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Australian author and psychologist Steve Biddulph was one of the first to highlight the unique needs of boys.
In the mid-1990s, “Steve went out on a limb to stand up for boys and men in a time when, culturally, the focus was really on girls and women,” Janet says.
His books, including The Secrets of Happy Children and Manhood, have been translated into more than 30 languages. The 1997 classic Raising Boys: Why Boys are So Different – and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balance Men changed the way Janet taught and influenced a generation of parents and teachers. Steve completed updated the book in 2018; Raising Boys in the 21st Century: How to Help Our Boys Become Open-Hearted, Kind and Strong Men addresses the concerns and challenges facing today’s parents of boys.
Now, we know that boys’ brains develop on a different trajectory than girls’. The part of the brain that handles language, for instance, matures more slowly in males than in females, which is one reason why boys aren’t as verbal as girls (generally speaking), especially when it comes to emotions. But a tendency isn’t destiny; with that knowledge in hand, parents can make a concerted effort to stimulate their son’s language development by reading to him, singing to him and talking with him often.
A basic knowledge of boy development, coupled with general familiarity with the many challenges boys face, will help you parent your son. (“There are risk factors to being a boy,” Steve says, pointing out that males are 3 times more likely to die by age 25 than females.) Learning more about the “Full-On 4s” and the “Emotional 8s” will increase your understanding of your son, so you can respond more effectively to his mood changes and growth. However, it’s absolutely essential for you to get to know — and support — your son as a unique individual.
There is no boy quite like your boy.
(Jen missed this conversation after realizing that Fri. in Tasmania is Thursday in the U.S — and her son’s biggest soccer game of the season thus far was at the exact same time as this conversation. Good news: They won, and Jen didn’t miss her son’s first varsity start!)
In this episode, Janet & Steve discuss:
- How cultural changes have affected dads and boys
- What modern dads get right
- How parents can stimulate boys’ communication skills
- The link between testosterone levels and reading difficulties
- The problem with early formal education — and the benefits of delaying school entry
- How shame harms boys
- Adrenarche and the “emotional 8s” (Spoiler: there’s a biological reason 8 & 9 yr old boys are often easily upset!)
- How to talk to boys about pornography
- Why you MUST point out the differences between lovemaking and porn
- Talking to boys about sexually aggressive girls
- Setting expectations with your teen (Hint: you have to listen to them too)
- How Steve’s love of children fuels his humanitarian work
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
stevebiddulph.com — Steve’s online home
Steve Biddulph’s Raising Boys — Steve’s FB community
Talking to Boys About Sexually Aggressive Girls –– classic BuildingBoys post
Talk to Boys about Sex (w Amy Lang) — ON BOYS episode 110
21st Century Sex Ed (w Jo Langford) — ON BOYS episode 128
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