Sunday, April 6, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

I've always hated that saying-Boys Will Be Boys. I think it excuses a lot of behavior that is inappropriate. I only have one sister and did not have boys around growing up, so I'm a little clueless about boys' behavior. I do have 3 sons- ages 2, 5, and 8, but I still feel really clueless sometimes. I don't understand boy behavior and am struggling with knowing how much is okay.

I hate roughhousing and wrestling, but I know to a certain degree, that's just a part of typical boy behavior. So, I let it go a little, all the while cringing. Last night, the boys were really hyper and I was trying to let them have fun a little. I have to let it go a little, right? So, I just turned up the volume on my MP3 player and went to the kitchen to do the dishes.

My challenge is knowing how much of the hyper-roughhousing-climbing-on-each-other behavior to allow. I only allow a little for a short amount of time. Am I too uptight? Please, someone clue me in because sometimes I feel I am too uptight. I see other moms let it go a lot. When we're somewhere and kids are just wrestling, rolling around on the ground, I feel like I'm the only mom saying anything. Am I weird? How much of that is okay?

One Sunday, my son's so-called 'friend' pulled a chair under him in Primary. That's not funny to me. That's the kind of stuff that I hate, but some people say it's boys being boys. I also hate that whole grab someone's hand and make them hit themselves trick. That's lame! Am I the only one that thinks so? Also, I hate the whole pretend fighting thing or the arm twisting stuff boys do. There's a kid in my neighborhood that does that stuff to an extreme, and his parents don't say anything. They just watch and think, I don't know what... Maybe, 'he's so tough because he always wins' or 'boys will be boys.'

Like I said, I didn't grow up around boys so I'm not sure if that's the normal kind of thing you let go, knowing that they will mature one day. Or, is it the kind of thing you need to nip in the bud because it will become a defining part of their personality one day?

I would love to hear what everyone thinks. Am I too uptight? Do I need to lighten up?


Amanda said...

I don't believe you're uptight at all, Marcia. I don't let my 3 similarly-aged boys fight at all. I let them wrestle around a little until it gets so crazy that I know someone's going to get accidentally or purposely hurt. I will never allow any meanspiritedness or violence in my home. I do struggle, though. I only had one brother and he was very laidback amongst three sisters, so I know little about boy behavior. But only one of our boys has violent tendencies, and so I nip those in the bud as much as possible.

With regards to other people's children, I wouldn't worry too much. These days no one disciplines their children. Boys and girls both run around amuck and too many parents say "oh they'll outgrow it" and then wonder why they have unmanageable teens. Just like laughing at a 1 year old biting his brothers encourages that 1 year old to keep doing it at 5 years old, encouraging (or simply allowing) a 5 year old to be mean gives way to a bullying teen, and so on. Children need discipline, and I know your children are doing well. I think you should keep doing as you're doing - let them roughhouse a little (particularly outside, where it's more appropriate than inside, where things get damaged), but not to the point of hurting each other or being mean. There's a difference between high energy/boisterousness and mean-spiritedness. High energy needs to get let out, mean-spiritness and violence need to get nipped in the bud.

Tamster said...

I think Amanda made some good points. I'm not as good at consistently disciplining as I should be, but I do agree that they need to learn when they are young. My daughter can be just as rough as her brother sometimes, but he does have a tendency to be more physical more often, I think. I keep hoping that it is a phase he will grow out of or "just a boy thing" that will pass, but I worry about it. He's only 3, though, and I think part of it has to do with his frustrations at not being able to communicate very well. He has gotten a lot better since he has learned to talk better, but he still hits more than he should, specifically when he seems frustrated and misunderstood. I guess that's one reason I've hoped he'll grow out of it.
Anyway, I sometimes think I'm too uptight about things too and that I don't allow my kids to just be kids and have fun with things because it's too messy or noisy or rough or whatever the excuse I give it. So to some degree, I think I do need to just chill out, relax, and not worry so much. However, I also think that kids shouldn't always get to do whatever they want either.
As for the "boys will be boys" kind of stuff, I hate to tell you, but I think my husband is still a boy and hasn't outgrown it all yet. (And he's having his 29th birthday tomorrow!) Sometimes he treats me like he does the kids, only I don't giggle the way they do. (That might be getting back to the whole thing about me needing to loosen up some though.) I guess when it comes right down to it, we all still have some learning to do and are still figuring the whole parenting thing out. Maybe by the time we are grandparents we'll have a clue?! I think each kid is different too, and what works for one may not necessarily work for another. So you may need to feel it out with each child as to what feels like the best approach to take with things. Anyway... I've rambled on long enough. Good luck! And keep up the good work! :-)
I do agree they need to let it out sometimes (all kids, not just boys). I'm probably a little too hard on mine at those times. :-)

Emilia said...

Marcia, just look in the instruction manual that came with your kids. ;)

We also don't allow for being mean or cruel. Also, no damaging things. Other than that, I let them go and another room. Away from me. And if someone gets hurt, it's all over. I was a tomboy as a kid, and totally relate to the need to express physically like my boys do. Living with 3 people who need to do it frequently can be a little daunting.

At my sons' preschool, they put mats out for rough and tumble play, but they always ask, "Are you okay with him (or her) touching your body like that?" (meaning the rough and tumble). I've found that there are times when it's appropriate to ask my own kids that here at home or at a friend's house, too. If only one is in the mood for rough housing, it means that someone else is going to get upset with the activity., good luck.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Thanks for your comments. It's great to hear feedback from moms who have boys!