Boys, as with girls, are individuals, their personalities and interests vary from child to child based on character, along with socio-economic and cultural influences- yet both sexes are frustratingly so often confined and limited, made to conform to stereotypical gender-specific notions (many archaic and not relevant to today) with children being defined by their sex, homogenised by assumptions and labels.
Oh, all boys must love sports and to fight, and girls, ballet and princesses.
It’s ludicrous that children are often made to feel they must reject some interests in favour of others based on their gender, and it must STOP.
Many girls like playing football and other sports. Boys love drama too as my two have shown both at home and in school and nursery.
Children are rounded young people who should be FREE from these restrictions. Yes, undoubtedly some may sway to more stereotypical behaviours but others, many others may not, their passions might be mixed, more balanced as with my two sons.
Both bold, strong boys who love arts and crafts and to read along cooking as much as sprinting around the garden and climbing trees, I always endeavour to support them by offering choice when it comes to activities, and to always encourage and celebrate those preferences.
I’m committed to raising modern sons.
Last week, I read a report about my youngest son, Alexander, 3 which stated he was a ‘gentle, thoughtful, quiet and smart child’ in nursery.
My eldest son Oliver, 5 was referred to similarly by his teacher at parents’ evening that very same week.
She echoed how sensible and mature Oliver is, old beyond his years in many respects, caring, driven, passionate but unlike Xander, more vocal and confident in class.
A well liked, gregarious little boy who loves to learn, his thirst for knowledge, unquenchable. Something admired by his teacher and we as, parents.
I held back tears in both meetings.
Nothing is more touching than hearing your child is thriving and most importantly, feels happy in their scholarly environments. That they are well behaved and polite. Caring and considerate.
Both, like I do now, and as child have boundless energy. I get it from my Dad.
And yes they often save their more difficult behaviour for my husband and I at home but that’s the best way, is it not?
Now, the one word I kept returning to in the report, pinned on my fridge, was that Alexander is, ‘a gentle boy’. And he is. The sweetest, most loving young child you could imagine. When I stubbed my toe on a trolley recently, he and his brother rushed to put tubs of cold yoghurt on to my foot.
Xander kisses me over and over when I put him to bed at night and repeats how much he loves me. It’s heart melting. I love being a mother of boys, I wrote a post about it HERE.
…Personality-wise Alexander often veers from being incredibly shy to out going in an instant.
However, you can’t define him as either shy or outgoing as this changes based on his mood, and how confident and comfortable he feels in his environment: his personality is fluid, in the same way most children’s are.
A sparkle in his eye, as with Oliver, my sons are rather magnetic and charismatic kids (writes a very biased Mum).
Yet both are undoubtedly gentle boys.
Xander’s teachers mentioned in our meeting that he is not a ‘rough and tumble’ kind of child. Yes he’s sporty and adores football (my eldest likes to run but dislikes other ball games on the whole) and both are creative, they love to write, read and draw and do so for hours on end.
Their attention spans don’t veer off as sadly many assume of boys, and I’ve seen this passion and dedication among their male friends too-where there is interest, there is engagement and often distraction is based on age, whatever the gender.
I abhor these presumptions, that boys can’t concentrate or must be kinaesthetic learners. Not all.
Now this is not to say my sons don’t love being physical too, wresting with Grandad is a love of theirs (poor Dad with his messy hair and red face after a play)-it’s just not something they do or need to do, every day.
I fully understand biology, and boys, hormonally tend to crave physical exertion more than girls, but I’m wary of this statement in itself, and the preconceptions that come with it which can limit both sexes.
I personally LOVE sport, I always thrived at sprinting in particular, from an early age. I need that exertion most days, to feel happy and calm. That’s my make-up and many other women feel the same.
My husband, Peter, on the other hand does not and prefers Tai Chi to a run any day.
Character determines passion and needs.
Let’s take films as another example.
Both my sons love watching Tinkerbell as much as Spiderman (Alexander won’t remove his hat as you can see from the pictures) and both enjoy the company of their female friends (if anything they feel less threatened and have more fun with girls than boys).
They are complex, rounded little boys with different interests that cover baking to basketball and I couldn’t be more proud.
I don’t want them to change in any way, yet one fleeting glance at the media and its organisation and hierarchy (films/toys for boys/girls) makes me worry.
Being simultaneously creative and sporty or scholarly and physical are not common in the narratives on offer or even within daily conversation.
And maybe, like in life, your own sons naturally conform to more alpha male notions or maybe they do not, and as with mine, they, like little girls everywhere, are simply (!) complex kids enjoying life, unaware (so far) of crazy societal pressures, free from restraints, as children should be.
My sons are affectionate and loving, they love to plait my hair and call me Rapunzel as much as they laugh their heads off at our invented game of ‘Dinosaur Mummy’ where I flap my arms and make T-Rex noises (I know what you’re thinking, get that on YouTube)! This comes a close first to Pirate Mummy (another classic in this house). Arr!
The most wonderful part of being these boys’ mum is how much I am showered with love, and the unconditional love I offer them in return.
It is unequivocally my job to raise these boys to believe in themselves and their potential, and to ensure they not only feel content, but free as well.
All I ask is we simply offer all children varied ways of being and playing out themselves, of nurturing their interests and putting them first, whatever those goals and wants may be. Surely that’s the key to raising happy children.
Let’s do away with statements such as, ‘boys will be boys’ alluding to some kind of sweeping idea that all boys (and thus girls) are the same.
Lets please, just let kids be kids.