|6 Sep 2005 @ 21:20, by Raymond Powers|
From The Courage to Raise Good Men?
Think "male" not "masculine."
The word masculine itself leads to defining behavior in terms of social norms rather than the individual boy.
Boys are male. Girls are female, not feminine.
Recognize the wonderful differences among little boys.
Some are tough, action oriented, suited for the athletic field. They need help in developing their gentler side. This is best done by mothers or other women in their lives.
There are gentler little boys who prefer more sedentary pursuits, drawing, reading etc. They need encouragement to develop some physical skills, maybe swimming, bike riding etc. They are not to be pushed into competitive sports and shamed for their lack of interest.
Pay attention to your language.
The language has words, which carry tremendous social weight. The perceived positives are "little man," "tough guy," "winner," "go-getter," etc. The negatives: "nerd," "egg head," "wus," "momma's boy," etc.
All such labels are harmful. They should be seen to be as bad as racial slurs.
Every boy needs a mother's love.
It helps him to grow up to be able to receive and then to give love to another woman and to children.
Children, male and female, optimally should have two parents. Lacking that, one good parent, most often a mother, will do fine. The widely held post Freudian notion that boys need to be separated from their mothers in order to achieve "masculinity" is just that - a notion. A mother's love does not "feminize" a boy.
Foster the development of a whole person.
Separating attributes into male and female perpetuates the development of half people.
We have, thanks to the women's movement, recognized that girls need to be competent. It's time to recognize that boys need to be caring. Competence and caring are the very basic necessary attributes for both genders. We need whole people as partners.
Don't emphasize "male role models."
That is just another way of elevating the masculine.
Some day, hopefully, both men and women will be able to model loving, ethical, moral and competent behavior. For now, I think mothers have the edge.
Emphasize the "good" man over the "strong" man.
The old ideal of the "strong" man does not serve our boys well. Strong is too often interpreted as aggressive. We have many demonstrations in the current news where that ideal has lead us.
Time for parents and society at large to shift our emphasis to the "good" man, who will be empathic and strong, autonomous and connected- responsible to himself as well as others.
Talk to your boys -respond to them as emotional, feeling humans, not as heroes in training.
Be aware of the emotional shut-down too often associated with strength, as in the "strong, silent man."
Olga Silverstein is the author of The Courage to Raise Good Men, Paperback Reprint edition, March 1995, Penguin USA.
Buy the book from Amazon.com.
The Invisible Web : Gender Patterns in Family Relationships, by Marianne Walters, Betty Carter, Peggy Papp, Olga Silverstein, Paperback, May 1992. Guilford Press.
Buy the book from Amazon.com.