Activist Mommy

{July 25, 2007}   Boys and violence

Before I had kids I was absolutely certain that there was no dirrect link between boys and violence. In my pre-child know it all stage I often argued that it was obviously some outside factor, cue glance to parents, that pushed boys towards more violent games than girls. Of course, I would huff, gender stereotypes are just that: stereotypes.

And in many ways my sons have walked outside the stereotypes. They are free to like whatever color they want, wear whatever tickles their fancy, play whatever games they wish. I have a box of photos of my oldest son carrying his baby doll around in a homemade sling and even “nursing” the doll on the couch. While he’s very much a rough and tumble kind of boy, he’s still got a soft spot in him that is usually defined as “girly”. I don’t care. He’s happy, I’m happy, we’re all happy. Mostly.

Lately he seems to be getting a violent streak in him. Nothing big and therapy worthy, but enough to warrent the “Oh he’s such a boy” comments. Which agrivates me in and of themselves, but also makes me look at his actions more. He’s in a home where violence is not done. Where violent TV is not watched. Where we make every effort to be gental and respectful with each other. And then he comes flying out fo his room with a giant stick and either begind shooting us or stabbing us with it. What the hell? Where did he learn this? Where did my sweet cuddly boy go? Could there really be some gene that kicks in and turns my lover into a fighter? And if he’s this bad now, dear Goddess what will the teen years be like?

Honestly the whole thing makes me feel a little crazy. There is the part of me who shrugs, call it normal “boy” behavior, and just tries not to react in a way that would encourage more. And then there is that part of me that blushes bright red when he does this in public because I’m afriad he’s being labeled as the psychopath. And I still can’t decide if it is just normal for him or some warped view of violence in society creeping out in the form of a small child. or maybe it’s both. I don’t know. Is pretending to shoot me any different than prehistoric kids pretending to spear a mammoth? Does that even matter?

Right after my first son was born I was given several books on raising boys. I thanked them politely, then tossed the books on the shelf. After all, what could be so different about raising boys? They’re a different gender not a completely different species. But now, maybe it’s time I go got some of those books off the shelf and gave them a read.

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Hilary says:

Have you read Raising Cain?

<—Mom of two boys here. Loved the book. Helped me embrace their fantastitical violence side a little bit better.

activistmommy says:

Thanks Hilary. 🙂 I’ve actually got the book but I haven’t read it yet. Thanks for suggesting it, I’m going to try to read it soon and see if it helps.

kailani says:

In my daughter’s case. I think she learns unacceptable behaviors at school. I’m appalled at some of the things these kids say!

Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of Family Life. Your post will be included in the July 30th edition at An Island Life.

gilda says:

it must be very hard for you, as a parent, to go through all that. i don’t have kids of my own although many of my friends do and i babysit all the time, but because i don’t have my own kids, i’ll probably never fully understand till i do. many of my friends’ sons are also in such ‘violent’ stages, and it’s rather baffling when they do things you don’t understand. i hope you find out the reasons soon… what one of my friend did was to just ask her son directly!!

key typer says:

Girls do it too. I did this when I was young and most of my cousins boys and girls did it too. I think it has something to do with feeling a little out-of-control or perhaps being unsure in a social situation. Children are often encouraged (often indirectly and not always by parents) to cope with things in other ways than through words or crying. So, they physicalize their feelings. It may also be that he is very smart and independent–leaving him feeling a little out-of-sorts when he is dealing with social situations he is too advanced for. Maybe a sport or activity that teaches discipline for actions, like TaeKwonDo or Karate or Yoga would help him feel more empowered and in control of something he has direct influence over–his body. Doing a one-on-one “grown up” activity like discussing a book or activity like helping to build something seems to help as well. Myself and my cousins all grew up to be non-violent and I personally want nothing to do with guns now. Just seize it as a teaching opportunity for maturing and intelligent young man, rather than being in despair over a lost little boy.

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