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Raising a ‘Person’?


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#1 newmumandexcited

Posted 18 August 2018 - 12:58 PM

I have struggled recently with a range of things and one is how to raise confident lovely respectful boys. I have three and love them all dearly. The thing that has helped me to overcome my lack of confidence as a woman raising only boys is to just think ‘I’m just raising a good person..’

I recently went to the Maggie Dent session on Boys. I found her funny and engaging and raised some great points - lots of affection etc - but ultimately she made them sound like an entirely different species and hugely at risk (as we know) and how important it is to be conscious of the differences and all of a sudden, I am really uncertain again.

Mums with experience, how do you reconcile raising a male ‘person’ with such seeming huge differences between the genders?

Edited by newmumandexcited, 18 August 2018 - 01:00 PM.


#2 ButterflyNow

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:08 PM

My boy is not to old, so I am far from an expert.  I aim to raise my son as an individual, doing my best to treat him the same as a girl.
But I am also aware of the fact society will send him messages based on being a boy, and I have to make a conscious effort to combat the messages he gets. E.g. I am very picky about consent, even at 3 we talk a lot about it in simple terms. I am really picky about the books I get. I have had to pull up people about telling him that's he needs to look after me since my marriage ended'

#3 Oriental lily

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:10 PM

It comes down to the whole nature and nurture conundrum . EB is very much on the nurture side of things , yet I need to be honest after three girls my two youngest boys are different . More sensitive yet fearless . Adores cuddles but loves rough housing with DH .

Honestly OP I don’t have a clue anymore .

I do think ultimately its bad role modelling and bad influences as they get older. That’s when undesirable masculinity comes in to play .

So surround your boys with good male role models .

#4 Mmmcheese

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:10 PM

I had to unfollow Maggie dent when she got on the Biddulph bandwagon. The last I read of her just reinforced stereotypes in a really damaging way.

#5 tomson

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:20 PM

I have two teenagers, a son and a daughter, and have never treated them as  "boy" or "girl", just as "their name".

There has never been the "he's just a boy" or "boys will be boys" attitude shown.

I have always expected the same behaviour standards from both.

The biggest shock was starting school, but both kids were so ingrained that they were "their name" above everything else that they didn't feel the "boys are/ boys do" or "girls are/girls do" as much. They both have unusual names, so it was very easy, when they were little, to define them; there was no one else with their names.

I don't really think this was a conscious decision on my part  though, its just how it happened. It was reinforced by school, rather than undermined because my then very reserved son nearly died of shock at the "kids don't listen to the teacher etc" that he saw. It was very useful to be able to say to him "you are "your name"; it is OK that "your name" does things differently. You have to do the right thing for "your name"".

#6 somila

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:23 PM

I think of gender norms as being tendencies that are observed across a broad sample of the population, rather than 'this is the way all people of this gender are'.
You are raising a human.  They may conform to gender stereotypes as presented by Maggie Dent, Steve Biddulph (his stages of boyhood were very relevant to my older son - I think he'd read the book in the womb)) or they may not.
The danger is in expecting certain behaviours/stages  and being perplexed or troubled when your human doesn't conform. Or worse, imposing gender norms and being upset when your human pushes back.
Throw Maggie Dent, Steve Biddulph and any other information you come across into a big tool kit and take it out if it is useful.
if not, pack it away.  It's not the tool for you and your human.

#7 somila

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:27 PM

View PostOriental lily, on 18 August 2018 - 01:10 PM, said:

It comes down to the whole nature and nurture conundrum . EB is very much on the nurture side of things , yet I need to be honest after three girls my two youngest boys are different . More sensitive yet fearless . Adores cuddles but loves rough housing with DH .

Honestly OP I don’t have a clue anymore .

I do think ultimately its bad role modelling and bad influences as they get older. That’s when undesirable masculinity comes in to play .

So surround your boys with good male role models .

The thing is, we know people, including those who are conscious of how gender is taught, treat infants differently based on perceived gender.  So the nature/nuture thing is not easy to separate.
It's better to be aware of that (as you are PP) than not, or to draw wide ranging conclusions from our own limited experience IMO.

#8 Kallie88

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:38 PM

I have 1 boy and 1 girl so far (1 tbc lol), they're only little now but I think my general philosophy will stay to parent them as the individuals they are. But my aunt has 3 lovely boys, and I think her approach was similar, lots of love and she treated them as individuals and looked at their needs based on that not like they'd all be the same because they're boys. I
I feel like we should be aware of population trends, I want my boy to know he can have feelings same as anyone, that seeking help doesn't make him weak, to recognize his privilege and look after people with less. But tbh I want my girl to know that as well, it's just realizing that my message for him will run against the grain of what a lot of society will expect and the message they'll send, while hers will bemore in line (with those aspects, obviously there'll be other challenges for her but that's not the question in this post)

#9 Oriental lily

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:39 PM

How do you explain  though why autism is present more in boys than girls than  if there  is no neurological difference ?

#10 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 18 August 2018 - 01:47 PM

i think there are a number of conditions that may affect one sex more than the other. likewise there are conditions that affect or present differently depending on what sex you are. im reading a lot recently about heart failure presenting quite differently in women, for example. sex matters - gender does not. gender is a social construct.

Edited by Lucrezia Borgia, 18 August 2018 - 01:48 PM.


