Thursday, 11 February 2010

The emotional life of this boy

I've been reading a book called Raising Cain: protecting the emotional life of boys by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. It dawned on me after we were told that we'd be having another boy that I knew nothing about boys despite the fact that I grew up surrounded by four brothers, always had a father around and have been dating men since I was 15 - I've stopped dating them and settled on one in particular but you know all about that.

And as with anything worth knowing in life, I realize that nothing will beat my experiential knowledge still to come in the years ahead but I wanted to be prepared with some rudimentary insights into the psychology of boys.

Interesting stuff.

I've begun to realize that there are a lot of myths when it comes to how we all so easily dismiss certain traits as "Aww it's just men - that's how they are". Most interestingly to me is the theory that men are not unemotional by nature but more likely due to nurture. The authors - both experienced and well established psychologists give tons of evidence that supports the theory that what's missing in a lot of boys' upbringings is the tools to express themselves emotionally. I won't bore you with a book report but I've found this a valuable read.

Coincidentally, in the last few weeks on our drive home from work and daycare, I've noticed that when asked about his day at school, Deaglan often mentions one of his friends and their emotional being that day. Last week he said Emma cryin. I asked him why Emma was crying and he said Emma tired. Today on our drive he told me about Jeremy just out of the blue Jeremy sad When I asked why, he said Jeremy hungry.

I tried to get him to expand each time but really how much can a two year old elaborate? I realized though that it's important during these conversations to let him know that these states his friends have been in are okay and good and normal. I tell him that when someone is sad, it's nice to give them a hug. Usually after these touchy feely talks we go back to looking for garbage trucks or the signs of a train coming. It's about balance right?


  1. Hi Kim, I have five children, three boys and two girls. When I asked the boys questions about school I would get maybe a couple of words in reply, the girls on the other hand would launch into a description of their day.

    My oldest son is the most emotional and affectionate of all my children. As mother's we must stay close to our sons through their adolescence, which isn't an easy feat. (You have a long way to go!)

  2. Hats off to you, Kim. It is extremely important for all humans to express themselves...male or female. You are a lovely mother. :)

  3. Kim, Deaglan is a sensitive soul, and that's wonderful. He really sees the "person" in the other children in his own little way. I think you're right that we often underestimate the emotional side of boys. Hope you're feeling well my friend!!!

  4. Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll have TWO boys in just a couple weeks and I often wonder how I'll raise them since I am as 'girly' as they come (and have very little understanding of men, as well!) I'm actually hoping to raise my boys no differently than my girls, emotionally or otherwise.

  5. A toddler probably can't elaborate much, but its still good that he is at least talking about emotional states. I think the main thing is to be receptive to whatever he wants to talk about, and for you to also talk about how people are feeling.

  6. He is such a cute little guy and seems very sensitive and tuned in to other kids feelings. I think the best thing to do is to teach him about the different feelings, as he continues to grow, so he can say things like, "I feel sad when________" or "I am angry because_________" Knowing what feelings are and how to express them is so important when they start pre-k. Your such a good mom.

  7. I'm impressed that Deaglan is so aware of his friends emotions and feelings at such a young age. That is really impressive. I would say you must be doing something right!

    Interesting stuff. The only thing I've read particular to the upbringing of a boy is a book called "Dangerous Book for Boys". And that's more about activities not upbringing.

    It will definitely be interesting to see how having a girl differs from having a boy. She's already an easier baby but we're not sure if it's because she's a girl, a second child and we know what we're doing, or if it's her temperament.

    You'll be able to compare with your two boys. I hope all is well with you and your little one inside.

  8. Love it. We are all human and boys need that balance. Good for you for tapping into that. Another wonderful resource in the world of boys is Dan Hodgins. He has studied boys and girls and I am a big fan of his. :)


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