“Boys Will Be Boys” – Theories On Men, Divorce & How We Raise Our Sons
According to a recent study by the legal website, Avvo, having a partner is more important to men. Specifically, 20% more women than men report that they’d rather be “alone, successful, and happy, than in a relationship where they’re not happy.” Also, 12% more women agree with the statement, “I don’t regret my divorce,” than men.
Twenty and twelve percent are big differences, statistically speaking. They demonstrate a shockingly acute disparity between the genders. While it’s likely that there are many factors at play here, my suspicion is that the greatest is hidden not in biology, but in culture.
Have you heard the adage that “boys mature slower”? Well, I’m calling it right now: boys are simply allowed to be immature for longer. While fun at first, this ultimately curbs their ability to take care of themselves and makes them reliant on partners.
The idea that “boys mature slower” perpetuates that boys are neurologically undeveloped longer than girls and that there’s nothing to be done about it. What if, in fact, this is nothing more than self-fulfilling, self-propagating prophecy?
Before continuing, it’s pertinent to note that there actually are biological differences between the “male brain” and the “female brain”- especially among children. Girls have a head start at communication; boys, at spatial relationships. Neural connections and hormonal differences play a part in aggression and judgment — but to which degree, really? It seems that the specific nuances of this difference aren’t agreed upon, or, at the very least, are poorly communicated to the public.
Scientific facts aside, it would seem that our media employs these mystical brain differences to defend bad behavior as purely the fault of testosterone. Indeed — “boys will be boys.”
The practice of perpetuating perceived “biological truths” through tangible cultural norms creates unintended consequences. As David Walsh, Ph.D, wisely states, “… biology does not mean destiny. Experience does play a role in how the brain is wired.”
I would hypothesize that men value a partner more because of their learned immaturity. Men struggle more to “adult”— to take care of themselves. In my experience, male peers, even relatives, neglect tasks that are non-negotiable to me. Nesting in a home, preparing nutritious meals, and personal maintenance seem to magically evade them. I would feel mortified to exist in their toilet-paper-less homes.
Why do we let “boys be boys” to the point that they evolve into grown-ass men with dirty homes and frozen dinners? Where is the shame?
Furthermore, this lack of self-care could severely damage relationships — especially marriages. Marriages end for infinite reasons, though, I imagine that being a caretaker for a spouse would not help. Indeed, 120 people secretly search the web for “online divorce” each day, not to mention the 40-50% of married couples that actually go through with it.
What can we do to teach our children (especially boys) about self-care, thereby helping them to be more successful in life and love? As with so many things, it starts at home; so, consider the following domestic exercises:
- Show boys easy and delicious recipes — like teriyaki bowls or flatbread pizzas. Practice throwing together a meal with only what’s in the pantry, teaching them how to create nutritionally-balanced meals from scratch.
- Have them create the grocery list using thoughtful and all-purpose ingredients – onions, ground beef, rice, etc.
- Insist that they make their bed each morning. Help them discover the joy of coming home to a tidy room.
- Encourage them to “nest” in their spaces with posters, rocks, nicknacks and things that make them happy. Help develop their sense of aesthetics by asking for their opinions.
- Insist that they exercise and do meditative activities – jogging, dance, yoga, tennis, etc. – and do it regularly with them.
By teaching these types of activities, you’re gifting a future-adult with the knowledge of self-care and self-reliance. It’s a gift that will guide them both in times of partnerships and times of solitude.
Please note: The views and opinions expressed herein are the author’s alone and do not represent Avvo.
Tags: #parenting, boys, boys to men, boys will be boys, difference between men and women, divorce, divorce statistics, equal partners, independent boys, marriage, marriage issues, marriage studies, men, parenting advice, raising boys, raising good men, reasons for divorce, relationship advice, relationships
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Danielle is a Pittsburgh native who has been warming her “black and gold” blood in sunny Northern California for the past 6 years. On any given day, you can find her arranging ridiculous photo shoots of her one-year-old son Graeme and cat Gizmo, or working on any one of her 27,000 writing projects. She enjoys daydreaming about becoming a famous actress and starting a handful of different businesses with her husband over glasses of wine in the evenings. Someday, she hopes to travel the country in an RV with her family… but she needs to sell that novel first. You can follow her journeys through her blog With A Red Bird On My Shoulder