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Bringing up boys

(75 Posts)
MmeLindor Thu 25-Oct-12 11:22:06

I have been asked about bringing up boys, and wondered if anyone had experiences or ideas they would like to share.

A blogger asked if she should be doing more than just teaching by example to instil feminist ideas into her young son.

My 8yo already knows about feminism, we chat with his elder sister about women being equal to men, and girls being just as capable as boys etc.

Does anyone know of blogs/articles etc on this topic?

I'd like to write about it, and not sure where to start.

MmeLindor Fri 02-Nov-12 13:34:36

Porn is only one aspect of this though.

I think that we have to look at the big picture. The mixed messages our boys are receiving - when we talk the talk but don't walk the walk.

When we have politicians who patronise women during PM Question Time (Cameron) or on Twitter (Austin Mitchell vs Louise Mensch), and music stars like Chris Brown who beat women but stage a comeback - how can we be surprised when our boys emulate what they SEE rather than what they HEAR.

MmeLindor Fri 02-Nov-12 13:40:03

I agree with your point about how we portray men - I get annoyed at the lazy stereotyping of men as useless around the house.

I ranted a lot about the P&G Sponsors of Mums Olympic advertising as it totally left out the rest of the family, by praising only the mum. As if the dads were all sitting at home with their feet up while mum took the young aspiring athletes around the country.

5madthings Fri 02-Nov-12 13:41:06

oh yes totally madamre. we talk about advertising and female role midels etc. ds3 dressed up as florence nightingale for a dress up as a famous pwrson if inspiration day (his choice!)

hasnt rhianna got back with chriss brown? if uts rhianna i forget who is who! my ds1 was shocked by that, que discusdion of abusuve relationships and how people can become trapped, fall i to a pattern of what they see as normal/ok.

i think communicatuon is the key and also modelling behaviour ourselves.

music and the videos and the whole musiv industry gives out a poor view of womwn tjo thete are some exceptions.

inapineappleunderthesea Fri 02-Nov-12 13:41:35

The other sad fact about people like Chris Brown is that not only do they make a come back but usually their partners tend to get back together with them & that sends out the wrong message to young adults,they probably think,well,it musn't be that bad seeing as they are together again!

As for politicians,don't get me started,I have no faith or trust in any of them whatsoever.......

5madthings Fri 02-Nov-12 13:41:57

bloody hate the p&g adverts!

inapineappleunderthesea Fri 02-Nov-12 13:47:42

Too many adverts have a lot to answer for!

inapineappleunderthesea Fri 02-Nov-12 13:58:36

Chris Brown & Rhianna are supposedly secrety seeing eachother but as most things thats on TV,internet or magazines you don't know what to believe anymore.

droid400004 Fri 02-Nov-12 20:19:37

my son is two and i think avoiding gender stereo typing is almost harder with boys, because people expect it to apply only to girls. I don't allow my son to watch TV (he watches DVDs/youtube) becuase of advertising, and I change genders in his books so the sex ratio of characters is balanced (mick inkpen drives me mad - ALL his characters are male!). And he wears pink, has dolls, loves his teaset etc etc. I fully expect peer pressure when he is older, but I wanted for as long as possible for things to be very gender-neutral, to try and instill in him the idea that all things are possible for all people.

woman's hour on radio 4 yesterday talked about gendered toys:

the point I think many people miss is not that there may well be a sexually defined preference for x or y, but that all toys should be available to all kids, regardless of gender. sure a girl might like dolls better, but the toyshop that has 'boy' and 'girl' sections is telling her what she can/can't/is expected to play with, rather than letting her freely decide for herself


blonderthanred Fri 02-Nov-12 21:18:55

I'm also watching with interest as I had my first DC, a boy, last Friday. DH and I avoided telling anyone the sex as we wanted to avoid gendered stuff but of course now he is here the trucks and jeans have started arriving. I don't want to be ungrateful but it seems a shame. And while it's easy to dress girls in boys' stuff, it's harder to put a boy in pink flowers and butterflies.

