As a mum of two boys it’s important to me that they grow up to be fabulous and respectful men, which is why I’ve sought out some expert parenting advice from Steve Biddulph.
Biddulph has been advising parents of boys for 30 years and his book Raising Boys takes pride of place in two million homes and has been printed in 32 languages, so he must be saying something right!
6 pieces of expert advice for parents of boys from Steve Biddulph
1. Nurture his tender feelings
We want boys to grow into men who can be real and open-hearted, so when your son is sad, let him be sad, tell him it’s fine to cry.
Many boys in the past turned their sorrow into anger and that turned into violence down the track.
A person who can show sadness, or fear, is actually stronger in the long run because those feelings pass and are gone, they don’t build up.
2. Make sure he knows good men
Single mothers can raise boys very well and have done for thousands of years. But even if a boy has a dad in the home, he needs to know men who are great in lots of different ways.
Then he can base his own maleness on in-depth experience and have role modelling of many different situations and how to handle them. To be a good man, you have to first see a good man. Or two.
3. Really monitor screen time
Some computer gaming is relaxing and fun, but boys especially need a lot of people time as they are prone to having poorer relationship skills. So have clear, firm time limits.
Also, because of the terribly violent and degrading pornography that is now out there, don’t have the internet or other devices in bedrooms or places you can’t monitor.
As he gets older, talk to him about how porn is not about love at all and how caring sex is different to that. And better.
4. Teach him to do housework
It’s essential that boys don’t get waited on. The man of today needs to be self-reliant and able to cook, clean and do his laundry. Laundrophobia is a terrible disease of boys.
Cooking a meal for the family once a week, from the age of about 12, will lead to him feeling valuable and worthwhile to others.
Boys don’t get enough of feeling useful in the prolonged adolescence we have now. Look for opportunities for him to help others, as that feeling can be life-changing.
5. Teach respect
Especially around physical gentleness and caring of others. A boy who gets hit as punishment is twice as likely to hit his wife or partner as an adult.
If he sees his dad hit his mum, he is six times more likely to be violent to intimate partners. It’s vital that boys grow up where the only touch is gentle, or playful, never angry or scary.
6. Play rough-and-tumble games
Boys love to rumble and wrestle, especially with their dads, and actually learn to be safer by being more active and discovering their boundaries.
Additionally, boys (and most girls, too) love and need lots of exercise, fresh air and running about. If it’s in natural places, better still. Boyhood and girlhood should be fun.
Need a chuckle, read this post about things parents of boys will know.