I recently wrote a post about raising girls and it got me thinking; is there anything different I would like to teach my boys? Are there things that they should know which aren’t so relevant to their sisters? I got to thinking about raising boys and whether I need to change what I say to them to make sure they are learning the right lessons to make them into the type of men I would want my daughters to marry (not literally – that would be odd not to mention illegal, but you get my point).
- Be Respectful – this is not just about being respectful to women, but to everyone. I already notice a tendency to spring to giving someone (usually just their brother) a quick push or kick to resolve an issue and I want them to know that this is just not the way. My eldest is learning Karate for this very reason (his brother will too once he is old enough). I want them to be able to defend themselves if needed, but have the discipline and respect for others not to initiate fights
- No means No – Whilst raising boys into the men of the future I think it is our responsibility to teach them that No is never negotiable. This might be just me telling them ‘no’ or in the future a girlfriend expressing that she isn’t comfortable with something. They must know that this is the end! I think this starts at home with them learning to accept a ‘no’ from me and is very much a work in progress. I still often hear myself sounding like my dad and saying ‘ I am not discussing it’ when actually I am doing just that.
- Men are not intrinsically awful – I am concerned as I look around social media these days that the positive swing towards women saying that they will not put up with being mistreated anymore and quite rightly demanding equality is moving towards stereotyping all men and that is not ok with me. So I want my boys to know that they are intrinsically decent and lovely. Just as I want my girls to proud to be strong, kind women I want my boys to be proud to be strong, kind men.
- Family comes First – again my inner Peggy Mitchell or Pauline Fowler comes out, but I want them to value our family. They are lucky (although they may not always think so) to have a ready made support system of 3 siblings and I want them to stay close throughout their lives. I hope that we, as their parents, can create family traditions and memories that will forever connect them and bring them together.
- Girls can be who they want to be – already at 6 and 4 the boys are saying things like ‘ the sisters’ (what they always call our twins) can’t jump to the moon because they are girls’ Oh it gets me irked! Clearly this is the word on the playground and I am all over it every time I hear it. I want them to understand that their sisters can be and do anything they want to as long as they work hard to achieve it
- Talking helps – boys tend to hold their feelings in much more and it is harder to get them to communicate about things that are concerning them (or so I am told). I have not experienced this so much yet, but I am sure that this is because they are still little and I am still very much smack bang in the centre of their world. Over time and especially during their teenage years I want them to know that they are not on their own. They can talk and it will help. Now how I am going to achieve this is quite another matter!
- It is ok to cry – I read all the time about young men who take their own lives or have emotional issues and it is just tragic that they feel they have to hide their emotions and internalise their feelings. I don’t want my boys to punch walls or someone else when they are upset or frustrated I want them to know it is ok to cry.
- Grandparents – the boys spend lots of time with their grandparents and have even been lucky enough to meet both of their great grandmothers. They won’t need me to tell them that they have a fantastic family on both sides, but I want them to know the history of our family. I want them, for example, to understand how hard my dad worked and what he amazing things he achieved from such humble beginnings. Without their grandparents and then their own daddy’s determination they would not have the very comfortable life that they know.
- Being Irish – the boys should know that they are at least in part Irish. I want them to visit often even once I am not controlling that. As Brexit approaches this part of them could be what allows them to have a more diverse life. It could be what gives them the opportunities I had to live and work abroad. It is also the part of them that gives them access to an entirely bonkers extended family who could not love each other more – well except when they are having a row!
- Staying at home is a job – I am currently in the home most of the time. Albeit running my CV writing and coaching business, but this is work that the children don’t see as it is when they are in bed. So I want my boys to know that staying at home is a job too. I want them to understand I am the person who stays at home because I wanted to be and because that is what works for us not because I am a woman
- Daddy’s can clean too – Leading on from the last point we divide up the household stuff in a way that suits us. I don’t want to clear out the drain, but the husband doesn’t mind for example. He is physically stronger than me so if a jar needs opening we go to him. He is an IT professional so is better with electronic stuff and therefore that is also all him, but this is because of his skills v mine and not man v woman. He is also a dab hand at cleaning a loo and so he has also taken on this role. He cannot however, cook, fold laundry or dress children unless clown is the look you are going for…
Is there anything else you would add to the list? As they grown I fully expect for there to be more things that I feel they need to know, but it’s a start actually as long as they know how much they are loved we will be part of the way there.