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How to talk to little boys
July 5, 2011 - Kylie Saari
This blog is a reader's suggestion, who noted in my last blog about talking to girls that girls significantly outperform boys academically.
Clay12 has a point.
For years — since I was a little girl and probably before — the mantra shouted into every girl's tiny ear is that she can do anything, be anything, get anything she wants. But what is happening to the little boys?
They are facing some challenges. Media (movies and television) portray men as morons. Boys are constantly bombarded with Boyz drool/Girlz Rule messages, even at school. Imagine what would happen if a group of boys started wearing shirts that declared girls inferior. Somehow I don't think it would be approved with the same smile I have seen given to the girl power shirts.
Don't get me wrong, girls are powerful. They can do anything, be anything. But they don't need to do it at the expense of boys. Tearing down a group to elevate another is a terrible practice.
None of these thoughts ever occurred to me until I had a boy. My sisters and I would regularly declare "boys are dumb" during conversations about our boyfriend or husbands. The first time it left my lips with my baby boy in my arms, I knew I had to make a change.
It is a concentrated effort at our house not to allow stereotypes of stupid males. Jimmy Neutron and Phinneas and Ferb, cartoons about boys who invent things and get into crazy hijinks for being smart, are in. Fairly Oddparents, about a boy who gets what he wants using his fairy godparents despite not being smart, is out. Same goes for the girl-themed shows. It is an effort to talk about these issues and hold this line with the kids, but it is important.
Studies show boys and girls show the same academic enthusiasm when they are very young — kindergarten and first grade. As boys begin to get older, they start to drop off. Reading goes down, video games go up. One study suggests it has to do with a developmental stage where boys start to pull away from their mothers, who tend to do more reading than dad, and start to associate with male figures, who are portrayed as idiots — even by their mothers at times.
My husband wasn't much of a reader when we met (in ninth grade). He will pour over vehicle maintenance guides for hours, but never really read novels or non-fiction for pleasure. As our son has gotten older, he has made it a point to read in front of our son, even having reading time outside of bedtime. It has been a great benefit for both of them. And since their dad cares for them while I work, my son is lucky enough to have a male role model regularly in front of him.
I think there needs to be a change in the environment of males for this academic trend to reverse. We need to encourage our boys, to tell them they are capable of of more than kowtowing to their wives or being the opposite, a playboy.
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