How to Raise a Boy
March 8, 2018 2:02 PM   Subscribe

New York Magazine’s cover for their latest issue is a package of stories that attempts 29 answers to a question that has grown both "more impossible and more urgent following the Parkland shooting, the president, and #MeToo." How to Raise a Boy.

18 of the 29 articles are now online:

* What Kids Think About Emotions, Aggression, Stereotypes, and Consent by the Cut
What does it mean to be a boy? If you ask them they’ll tell you, and their answers will be complex.

* The Moment I Decided to Throw Out My Son’s Toy Weapons by Rachael Combe
I have no illusion that taking away his guns is a game-changing heroic act: Toxic masculinity lies in constant wait for my boy. But I have no regrets.

* Boys Often Don’t Recognize When They’ve Been Sexually Assaulted by Peggy Orenstein
What surprised me after a year-and-a-half spent interviewing young men was how often they brought up their own experience of unwanted sex.

What I Learned From Being a Daughter Raised Like a Son by Laurie Abraham
My father wrestled, watched football, and played basketball with me and my sister. He also taught us to want things, to want to win.

* How Mothers Talk to Their Sons About Race by the Cut
Four perspectives on stereotypes, diversity, police, fear, and expectations.

* Playing Video Games With My Son Isn’t What I Thought It Would Be by David Cole
Reflections of a video-game kid turned video-game dad.

* How I Raised 5 Sons To Respect Women by Anonymous As Told To Alexa Tsoulis-Reay
There’s a testosterone overload in my house.

* What Happened After My College Found Me Guilty of Sexual Misconduct by Anonymous
“The experience was an eye-opener. It taught me not to mess with women anymore.”

* The Stories My Sons and I Share by Ed Park
About Chloe Kim, Dude Perfect, Tiger Parents, and our own family.

* Navigating the World of Boys When You’re Gender Nonconforming
“I don’t think anyone completely fits in to a gender role.”

* Raise Your Son to Be a Good Man, Not a ‘Real’ Man by Michael Kimmel
Proving that we are “real men” to other men sometimes requires us to do the wrong thing. We can teach our boys to do better.

* I Love Conversations With My Son, Even If He Doesn’t Really Hear Me by Stella Bugbee
I live in dread of what one of my colleagues once described to me as the “silent years,” when boys descend into an impenetrable muteness.

* 7 Insights From Social Science on Raising a Boy by Melissa Dahl
From infancy to adolescence.

* What Aggression Really Means to Boys
Six perspectives on violence, parents, play, rage, fear, and intimacy.

* Teenage Brothers on Sex, Social Media, and What Their Parents Don’t Understand by the Cut
“Sometimes we’re going to be awkward. Sometimes we’re going to be mean. We’re not trying to be.”

* What Should I Teach My Sons? by Will Leitch
I’m not sure what to think about what my dad tried to teach me. So what should I teach my sons? The masculine scripts of previous generations seem especially problematic today, in a world run by the aggressive and the bullying.

* What Black Panther Means to My Black Son by James Peterson
A father talks to his teenage son and his three friends about the film’s resonance, black masculinity, and the importance of representation.

* My Son Loves Guns by Alden Jones
posted by zarq (43 comments total) 82 users marked this as a favorite


 
"What Happened After My College Found Me Guilty of Sexual Misconduct" - oh boy.
posted by GuyZero at 2:10 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


From the first link:
The cover image was shot by Danish photographer Nicolai Howalt, as part of a series of images of boys ages 11 to 17 before and after their first boxing match. The series, which was inspired by Howalt’s own experience as a boy, captures the transition from childhood to manhood.
The artist's site. Click on the "141 boxers" and "boxer" links for additional images.
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on March 8


The Moment I Decided to Throw Out My Son’s Toy Weapons

I thought it was going to be at a younger age, but he's 12. Also interesting - the "footnotes" that pop up on the side when you hover over with a cursor (not sure how they appear in mobile, mouse-free devices) provide her son's comments on the story, including the first incident, where he wrote "That was a mistake. I screwed up. It’s hard for me to read these details. I wanted my mom to cut them."

