Rules About Boys
I'm working on a project with an elementary school and we are developing programming for boys. (similar to the Respect-Able group we did a couple of years ago.)
I know there are some strong opinions around masculinity, messaging for boys and how boys and men need to evolve. Opinions aside, here are some of my collective take aways from some of the literature and those paying attention to the research and yes, some of these are common sense:
We should not make boys feel bad and wrong for being boys. They tend to be more active, competitive, disorganized and disagreeable. Just because YOU can't relate or are uncomfortable doesn't mean they are wrong or bad.
Bullies and the bullied have two things in common: low self-esteem and poor social skills
Boys without relationships with adult men they trust by six or seven will experience ego / confidence issues
Emotional awareness, reading and writing are some of the greatest predictors of success for boys
Boys who are taught to suppress their emotions will lack emotional awareness and emotional management; likely becoming inwardly and outwardly destructive
Boys who lack purpose, will seek purpose in roles and groups that validate them and make them feel like they belong. These roles and groups may or may not be positive and/or productive.
Boys need a sense of responsibility, concrete goals to work toward and meaningful work. These will also create a sense a purpose.
A boy's and man's masculinity is constructed from a variety of social, cultural and contextual norms. We need to learn about them and try to understand them from where they are and meet them there... rather than trying to force them into a one-sized fits all model that one... doesn't work and two... doesn't exist
We need to stop comparing boy's and young men's value, perceived masculinity, contributions and purpose to outdated roles and modeling... such as the blue collar-straight white man... the war hero... the star athlete... the money guy... The world is changing and if you want boys and men to change, the messaging, parenting, educating and mentoring needs to change as well.
We need to help them define purpose and set goals around having self-respect, being respectful and responsible, providing and being good partners and fathers.
The success of the program we are working on will be heavily dependent on a diversity of volunteers to:
Develop trusting relationships with participating boys
Share life experiences as guest speakers
Help with homework, reading and writing
Simply set an example
If you're interested, please let me know and I'll add you to my list.
This will definitely take a village.