2019: Conversations about boys move to center stage.
CBSN created a documentary about raising boys. The American Psychological Association released recommendations for working with boys and men, igniting a debate about “traditional masculinity.” At home, parents of boys continued to grapple with screen time and video games. In schools, boys were still disproportionately represented at the bottom of the class, in special education and in disciplinary referrals — a topic that hasn’t received nearly as much attention as it should.
On BuildingBoys, our most popular posts were oldies-but-goodies:
First published in 2014, this post continues to resonate with parents because far too many kids are asked to sit for far too long each day.
The true irony here is that mounds of educational and developmental research show that kids (both boys and girls) learn best when they are physically and intellectually engaged. When they are allowed to follow their interests and to learn through experience and experimentation.
Lack of motivation is a real problem for many families. This post, written in July 2018, inspired this 2019 Your Teen article, Here’s How to Motivate Teen Boys: Encourage Risk-Taking.
An excerpt from the original blog post:
Yelling at your son won’t help; it will only make things worse. Teens and tweens are supposed to be pulling away from their parents, so if you dig in and aggressively attempt to direct your son, you can be pretty sure that he’ll move in the opposite direction instead. In other words: your insistence that he DO something may actually be fueling his inactivity.
This one was originally published in 2017; it remains popular because boys-playing-with-guns is an especially fraught topic in this era of school shootings.
the evidence even suggests that restricting weapons play is more harmful to boys than allowing it. According to aJournal of Play article by renowned University of California -Davis professor emeritus Jay Mechling, “…a boy who does not have access to fantasy play with guns and other symbols of power is working under a deficit, missing out on one common way in which…the boy learns the difference between real aggression and stylized aggression, between real violence and fantasy violence.”
Nearly every parent I know has been knocked back by the challenges of raising a tween. Somehow, we’re not quite prepared for the changes that occur between the ages of 10-14, and we sure as hell don’t know what we’re doing when we first enter this new stage of parenting.
I’d spent the past six years or so trying to find the answer – trying to fix what was wrong with my son – when in reality, nothing was wrong. He was growing, plain and simple. His mind and body, and our relationship, were changing. He was going through a completely normal and natural stage, a stage that starts (for boys) around age 10 or so.
If there’s anything more mystifying than tween boys, it’s teen boys. But here’s the thing: parenting teens isn’t all bad. Teenage boys can be a lot of fun and life with them is definitely not boring!
Your son will not make it through his teen years without doing something he’s not supposed to. He’ll get a bad grade (or fail a class or three). He’ll crash the car, get caught in a lie, come home drunk…the list of possibilities is endless. It’ll be up to you to enforce consequences, but please remember that no human is perfect. Boys, especially, learn via trial and error, and sometime they have to screw up — and experience the consequences of their mistake — to learn the “right” way to do things.
Of course, we produced new content too. Here are two of my favorites:
…five days out from graduation, I’m kind of a mess. I’m deeply proud of my son — and acutely aware of all the things I didn’t teach him, all the things we haven’t yet done. I love the man he has become and, at the same time, grieve the loss of the little boy he once was. My tree-climbing, butterfly- and Pokemon-card collecting preschooler is gone. In his place stands a young man who towers over me and can’t even pronounce the names of the dinosaurs he once loved, names he once rattled off in a little-kid voice with a little-kid lisp, names I can only pronounce because I had to learn them to read him the dino books he craved between the ages of two and four.
…as our kids get older and more capable, we have to step back and allow them to do things for themselves. It starts, maybe, with handing over the spoon. Sure, your child will make a huge mess when he attempts to spoon applesauce or yogurt into his mouth, and no, his attempts at self-feeding won’t be efficient. It will take him three times longer to eat on his own than it took you to spoon baby food into his mouth, and that’s not even counting the clean up time. But you have to do it. Unless you plan on spoon-feeding your child all the way through high school and following him to work someday, you have to release control.
Did your favorite post make the cut? I’d love to hear which posts you like, which ones you hate and what you’d like to see more of in 2020.