In Defense of Boys.

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It was about 94 degrees last weekend here in LA, and my son refused to take off his brown, calf-high Ugg boots. You might be curious as to why a child would want to spend an entire day with his feet encased in a pair of fuzzy, insulated sweat boxes, and rightly so. But Davis has discovered that when he dons a white tee-shirt, tan pants, a white, zip-up jacket and those brown Ugg boots, he bears, with his sandy-colored hair and light olive complexion, a striking similarity to Luke Skywalker. You try telling him that he’d be more comfortable in sandals.

 

As much as I enjoy the Star Wars franchise, Luke Skywalker and friends have become a bit of an issue for me over the last several months. Like most second children, Davis has been exposed to things that might not necessarily be appropriate for a child of three and a half, simply because he sometimes plays with six year-old boys who are friends of Harper’s. Whether it’s Power Rangers, Transformers, or Star Wars, Davis is on the cutting edge among the boys in his preschool class – most of whom happen to be sheltered, over-protected first children who are still on a steady diet of Blues Clues, Thomas the Tank Engine and Lightening McQueen. Here’s a conversation I’ve had at least six times in the last several weeks:

 

Appalled mother: So, [insert trendy name here] has been coming home talking about Darth Vader and Chewbacca and light sabers. I asked him where he learned about these things, and he said that Davis taught him.
Me (looking sheepish): I know. I’m sorry. He has a lot of older friends. But actually, he calls them Dark Vader, Twobacca and life savers. Which is kind of cute, don’t you think?

 

Appalled mother (glaring): No, not really.

 

I have reason to suspect, too, that some of these mothers have complained about Davis to the teachers, because they’ve implemented some new rules in the classroom, such as, no pretending to fight with light sabers, no pretending to be a Power Ranger, and no pretending to kill other kids with guns. But as much as I wish that Davis wasn’t so obsessed with these things at such a young age, I find myself needing to cry foul.

 

mayfieldga
12.13.08

Trained to be Good little Soldiers and Princesses

1. I fear followers of the genetic models will try to build a case for genetic learning differences or body mass requiring more activity or tactile learning. Note that nice middle class Males do not have this problem. High average stress from differential treatment is causing this activity. Also the view of differences in brain activity are more due to large differences in differential mental, emotional, social, physical, and educational reinforcement over time, not organic differences.
2. I also fear the use of Male classrooms with more discipline and more time on task will only lead to more stern and even more harsh treatment and stereotyping of Males to perform more physical or menial labor to match the growing caste system being portrayed in the media against Males today. These attempts to focus on genetics, learning differences, male role models, or cater to more activity or instruction are destined to failure. The problem is sociological from day one. It is differential treatment Males experience that is creating this problem. Please read Learning Theory and other related articles on this subject.

Females are leaving the domestic role for information age skills and income. The nineteenth century belief Females should be protected has created much protection and support for Females from day one. Since Females are not required by society to be strong, it is considered proper to not only protect them but to also lavish much mental, emotional, social, academic, support, knowledge, and skills from day one. This creates lower average stress and lots of supported skills that enable girls to really do well in the information age. Girls are also given love, honor, respect, and support simply for being girls. This makes learning and development of skills and competing for jobs somewhat easier for they are given the essentials of self-worth simply for being girls. All of this makes girls "very well prepared" to compete in the information age. This support and protection continues even into adulthood. Today this allows not only much economic advantage but also maintains the same protected freedoms of expression to give verbal, silent abuse, and hollow kindness to Males when they have some advantage (look at how the media allows this).

Males who are generally anti-feminists and also Females (who tend to reflect for some reason their protected world upon Males) really do not understand how differential treatment from day one is providing Females with such an advantage that is creating the Growing international Male Crisis, but those Males though lacking understanding do feel the effects of that differential treatment.

Males are given love, honor, support, respect, care, etc. only on the condition of sufficient achievement, money, power, etc. This is what makes Males very competitive; they are competing for feelings of self-worth as reflected upon them by society if they have sufficiency of those things. When they are doing anything they are being weighed and given only the amount of love, honor, respect, and support commensurate with those achievements. Those Males who do not have sufficiency are not only given less of those good things, they are given more aggression by society. This creates a lot more pressure on Males to either succeed in academics, which is good; and if they cannot, then they will search out a more protected and supported area in which they will have some feeling of love, honor, and respect from their peer group.

