Raising Boys

I am the mother of four children – three girls and one little boy.   While we planned and desired number four – when I was told the gender of the baby was going to be a boy, I have to admit that I panicked.   A part of me was excited, but the other part of me was petrified.  What the heck do you do with a boy?    They are so different to girls.   I have friends with boys and I must admit that I used to think how blessed I was to have girls.  Their boys were strange, a little crazy, and did many things that my girls would not do.   Don’t get me wrong – I love my friends boys, but I felt very safe having girls.

And then we had our Jaden.

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From the moment I had Jaden in my arms I knew it was all going to be okay.  I knew that we were in for the ride of our lives, but it was going to be a great adventure.   This child makes me smile every single day.   Our family has been enriched by the flavour of boyish charm and love that this little boy brings to our lives.  Our family is complete!

This week I went to a seminar at the school called ‘Raising boys’.   The presenter of the seminar was Peter Janetzki.  Peter is a Counsellor/Educator and Lecturer, and for many years he has hosted the Talking Life program on the 96.5 fm radio station in Brisbane.  For more information about Peters background and other podcasts go to http://www.96five.com/shows/talkinglife/

What I know is this.

A parents goal and desire for their children, is for their children to grow up and be the best adults they can possibly be.  I believe that we can then assume that our parenting style has influence and weight when it comes to how our children end up or turn out.   How we parent, despite our best intentions, can and will have long term effects on our children.

Parents aren’t perfect, but we need to be the best we can be.  Peter Janetzki made the comment the other night that Parents need to be good enough.    Many kids who come from ‘perfect families’, in this case, he was talking about kids who come from wealthy families in this instance, who can give their kids everything they want, don’t always do as well as society expects them to do, considering the leg up they have had.    Statistics have proven time and time again that kids who come from ‘good enough’ or hard working families fight for their success, and have proven to far extend those kids who have grown up in wealthy households.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel better about the possible future for our kids.   Our kids should have the work hard and succeed mentality!

There were so many points to the Raising boys seminar so I am going to try and consolidate it the best I can.

*  Boys and girls are different.   Boys and girls are scientifically different and they learn differently.  The hardwiring, biochemistry, neurological development, and anatomy of boys and girls brains are significantly different.

* Boys have more dopamine in their bloodstream (impulse/risk behaviour), they process more blood flow in the cerebellum (doing/physical action).  This is why boys have the tendency to not learn as well when sitting still.   Boys are Action orientated. This is why they find it difficult to sit down and learn in the same way a girl is able to.

* There have been many arguments made to suggest that the school system has been feminised.  While there are a lack of male teachers in the profession of teaching, this isn’t exactly why it is referred to as a feminised environment.  Girls and boys learn very differently, and from what I understand, our teachers are taught to teach in such a way that has the effect of promoting girls learning better and more easily than boys.

** Please note that there are teachers who ‘get it’ and understand how to teach both genders taking into account the gender differences, and have the ability to bring out the best in each child and or adolescent.

*  Without judging or criticising parents who have children with genuine behavioural issues such as ADD or ADHD, and need to use medications to help settle their children, there seems to be a huge group of kids who have been unnecessarily medicated to help settle these active kids down.  Maybe with a side benefit of helping them to also fit into our school system?

The question I feel I need to ask is – If boys are action orientated, and sitting for long periods of time is difficult, behaviour is difficult to control – why aren’t we changing the ways in which kids learn at school.   Is it easier to medicate kids to fit them into a school system – a system they don’t actually suit?   Are these kids with ‘behavioural issues’ at school really just kids who need a different learning style?   Are they bored at school?   If the system isn’t working for these kids – particularly highly strung or active boys – instead of drugs to calm them down – shouldn’t the school system be changed to cater to the needs of both genders.

Something needs changing.

One thing I will say about the organised homeschooling curriculum is that each child is diagnostically tested, and the results are indicative to where the child sits on the grading scale.  The workload is relevant to the grading per subject.    While a 9 year old  (school system year 4) may be a year 5 in maths, but a year 2 in spelling, for instance.  The work they do is all about teaching children to where they are at so that the holes in their education are repaired.    I have seen the benefits of this method of schooling for myself when my youngest brother struggled through school with a learning issue – dyslexia.      My mum took my brother out of the school system and did home schooling with him for a year.  What they accomplished in that year was amazing.    My brother was ready for high school.  While he disliked reading – he was able to do it.  He went to high school feeling much happier and less stressed, which also meant he felt more confident in himself to be who he was supposed to be.

