taking more and more 'responsibility'for them. For instance if they all put in together to buy gift for my dc it's her that buys it, wraps it, signs all of the cards etc. D neice will remind the boys about upcoming mothers day or other significant dates. The boy are still referred to as 'the boys' despite being fully grown men!

I invited d neice and youngest nephew for tea recently. My nephew has been a bit inconsiderate of late, standing us up, not showing up to pre arranged things etc but these have mainly occurred whilst d neice has been at uni. She arrived really early and was noticeable worried that d nephew wouldn't show up, she was saying how she would text him 45 minutes before he was due and should she ring him a cab? I explained to her in no uncertain terms that this kind of babying of her brothers is ridiculous and is simply not fair. She obviously feels like it is somehow her responsibility though.

InDubiousBattle Wed 25-Apr-18 13:38:37

Flavia my ds is 4 too and he has already got very clear views about 'girls toys' and 'boys toys'. He loves lego but will very clearly differentiate between Ninjago lego which is for boys and Elves/Friends lego which is for girls. He is very specific about it.

megletthesecond Wed 25-Apr-18 13:39:27

Place marking for this. Will catch up after work.

Tigger85 Wed 25-Apr-18 14:25:52

My boy is only 7 months old, my family keep pressuring us to raise him a certain way and criticize us for being too soft. I have just finished reading a book called raising boys on my kindle which has so far reassured me that we are parenting in a good way and has prepared me for each of his developmental stages. I am going to order a physical copy for my oh to read.

AnotherEmma Wed 25-Apr-18 14:42:56

Interesting thread. My son is only 1 so I don’t have much experience to share. But my main concern, as others have already mentioned, is outside influence. I suppose we’ll have to have plenty of debriefs and conversations about messages and attitudes that we encounter. Gendered clothes and toys already annoy me and I imagine it will only get worse!

At home, DH and I share childcare and housework. I am determined for us to both teach and demonstrate emotional intelligence to DS, which I would be for a girl too of course, but I think it’s something that “traditionally” has been less expected of boys and not demonstrated by fathers. Unfortunately DH is not as good at open to talking about emotions as I am, but it’s definitely something we’ve made progress on in our relationship and will continue to do, for DS’s sake now as well as our own.

TheKimJongUnofFeminism Wed 25-Apr-18 14:46:41

InDubiousBattle- that’s exactly the sort of thing I mean. The sort of thing women are inclined to do within a relationship. Bizarrely, I don’t do it for DP. But I have to stop myself doing it for ds!

TheKimJongUnofFeminism Wed 25-Apr-18 14:47:44

Oops - radical mid thread name change. Sorry!

AnotherEmma Wed 25-Apr-18 14:55:49

Is that your Betrand?!

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