My mom tried to raise me and my brother as peaceful boys, keeping guns away from us. But when my brother picked up a cow and pointed its tail at my mom and said "bang," she realized that a child's creativity will allow it to route around limitations of toys. That said, I agree that there's no reason to amplify the violence in play fighting with items that are explicitly and only weapons.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:26 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]




I started with the sexual misconduct one and am now so angry that I can't read any of the others. This guy thinks that he treats women well, that he's some kind of prince because his girlfriend is a strong woman and he wanted Hillary Clinton to be president and he hasn't learned a thing from his experience except how to cover his own arse. What would it take for him to have some fucking empathy? I just can't even.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:44 PM on March 8 [19 favorites]


It's nice to read these perspectives from mothers actively trying to not bring up selfish jerks, especially in contrast to watching my aunt follow my 19yo cousin around protecting him from any hint of criticism for his jackass solipsism.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:48 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


My best friend in HS went though an almost identical experience as the lead story in the Orenstein article. He had no idea how to handle it, again with a religious mom, a dad who was a man's man. I had no idea what to do with it when he told me the day after.

We're still close, and we haven't talked about it since.
posted by bonehead at 2:56 PM on March 8


The Moment I Decided to Throw Out My Son’s Toy Weapons

Theodore seems like a good kid. I'm glad his mom is sorry about throwing out his handmade sword; that's the kind of thing that would provoke him to remember this as hysterical overreaction instead of a firm parental stance. Parents in the '70s and '80s were already trying this on their little boys, but the world was still the world, and one thing you can't do is piss down a kid's leg and tell him it's raining.

I don't know why they included the perspective from the guy who continues to deny his responsibility in the sexual assault -- as a cautionary tale of what's at stake if you don't raise your boy right? I just hope he really has outwardly reformed, as he says he has. You can't fix the inside of somebody, not with our system, and I tend to imagine known offenders as embittered ghouls. He's not someone I would want a friend to date, but he is at least not that.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:57 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


Uuuuuuggggggghhhhhh that sexual misconduct article.

On the other hand? The comments on that sexual misconduct article are, at least at the moment, readable and not gross. Go figure.
posted by hanov3r at 2:58 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


More than a bit mad at the Orenstein article, first that it's the same bullshit 30 years on. Second that a person doing interviews fully aware of the prior research started off as a skeptic.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 2:58 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I don't know why they included the perspective from the guy who continues to deny his responsibility in the sexual assault -- as a cautionary tale of what's at stake if you don't raise your boy right?

That was one of the last articles I read in the series and it's the worst of the lot, imo. I also don't know why an article by someone denying he committed rape needed to be included on their high-traffic, widely-read platform -- especially, as you say, in a group of articles about parenting/raising boys. Are we to believe that his refusal to accept responsibility is a parenting issue? And also especially in a one-sided piece that doesn't give a voice to the person he assaulted.

--

Regarding the collection of articles: There are good and bad pieces here. I would have liked to see certain topics explored and addressed more deeply. Or given counterpoint essays.

There are still 11 articles in the collection that haven't been posted. I'm hoping they are put online before the week ends.
posted by zarq at 3:04 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


From the sexual misconduct one:

In her initial statement, she said she went over to my place and blacked out. I think she was wounded when I dismissed her and filled in the blanks of her memory with dark thoughts.

Or, you know, maybe she went over to your place and blacked out. That dude has zero self-awareness. The moment she decided she didn't want to have sex with him was the moment he suddenly realized he didn't find her attractive, huh? But he's the real victim, of course.
posted by Ruki at 3:11 PM on March 8 [16 favorites]


But when my brother picked up a cow and pointed its tail at my mom and said "bang," she realized that a child's creativity will allow it to route around limitations of toys.

I was raised with the same parenting philosophy. For me it was garden stakes. My son is almost four. He has no gun toys. But he has a little wooden sword from a pirate costume that lately has become a gun that he shoots at the cat. My first reaction was to take it away. But how ridiculous is that? He's allowed to pretend to stab things but not shoot them? He doesn't have any action figures with guns. The only guns he's seen on tv were a brief introduction to Star Wars. He comes home from school with sticks from the recess yard and tells me "they're for shooting." I thought it would be fun to introduce him to gaming via retro 16-bit era games like Super Metroid. Recently he was watching me play and he started yelling "Shoot that bad guy! Shoot that bad guy!" I turned off the game. When he asked why I didn't know what to say since that's exactly what I was showing him how to do. I don't know how to navigate this part of parenthood at all.
posted by not_the_water at 3:15 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


okay what the HELL with the 'in india men can actually get away with beating their wives' thing in the sexual misconduct one? that is an ellipsis situation that i don't even know what to do with. that's where i tapped out on that piece.

