Boys will be Boys Just for kids

Kid News

September 24, 1998|By Vicky Edwards | Vicky Edwards,Chicago Tribune

Boys will be boys.

Did you ever really think about that statement? What does it mean? Sure, boys will be boys, but does that mean that there's a certain WAY boys are supposed to act?

Lately, a lot of people have been saying that although the women's movement has addressed the special problems girls have, boys have plenty of problems that should be talked about, too.

These "boys' movement" advocates say there are a lot of signs that a growing number of boys are emotionally hurting, for a lot of reasons:

Many boys think they should "act like a man" instead of showing their feelings.

Some boys think it is weak to cry.

Society makes boys feel bad if they are close to their moms instead of being independent.

Many boys are lonely and don't know who to tell their feelings to.

As Kurt, age 12, put it, "Sometimes I have nobody to talk to. I feel happy when I have friends to play with. When I don't, I feel lonely."

William Pollack, author of "Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood," said it's a national problem. He points out several warning signs:

An increase in the male adolescent murder rate.

An increase in male suicides.

A higher percentage of school failures among boys and dropping VTC test scores among boys.

An increase in the number of boys being treated for attention-deficit disorder (ADD).

Individually, there are a lot of boys who feel lonely and cut off from society, Pollack said. But a lot of times, they won't show it.

An incident that Kurt experienced when he was 11 is typical: "I went to the park and hurt myself really bad on my skates," he said, "but I didn't cry because I was afraid kids would laugh at me."

Pollack said: "Boys create a mask. They feel they have to hide their vulnerable feelings, that tears and sadness aren't allowed, and the result is anger and irritability."

On the other hand, some people question whether there really is a boys' movement at all. There are a lot of books that have come out in the past few years about boys' problems, but there is not yet a national group. And does all this publicity take the spotlight off the problems that girls have had with equality?

"This isn't an argument that girls are fine and boys are really bad off," Pollack said. "We're not saying that because boys are in pain and have problems that we take the spotlight or the money for programs away from girls."

In "The Wonder of Boys," writer Michael Gurian suggests what boys need to be healthy includes nurturing caregivers, a spiritual life, important work, role models, rules, an understanding of how to lead and to follow, games and best friends.

Pollack has similar advice: "Don't be afraid to still feel close to your parents," he said. "If you're teased, talk to your parents and find a safe place. Pick a friend ... who is sensitive and caring and stick with them. Don't let anyone make you feel bad if you have a girl as a friend. You're on the road to being your own person - but that doesn't mean you have to be separate from those you love."

Pub Date: 9/24/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.