Raising Boys: Parenting Beyond Male Stereotypes
What role will cultural stereotypes play in parenting your son? Take a look, then decide how they'll affect how you raise him.
The Age Old Question: Nature or Nuture?
It’s a similar scene in any neighborhood park in America. Zooming under monkey bars in an urban east coast playground, jumping hay bales in middle America or flopping on the sand on a west coast beach, boys are pointing their fingers, playing cops and robbers, falling down dramatically and enjoying every minute of it. They’re also laughing, roughhousing, making friends, communicating, negotiating, and honing many skills that are important for developing into well-adjusted teens and adults. But these same robust, young boys are at risk. It is undeniable and probably already happening — they are being influenced by gender stereotypes, often promoting aggression and a lack of emotion and expression. But with the support of responsive parenting, starting in the earliest years, these boys can become emotionally expressive and compassionate young men.
Baby boys and girls are born more alike than different, but there are important basic differences. As early as seven weeks post conception, the testosterone levels in male fetus’s brains rise. In studies, including one performed at Rutgers University, newborn male babies were found to cry more than girl babies. Further research found that mothers unwittingly tend to discourage their newborn sons’ unhappy expressions of emotions and encourage the more happy ones. In essence, even newborn males are expected to “hold in” their emotion.
Within two to three years, baby’s biology and environment will contribute to the formation of his self-concept — one that is largely based on gender identity.
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