Raising Boys

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Resources for fathers to raise boys(7 responses)
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Help I'm a girl trying to raise sons!

Feb 2005

Help I'm a girl trying to raise sons! I need some help playing with my four-year-old son. I find the role-playing pretend games mind-numbing -- especially since (with me at least) it consists of ''you say ---'', ''No say ----!'' and it usually involves super-heroes, pirates, etc and much conflict and sometimes violence. I love his imagination and celebrate his play and pretend, but I find it hard to participate. I need to learn to play like a 4-5 year old boy AND gently inject my lessons and values into the play. Plus, I need suggestions on steering my very strong-willed boy to play/do things of my suggesting. I have a newborn as well, so I'm trying to maximize my time with my preschooler. Plus, he wants to play with me 10x more now that there is an infant monopolizing my time. Are there any books out there that could teach me how to play like a boy? Maybe this should be in the advice posting, but any books (for me) or games you can steer me toward would be appreciated. (He's not really into board games yet and even crayons turn into pretend figures for him!) . . . We do quite a bit of reading together (while nursing, etc.) so I'm not looking for children's book titles, but something to guide me.

Girlie Momma

As one of two gay dads rearing two (likely straight) boys, it's a mystery to me too. Neither my partner nor I was like that in childhood.

Deny them guns, and anything longer than wide can become one. Frenchfries are guns. A sandwich half, minus a bite, is a gun with a handle. And imagine this Berkeley progressive's insides drop when my younger son gets excited about soldiers on magazines we pass.

I take solice in knowing that my nephew, raised by gentle, intelligent folks, and other little boys, are the same. I think it's a (straight) boy thing.

Still your question about how to engage despite this fixation - I don't know, other than to guess that being a bit laid back about it, while taking moments to teach, from time to time, is probably the only thing we can do. I draw the line at involving me and anyone else who isn't into it: he can shoot stuff around him, but I tell him that I don't like being shot, and guard that option for anyone else around us.

BTW, my older one also talks about the sadness of war. He gets it, despite his fascination. I think it'll be okay in the long run.

yeah, it's a mystery

I am a mom with a boy and a girl, and I had 3 brothers, and it's TRUE: boy energy is different from girl energy, even if the girl is a tomboy. And boy energy can be BIG. If I were you, I would take your kids outside as much as possible and let your son be physical-- kicking and throwing a ball, running, climbing, splashing in puddles, riding a trike or bike or scooter, sliding downhill on cardboard, using rollerblades. If he insists on your playing with him at the park, try taking a friend for him. If your baby has to nap, let her nap at the park in a stroller.

At an appropriate age, consider sport programs for him: gymnastics, swimming, soccer, baseball, ice skating. Do you have space to put in a climbing structure in your backyard? If you can't get outside, try nerf balls inside, a nerf basketball hoop on the door, a small trampoline. Some friends of ours with 6 year olds had a corner where they could put down a gymnastic mat and screw rockclimbing handholds into the wall studs (they wallpapered the background with a breathtaking mountain picture). They also had a child-sized drum set. good luck!

I'm a mom of a 5 year old boy into all super-hero characters and the like. I come from a family of girls, so yeah, sometimes the world of boys is a bit much for me. And yeah, sometimes I'm called upon to participate in role playing, but I just do it my way, and if it's not the ''right'' way, I leave him to it, or re- direct or go along with it occasionally. But we have plenty of fun with things more gender neutral too - playing sports, exploring nature, doing crafts, reading. It'll come as your child grow! s and discovers more about himself. And if you or dad show enthusiasm for other activities, he'll be curious and at least want to try/ see/learn.

And you could certainly try and engage his help with the baby - have him sing songs, tell stories, fetch things, hold the baby's hand while you change him - little things where he'll feel he's doing something and part of the action. Praise him for being such a great big brother, talk about the things he'll be able to teach his sibling, and aren't you lucky for having such a great helper such as him? In the meantime, I do remember coming across an article in a Parenting magazine that had excerpts of a book ''365 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They're Too Old to Enjoy Them'' that seemed pretty good. And just browsing on Amazon looking for ''fun with kids'' or ''things to do with kids'' I came across a few other promising titles. I know there are tons of them out there, some better t! han others, that provide good ideas or springboards for other activities. It'll get easier, then harder, then easier... Boy Mom

Hey Girlie Momma:

I can really identify with you! My son is now almost 9 (and still wants my involvement in things that drive me crazy) but whacha gonna do? I've read a lot of boy books -- feeling that I've needed some guidance in the area because they feel so alien to me at times. My favorite is Michael Gurian's, ''The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors and Educators Can Do to Shape Boys into Exceptional Men.'' Altho I am by no means perfect at this (probably won't ever be) his book helped me to embrace -- or at least accept without so much judgement -- the fundamental essense of what it means to be a boy and how that is very different than my experience as a girl/woman.

The other thing is, I have no idea if this is a terrible thing or not, but I have told my son there are some things I will not/cannot play with him cuz I just don't know ''how'' to do it. And we find someone else to do that with him and he and I do other (''boy'') things. I am not at all sure if we can truly learn to play like a boy. I mean this in all seriousness when I suggest you find another male to do some of this kind of playing with him...maybe a male high school student/neighbor kind of thing? Dad? Or even other kids his age. Certainly, he's at the age where playdates are a good thing for him to be experiencing anyway. Two boys (who get along reasonably well) can do whatever it is they do for hours, and then YOU can work on the values and the reading and the things you enjoy, too. Good luck. nasuse

The Joy of Boys

This is a response to the mother who was guiltily bored of playing superhero with her four-year-old son, and requesting alternate activities appealing to boys. I get bored playing trucks and trains with my son. I had to get out, and depend on the rest of the world to provide more stimulation for him than I can. And I worked very hard to make mommy friends, so I would have grown-up conversation while I watched other children play trucks, and while I watched my son spend fifteen to twenty minutes per exhibit a children's science museum (yawn), nature center, etc. My son's gift seems to be science, not my area of expertise. The Bay Area has a wealth of fun things to do with my son, nature walks, creeks full of polliwogs, zoos, nature centers, children's science and tech museums such as Chabot Observatory's children's room.

For one-on-one time at home with! a very boyish boy, I suggest science and math stuff such as finding bugs in the yard, baking a cake or cookies or otherwise creating interesting chemical reactions, playing math games, playing cards and board games involving his favorite topics. We have race car board games much like Candyland. I was worried my son was short on imaginative play until I noticed him making the cars and trucks talk to each other some. Your son is obviously not short on imaginative play, so you could play pirates, good-guy-bad-guy, or any number of imaginative games. The superhero thing seems to have something to do with working out pre-school notions of good and evil. My son actually thinks he has super powers when he is wearing a Batman pajama top, and he's never seen a Batman movie, cartoon, or book. He was given hand-me-down Batman shoes, and the reaction from other pre-schoolers was so good that now ! all his shoes must have Batman or another Superhero whose movies he's never seen. So you could try replacing Spiderman with superheros such as King Arthur, you may not get enough reinforcement from the other pre-schoolers. Carolyn