Boys Will Be Men One Day (As They Are Taught)

If we've heard it once, its been a hundred times, "boys will be boys."   We hear this from complete strangers and those near and dear to us.  It seems this is the accepted belief about raising boys in America.  Initially my response was, "Not my boys!" 

Whether it's behavioral or academic, "boys will be boys" seems to me to be a sell out.  Can we not expect our boys, soon to be young men, to represent?  This applied to their academics as well, and our daily parenting - we had to be intentional. As a mother of twin boys, dismissal parenting was not the answer.  I'll admit, I parenting can be a challenge.  I am often amazed at the time and effort and the surprises that parenting brings. 

So when I read this Wall Street Journal article by Thomas Spence, I fell in love. 
Someone understood. 

...we must "meet them where they are"—that is, pander to boys' untutored tastes.

"Boys will be boys"  or "pandering to boys' untutored tastes." 
"For elementary- and middle-school boys, that (meeting them where they are) means "books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor." AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to "grossology" parties. "Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."
The more venerable houses are just as willing to aim low. Penguin, which once used the slogan, "the library of every educated person," has its own "Gross Out" line for boys, including such new classics as "Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger."There certainly is no shortage of publishers ready to meet boys where they are. Scholastic has profitably catered to the gross-out market for years with its "Goosebumps" and "Captain Underpants" series. Its latest bestsellers are the "Butt Books," a series that began with "The Day My Butt Went Psycho."   Wall Street Journal Boys  Author Thomas Spence of Spence Publishing Company, Dallas. 

I'll add "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" to the list.  I do not see the need for our children to be 'educated' in the ways of negative peer pressure as part of their academics.  

We don't.  For us, not rewarding our sons with gaming videos and electronics actually is key to lack of dependance upon it.  I've wondered are our boys missing out, until I read reminders like this from the same Author, Thomas Spence: 

"I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?"

We don't.

What are your thoughts?  Parenting styles can vary vastly for academics and in general. How do you balance it all? 

Warmly, Carolina Mama


Jen @ One Moms World said...

You know I am going to pipe in here! Reading, learning and manners play a BIG ROLE in my parenting style. Now with that being said there are so many different parenting styles that I am not going to step on other toes but I do see some real far fetched ones in all across America.

Parents are being so absent from the children and not seeing what they are reading or what is on the computer or what is on the TV and the kids are able to just have those as guides to their raising instead of parents being there to do the raising and leading the way.

Parents need to enforce positivity and not negativity. There is no negativity allowed in this house or negative words used against each other or to any people that we are around.

I do see though as we can use certain reading materials if they are sat down as a family and read and watched together that can be used as a teaching tool. Because if the kids are not shared about these concerns how will they act in the social world when they are brought to it face to face? So with that being said, we did watch Diary of a Wimpy Kid altogether and used it as a teaching tool. Full discussion with the family and not just sat in a room and watched all alone.

Parenting is a full circle and everyone in the household has to be on board and collaborate together. As much as I want to shield my girls from everything that goes on, I do have to realize that I want them to be alerted to some things so they will not be in for a huge shock when they are adults.

Eric Strand said...

Great Post! The movie and tv is completely off the chart. There message is pure violence and then they are surprised when children become violent.

The peer pressure is also out there for us adults. The pressure is to conform into an idiot.

Carolina Mama said...

Jen - so true that parent involvement is so key! And being involved in what they see and read.

Eric - you are hilarious - and you know I agree! Americans are addicted to the violence and profanity on tv and we as a nation have not become accountable to this and how it effects our children and our culture.

Shannon said...

I'm not sure I follow the article. Are they for or against the books? We have four boys and "normal" boys would much rather be outside riding a dirtbike or playing on the Wii than reading a book. So, when my son read an Underpants book and loved it, we bought all of them. Prior to this, he never wanted to read, reading was a punishment. Then we moved on to Goosebumps and Wimpy Kid. If you have a sixth grader the Wimpy Kid books are spot on what it is like for boys in public school. My family over discussed everything and it led to us not asking things because it could turn into a 2 hour talk ending with us writing a paper about it (down side to homeschooling). The best advice I had heard lately is know what your kids know, read what they read and watch what they watch. If there is discussion keep it short. They tune you out after about five minutes. Anything can be a teaching tool. I was not allowed to go to movies, we didn't have a TV and we didn't listen to any music but BBN. It can make a person go insane. I am less strict with my boys and they are doing fine. This is in no way a reflection on them as growing men or where they are in their Christian walk. It is a phase. Face it, boys have a different sense of humor. That is who they are. Embrace it. Don't try to feminize them.

MountainMan said...

Preach it!! Great post! Parents that are involved in what children read & watch is a great thing!
It makes for great leverage to be able to take away the vids/tv/games for mis-behaviour as well!

Jendi said...

We try to avoid those types of books/movies that emphasize crudeness. Yes, my children think it's funny; but we don't need to dwell on it. I'd much rather think on things that are lovely, of good report...

As far as girls vs boys - Both my 8 yo boy and 6 yo girl love to read. They often switch books. So my son has read through An American Girls book and my daughter has read through his mystery books. He has been devouring most any book he can. I found it funny when he read through her fairy tale book; but he enjoyed the knights and horses. :)

I agree that "boys will be boys" is a sell out. I think it is good to find a topic that the child likes to encourage them and make them more eager to read but we don't have to lower our standards to crudeness.