i'm glad Orenstein came to understand that her initial understanding of sexual assault was problematic but jesus it's depressing that despite her background it took doing this specific set of research for her to realise that :/
posted by halation at 3:22 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


I would like an article from College Sexual Misconduct Dude's parents. It may be enlightening.
posted by curiousgene at 3:31 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


i'm glad Orenstein came to understand that her initial understanding of sexual assault was problematic but jesus it's depressing that despite her background it took doing this specific set of research for her to realise that :/

The gender roles that society defines cut deep. Look at how the one girl reacted when he told her the truth.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:32 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


....it's depressing that despite her background it took doing this specific set of research for her to realise that :/

Her skepticism is extremely common and believable. The belief that men don't get raped because they always want sex is practically a cultural trope across Western civilization. If the person who has been assaulted is cishet and their rapist is a woman, it's pretty much guaranteed that no one will believe them. Survivors are well aware of this. It's one reason why they don't come forward and report what was done to them. Shame and stigma are some of the other reasons.

Washington Post: Male survivors of sex assaults often fear they won’t be taken seriously

Because of the way it's written, Orenstein's essay could conceivably educate people who don't believe men can be sexual assaulted. At least, I'd like to think so.
posted by zarq at 3:49 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


For those of you wondering why they included the sexual misconduct piece by anonymous, I would like to point out that there are 18 articles and yet the majority of our conversation has been about only one of them.
posted by Ndwright at 4:01 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I've read most of the articles, and with the exception of the one that's explicitly about gender non-conformity, they strike me as depressingly heteronormative. Apparently there are boys--and, oh yeah, there are queer boys--but when you are talking about boys in general, you're not talking about queer boys.
posted by layceepee at 4:05 PM on March 8 [13 favorites]


My sister and I weren't allowed to play with toy weapons, and we weren't allowed to even pantomime weapons if our parents were watching.

Yes, we watched westerns and sci-fi movies and TV with weapons, and we fired finger guns when adults weren't around.

But the thing is, because it was completely pretend, with no visual or tactile input, it was a lot easier to keep it in the realm of fantasy. If I were to pick up a real gun, it would feel weird and awkward; I would have no frame of reference from growing up with a toy gun in my hands.

(Same deal with cigarettes, btw; even though both parents were chainsmokers, we couldn't have candy cigarettes or cigars or bubble pipes, or pretend to smoke, and neither one of us ever tried it for real )
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:21 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


I haven't read all the articles yet, but if I may add another one to the list:
The Boys are Not All Right (Michael Ian Black)
posted by MengerSponge at 4:22 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


From a cultural perspective, other than social media, the biggest difference between my early 70s childhood and today is how guns are portrayed in films and television. Video games weren't a thing yet, but I watched tons of cop shows and war movies and westerns, and all of them had guns, obviously, but they really didn't spend any time discussing them. The characters had them, they used them, but they never went beyond that. They didn't mention the specifications or the caliber or the tactical advantages and disadvantages. The only exception I can think of was James Bond with his famous .32 caliber Walther.

It's different now, though, and I think Dirty Harry was the topping point where the gun itself became a sidekick, and it really kicked into gear in the 80s with Arnold and Stallone and Mel Gibson. There is a scene in Lethal Weapon where Gibson's character is listing all the advantages that his high capacity 9mm semi automatic (a Beretta model 92!) has over his partner's old fashion and outdated six shot .38 revolver. The gun industry (and Beretta) couldn't buy better advertising.

And the video games took gun worship to a whole new level. It's virtually impossible to play shooters without picking up a deep knowledge of modern guns, the calibers, the design, the advantages of lots of smaller bullets vs fewer bigger bullets, the drift of the barrel as you have trouble keeping a machine gun steady while firing it full auto, etc, etc.

And the end result is that young people have more gun knowledge today than even adult men had 40 or 50 years ago, and that's absolutely not healthy for society, and the entertainment industry needs to be called on it.
posted by Beholder at 4:26 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


None of the gun stuff, whether its games with detailed gun stats or games where you shoot people or whatever, has the same effect in countries without the actual gun ownership and usage of the US.