#11 Oriental lily

Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:03 PM

A baby does not know what gender it is but nevertheless will develop behaviourally a certain way in higher incidences if they have autism and the Y gene . How can you seperate from other behaviours when it’s been widely said we are all on the spectrum to a certain degree ?

#12 somila

Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:04 PM

I didn't mean to imply that there were no trends relating to neurological difference between boys and girls.

But they are not determinants either.  E.g. boys are autistic.  You are a boy, therefore you are autistic.  You are a boy therefore I will treat you as if you are autistic.  You are a boy so if you are not autistic, there is something wrong with you.

Does that make sense?

My experience of working with thousands of boys and girls has led me to be on the side of 'boys and girls have more things in common than marked differences'.

#13 Oriental lily

Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:21 PM

No of course not be recent studies have shown that a fault on the Y chromosome can cause a spike in testosterone at a crucial stage of development creating neurological changes thus behavioural changes and a later diagnosis of autism .

So sex chromosomes cause innate behaviours . Just extreme ones in autism .

Not much of leap to think that even in a normal brain development the y creating testosterone in males is going to cause a brain to develop different thus causing a trend of certain behaviours in boys .

A trend of course , more to brain development and behaviour than just hormones , that’s  a given .

#14 Oriental lily

Posted 18 August 2018 - 02:23 PM

Regarding gender well that’s very much more complex . A male exhibiting stereotypical ‘boy trends’ in behaviour still might identify as a woman .

#15 ElsaM

Posted 18 August 2018 - 04:52 PM

Oriental Lily, even though people with y chromosomes are statistically more likely to develop autism, we don't pre-emptively parent all boys as if they were autistic.  But we may be more vigilant in looking for symptoms.

Likewise, I'm not going to assume that my son will enjoy rough play, or football etc because of his gender.  But I'm aware that it's statistically likely, be it due to innate reasons or peer pressure, and will look out for indications that I need to provide outlets for it.

I don't believe he necessarily needs to participate in stereotypically 'boy' activities, even if he doesn't show any preference for them.  And likewise, if I had a daughter I wouldn't insist that she play with dolls and then be disappointed in her if she wasn't really interested.

#16 Oriental lily

Posted 18 August 2018 - 05:34 PM

Elsa When did I say you did ?

My point was the nature or nurture when it comes to behaviour in boys is still very much debated . I don’t think it’s all nature but I do think boys can be predisposed to certain behaviours .boys worldwide for example are more likely to commit violent crimes and be incarcerated for it . I don’t believe that’s all just because they are raised to conform to stereotypes . Give the whole population testosterone blockers and crime would drop, I have no doubt that would . Just like when a female is given testosterone her violent impulses increase .

It’s about trends not gospel

#17 Mmmcheese

Posted 18 August 2018 - 05:37 PM

I'm pretty sure there's some research that shows testosterone is influenced by environment as well. (I'll have to get my Cordelia Fine out again to check.) Hormones don't only influence behaviour, behaviour and environment influence hormones too. I really don't think the science is settled in this area.

Edited by Mmmcheese, 18 August 2018 - 05:37 PM.


#18 ElsaM

Posted 18 August 2018 - 06:04 PM

Sorry, that probably came out more abruptly than I meant - keyboard's broken, so typing is an effort.

Personally, I feel that in this context nature vs nurture is almost irrelevant.  Yes, certain behaviours are more prevalent in certain genders for whatever reason, but that doesn't mean that an individual boy or girl (mine, yours or whoever's) is going to act in a certain way, and I'd rather wait for them to show a preference and parent them as 'person', as per the op and other posters.  

I'd write more, but broken keyboards suck.

#19 mlztwins

Posted 26 August 2018 - 08:37 PM

I'm raising my children to be kind human beings. Regardless of their gender. Respect, manners & kindness are what this world needs.

#20 Lou-bags

Posted 26 August 2018 - 09:00 PM

View PostMmmcheese, on 18 August 2018 - 01:10 PM, said:

I had to unfollow Maggie dent when she got on the Biddulph bandwagon. The last I read of her just reinforced stereotypes in a really damaging way.

Exactly this.

#21 Chaotic Pogo

Posted 26 August 2018 - 09:05 PM

Autism used to be 10:1 male:female. Then 4:1. Lately I saw an article on research suggesting 2:1.

Boys are picked up more often, the tests are focused on how autism presents in boys but the ratios are coming down because clinicians have more awareness of how it presents in girls.

I thought it was a testosterone spike / stress in the mother’s womb that was a factor. I see I have some reading to do on Y chromosome faults.

#22 Lou-bags

Posted 26 August 2018 - 09:17 PM

View PostOriental lily, on 18 August 2018 - 02:21 PM, said:


Not much of leap to think that even in a normal brain development the y creating testosterone in males is going to cause a brain to develop different thus causing a trend of certain behaviours in boys ..

Actually, I think that’s a huge leap. It’s dangerous and unscientific to extrapolate in that way, IMO.

I also think it’s rather off the way autism has been used in this thread. It’s off topic, for a start.

All boys will be raised in a patriarchy. I’m not going wait until mine start acting badly before I start teaching them about their privilege and how to be good people. I think it’s a mistake to raise boys and girls the same way. This ignores the huge differences in the way that the patriarchy affects each sex.

OP I feel the weight of responsibility keenly and TBH at times I do despair. I am but one person (even if I am their mother and primary caregiver) and I do doubt I am up to the task of counteracting all the messages they get elsewhere.




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