Clothes aside, we are really keen to raise our child as a feminist and he will certainly see his parents sharing household responsibilities - although of course it will be interest to see what effect my maternity leave has on our domestic arrangements. I think it's just as important to bring up our sons to think about feminist and social issues. I'm sure we'll have lots of obstacles and plenty of people delighted to point out when he chooses a football over a dolly, but it's about more than that, I hope more than anything he will grow up to have respect for his fellow humans and a questioning, open mind.

MmeLindor Fri 02-Nov-12 22:52:51

Congratulations on the birth of your son. How are you settling in?

I am so glad that we lived in Germany when the dc were little as the gender stereotyped toys are (or were) much less noticeable than in UK.

RubyrooUK Fri 02-Nov-12 23:08:07

I think gendered toys are pointless anyway - I had everything from My Little Pony to Dinosaurs to a car collection and a prized tank when I was a child. I didn't know any of them were for 'boys' or 'girl' as my mum isn't that kind of person.

My step sister has a daughter only a little older than my son and she's always saying she just doesn't know what to buy boys even though they are both very young.

Yet they love pretty much the same stuff - painting, Peppa Pig, books, running around being bonkers....I just buy them much the same stuff. I find her attitude so frustrating. Now my niece is saying that she won't do "boys' things" and my son is very confused. sad

BertieBotts Fri 02-Nov-12 23:10:15

DS is 4 and very much into "This is for boys, you can't use it Mummy," and "Eurgh, that's for girls" etc at the moment. I don't know whether it's from nursery or his childminder or TV or what.

He's very quiet and passive with other children, to the point that they walk all over him, so I haven't had chance to instil the enthusiastic consent message, but I do get him to ask other children if they want a hug before he gives them one, and I try and model the consent thing around him with other children, but it's hard, especially as I work long hours, so he's often at the childminder when these things are happening and I'm not sure she deals with stuff in the same way that I would ideally like.

We should be moving to Germany within the year MmeLindor smile I hope the gender thing about toys is still true!

The thing I'm finding hard at the moment is sometimes his total lack of respect for me, and his obsession with body parts, he often wants to watch me on the toilet which makes me feel really uncomfortable! And if I'm getting changed he will often try to grab or touch my bum (because it's funny to him that I have my bum in view!) I obviously try to just avoid that situation but sometimes small children just follow you around! And not so much now he's stopping/stopped breastfeeding, but until recently he seemed to think it was his total right to be able to grab or touch my boobs whenever he felt like it, that really bothered me too! I wonder how can I teach him about bodily boundaries, privacy etc when he doesn't seem to respect mine at all. He doesn't get the concept of his privates being private, because he's so obsessed with it I think he'd be delighted if someone else showed an interest, at the moment he seems to understand that it's not something we do if other people are around but he doesn't care about keeping it private from me! Argh!

MmeLindor Fri 02-Nov-12 23:23:09

Sadly, I think things have changed in Germany - lots of princess/pirate stuff now. Although schools and kindergarten are more aware of the issue.

Some children - boys in particular - seem to get overly obsessed with private parts. DS wasn't bad, but he had a friend who was already talking about bums and willies and poopsing. Think ignore and distract best policy - and saying that it is ok to have a fiddle in privacy of own room but not in public

sommewhereelse Sat 03-Nov-12 07:20:34

Bertie, I think it's perfectly healthy that a 4 year old isn't fussed about keeping his body private from his mother. DS is 9 and he doesn't care about his parents or younger sister seeing him naked. In fact he often calls us when he's having a bath if there's something he wants to say, and we stay and have a chat. When he has friends stay over, he's careful to get changed where they can't see him and I'm sure eventually he'll be locking me out of the bathroom.

I guess you just need to keep telling your DS that you don't like him touching you there and that he must never touch people if they say they don't like it. He'll get it eventually.

DD hates being kissed and even after several years, I still have to check my instinct to give her a good night kiss. It's really hard but I have to reinforce the message that she gets to choose about how people touch her.

BertieBotts Sat 03-Nov-12 08:42:52

Oh yes, I'm not bothered that he's not bothered IYSWIM? It's just the exhibitionism I'm finding hard to cope with! Have tried telling him to do it in his room etc but I don't know if he's just not old enough to understand.

