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An observation of my 17 year old brother and his friend

Michael Thompson, senior advisor to the PBS Parents Guide to Understanding and Raising Boys, took your questions about the issues facing boys today and how parents can understand what our sons are going through.

  1. When I ask him why he does this, he simply says "I don't know". So, shamelessly, I'm posting the link here.
  2. Should tackle football be allowed as part of recess?
  3. When you look up ten minutes later, you see that she has completed the first three pages - correctly.

Liz from Orange, CA, writes:: My question relates to the boys playing good guys versus bad guys. My son, when playing with his toys, most often wants to be the bad guy. He thinks the bad guy is cool. Most pictures he draws involve guns, knives and other weapons.

He draws this guy shooting or stabbing that guy.

That part concerns me a bit. How normal is that? On the whole, he isn't a mean child. I've restricted his use of guns, but I think that may just bring more attention to it. It's just been hard to figure out where to draw the line. Dear Liz, I understand why your son's desire to play the bad guy and his fascination with guns concerns you, and I understand why you have written to me.

Many mothers worry about the content of their son's play. It is tough to be a single mom sometimes, because you don't have a man there to say, persuasively, "Don't worry, he's going to be fine," when a boy does stuff like this. If you had been raised with brothers, you might have had the experience of seeing a brother who loved gun play when he was little turn out to be a responsible, non-violent adult.

I once met a woman who remembers her older brother shooting her with plastic pellets when they were little.

  • He didn't say anything for a long time;
  • It's just a BABY!

He now heads a foundation devoted to ridding the world of chemical weapons. I'm not worried about your son's gun play as long as it really is play. Children's play is just play. Play and real violence are two different things. If your son hits people, gets real angry at them, pokes them in the eye, or does scary things to them, that's a bad sign.

An observation of my 17 year old brother and his friend

If other boys don't want to play with him; if they leave your house crying, that's not good. You haven't told me your son's age, but I think these questions might work for most boys under ten. Is he a loving boy most of the time? Do the teachers at school or preschool tell you that he behaves in class? Does he curl up next to you when you're watching television?

Is he respectful of you and his grandparents? Does he like being read to at bedtime?

  • Dear Susan, I understand why your son's argument is hard to swallow;
  • I stared at him, and he responded by touching his body and declaring, "It's something in your body;
  • He may also be temperamentally very shy, and he has found the Kindergarten classroom to be quite a shock;
  • See if you can keep the battle from getting to that point.

Does he have good freinds? If the answer to all of those question is "yes" then I am pretty sure that he's not going to grow up to be a dangerous boy. Psychologists know that children need to play out many things in their imagination. Boys seem to love to play at being bad, or having super powers. It makes them feel strong and masculine. If you are a good boy in real life, pretending that you are a bad guy can be exciting, because we all have a few villainous fantasies in our minds, don't we?

Come on, haven't you ever had a fantasy of breaking the law, or getting even with someone you hated? Little boys work these tensions out in their play. It is just play. Schools ban it because they are afraid of stimulating the entire class, or having one boy get worked up and lose control.

Fair enough, but you ought to be able to play at home and I think you recognize that at the end of your email when you say, "I feel he may need the outlet at home. He's going to be fine. Susan from Crown Point, IN, asks: As a mother, how do I get my son to understand that smoking pot is not good for him?

  • When the older one boasts, does it hurt the younger one's feelings, or does it just make him more competitive?
  • I said "you mean a police officer?
  • He may also be temperamentally very shy, and he has found the Kindergarten classroom to be quite a shock.

It is my understanding that nowadays pot is really not that big a deal. I am told it is what drinking use to be and that it is not as bad as some other drugs out there. This is hard for me to swallow. Dear Susan, I understand why your son's argument is hard to swallow. It doesn't matter whether your son thinks smoking pot "is what drinking used to be. Perhaps your son would like to explain to the local police that marijuana isn't all that big a deal. That said, there is a lot of weed around.

