Logically we know boys and girls are different, but I was surprised how different they are from day one. Our daughter loved to cuddle, while our son was always on the go. Our daughter would examine a situation first, while our son would walk right in and start tinkering with things to figure it out. Some of this is personality, yes, but some of it is also inherent, biological differences between boys and girls.
I recently attended a lecture with Troy Kemp entitled “The Minds of Boys”. Troy is the Executive Director of the National Center for the Development of Boys and was in our city speaking to groups from our school district sharing the knowledge he’s gained working with boys for over twenty years. Troy is an energetic and passionate speaker. He shared numerous insights on how to successfully relate to and parent our boys, here are just a few:
- Be the blanket. When it comes to discipline you can’t be a hard, immoveable brick wall. Instead you need to be the blanket and soften your response. Allow your boys to have a safe place to land. This doesn’t mean you sacrifice discipline, it means you change your approach to improve the outcome.
- Vuja’ de. We’ve all heard of deja’ vu, but vuja’ de is seeing something familiar in a new way. Take the time to look at your boys in a new way. Look at things from their perspective and it will give you the opportunity to connect with them differently.
- Boys get small when the odds are not in their favor. They have a minimalist mindset.
- Boys like to do meaningful work. When you give them a task to do give them an example of what excellence looks like, so they have something to work towards.
- Boys will not ask for help until it is too late.
- Boys like motion and learn by crashing into things. Their thought processes are more special-mechanical meaning they need to see how things work and figure it out. Boys look for function not form.
- Video games allow boys a place where they can win. If boys are struggling in another part of their lives – in the classroom, socially, at home or in sports, they will turn to video games because it gives them an arena where they feel they are in control, winning and succeeding.
- On average, boys are a year and a half behind girls when they graduate from high school.
- A boy looks at himself the way he thinks his dad looks at him.
- Boys need an environment that is task oriented and allows for healthy risk taking. Parents should not overcoach them. Allow them to try, fail and learn for themselves.
- Boys need to be part of a group where sacrifice contributes to the group.
- Boys need to compete to build skills and confidence.
- Boys need rigid flexibility, meaning they need clear rules, guidelines and boundaries to learn independence and gain confidence.
Obviously, there was a lot of great knowledge shared and I took a lot of notes during this short talk. Troy recommended multiple books to learn more including, Saving our Sons: A New Path for Raising Healthy Resilient Boys, by Michael Gurian and Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends and the New Rules of the Boy World by Rosalind Wiseman.
As the moms of boys, it’s our responsibility to understand their brains are wired differently. We must accept their body chemistry is unique and what we “think” should happen, may not be physically possible. When we parent our sons using this knowledge, not only will our relationships with them be stronger, but we will create a solid foundation for the men they will become.
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