Can You Raise A Well-Rounded Boy?

Illustration for article titled Can You Raise A Well-Rounded Boy?

In our Daddy Issues series, a father of a young daughter seeks guidance, hoping to raise a strong woman. He looks to you, dear readers, for insight.

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About three hours before the show began, my mom and I received free tickets to Billy Elliott. Thanks to my mom, I grew up singing "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my hair" from South Pacific and "I could have danced all night" from My Fair Lady. This never made me the most popular wrestler on the squad — "I'll kick your ass tooooo-morrow!" — but we sure had a lot of fun. All these years later, it's still the same. Give us a chance to see a show together, for free, and it's almost shameless how quickly we drop everything and get moving.

Halfway through the show about a boy who takes up ballet, something struck me. It's pretty easy to raise a girl and to teach her traditionally "boy" things (except for, say, kickboxing). People generally laud you for raising a well-rounded girl who knows how to wield a baseball bat as well as a princess wand. People say things like, "She'll be strong," or, "That will build her confidence." Watching the show, I started to think about all the useful things I've taught my daughter over the years — from how to throw an arm bar to how to fix a toilet. Sitting there, seeing the boy who plays Billy dance so incredibly well, I began to wonder what it might have been like had I had a boy instead.

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Would I have let him enroll in ballet if he wanted? I like to think so. I hope so.

In the past few months, there's been little flare ups of our-country-clearly-has-nothing-better-to-dos, starting with the dress-wearing "Princess Boy" and the J.Crew catalog mom who painted her boy's toenails pink. I'm sure there are countless other examples, but it got me thinking about what it's like to raise a well-rounded boy — or whether that's even possible.

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Teach a girl to defend herself and you're a hero. Show a boy the difference between matte and gloss nail polish and you're an evil sissy-raiser risking a case of, gasp, the gays.

Why is that?

I'd love to hear some reasons for why this might be and what impact this is having on boys — and girls.

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Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out! Stupid Andrea McArdle stole his only shot at Broadway fame.

Image by Lauri Apple.

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DISCUSSION

This is an issue I'm dealing with right now. My son is a ten-year-old wimp. When he told me the other boys were calling him a wimp, I comforted him and said they were the idiots without a clue. But lately, I am realizing, I was the clueless one. My little boy is being raised by a single mother and his grandfather and he is a whiny, goofy mama's boy. What I wish i understood was how to raise a man.

How do I, as a pretty tough woman raise a boy who doesn't flinch every time a ball flies his way, or burst into tears every time he bumps his head? All behaviors which were fine when he was 4 or even 8, but which are making him a target now that he's 10.

Is it his lack of a father? Should I make him take boxing lessons? Am I setting him up to be that guy who moons over women he can't have and who can't connect with other men? I wish i knew how to give him confidence and courage.