Japan produces tons of violent video games. They have plenty of games with detailed gun stats and customization. They have an airsoft / toy gun industry that goes into extreme military fetish details (go to airsoft shops in Akiba to see what I mean).

But no actual gun violence, because there are almost no guns and no culture of actually _using_ guns.

That said, the real question is about the intersection of the two. Does any of this make things worse in the US specifically, given that there is no realistric chance of reducing gun ownership so dramatically? The studies seem to say "no, it doesn't have much/any effect".

I still think the bigger issue is the value placed on guns and violence. Its not the movies and games, its the way people talk about guns as an almost sacred thing, the way the military and military service is elevated over other kinds of service, etc. That has a much more real impact than fictional accounts.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:34 PM on March 8 [18 favorites]


It's not hard, people:

A) Sit your boy in front of a screen.
B) Put on a Steven Universe marathon.
C) There is no C.

Toxic masculinity cannot persist in the presence of any Steven Universe. It shrinks and shrivels until all that remains are little scabby bits you can pick up and flick away with the nail of your favorite pinky. If there are any particularly hard-to-scrub-off remnants, put on the Stevonnie episode on repeat until they fall off by themselves.

You can spend all the time you save singing the best song ever recorded.
posted by signal at 4:43 PM on March 8 [27 favorites]


I don't really recognize my kiddo in any of the kids in these articles, but that's ok, the world is a big place and his serious, sensitive, deep-thinking version of boyhood is fine, too. He's just himself.
posted by emjaybee at 5:17 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


1. Cast him into the sea.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:49 PM on March 8


We allow toy weapons but the kids (cis girls, for what it‘s worth) are only allowed to point them at people and go pew pew if they‘ve verbally made sure the other person is OK with playing that game. And stop the first time the other person says stop. Same with swords and hitting.

(Here‘s where the consent and the weapons issue converge, I guess).
posted by The Toad at 5:53 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


This is all very relevant to my interests. The one about talking about race was surprising to me in how late the first conversations were. We had to start having race conversations this year (kindergarten) because it was clear my kid was getting really confused by the fact that he is a different race than all the other kids in his class. You know how (usually liberal white people) insist pure, innocent kids magically don't see race? Yeah, they do. And if you have one like mine who has no filter at all between weirdo kid brain and mouth, well, we had to go from zero-to-sixty on the race conversations.

But where race seemed to be thing he latched on to when identifying differences among classmates, he has so far not expressed a differentiation based on gender presentation. He's never expressed a preference or even that it's a thing one could notice, and his little bestie at school is a girl.
(I'm kind of not awesome at female gender performance stuff and I do sometimes feel like my son is missing out on the opportunity to be sparkly because I don't have any makeup or nail polish or good dress up clothes in the house.)

We are doing our best. It's, um, terrifying.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:08 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I don't really recognize my kiddo in any of the kids in these articles, but that's ok, the world is a big place and his serious, sensitive, deep-thinking version of boyhood is fine, too.

May I interest him in Wells for Boys? (the story behind the very good sketch)
posted by lalex at 6:19 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


I've read most of the articles, and with the exception of the one that's explicitly about gender non-conformity, they strike me as depressingly heteronormative. Apparently there are boys--and, oh yeah, there are queer boys--but when you are talking about boys in general, you're not talking about queer boys.

As a gay man in my early '60s who was once a very gay looking and acting cisgendered little boy, I am disappointed that most of these articles only deal with how to raise the stereotypical "snips-and-snails-and-puppy-dogs'-tails" variety of boy. My lived experience of having been a boy is light-years removed from the realities of these rough-and-tumble, aggressive, competitive and sometimes violent boys.

I was not one of those kids who, at age 5, is as obsessed with kicking soccer balls or throwing baseballs and tearing around on the grass as a black lab in pursuit of a tennis ball. In fact, somewhere between age 6 and 9 I decided to throw away my toy guns because I decided they were a) stupid and b) violent. At about age 8, I had a Barbie and did runway shows on the dining table. In Cub Scouts, I earned merit badges for collecting and for housekeeping; for the latter, I had to show I knew how to sew on a button, iron a shirt and boil an egg. I loved gardening, and by the time I was 10 I knew all about how to plant and care for hybrid tea roses. When I lived in Colombia, I had accumulated a sizable collection of ground orchids. I'm not sure I ever put on a baseball glove, much less used one. Football? Unthinkable.

