Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bringing up boys

Anyone who has ever scrolled down to the very bottom of my blog will have noticed my little bookshelf down there. These are books that I have either recently read or am currently reading. I plan, one day, to give a wee review of what I've liked about these books, and any others I read. Today though, I thought I'd just mention one of them as it deals with stuff I face every day in my houseful of boys!

That book is, Bringing up Boys by Dr James Dobson.

I'm not going to review the whole book in this post, just mention a couple of things that have stuck with me.

For example, I have noticed with each of my boys that they seem to take longer to begin talking than girls the same age. I'd kind of thought this might be partly due to the fact that they are learning two languages. I speak Gaelic to them all the time and my husband speaks English. Because I am with them all day, they obviously begin speaking Gaelic before their English comes on. Interestingly enough, from the time they start trying to talk, they know the difference between the two languages and which is being spoken to them. They rarely mix up the words of each and they have already made the language association between people. They would, from the beginning, speak Gaelic to my parents and English to my in-laws.

Anyway, I seem to be digressing here slightly! In his book, Dobson claims that there is a biological reason for boys speaking later than girls. It's connected to which part of the brain controls speech. In females it is on both sides, in males only on the one. This is also why, apparently, men often take longer to regain speech after a stroke.

Here's another thing. In our house, if I leave a basket of ironing on the stairs to be taken up later, you can guarantee that each and every boy in this house will walk right past that basket without picking it up. The same goes for if the ironing has been placed in the boy's room. It won't make it into the drawers until that boy is asked to do so. I've spoken to my brother's wife about this (a mum of 3 boys) and the same rings true in her house. Dobson says that this is not because the boy is lazy but simply because that is just not the way a boy thinks. It's not a priority to him (this goes for big fully grown boys too!) the same way it is for a woman. I found this quite reassuring!

And girls are so much more emotional!! My goodness! David (4) had a friend here playing with him the other day and I heard her crying from the kitchen. I came through, expecting some harm to have befallen her, and it turned out David had put some blocks on Alasdair's lorry that she had wanted to do! If David had been in that position with one of his brothers he would probably just have jumped on him (which I know is not the way to solve anything, but is an example of how differently they react to things!)

One final thing to mention just now, and I had a prime example of this last night, is that when a boy is engrossed in something and you are asking him to do something, it might seem like he is acknowledging you, but it's just not going in there. Last night as Calum was building some Lego creation, I asked him to put some stuff in the bin when he was done. Later when he was done with his Lego, the stuff was still on the floor. Dobson says that what I should have done was touch him on the shoulder and get his full attention first, then give the directions.

These are just a couple of little things, but I found them really interesting. We hear so much about how boys and girls are the same when they are so obviously not! I want to let my boys be boys and grow up to be strong men. Not the weak men that feminists would have them be.

I'm not saying that I'll bring them up to think that women are only here to look after them, far from it. I'll make sure they know how to pull their weight, iron their own shirts, cook dinner for their wives when needed etc. I'm just saying that boys and girls were created quite differently and we shouldn't expect them both to be the same.

Gaelic word of the day:
balach (as it looks, just remember the ch!) - boy


  1. I have a blog award for you on my blog. Feel free to pick it up- you don't have to put it on your blog if you don't want to. :)

  2. I agree with you so much, Kirsteen! Boys need to be allowed to be boys and grow into real men. Feminist beliefs have hurt so many people -men and women. I have started this book in the past, but didn't finish it. It is one that I really want to read though. Just need to make it a priority. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this with us. I'm the only girl at my home too, now I understand. I will keep your family in my prayers for a fast sale and move. Thank you for your visit, I enjoy visiting your blog, we have much in common as for boys and two languages etc:-)

  4. I really like your post Kirsteen. It is really a wonderful thoughtful post. I agree completely. I love that Dr. Dobson wrote about boys, and it is high time that understanding about the difference between boys and girls is taught. Dr. Dobson has always been very comforting to me. I wish that he had written this book when my boys were little, it is just nice to know these things. Yes, the feminist movement has done a great disservice to our boys and our girls. I love that you both speak to the boys in different languages, and it is all so very interesting.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Much love, Pam


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