* Kids need both mum and dad.  When mum and dad work together in their natural strengths to parent, it is more likely that children will grow up to be great adults.

In the book, ‘Fatherless America’ by David Blankenhorn,  ‘boys without fathers not only experience more physical and sexual abuse, more mental disease and more emotional distress than other children… they also receive lower grades, drop out of school at higher rates, act out in school with more frequency, end up in Juvenile courts in higher numbers, and report low self esteem and low educational expectations.’

Quite interesting isn’t it?  Homelife also has a huge impact on the type of adult our kids are going to become.

* Raising men is all about ‘Strength in ACTION with CHARACTER’ (Peter Janetzki).    A great Australian example of ‘Great men’ is in the Hall of Remembrance in Canberra.   Peter dissected the attributes of the Hall of Memory, and helped give them much more significance.

In my note taking on the night, I quickly scribbled these attributes down as he said them.

In the Hall of Rememberance, there are three windows –

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The South Window, is all about personal qualities (Resource, forthright, devotion (a nurse), curiosity and independence.)

The West Window, is all about social qualities (Comradeship, Ancestry, Patriotism, Chivalry, Loyalty); and

The East Window,  are all about fighting qualities (Coolness, control (of self and others), Bravery, Endurance, Decision).

* Boys and young men need healthy men to look up too.   Even if a child has a father present in their lives, he may still need to look for another role model.    Anybody can became a father – it takes a MAN to stand in the door way and call himself a parent.

Our young boys need good role models to look up to.   An old African proverb that gets used a lot says,  ‘It takes a village to raise a child’.  I am a true believer in this phrase.  Young people need elders, mentors and role models to look up too, and like girls, boys need to experience a rite of passage – the change over from childhood to manhood.   The moment where the child is no longer treated or seen as a boy.  A line needs to be drawn in the sand for them, and as the boy steps over the line, he is no longer that boy, but instead a man stands and rises up to meet his potential.   Peter told a few stories about what different cultures do to help their young guys cross over in to the land of Man.    The Rite of Passage is incredibly important to our guys.

* The role of the mother is an incredibly important role to play in the making of a man.    We need to love our boys, but not bubble wrap our boys.   We have to cut the apron strings.  Our young men need to have adventures and take risks.

If they don’t have their adventures, and if they don’t get opportunities to take risks,  studies suggest that men will be less resilient and self reliant, they won’t be prepared to cope with life, they will will have weaker social and problem-solving skills, be unable to make decisions, more likely to have issues with obesity and mental illness.

*  Mums!  We don’t have a choice – we have to allow our boys to cross over that line.   A man cannot be both man and little boy at the same time.   They were created to be one or the other.   Not both.

Our men need to be men.  We do not want Peter Pan guys – boy on the inside and grown up on the outside.

I am coming around.   The reality is that right now – I am allowed to be that over protective mother.  Jaden is 2 1/2 years of age.   He is a boy, and I will allow him to shoot me with his pretend guns, I will allow him to pretend he is any super hero he wants to be.   This is his time to be a boy.   He will grow up far too quickly, but for Jaden’s well being I need to give him the best start in life that I can.  I certainly do not want to be the one responsible for holding Jaden back. When the time comes, I want Jaden to be the man he was created to be.

Over the years, my relationship with Jaden will change, and I realise that one day, he will turn to me and he will no longer have that cute little baby face.    He will have the face of a young man, and I know that while I will be sad to have lost my baby, I will be really happy that my baby has become a great man!

 

***   If you would more information on Peter Janetzki you can reach him at PeterJ.com.au.    He has a section on his website where you can look at his resources.    Click on Parenting and search to your hearts content.     Tuesday Nights seminar can also be found at http://caloundrafamilies.com/#audio-resources

*** All information stated here is from notes taken on Tuesday night.