One of the things I have learned from raising 4 boys is that each child comes into this world as a completely unique person with their own personality and interests. But, I have found that there are several generalizations and assumptions that people make of boys. Today I want to share 10 Assumptions We Should Stop Making About Boys.
My boys are as different as they could possibly be. I have some who are reserved, and a one who lives for attention and makes friends with everyone. I have boys who are athletic and one who would rather read. I have seen that even within the same family, kids are born with unique identities and we need to stop assuming that they all are the same.
Here are 10 assumptions we should stop making about boys:
1. ALL of them are athletic
One huge misconception that people have about boys is that they all live for sports. Newsflash! Not all of them like sports. My oldest son loves sports and would play every sport under the sun if I would let him and if time and money allowed, but my other boys are really selective of which sports they want to play or if they want to play any at all. Now, I will say that I think sports are great for all kids. I lived for softball when I was young and I’ve even written about The Benefits of Playing Sports, but not every child likes sports and that is okay. If a boy doesn’t like sports, there is nothing wrong with him! We should help our children to develop the interests and talents that they have, not the ones we think they should have.
2. Boys need to be tough all the time
Research shows that boys are just as vulnerable and sensitive or even more so than girls and we need to stop diminishing their emotions by telling them things like, “Man up”, or “Take it like a Man.” They are not men, they are boys, and when we minimize the emotions that they are feeling they might learn to hold them in and may have problems expressing themselves later on in life. It’s okay for them to show emotion and it is okay for them to be sensitive. We should be encouraging them to work through their emotions and express them in a healthy way.
3. All boys are rough and tumble
Not all boys love to play rough. My oldest son was never aggressive and would much rather build something cool than wrestle/play with other kids. My third son has always been an energetic kid and loves to play rough. It is fun for him to get down and wrestle. He always has scratches, bruises, etc but, I have had to explain to him that not all kids like to play rough. Having four of them has made me realize just how different each one can be.
4. “Boys Will Be Boys”
One of the main types of comments I get on my blog is that people appreciate that I can show the “good” side of raising boys and that they are not just little hellions who can’t control themselves and who destroy everything on contact. Even the most energetic of boys can learn what is acceptable behavior and learn to be respectful of house rules and other people’s property. They can be taught manners and common courtesy and definitely can learn to control their “wild tendencies” if they have them.
5. Because my son doesn’t say much, he must be shy
I consider myself an outgoing introvert. I love people and I love socializing, but I can only take so many people at a time before I need my space. A couple of my boys are the same way. They aren’t shy, but they just might not be comfortable with people that they don’t know being in their space. Now, because I know the feelings they experience in those types of moments, I have coached them on how to be polite, even if they are uncomfortable, and they are improving as they get older. When they were younger, even extended family dinners were a nightmare for us because they would get very overwhelmed with people. But, that doesn’t mean they are shy and people constantly telling them that they are can make them feel as though something is wrong with them.
6. If he plays with a doll, it will affect his gender identity
I will never understand the assumption that letting a boy play with a doll could somehow affect his gender identity. My husband is very hands-on with my boys and I want them to be like him when they have their own children. Each of them played with a doll at one time or another and they loved to dress, feed, and push them in a stroller or swing. Normally this came right before or after I had a baby and they saw me and my husband doing those things with their brothers. Playing with dolls will not change their gender identity and teaching boys to be nurturing is a good thing.
7. All boys like to be dirty
This is definitely not true! I have two who love being dirty and I have two who would flip out if their hands had a little bit of dirt on them when they were younger. I still remember a visit to the beach when one of my boys was about 3 year old. He had a miserable time because he hated getting the sand on him. Some boys like things clean and some don’t mind getting right in and rolling in the dirt. My youngest loves to make “angels” in the dirt since we don’t have snow. He would live in a dirt pile if I let him, but that doesn’t mean all of them like being dirty.
8. If you are raising all boys, your family can’t be complete or Moms without girls must be so sad
I’ve already written about this topic in my post, Yes, I’m Raising Boys and No, I’m Not Sorry! I do not understand where the idea comes from that a mom of all boys is spending all of her days disappointed and longing to have a girl. Now, I understand that some moms of all boys may feel disappointment about not having a girl, but I am yet to meet a mom who would give one of her kids back in exchange for a child of the opposite sex. Never assume that moms of all boys are somehow feeling that their family is incomplete. I love my boys and wouldn’t trade them for anything and I would never want them to think that they are somehow not enough because they are boys.
9. They aren’t as smart, cool, fun, etc as girls.
You don’t have to look any further than pop-culture to see that boys are portrayed as less than girls in terms of smarts, wittiness, popularity, etc. Now, I am thrilled that there are wonderful movements out there that are working to empower girls, but can’t we empower girls without putting them down? If you look at many of the popular shows among tweens and teens, you will see that the girls are often portrayed as popular, funny, smart, etc while the boys are the class clown, the nerd or the joke of the show. We should be just as concerned about a boy’s self-esteem as we are that of girls.
10. Boys will all grow up, leave and never come back
I know that I am not at the point of life where my boys will be moving out any time soon (thank goodness) but one thing I hear over and over is how I won’t have anyone to take care of me when I am old because all of them will move out and never look back. Luckily I have good examples in my life to show me that this doesn’t have to be true. I watched my own father serve and take care of his parents everyday until they died and I watched as my mom treated them as she would her own parents and how they embraced and loved her as their own. So, even though I don’t have experience in this subject yet, I have hope that we will stay a close family as they get older, even if we are separated by distance.
I think it is safe to say that they, just like girls, are all different and we need to stop making assumptions about how they “should” be. I hope that I am teaching my boys to be confident in the things that make them unique and that society can’t determine their interests or the way that they should live their lives.
What can you add to my list? What things should people stop assuming about boys?
This article originally appeared at The Joys of Boys.
Kara Lewis is a busy wife and mom of four boys. She shares her love for activities, crafts, science, fun food, and more to make raising boys just a bit easier at her blog The Joys of Boys. You can also find Kara (and her boys!) on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.