I have blogged about my son driving me insane with his Xbox habit.
At Trinity School last night I got some insights into my son and his boy culture. Rosalind Wiseman spoke about the social pressures and dynamics of being a young man in today’s hyper connected world, based on research from her new book, Masterminds & Wingmen.
Here were some of my take aways:
We say to girls, “‘You can do it. You can do anything.’ And girls have a vibrant support system.” Wiseman is not knocking this important empowerment base for girls — after all, she’s also the author of Queen Bees & Wannabes so she knows girls. But Wiseman says, ‘If you are a 13-year old boy, you don’t see that you have power.” Because, at 13, a boy is still a boy and a girl is a young woman.
Wiseman likened the emotional life of 11th grade boys to 8th grade girls. This cracked me up. This is who I’ve got at home!
For her book, Wiseman interviewed 200 boys and 40 girls. She came away with some surprises.
One gem? “Straight theater boys get more hookups than football players.” (All right! Let’s hear it for the theater boys.)
Happiness is …
- Meaning beyond one’s self
- Hope of success
- Social connection
- Satisfying work
I love archetypes. And Wiseman, with the boys she interviewed, came up with some types:
The Punching Bag
But these boys don’t mind being stereotyped. Remember that rule for happiness? They are happy to have social connections.
I loved Wiseman’s advice to a boy when he criticizes another boy’s sensitivity, “You cannot deny someone’s emotional truth.” So true!
She also says, “There is a difference between snitching and reporting.”
And this! “It is a social skill to get help.” One mom I chatted with after Wiseman’s presentation said she she was going to put this quote on sticky notes all over the house.
When a boy comes to a parent with bad news, here’s what to say, “1. I’m sorry this happened. 2. It’s hard to come forward. I respect that you did. 3, Now let’s think about what we can do about this.”
And when there’s conflict, expect push back.
When you get a “Bad news bomb,” Wiseman says a parent can realize:
- This is one moment, not a lifetime.
- Don’t make excuses.
- Ask for what you need.
- If it gets heated, you might say, “Let’s talk in 10 minutes. I can’t hear you over the sound of my heart beating so loud in my ears.”
I am going to try and talk about the tough stuff with my son. Wiseman advises, ‘Talk to your son about falling in love and breaking up. Don’t expect the generic advice to ‘respect a girl’ to be useful, especially at a party. What does respect mean?’
Boys, like girls, feel used and confused over relationships. Some boys asked Wiseman how to deal with aggressive drunk girls.
Wiseman began her lecture with a scenario of how one boy felt shamed by other boys’ comments around his body. Yes, body image is important to boys.
This lecture helped me realize my son’s “emotional life is deep and rich.”
Even though my boy always seems to have some tech thing in his hand, he still needs his hand held!
And I’m going to hold his hand — and yes, embarrass the hell out of him while doing so.
- the new rules of boy world: rosalind wiseman speaks at PEP (ticket giveaway) (teachmama.com)
- ‘Boys Have Deep Emotional Lives’ (theatlantic.com)