I understand there is some truth to the phrase, "Boys will be boys." But I'm getting quite annoyed with the fact that often times mothers of boys seem to use this as some sort of excuse for bad behavior. I have only girls so far, so these words may come back to haunt me one day. But I really believe that it is possible to allow boys to be boys without allowing them to be rude and discourteous to others. My mother raised three girls, and thirteen years after the youngest girl was born my mother was very surprised to discover she was expecting again. This time a boy! My brother is now nearing eight years old, and is definitely a different challenge to my mother that we were as girls. I'm not arguing that there's something uniquely different about the way God designed boys and girls. My mother (as well as many other mothers of boys) has told me many times that you can't keep boys from playing with guns. They're just born with guns on their fingers. I can understand this. God made boys (men) to be protectors, and when a fight is necessary, men are who God designed to go to war. I haven't had the opportunity to be around my brother too much because of the great age difference between us (twenty years!). But I have been around him on a playground or when he's playing with friends, and while he thoroughly enjoys playing rough and playing war-like games with his playmates, I haven't witnessed him being rude to other kids on the playground. He is a very tender-hearted boy, so perhaps one could attribute his politeness to his personality, but I would like to credit it to the training of my mother. My daughter has almost decided she doesn't like play dates anymore because the boys are so rough. I have told her that boys are rough, and God made girls to be gentle and sweet. But when boys are shoving past girls and throwing them out of their way and stepping on them or over them in their attempt to keep up with their battle, that is no longer behavior that can be passed off with a simple, "Well, boys will be boys." No, that is simply rude and inconsiderate behavior. And when another child is asking those rough-housing boys to please leave them alone or to stop, those boys should be trained to be considerate enough to leave that playmate out of their rambunctious behavior. Today I watched one of those boys wrap his arm around my daughter's neck and get ready to body slam her to the ground, and I was greatly angered. A child should never be permitted to wrap his arms around another person neck and body slam them unless he is doing so under the supervision of a trainer in a martial arts program. And to a girl? What happened to training boys to be gentlemen?
As I said, I may one day end up eating my words. But I spoke of this with my husband, and he agrees that while boys will be boys, and boys will do boyish things, they can still be taught to respect others, to be polite, to be considerate, to be courteous, and to be mindful of the feelings of others around them. Boys should be gentleman in training. I'm in no way saying rob a young boy of his childhood and put him through rigorous manner courses. I am a firm believer of allowing children to be children and not forcing them to act like adults when they aren't adults. However, since every moment with a child is a moment of some type of training, there are ways to teach and encourage respectful behavior in young children without forcing or expecting them to be as adults. My 18-month-old is old enough to understand that she is not to hit or kick or bit or push another person. So I definitely believe that a two or three-year-old boy can understand that you treat girls differently than you treat boys. They can understand that boys, if permitted to hit other boys, do not hit girls (or push, or any of the other aforementioned actions). I hope that when I have a boy I can raise him to be a gentleman to young ladies, to be courteous to other kids in a play area, and to be respectful to the adults around him--and all of this without "robbing him of his man-hood" or "turning him into a sissy." I want my boy to be a boy, but not at the expense of others feelings and his own reputation and testimony.