Raising Boys

raisingboys
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that girls think, act and develop very differently than boys. But with the increasing number of fatherless homes, many boys are being raised by mothers who are completely baffled by the problems they encounter in raising their sons. A few US based statistics I came across are alarming:

Boys are four times more likely to commit suicide than girls.
67% of all special education students are boys.
71% of school suspensions are given to boys.
Boys are ten times more likely to be diagnosed with ADD.

Boys are falling behind in school aptitude tests compared to girls, and high school dropouts are overwhelmingly boys.

But one thing we won't see, are boys openly talking about how they feel neglected, overlooked, rejected, misunderstood. And we'll never see that, because that kind of open expression is not a part of their make-up. Call it programming by society, but I believe it's a part of the way God created the male gender to be less emotive than females.

Boys can easily hide depression and low self-esteem under a tough exterior that can fool their own family. That's when you see outbursts of irrational anger, violent, aggressive or excessively sexual behavior appear from the creature that used to be that sweet little boy. When the frustrations keep growing, there has to be some sort of outlet, and most of the time it's negative.

But these are the young men that God created to lead and provide for families, to be innovators, creators of new ideas, conquerors of unknown territories. They are made the way they are, for a good reason, but they need to be understood and nurtured with their different needs in mind.

I know it's impossible to generalize, but I am going to anyway, because most, (not all) but most boys are kinetic or spatial learners. That's fancy psycho-talk for the fact that boys love to learn things hands-on and see for themselves just how things work.

Trying to force a kinetic child to learn by memorizing a text book over and over may get them to pass a test, but won't necessarily get them to remember any of it the next day. But make it come alive by actually doing something about it with their hands, and seeing it work, and the practical lesson becomes unforgettable.

Teaching times tables by memorizing numbers was the way I was forced to do it, but my kids had a blast when I opened up a box of macaroni and separated them into groups and had them show me what 9x7 really looked like. We'd talk about when you would need to know these answers in real life, and then the memorization of the cold facts became much more fun and easier. I had to use my musical skills to come up with a funny tune to each times table, which I find myself using even now after all these years!

Teach about the rotation of the earth and the tilt of it's axis and use a flashlight and an orange, use a ping pong ball for the moon, and start spinning through space. It's fun and it registers in his memory and best of all he knows you're right there with him in it all. A boy who normally acts like he doesn't care about anything could all of a sudden show amazing ability when a neighborhood friend teaches him how to repair a car, how to work out a computer program, how to build or create something on his own.

Boys also often need a brain break where they can run off their energy, kick a ball around, get all out of breath and pump themselves up with oxygen, before they can hit the books again to finish their work. If they are told to go straight to their rooms after school to finish their homework, though some might do just fine, others will stare at the walls because they need a brain break and a good shot of oxygen. Then mom yells at them for being lazy and irresponsible, then they hate school even more, then they're compared to their disgustingly perfect sister who gets straight A's, then they're convinced they must be stupid and worthless and before you know it they're taking out their frustrations in very negative ways.

There are many more differences between raising boys and girls, and this is just one. Give me your ideas, and I'll be sharing mine too.


Evelyn Higginbotham


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