Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Boys Will Be Boys

Boy, n. : a noise with dirt on it.  

 1 boy is worth half a man, 
2 boys are worth half a boy, 
3 boys are no help at all

Of all the animals the boy is the most unmanageable - Plato

Boys will be boys (regardless of how old they get)

The quotes above are all taken from my scrapbook materials.  They summarize the very poignant message given to mothers of sons by our consumer culture.
Quotes such as the ones above can be seen everywhere.  We've seen them framed in most department stores, printed as wall stickers intended for baby boy nurseries, written in the pages of baby books, and all over the internet.  The same messages, and worse, are given in the pages of parenting books, popular television sitcoms and TV commercials.

Disney's Mulan quotes "boys will be boys" when the baby gets into the yarn the mother is spinning.  Louis on the Emperor's New Clothes is excused from having torn his clothes as a result of his swinging from the chandelier.  It is stated, "Louis simply couldn't help himself.  It was natural".

In the sitcom Two and a Half Men, Alan Harper's teenage son Jake's immorality is excused because "boys will be boys".  Then, of course it would be excused because his father and his uncle have set such a terrible example.  This may be an extreme example, but frankly, most TV shows portray men as ineffectual, disengaged cowards.

I hear parents often say, "Boys will be boys!"  as they excuse their sons poor behavior.

I often wonder why parents excuse self-indulgence, disrespect, uncleanliness, irresponsibility, bullying and the like as behavior appropriate for a "typical boy".  Then, I see what is put before moms and what is presented as "normal" and I can see why.  Instead of training boys to be knowledgeable and skillful men of character we encourage them to coast through boyhood as though there is nothing for which to prepare.

Sadly, the ever popular excuse, "boys will be boys" allows everyone to look the other way.

Unfortunately for the boy, there will come a day when that excuse is no longer given on his behalf.  The day will come when he is expected to behave like a man.  The common phenomenon of extended adolescence shows exactly what happens when boys are not trained to be men.

Although our boys often come in from outdoors rowdy and smelling as we say, like worms and dirt, they know that there is a time and place.  They are given ample time to play and explore.  Time to experiment and roam about the backyard, but it is our goal to train manly men.  Men who are honorable and trustworthy.  Men who are visionaries, family leaders, servant leaders, and hard workers.

There is no switch to flip when they reach 16, 18 or even 21.
If only it were that easy...
Instead, they must be taught and trained, diligently and consistently, throughout boyhood.

"Someone said, 
"Boys will be boys;"
he forgot to add, 
"Boys will be men".
- Napoleon Bonaparte


Jennifer @ JenniferDukesLee.com said...

I am the mother of two girls, so am thoroughly confused about how one might raise a boy. But I think you've targeted the key: to remember that, ultimately, you're raising a man.

Christine Gruner said...

May we continue to fight against “normal” expectations as we raise our boys and be ever vigilant in seeing the subtle negative messages that surround us as parents. Thank you for your insights.


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