Since our society is still following even in the information age, the belief Males should be strong, it still allows much aggression upon Males to make them tough. It also holds that Males should not be given mental/emotional/social/academic love, kindness, care and support for fear of coddling the Male from day one. This is so the Male can become a good little soldier to defend family and country. The problem with this is that it creates high average stress that impedes learning and creates along it more tension that leads more activity in Males and attention to mental/emotional development. This is why girls appear to mature faster, for Males are not given the same supports. This higher average stress and lack of support accumulate to create a large deficit in learning for Males.

Now in the information age, Males are now competing with Females who have been well supported from day one and Males are beginning fall behind big time, especially from women in their 20's and early 30's.
http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSN0334472920070803

Men are not only losing jobs, they are losing out on feelings of self-worth or love, honor, and respect from society. It is plainly spelled out in the media that when Males appear weak, it is okay to give them more verbal aggression, more abuse, and more neglect. Since Men have brainwashed to believe they are better (perhaps deserving of more harsh treatment and neglect) they are now finding out that in real life such treatment is somehow helping women to succeed above them. Given the horrible myth of fixed intelligences taught in our society or simply working harder, many men are falsely believing they are less intelligent and/or not working hard enough. Given this false information, they truly feel threatened by those women who are succeeding and they are not. Society itself and its media is now working against the Male to place Male's into perceived positions of being more suitable for menial labor and for Females to be placed into more white collar, management positions. The Male is now facing much more abuse on the job. Many low paid jobs are also riddled with much abuse, intimidation, and constant berating by managers over them. In many cases, women are the ones doing this. Yes, in society men who take jobs in lower more menial positions are given more abuse. It seems women working those jobs are somewhat more protected by society from this abuse. Many men are opting out of the workforce to protect their mental/emotional health, which they feel is more important to them than a paycheck.

On Dr. Phil today a man was very violent toward his wife. She is now very afraid of him. His wife loved him and wanted to help him. It was brought out that man had fallen down on ability to support his wife and family. Even though that man was supported by his wife, the societal belief he should be strong was consuming him. You see even though he had lots of support from his wife, society in general not only does not provide love, honor, respect, and care, the essentials of feelings of self-worth, it rejects that man for not having sufficient achievement, status, image, money, etc.

Thus, that man like many other men today are losing their feelings of self-worth that women receive simply for being women. His wife could not understand his dilemma. because like many other women, she was reflecting her love, honor, respect, and protection in society upon him, not realizing his world was very different and much more unforgiving for signs of weakness. You see society's primary antidote for perceived weaknesses in Males is to provide more aggression and neglect to make him strong, and not to support him when he is down. So, although his wife supports him with love, society will take him down for being weak. After years of brainwashing, he and others like him believe it to be true and deserving of punishment. This is why so many Males have a short life and so many more Male suicides. Yes, Males do feel threatened by feminists for they feel the scales are tilted very much against them.
Complete learning theory to all on request by e-mail at mayfieldga@bellsouth.net

http://www.reuters.com/article/lifestyleMolt/idUSN0334472920070803

cyn
06.10.08

Thank you so much-NOHOLZBARRED. We need more teachers like you. Who get that boys are more active and girls can sit still for longer periods of time than boys. Duh?! You're right we do need more male teachers in elementary schools. I am always defending my son, "because he's a boy" and how do they expect him to sit still for so long? while trying not to let the teacher feel like I'm not supporting them too. sigh, and recess is SO important!!

noholzbarred
06.04.08

At this point in time, the classroom environment is much more conducive to "girl behavior" (and I say this as a teacher). That's not to say that teachers are biased towards girls, but that the behavior expected of children at school is easier for most girls to comply with than most boys--i.e., sitting still for long periods, following requests immediately, standing in line, etc. Gun or sword play aside, for the most part boys just have a more physical way of doing things. They need to move around more often, and sometimes they even need to be moving to absorb new information. They'll comply with your request, but first they have to bump into someone on the way or open and shut a book. They can't help it when they're young. But they don't teach you that in education classes, and since teachers are predominantly female nowadays, most don't understand why boys can't be quieter/calmer/less physical. So the power struggles begin.

