My eight-year-old son is the only boy in his class who doesn't have a Gameboy. I don't want him to be ostracized for not having one, but I worry that it's addictive. What do you think?
Our two sons are eleven and fourteen, and they are fiercely competitive. The tension around our house is awful. How can we help them get along better?
We've worked very hard to keep our ten-year-old son in touch with his feelings. Sometimes it seems as if we've put him at a disadvantage, surrounded by tougher boys who can be pretty cruel with teasing. How can we help him protect himself when other boys start to tease?
With his bestselling book Raising Cain, Michael Thompson, Ph.D., at last broke the silence surrounding the emotional life of boys and spearheaded an important national debate. His warmth and humor quickly made him a popular and respected international speaker and consultant. Now he directs his authority, insight, and eloquence to answering your questions about raising a son. With candid questions and thoughtful, detailed responses, Speaking of Boys covers hot-button topics such as peer pressure, ADHD/ADD, and body image as well as traditional issues such as friendship, divorce, and college and career development. This perceptive, informative, and passionate book will leave you not only with useful, practical advice but also with the comforting knowledge that other parents share the same concerns you do when it comes to raising our boys into well-adjusted, responsible men.
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July 31, 2000
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Excerpt from Speaking of Boys by Michael Thompson Ph.D.
Speaking of the Nature of Boys New Mother of Baby Boy Looks to the Future Q: This may sound like a stupid question, but I am an expectant mother, and we know it will be a boy. I've never had any experience around little boys. I never had any brothers and my sisters never had boys. My only experience is in seeing other people's little boys, and to be honest, they look like a handful. I'm just wondering if you have some simple (so I can keep it in mind over the years!) advice for raising a son to stay out of trouble and be a good man? MGT: First of all, congratulations! You are in for an adventure, a learning experience, and a lot of fun. All you need is a loving heart and an open mind. As for boys being a handful, all children are a handful! I have a friend who says, "All human beings are more or less impossible." I think that is true (it certainly describes me). That's why we all need families who love us. As I have traveled around the country talking to parents about boys, I have had many mothers come up to me to say, "Take it from me, boys are easy. It is girls who are tough!" I have had just as many mothers testify that boys are so hard to read, so competitive, so mysterious, and so cruel. Why do some mothers find boys difficult and others find them to be a delight? Certainly, being raised with brothers or having nephews is a helpful experience, but I don't think that is the crucial element. I have known some wonderful mothers of boys who were not raised in families with brothers. To me the two things that I would wonder about in the mother of a boy are: (1) whether she likes men, and (2) whether she will be able to adapt to her baby's rhythms and temperament. In some ways, you have to want the end product of boyhood in order to raise a son with a sense of full acceptance. He is going to turn into a man. As our son, Will, has grown up, from time to time my wife has said, "It doesn't seem possible that he is going to grow up to be large and hairy." But he is, and I can see she is practicing in her mind, transforming this sweet, beautiful child into a large, bearded man and still recognizing him. Practice thinking about the man your son will become. Who have been the admirable men in your life? Did you love your father? Did your grandfather dote on you? Do you have a good relationship with your husband? Think about what you have liked in men and how you would like to see your son grow up to be like that. If you have a picture in your mind of the way you'd like him to be, it will help you to guide him. Please don't think about boys as a problem; don't brace yourself for their energy or their competitiveness. Think about what your loving grandfather must have been like as a boy. Does your grandmother or mother have any stories about him? Ask your husband about his boyhood. What was he like? What did he do? Ask your husband enough questions so you get beyond the polished family stories about his bringing the frog to the table or throwing a football through the window. Families tend to hold on to gender-stereotyped stories that do not really illuminate the nature of the child. Ask your husband how itreallywas for him when he was a boy. What scared him, what was he passionate about? May I suggest that you read books about boyhood? How aboutAngela's Ashes? You'll read it with new eyes, now that you have a son. It will teach you something about boy grief, boy endurance, and boy humor. RereadTom Sawyer. Read some autobiographies of admirable men. It will be helpful to discover that Mahatma Gandhi got into fights at school or the Dalai Lama and his brother were so boisterous and competitive that his brother was sent away from the monastery. Of course, you are going to be read