Friday, 10 June 2011

Is it because they are boys?

I had a bit of a drama with Son No 1 last night, not a big drama to me but to him you would have thought his foot had fallen off.  It seems that while he was outside playing he had stubbed his little toe.  It wasn’t until he noticed it, which was about 10 minutes later, the drama started.  “My toe, my toe...  Mummy it’s bleeding, it’s broken, Ouch, Ouch” followed by mock crying.  Get the picture?  The caring mother that I am went over to look at it, but he wouldn’t let me touch it.  So I just declared “Well if you won’t let me look at it I can’t help.  It’s not bleeding now so you are okay”, then went about doing whatever it was I was doing before.  While he continued hopping around on one foot declaring it was broken.
So this got me thinking about a conversation I had with my friend K while on holiday.  She had commented to me on how I let the boys do more i.e. attempt to climb trees, run around the pool, jump off things etc then she lets her children.  This is a fair point as I know I do.  I believe that as long as they can’t come to any real harm and they aren’t running riot than I should let them explore and test their physical capabilities and boundaries.
I would like to think the reason I let them to do this is because I want them to have the same sort of freedom and childhood adventures that both myself and Mr. P had when we were growing up.  I know with society the way it is now we can’t replicate that “happy” childhood that we may have experienced but I feel I should give them the opportunity to do these things.
However, the question I keep asking myself is “Is it because they are boys?”  I would like to think that the answer to that is NO!  That if I had girls then I would let them do the same.  After all, the feminist inside me would be outraged if I had little girls and I stopped them doing the things I did, like climb trees.  But when I hear myself say things like “toughen up” “get up and brush yourself down” “you are alright there is no blood” I have to think that it is, simply because they are boys. 
I want my boys to take (small) risks and learn by their own mistakes.  I want them to understand the consequences of their actions, especially if these actions affect others.  To be more resilient and aware, that the world is not always a good or safe place.  At the same time, to be caring, sensitive and respectful to others and their needs.  Especially as they grow up and become more aware of girls.
As when the time comes for them to leave home I want to know that we have done all we could for them and that they are ready to face whatever life throws at them, good or bad.  That they will be able to cope on their own, to make the right decisions, take those little risks, and understand what the possible outcomes are.  And finally to be loving and supportive partners, husbands, fathers.
So if that means as children letting them jump off a wall or climb a rather dodgy looking tree then so be it.  I will be ready with plasters and hugs.


Reluctant Housedad said...

My oldest son sounds just like yours - the mock crying etc. Infuriating.
Re: your question - does the sex of your children affect your parenting style? I think the answer is No. It's the personality of your children that affects your style. I've got three kids - a nine-year-old girl, and boys, six and three. The girl is more of a man than her brothers will ever be! She is totally fearless, climbs anything that can be climbed, beats boys at football, dives into anything and everything head first - and if she gets hurt, she just brushes it off and carries on. My oldest son won't do anything remotely dangerous until he has complete explored and analysed the risks. There are differences between boys and girls, of course, but they'renot always the ones you expect!

Frankie P said...

they do souns similar, cautious while the youngest is a bit of a bulldozer...

I would like to think if i had girls i would have the same parently style. But just sometimes i catch myself saying or doing something which makes me think perhaps not.. Trying to toughen them up so to speak..

Thanks for the comment

Fox in the City said...

This is a really interesting post as I have been ready a book about raising boys. The book talks about how our society tends to force boys to ignore their emotions, to act like men, but then they are also suppose to be able to talk to the women in their lives. Very confusing messages that are sent to boys about how society expects them to act.

I have both a boy and a girl. I am trying very hard not to raise them differently. At the moment they have both fallen into typical gender rolls . . . she like pink, skirts, make-up and Barbies . . . he likes trucks, cars and anthing else with wheels.

These were not intentionally given to them but choices they each made. I love to see the little guy playing with dolls and wearing high heels and I love watching Little Miss play with the tools.

I don't fret over either of them if they fall down because I want them both to be able to learn to pick themselves up again. That being said, I will happily give them a hug and a kiss and tell if that is what they need.

Well now, this is a long and rambling comment . . . sorry about that. I think this is a great post and it really got me thinking about how I am raising my kids.

Sarah j said...

I've found my girls are much stronger than my boys - mentally. I let the girls do as much as their brothers do or have done - the boys take the risks, the girls don't. My youngest (girl) is much more of a tree climber etc than the other children. It's all about their personalitys :-)

Anonymous said...

Plse also teach then to sort washing . . . colour, darks, whites. Plus not to mix teas towels, dish clothes in with the main wash.