CaseyShraeger Sat 03-Nov-12 09:00:44

I've talked with 7yo DS about representation of girls/women in films - the Bechdel test (although I doubt he'd remember the details) and that producers often assume that boys won't go to see films with a female lead.

And like blackcurrants we tend to police rough-and-tumble play with a lot of "Does she look as though she's having fun? No? Then you don't do it." and ensure that tickling stops when the ticklee says "stop".

DoubleYew Sat 03-Nov-12 10:40:10

My thing with clothes is mainly it has to be comfortable. He wears all colours, things with hearts, flowers, spots, cute animals etc, tights but not frilly things (as I personally don't find them attractive and I'm in charge of choosing for him). Once he's older and actually interested in dress up, choosing his clothes etc, I'll let him wear what he wants.

We are going to Germany in a couple of weeks to visit family so it will be interesting to see how it compares!

I'm getting a lot of good tips off this thread, thanks.

Trills Sat 03-Nov-12 11:18:11

I don't have anything to contribute but this is a very interesting thread.

IvanaDvinkYourBlad Sat 03-Nov-12 11:41:33

Not sure if this is relevant but Double 's mention of comfortable clothes reminded me - I think dresses on children are very restrictive in terms of movement. For dress ups, special occasions (both genders) but for everyday - especially babies / toddlers - they just get in the way and seem impractical. The only way I can think of at the minute that that impacts on the 'bringing up boys' is that the whole 'girls wear dresses; boys do not ' just adds to separation of the sexes and setting them apart (against?) each other from a very early age. And I won't even start on the choices in clothing stores - mothercare et al - 2 thirds pink stuff for girls (some of which are mini-adult clothes) and 1 third of pirates, monsters and crap for boys. hmm

namechangeguy Sat 03-Nov-12 18:19:58

My son is 13. We go to boxing training together. I'd like him to have at least some formal training in case some idiot fancies using his head as a football when he is older and out socialising. It's a brilliant discipline - there is no room for rage or mindless violence in a boxing ring. You need your wits about you at all times. Plus you never quite know how will will react to being attacked until it happens.

MmeLindor Sat 03-Nov-12 18:24:15

It is perfectly normal for babies and toddlers to wear tights in Germany - boys and girls. They even do boy versions with tractors and cars. No one bats an eye, in fact you'd likely be berated for not putting tights on wee ones.

5madthings Sat 03-Nov-12 20:57:20

my boys have all worn tights when little smile

and re dresses etc for girls, my dd wears them with leggins and tights etc i always make sure they arent too long so they dont get in her way and they are soft cord etc (sucker for boden cord pinafores! blush ) or even tutus with leggins again they are short and dont get in her way, she gets them filthy of course but all the clothes i buy are ones that can jsut get chucked in the wash so they certainly dont restrict her play. she wears trousers, dungarees etc as well but after four boys i am enjoying the variety in girls clothes so much more choice and easy to layer up etc depending on the weather. all the clothes my kids wear are practical tho, soft, stretchy and easy to wash!

mmelindor i found a fb site you may like its called 'TowardsTheStars' its all about gender equality for children and there is some stuff that you may find useful for your online magazine? plus i ma pretty sure they would let you link to it! its a fab page, i found it the other day and am very impressed smile

5madthings Sat 03-Nov-12 20:58:57

btw anyone looking for nice clothes for boys h&m has some nice bits at the moment in orange, green etc, ditto john lewis, some lovely deep red trousers in john lewis and some funky tops. my middle two boys need some new stuff (they are growing like weeds!) and i will be kitting them out from there i think smile

BelleCurve Sat 03-Nov-12 21:10:51

A Mighty Girl has some interesting books and resources which focus on girls but could be useful for both. I will certainly ben getting DS some of these recommendations.

I think for older boys it is really important to get them to understand the concept of their privilege Male Privilege Checklist

It is more complicated as just "treat everyone the same" as our society does not start from an equal footing and I think the first stage is being aware of the privileges that being male provide.

MmeLindor Sat 03-Nov-12 21:36:24

I am following A Mighty Girl on FB - they are great. The Male Privilege Checklist is great, thanks.

Can you link to that? I can't find it

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