At a meeting of the International Boys Schools Coalition, I picked up the following insights – most of which should be attributed to author, Eli Newberger.
3 of the 6 Things Boys Need:
One: Boys need an adult advocate, someone who is “crazy” about him, someone who has his back no matter what the circumstances and will be there for him when he needs him most.
Two: Boys need to acquire words to express emotions. Emotional intelligence is not a given. Narrow language can narrow a boy’s views of masculinity. Boys need help to acquire a fuller range of vocabulary in order to understand their fuller range of emotions and to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and others.
Three: Boys need to be protected from violence. Research on video games suggests they convey a tolerance for force in relationships and encourages “mean world beliefs.” Research also suggests that exposure to violence can be a predictor of future violence, and this is especially true for boys exposed to abused mothers.
When boys feel powerless, they respond in fear, rage, and sadness. Virtually all “bad boys” saw their mothers abused in one form or another. All too often boys respond to powerlessness by assuming super power or by becoming “hyper-masculine.” (Girls, by contrast, respond by blaming themselves and feel shame.)