Marijuana has three important attractions for adolescents: I am not a drug and alcohol expert, so I cannot say what the number-one reason for smoking pot is, but I do know this: Boys are really drawn to the risky, illegal aspects of it.

Finding, acquiring, sharing and distributing weed makes them feel like big-time entrepreneurs. It makes them feel they have a different and independent life from their parents. It makes them feel like men, because they are taking a risk on their own.

Having that exciting, secret life is part of what draws boys to marijuana. Since the attraction is so strong, and because many boys don't believe it is bad for them there are more destructive drugsyou may never convince him of your point of view. However, you must make clear to him that he cannot keep marijuana in the house, that you will search his room periodically, and if you find it you will throw it out.

You have to make sure he is not driving "high," and if you find that he is, you have to take the car away from him. And, of course, if you are still not having any impact on him, you can require him to get a an observation of my 17 year old brother and his friend evaluation and be tested. All of this will involve a lot of conflict between mother and son.

He's not going to like this, but fighting to keep your son from undermining his academic career marijuana use results in lower productivity in school and trying to keep him from getting in trouble with the law is a necessary part of good parenting.

Roxanne from New Orleans, LA, asks: My husband and I are in our early thirties and have a son, our one and only child, who is about a month away from his first birthday. In all your research, is there one bit of wisdom you would impart to parents just embarking on the challenge of raising a boy in America?

Dear Roxanne, Hug him, enjoy him, play with him and develop family traditions and rituals that will support him all the way into adulthood. Have faith every day, even on your worst days, that he will grow up to be a strong, compassionate, interesting and lovable man, just like the man you married. Stephanie from Troutdale, OR, writes: I am a working mom with two boys ages five and almost four.

My husband is able to ask the boys to do something, like put toys away, and ninety percent of the time, they do it. I, on the other hand, have to ask three and four times until I'm yelling before they really do as asked. What do I need to do have the attention and actions taken seriously the first time I ask? I've also noticed that they are quick to respond to other male caregivers and slow to respond to female caregivers.

Raising and Understanding Boys

Is this "just how boys are," or is there something more going on that I might not be aware of? Dear Stephanie, Recent research suggests that boys may not hear and respond to the higher-pitched female voice as readily as they respond to a deeper voice, so that is one possible explanation for why boys respond more quickly to their fathers. However, it is also true that there are many more female caretakers in the lives of children.

Kids hear mothers' voices saying: And because they have figured out how much latitude there is in the system, they know that moms are more forgiving. They may have seen their dads get really angry, and it scares them because they aren't sure what will set off a man, so they obey him more quickly. There is also a kind of power to the deeper voice and the bigger body of men.

Yet single fathers raising their children tell me that their boys get used to hearing them give all the instructions and so they are slow to respond--they drag their feet and they leave their stuff everywhere, just the way most kids do for their moms.

Marie from Shoreline, WA, writes: My son is nearly three years old. He's also an only child. All of the neighbors' children his age are girls, likewise all of my friends with children his age also have girls. Do you have suggestions on giving him ways to socialize with other boys?

I'm particularly worried about this because I keep hearing about having kids "school ready" with "socialization skills" when they are toddlers and preschoolers.

Often at the playground, my perception is that other kids are more aggressive than my son. I don't want to have him be the boy that would be perceived as passive, or worse yet, be picked on.

Dear Marie, I'm not worried about your son; he's only three. He is developing all the socialization skills he is going to need in his play with the girls in the neighborhood. At three he doesn't need to have all the "boy" social skills he needs because he has plenty of time to develop them. He will when he is four and five.

You don't need to toughen him up, you don't need to do something special for him. It is also important to remember that some of the toughest toddlers can be "bossy" girls--remember Lucy in "Peanuts" or Angelica in "Rugrats?

If he is a bit more peaceful than other children on the playground, that may be his temperament--he's calmer boy than most--or it may be that he is an only child. Only children tend to be a little less aggressive than other children because they don't have to fight for things at home all the time. Girls and boys start to play in gender-exclusive groups when they are between the ages of three and four.