As I was looking at Nathan playing in the field, it suddenly hit me that there’s something special about bringing up boys. There are lessons that we parents have to teach our sons that are gender specific. Stuff that we must teach the boys and values that are applicable to the boys, and not the girls. I’ve read the very good and highly recommended Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson. It’s a great book but what about the Singapore version of what we need to impart to our sons?
I went to interview mothers with boys of varying ages: babies to grown men. And this was what I asked them “Tell me one thing that you want to teach your son. I can be simple, like always lift toilet seat when you pee, or be chivalrous, or don’t do it even if the girl says ok. I want something gender specific, something you can teach a son but not a daughter”.
I was careful not to say too much. And I decided to interview some of my guy friends, I asked, “Is there any lesson that your mum taught you, that she didn’t have to teach your sister? Things not applicable cos she’s a girl, but you as a boy, must learn?”
The answers came forth very quickly. In fact, nearly all of them answered me immediately, without thinking twice about it. So from 27 mummies and 8 grown up men (from their memories), here are Lessons All Boys Must Learn:
Basics: Toilet Etiquette (This seems so basic, but honestly, I’m not sure I know how to teach aiming!)
Val, (mum to 7yr old): Lift the toilet seat
Agatha, (mum to 10yr old): There was one time, he sprinkled and I left it as it is. When he went back to the toilet there was this awful stench and I told him why. So after that, he always wipes his accident sprinkles!
Esther, (mum to 13yr old): Lift the toilet seat, clean as you pee
Connie, (mum to 13yr old): Aim properly when peeing
Personal Hygiene (Oh yes! How about always smell yourself! Boys somehow smell worse than girls. Even for babies!)
Esther, (mum to 13yr old): Always be neat and tidy
Jane, (mum to a 19yr old & 13yr old): Wear your briefs at all times!
E (36yr old): Keep yourself clean. After soccer, after spider catching, your school uniform must always be white and spotless
Ric (43yr old): Learn how to pull back foreskin
Fighting (hahaha what a contrast here! What do you think?)
Esther, (mum to 13yr old): Fist fighting cannot solve any problems
Roland (42yr old): Don’t get into a fight. If you get into one, don’t back down
Boy-Girl relations (ohhh there’s so much to say in this area!!)
Natasha, (mum to 2yr old): Respect women, be it for their effort, choices and even in jokes; and not adopt a ‘MCP’ attitude.
Shereen, (mum to 8yr old twins): Respecting others (especially how they talk about girls. I think this is going to get more complicated when they get older but it’s important especially when you see what is happening in misogynistic societies where boys and later men are allowed to do anything they want to girls and women).
Na, (mum to 11yr old): Respect a girl. Her heart is precious. Don’t have sex if you don’t want to be a father while you are still young
KX (25yr old): Always leave the door open when alone in the room with a girl
Cat, (mum to two boys in 30s): Be sensitive to a girl’s feelings
Han, (mum to two boys in 40s): Never deflower a girl
Keep your hands to yourself (I totally agree!)
Justinn, (mum to 10yr old): Keep your hands to yourself. No touching of others especially girls
Irene, (mum to 10yr old): Don’t anyhow touch girls
Esther, (mum to 13yr old): Never touch a girl, even when you are playing
Look after your sister (Yes yes yes… always and forever.)
Angie, (mum to 1yr old): Protect your jiejie at all times at all costs. Respect her privacy.
Min, (mum to 5yr old & 2yr old): When you are older, you will be bigger and stronger. Always look after your sister
Take care of family (I agree too, the man ends up head of the household, he better know how to do this!)
Madeline, (mum to 18 mth old): He must be decisive because next time when he is the head of the house, he needs to know how to lead his family (personally can’t stand wishy washy guys)
Angie, (mum to 1yr old): Display courage and always go the extra mile for the family.
Adeline, (mum to 15yr old): Be considerate around people and put his sister (and mother too) as his priority when time calls for it because as the 2nd man in the house, he ought to know how to take care of us so that he can take good care of his family.
Dorin, (mum to 16yr old): Be a faithful husband and responsible father.
Patricia, (mum to a 20yr old): Manage the family well, put the family as top priority before career.
Cat, (mum of two boys in 30s): Be a responsible husband and father
J (35yr old): Study hard so you can support the family
Be a Gentleman (I like this bit a lot! So so interesting!)
Madeline, (mum to 18 mth old): Be chivalrous and will look out for the interest of others. For example, giving up seat for those who need it (personal pet peeve and hate it when I see grown men fighting for seats when there is a pregnant lady nearby), opening doors for others, sending girls home if it’s very late at night, protecting the weak and vulnerable, etc.
Min, (mum to 5yr old & 2yr old): Be a gentleman, respect ladies
Ondine, (mum to 8yr old):Start opening doors. Right now, half the time, the doors are too heavy for them
Jenn, (mum to 9yr old): Be a gentleman. Always. Give up yr seat to needy ones, pay for your date, etc
Abi,, (mum to 9yr old): Treat a girl right, esp your wife
Esther, (mum to 13yr old): Ladies first always in game and in all
Connie, (mum to 13yr old): Be a gentleman: going up escalator, stand behind to protect me, going down, stand in front, walking along the street, stand outside, When buying flowers, buy a tasteful bunch
Adeline, (mum to 15yr old): In the future. It’s the little things that he does like insisting on carrying my heavy grocery bags and solving technical problems at home for me which makes me feel that he will be a responsible man when he grows up and that I can rely on him to look out for me when I’m in my twilight years.
Dorin, (mum to 16yr old): Be a gentleman
Important values from mummy’s heart (I just know every mummy wants to drum these values in!)
Cherie, (mum of 3yr old and 16 mth old): DO NOT BARGE IN WHEN MUMMY IS IN THE TOILET!
Jerb, (mum of 5yr old and 3yr old): Choose your spouse carefully and remember to come home to visit
Mabel, (mum of 6yr old): got gf/wife, don’t forget about me – YOUR MOTHER!
Catherine, (mum of two boys in 30s): Don’t be a hen-pecked husband, Don’t be a male chauvinist
DL, (39yr old): Don’t cry like a girl, Don’t be petty like a girl, be generous like a man （大方）Learn to make decisions like a man （果断）Don’t throw tantrum like a girl, must have the dignity of a man (尊严）
And the most common lesson that many highlighted:
Never ever hit a girl (I was a little puzzled with this, cos I thought we should never hit boys too. But after listening to some personal family stories, I realised this IS a very important lesson!)
Natasha, (mum to a 2yr old): And never to abuse girls/women be it physical, emotional or verbal. That’s a big NO, and to also understand why.
Shermeen, (mum to a 3yr old): Never verbally or physically hurt a woman. Learn to respect women.
Chocks, (mum to a 8yr old): Don’t hit a woman, no matter what
Shereen, (mum to 8yr old twins): The lesson we’ve been drumming into the boys is NEVER, EVER HIT A GIRL! Regardless of what she does
Serene, (mum to a 10yr old): Never ever hit a girl.
Na, (mum to a 11yr old): Never hit a woman
Theresa, (mum to a 16yr old): Never hit a girl
Bernard (36yr old): Never hit a woman
Ed (39yr old): Never ever ever hit a woman
You can imagine the great fun I had compiling this list! Coming from a family with no boys, some of these items are really new to me! I may not agree with everything listed, but these are certainly lessons that we can consider imparting to our boys! Are there any other lessons you want to add to this list?