Adios John Wayne

A friend of mine is having some difficulties with her son in school. From the surface, it looks like a simple case of ADD, but it’s really more complex than that. At the same time, in my oldest son’s daycare class, there are a couple of “problem” boys with similar behavior patterns. In at least the case of my friend, I know the problem isn’t a lack of discipline, which might be the logical leap most people would make looking in on the problem from the outside.

Couple this with some observations I’ve made in my own household and I’ve concluded that, as suspected, boys in our society have become an unknown, and unfortunately, untolerated breed.

No no…think about it. Some statistics courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:

  •  As of 2002, there were 687,000 + daycare centers, employing more than 750,000 workers. This means that a lot of these so-called “centers” are actually in-home daycare centers since the average daycare facility employs 20+ caregivers.
  • Including pre-schoolers, there are more than 12 million children cared for in these centers.
  • Also as of 2002, 9.2% of all U.S. households are run by single mothers.

Now I don’t have the numbers for the percentage of workers in these centers that are women, but I’d bet it’s somewhere near 99.99%. Add that number to the total number of children being solely influence and raised by women and it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that a large portion of our young boys today are being raised by someone who is ill-prepared to understand the needs of boys as they grow up.

Just as I wouldn’t begin to pretend to understand the life-stages of a girl, is it right to expect women to understand the mind of a 3-year old boy without someone there to help them understand? Is it any wonder then that in our daycares and schools (and even our single parent homes) young boys are being reared and disciplined based upon a woman’s understanding of how that child should be behaving?

I say no! Just as it wouldn’t be right for me to tell a 6-year old girl that she shouldn’t play Suzy homemaker with her Easy Bake Oven because it might foster stereotypical behavior that would stifle her ultimate potential as a woman, is it fair for a teacher to force an energetic young boy to sit still and color in a misguided belief that he’s somehow wasting his energy on a frivolous pursuit at football greatness?

It’s sad, but we’ve gone the other way in our desire to “equalize” the playing field in the workplace. And that’s really what all this is about isn’t it? Making sure that when children grow up, they have the same earnings potential whether they are a boy or a girl? Would anyone still give a rip if it was a given that girls did so and so and boys did such and such when the grew up? Would we still be putting record numbers of children (57 per 1,000 for boys and 37 per 1,000 for girls source) on attention deficit drugs if nobody gave a flip whether or not boys could sit still and paste beads on paper plates or girls could play video games without it ending in tears. I somehow doubt it.

Yet here we are and who ends up suffering for it? The very ones we’re trying to “help.”

Years ago when my wife and I were newly married, she would often come home and complain about work at which point I would offer advice in an attempt at “fixing” it. Finally one day she said, “I don’t need you to fix it…I just need you to listen and be supportive.”

Teachers; well-intentioned single mothers; most of these boys aren’t broken, they just need a little understanding. And for the love of all things holy, let them play tackle football for goodness’ sake!

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