The main reason I wasn't bullied is because I had the good fortune to spend most of my boyhood well outside the American culture sphere. I was born and lived in a S. American capital, where I attended the British School. There, the other little boys in my class were nice kids. I don't think any of them spent time sharpening their wooden swords like the boy in one of the articles. At recess, we walked around the playground and talked. Nobody forced us to play baseball during recess (as they did when I was in the 5th grade in the US), and PE was not about competitive team sports.

But, to get to the point, I have two reactions to these articles. First, they're so heteronormative that they might as well have been written when I was a child in the pre-Stonewall world.

More importantly, since high school I have been aware that I am different from most straight boys and men in ways that put me at a disadvantage in society. I think it's one reason I wasn't able to break into the legal profession or establish myself in a rewarding vocation. It goes far beyond being sexually attracted to guys. I had butched up on my own by the time I reached middle school, so that critical difference is not about the way I present myself. The only way I can express it is that it is difficult being a gay man in a straight man's world because the rules are by, for and about straight men. I believe one important difference has to do with aggression. So, while cisgendered gay boys are a numerical minority, they do exist. If I were a parent of a gay boy (my mother and sister and my sister's best friend knew I was gay even in the buttoned-up and closeted early '60s), I would want to know how to raise my gay son so that he can hold his own among straight men later in life.
posted by A. Davey at 6:20 PM on March 8 [47 favorites]


There's 19 of these articles and, as is the way of the internet, people are focusing on the worst-written and most infuriating. (I interpreted the sexual misconduct article as giving the guy enough rope to hang himself. Certainly it's not going to make anyone more sympathetic to defendants in sexual misconduct hearings.)

On the other hand, the article interviewing Carlos and Liam, teen brothers from a small town in Michigan, will give you hope for the future.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:30 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


This is a great collection of thoughtful pieces, thanks for organizing them so nicely. I'm a woman with two sisters and I feel totally inadequate to the task of raising my son sometimes, so I'll probably read them all.
posted by potrzebie at 7:14 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, while my now-six-year-old is extremely fond of cartoon and video game guns and fire and explosions and killing zombies and "bad guys" and deciding who is on which "team," he is terrified of real guns to the point that we could not watch Spiderman Homecoming because the men with assault rifles made him start crying. (The flying laser-shooting bomb-throwing Vulture in a freaky mask and with clawed feet was no problem.)

He loves watching me play Overwatch and 7 Days to Die, but he calls PUBG "the scary game" after the one time he watched it and someone shot "us" from the back and the character died instantly while we both yelped and jumped.
posted by Scattercat at 7:44 PM on March 8


Ndwright: "For those of you wondering why they included the sexual misconduct piece by anonymous, I would like to point out that there are 18 articles and yet the majority of our conversation has been about only one of them."

This. There is, for example, this article here:

* Boys Often Don’t Recognize When They’ve Been Sexually Assaulted by Peggy Orenstein
What surprised me after a year-and-a-half spent interviewing young men was how often they brought up their own experience of unwanted sex.


This happened to me. I was raped by a cis woman. It took me years to work out why I was so angry. It took me years to work out the words. I am here in this thread. This thing that you're doing here, focusing on sexual misconduct by cis men and ignoring the same misconduct when it's done by cis women? It is gross. And I am so fucking tired of having to ask you to stop. Just stop. Please.
posted by saltbush and olive at 1:55 AM on March 9 [17 favorites]


In high school, we had a speaker come to the school to talk about rape. I still remember that she explicitly said women do not rape men, and if a man is raped, it's only ever by another man. This was 15+ years ago, but still. It's not just a matter of whether other people will believe the victim; it's also something the victim learns to internalize. There's those young men Orenstein quotes as just brushing off their own assaults.

I do feel slightly left out of these articles (except the Orenstein one, unfortunately). A lot of it centers around an experience of boyhood that I just can't relate to. On balance, it feels like it's mostly about other boys, like the kids I grew up with. I'll reserve judgment until the next batch of articles is online. I'll be disappointed if there's more about sports and competition and aggression. I'll be thrilled if there's an article about growing up with literally every adult around you telling you you're gay because you're quiet and a little feminine.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:14 AM on March 9 [11 favorites]


New articles in the series have been posted.

