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What are you teaching your sons?

I wrote a piece about what are you teaching your daughter? and mothers of boys spoke up. They want to know how to teach their boys. Lol. Well the write-up won’t be complete if we do not address the boy child.

First, let’s get one thing clear from the get go: mothers are generally better parents than dads. This is not to diss the dads, but to help them see that they are usually the missing or weak link in helping their children be well rounded – boys and girls alike. While it is easier for a girl child to emulate their mother in being the woman they ought to be, it is different for a boy child and they need that role model. A mother can only do so much but fathers also have to step up and do the needful. The generation of men we have now are a product of their fathers and mothers combined. So fathers, please step up. Do you want the kind of son you raise to be married to your daughter? Think about it.

Having said that, mothers can also do their part in raising a boy child. To do this effectively and get daddy to step up – she needs to empower daddy by being his support system. Encouraging him and helping him be focused. When the head is in order, the body falls in line. Ladies, remember that.

Now to raising boys.

Even though what I wrote actually applies to both boys and girls, I think it is important for mothers to understand the pysche of their boy child so as to impart some knowledge in them. As a mother to a boy, you have to think caveman. We women have complex emotions. We are sad, frustrated, not very happy, joyful, praise mode, moody, supercharged, feeling empowered etc. For the boy child it is only 3 emotions – Angry, Sad and Happy. If we work by our own state of mind it becomes difficult to deal with them. Watch his body not his mouth. This means that a boys state of mind is reflected in his body language and physical activities. Jumping up and down on the chair, TV and dining table is a natural state of being happy. Slumped shoulders are bad (give them a hug at this time). Yelling and running round the house causing headache for you the mother is good (very good I swear). It means they are happy. Being extremely quiet means they need your attention. (I am a mother of boys and I know this). These state of mind helps you to know when to inject life lesson into them. When they are happy, that is not a good time for lecture. Check for their sober and quiet moments.

During their sober and sad moments – give them a hug. When in doubt, hug. He is not just a boy, he is also a child and children like the feeling of being cared for. Even though they do not show it, boys love to be cared for. They have a much harder time than girls verbalising their problems. My 5-year-old son will sometimes burst out into tears after something very trivial like his brother said ‘i am not your brother again’ Egba mi o. I know there is something deeper going on, but I am not going to get it out of him, at least not at that moment. So instead of shouting at him that the issue is too small to be crying, I just hug him and say don’t worry, he will be your brother whether he likes it or not. So, for a boy child the solution is mostly physical not verbal. I spend a lot of time just hugging my boys. I usually have no idea why. But as a default cure for all things, it seems to work wonders. A minute later they are all better and ready to cause chaos again. Problem solved.

For boys, winning matters. Boys like to win. Even at a young age, they realise the importance of super powers and using it to win. Hence, batman, superman, ninja turtles etc. They want to be good and believe in the existence of ultimate good in the world. When they can’t do good, they become frustrated. Too often in our culture, boys are pushed to become one-dimensional robots. For goodness sake, it isn’t about winning or having the most friends or being the smartest child in class; it’s also about being kind. Teach them how to be good. Praise the good virtues in their dad and help the dad cover for his excesses. Showcase their dad as the hero. If this is not modelled properly they would put themselves under extreme pressure to over perform in school and in social situations just to try and please you. And guess what, frustration happens because mama is never happy, society is never happy and then they turn to what makes them happy – addiction. With boys it’s important to emphasize the lessons to be gained from failure and the opportunity to start again.

Finally, because boys are so active, it’s hard to get them to sit still. I swear it is hard, even cane won’t do the trick so much. So the best time of day is the ten minutes before they go to sleep. Crawl into bed with them, read books, and hold them while they fall off to sleep.

I hope this helps.

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