There’s been just the beginnings of thoughtful conversation recently about how we are raising our boys in American society. Following the start of the #MeToo movement, some, including me, asked questions about how we can raise our sons so that we don’t need a #MeToo movement.
Following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, there has just begun to be public discussion about the impact of how we raise our boys in this country. Peggy Drexler wrote an OpEd piece for CNN on February 28, 2018 in which she stated: “But while gun control has proven necessary, what’s largely missing in the conversation post-Parkland is the dire lack of emotional support we provide to boys, particularly at the critical time of adolescence.”
Here’s a link to the full article:
I’m the mom of a teenage boy, and I work as a mental health therapist in a high school. I think about providing emotional support to adolescent boys all the time. Adolescence is, indeed, a critical time of growth and identity development. If you are part of the team raising boys, whether as parent, extended family, neighbor, mentor, coach, member of the religious community, or a just plain caring adult, you can make a difference.
Dr. Michael Gurian is a marriage and family counselor who has written 28 books, many of which address raising boys. One I’ve been reading recently is: “The Purpose of Boys.” It’s a wonderful book and I recommend spending the time with it if you’re around growing boys (and who isn’t?!).
You can learn about Dr. Gurian at: https://www.michaelgurian.com
In the book he discusses the importance of raising boys of purpose. We all know that for life to really be meaningful, each of us has to feel that our life matters, that we have a purpose. Cultivating a sense of purpose in all of our children is absolutely fundamental. Dr. Gurian offers many talking points for developing this critical sense of purpose. Here are a few:
- Can you talk to me about important stuff and to ask for help? What other grown-ups can you trust enough to talk to about anything?
- What are the activities you have in your life, or want to have, that show that you are becoming a person of character?
- What parts of yourself do you want to learn to manage better? Who can help you learn?
- Who are your role models and heroes? Why?
- When you think about the future, what seems really exciting? What seems scary?
- What are the gifts you have inherited from your father or your grandfathers?
- What are the gifts you have inherited from your mother or your grandmothers?
- What are your strengths? Who is helping you to master your talents?
- What are your core values?
- For now, how do you understand what your purpose in life is?
- How do you understand what makes a good romantic relationship?
- Who are you?
- How are you different from your friends?
- What gives you joy?
Parenting is an honor and a privilege; it’s also a monumental task. Our lives are so busy and getting busier. I encourage everyone to take the time with the growing boys in their lives and ask them some of these questions. Encourage conversation about the stuff that matters. Make sure they are learning from you and other adults in their lives. We owe it to them, we owe to ourselves, and we owe it to our society.