As you have already experienced, this starts early. Rather than try to direct boys to find safer ways of releasing their energy, they are just supposed to "stop." And of course they can't, so they feel bad, and after a few years of it they feel like they can't do anything right, and they do worse in school... and by the time I see them in 6th grade, 90% of the boys will compare school to a prison. What begins as an attempt to control behavior has academic consequences down the road for many, many boys.

This is why we need more male teachers, especially in elementary school! And why recess is so important.

jeannettebee
06.02.08

Your little boy sounds like the optime of cuteness!! There is nothing wrong with him wanting to copy his older sibs, its natural. I only have one child, he's a boy and he's 10. I did do the whole "no guns in the house" thing, my sensitive, caring little boy wants to be a homicide detective for the NYPD when he grows up!!!!
No matter how hard these over zealous moms try to keep their children sheilded it will never work. There are tooo many venues available now for kids not to be exposed to violence. Your little hans solo, will be the only one is his class that can brag to his grandkids that his mom just let him be a kid. He probably would have acted exactly the same way if he would have been a girl. Its what the older kids are doing and he just wants to fit in. And lets all admit it....star wars was kinda cool when we all first saw it!

eeturtle
06.01.08

I agree with you 100% Risa and with most of you who have responded here too. As a former teacher though, I hate to say that most of the comments I made when talking with parents were because other parents forced me to and I had no choice (well they went to the principal, who made me talk with the parent whose child was being complained about). Anyways, my point is...look at the other parents first. Teachers are usually just the messengers. Although with some of the comments and how the teacher has changed when Davis changed, I'd say in this case, the teacher has her own problems too. I just wanted to make a case for teachers in general. Also, a plug for a great book I read with scientific research on gender - "Why Gender Matters" by Leonard Sax. I really recommend it for anyone - parent, teacher or psychologist.

beckycharles
05.30.08

Firstly, I think your son is behaving quite normally. I see boys from around 5 and up playing superheros, cops and robbers, or other games to that effect. I think it's part of how they form their identity and grow up into men.

Secondly, what makes any teacher qualified to tell you how your son should behave? A teacher is the one to educate and guide, not to criticize or diagnose. If the teacher thinks there is a problem they should refer you or your son to a psychologist to see if there is really a problem (or if the teacher is just overreacting!) It's very possible that the teacher's negative reaction toward your son's behavior is what causes other students to react negatively as well. If she remained neutral, it's likely the kids would just ignore it and accept his behavior as part of who he is.

helpinhubby
05.30.08

heidisf,

I agree with you wholeheartedly!
Gender differences are refreshing and to be celebrated.
Me thinks that all of this disdain for approaching masculinity smacks of an agenda across our society.
Anyways, just wanted to say, in a simple, straight forward way, that I love my boys just the way they are. Rowdy!

rootbeerfloat
05.29.08

When my eldest son (now 7) started pretending to shoot fire at me, I was pretty unhappy. His pre-school teacher's take on it was that it was an attempt to introduce an element of power to his play and encouraged me to respond with, "Well, I'm squirting chocolate ice cream back at you." That game always dissolved into giggles about whether peanut butter or bubble bath was a worse thing to be squirted with. Now he and his 4 year old brother do the same thing with each other - sometimes it's fire, sometimes it's guacamole. I honestly don't think there is much you can do about boys pretending to shoot things at each other. I have seen my youngest use his own bangs as a fire shooter.

2boys
05.29.08

doyourbest, I'm not sure what planet we would be on for a child, even one under 4, not to know what a gun is. I don't let my children watch endless amounts of TV and I do monitor what they watch and am realistic about what works for me and my family. I turn the TV on so I can cook dinner and I can see what they're watching as I'm cooking. I know there are parents out there who don't believe in television and/or media exposure for children, but for me, it works. They don't even have to be exposed to the media for a 4 year old to know about guns. School friends are a big influence on children. Even if you don't allow your children to watch TV for fear of exposure to violence, they can't live in a bubble. You just need to teach them values. It's not realistic to believe that you can control everything in their lives. If you tried, you would be setting them up for failure since you've tried to shelter them from so much rather than teaching them to think for themselves.

doyourbest
05.29.08

I'm asking in a truly non-judgmental way, but if he's under 4, how does he know what a gun in?