Talk about an article designed to attract my attention.
An article published in The Guardian, a British newspaper, carries this provocative headline and subtitle: “Girls ‘more resilent’ than boys at school: Girls from single-parent families outperform boys in class because they are less affected by parental input, study shows.”
The article states that the so-called “gender gap” in education — the tendency for boys to underperform in school, as compared to girls — may be because boys from single parent homes are more likely to have behavioral and emotional problems that carry over into the school setting, while girls don’t seem disturbed by the lack of a two-parent household.
According to the article, “Boys raised outside a traditional two-parent family were more likely to display behavioural and self-control problems in class and were suspended more often…By the time the children were 10 or 11 the “gender gap” between boys and girls displaying behaviour problems in school was twice as big for those brought up by single mothers as those from traditional families.”
Well, I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe that our divorce will doom our boys to a less-than life. I know that our divorce affected them — and affected them greatly — but I will not let the divorce be an excuse for academic failure, behavorial problems or relationship issues. I fully, completely, 100% believe that children of divorced and single parents can grow up to become functioning, well-adjusted human beings. And while my ex and I are not perfect, I believe that we’re doing some things to mitigate the effect of our divorce.
One: We are both still actively involved in our boys’ lives. The Guardian newspaper article doesn’t mention if the boys in the study had involved dads; it merely says “single parent families.” As you and I both know, single parent families are frequently headed by women. Moms can raise some fabulous sons, but I think it behooves the moms, dads, sons and society to have some continued strong male involvement in boys’ lives. Was the problem really that the boys were raised in single parent families, or that they had no strong male role models?
Two: When we see a behavioral problem, we address it. Please don’t take this to mean that the boys’ dad and I are model co-parents. We’re not. Most of the time, we barely talk, and our values and beliefs regarding parenting differ. But…we both want our boys to be functioning members of society. We both want our boys to function well in and out of the classroom. And you can bet that if either one of us hears that our sons are acting up in (or outside of school), we will address the issue. Our boys have had counseling; that remains an option, should it be needed again in the future. I also work with the boys daily on basic problem solving, anger management and interpersonal relations.