* After My Son Lost His Dad, He Found Baseball
As his father was growing weaker, Davey needed to feel strong. Tough jocks were what was required, not a mother’s smoothing and curating.

* 31 Famous Men As Boys
Today’s cultural icons, political leaders, and tech moguls, captured in their early years.

* Porn, Condoms, and Consent: Talking to Boys About Sex
“Sometimes my friends are like ‘DO IT! She wants it!’ And I’m like … does she really want it? Or are you just saying that?”
posted by zarq at 4:55 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


* A College Student Explains Modern Dating to His Mother
“You just have to be a lot more careful. I wouldn’t approach someone on campus and just say ‘Hey,’ and start talking. My friends don’t either.”
posted by zarq at 6:21 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


After reading that last piece, I want to give that kid an NCIS-style head slap,then give him the truth - women will not think you are creepy for sitting next to them if you're reading their body language right, women like sex and do like to be considered in that manner as long as it's not the totality of the interaction (as my wife has pointed out to me, she's reassured in knowing that she's more than a "piece of meat" to me - which is why she feels safe in having times where that's exactly how she wants to be seen by me), and that nagging voice is the voice of societal anxieties that needs to be told to shut the fuck up.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:50 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


I feel that No Means No/Yes Means Yes often ends up framed in terms of heterosexual roles that are still driven by tradition to different degrees, and I think that undermines the whole notion of affirmative consent when that happens.

I think that contributes to the issue described by Orenstein (which I've experienced). But many of the articles seem to be trying to retrofit affirmative consent into a cultural heterosexuality without really addressing how that's constructed beyond a superficial level.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:26 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


And another:

* The Joyful Dancing Boys of Instagram by Madison Malone Kircher
“My friends will ask me [on Instagram] ‘can you teach me how to dance?’ Every time we go play at recess I teach my friends moves.”

That's 23 articles in total so far.
posted by zarq at 9:23 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


So far as I can tell, none of these articles focus on schools, courts, and jails (or "juvenile detention facilities"). Those institutions are also raising boys, for better or worse.
posted by ferdydurke at 9:48 AM on March 9 [8 favorites]


Really I have serious issues with the article by the guy accused of sexual misconduct. I have to take a break from the articles. Basically I did raise a son on my own.
The first serious conversation we had about being a man someday was that I had no idea raise a man, but I could tell him LOTS about not being an asshole. Sadly there were many assholes I could point to in our near vicinity. There were decent men around as well,and I did let my son know when I respected a man.
They say it’s hard to raise a son on your own
at all,let alone to raise a decent young man. It can be done though. There is no one recipe because boys, likegirls are not all alike.
Also some horrible mothers sometimes turn or a decent man. My step-father and Mr. Roquette are examples. In both cases,good grand-parents helped a lot.
Things I did not do.
A big one was to not ban assorted toy weapons. Forbidden fruit is too sweet! Instead I tore a page from some of my Appalachian friend’s book, which was use the toy to teach gun safety, like ‘don’t point that at anyone!’ ‘All guns are loaded’ and we had serious discussions about war and boys being sucked into war. Discussions of being a man in our society really in my opinion must include a discussion of appropriate and inappropriate uses of violence. Also discussions of anger and what to do about anger.
Sex is harder for a lot of parents. My approach was to be very factual, to let them know that sex can result in babies who must then be looked after. Also let boys know that the legal consequences of stupid behavior with girls can be really tough.
I don’t think either kid turned out badly. Basically my take is keep the lines of communication open. You can head off a LOT of trouble that way.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:25 AM on March 9 [9 favorites]


Basically I did raise a son on my own.

You did, and I'm grateful. I think you're downplaying how innovative you were about the whole thing, really. Aside from the things you mentioned - which helped a lot - I appreciate that rules and curfews in our house were negotiable.

I think all parents are making it up as they go along, but admitting that and accepting some input from us about the whole thing made a huge difference in my ability to deal with authority when I got out into the world on my own.

(There's a reason I keep hounding you to write a parenting book, Mom. You still totally should.)
posted by mordax at 2:45 PM on March 10 [15 favorites]


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