It’s a Confusing Time to Be a Boy

This is a really confusing time to be a boy in the United States.

That’s one of (the many!) insights Ryan Wexelblatt — aka ADHD Dude — gained while working with 14 and 15 year old boys during his ADHD Dude Summer Camp this year. In a Facebook post, he wrote:

These guys see their female classmates (if they fit the narrow standards of beauty) who post the most sexually provocative pictures on Instagram/Snapchat get the most attention on social media.
>They are living in a period of “cancel culture” where men whose words or behaviors are inappropriate are expected to go away forever, never to be heard from again. There is no option to see what being accountable for one’s inappropriate behavior or making amends sounds like, thus denying boys the opportunity to see what it looks like when a man acknowledges he has treated people in a way that was hurtful.

How do we help boys navigate the mixed and confusing messages they receive? 

We asked Ryan — our first 3-time ON BOYS guest! — to share his thoughts.

“If we’re going to teach kids social competency, we need to teach them everything. We can’t leave out the things that make us uncomfortable,” Ryan says. You have to talk about things like ogling and unwanted attention; you have to give boys strategies they can use to mange their innate curiosity without inadvertently harming others.

Simply telling a boy ‘that’s inappropriate'” when he stares too long or uses potentially offensive language isn’t helpful, Ryan says. “That’s not teaching them anything,” he says. “That’s not teaching the context and why the behavior or language is inappropriate.”

In this episode, Jen, Janet & Ryan discuss:
  • Giving boys specific, concrete instructions to successfully navigate social situations
  • How teenage boys talk to each other (sexual innuendo is common!)
  • Helping boys learn what kind of humor is OK to use with friends vs what’s OK when adults and kids are around
  • Talking to boys about cancel culture, #MeToo and people like Jeffrey Epstein
  • Why we must teach media literacy
  • Dick pics — helping boys understand why it’s always a bad idea to send unsolicited nudes
  • Teaching boys to see and recognize their value (in a culture that so often paints boys & men as the bad guys)
  • Online learning & boys
  • Navigating evolving gender norms
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

ADHD Dude — the online home of Ryan’s ADHD work. Includes a link to his ADHD Dude Facebook group 

Dude Talk playlist — Ryan’s series of YouTube videos aimed directly at boys

Teaching Boys Social Skills — our 1st ON BOYS episode w Ryan

ADHD with Ryan Wexelblatt the ADHD Dude – our 2nd ON BOYS episode w Ryan

Executive Function Crash Course for Parents — Ryan’s webinar


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