Tag Archives: raising boys

Should Women Mentor Boys?

women mentor boys

Recently, I was talking with a male friend who has a high profile position about mentoring and I was pleasantly surprised when he shared that his mentor is a woman. Our conversation led me to think about the numerous young men I have informally mentored throughout the years. I never considered myself a mentor simply because I did not attach a title to our interactions. They would simply reach out to me from time to time to brainstorm or share ideas. What they shared with me helped me to better understand their experiences as young men.When I look back on the mentors who have influenced me, I can count men and women who have shared insight and offered a balanced view of life. My interpersonal and leadership skills were shaped by men and women who mentored me. My mentoring relationships impacted how I viewed myself as a woman as well as how I interacted and engaged with men in my personal and professional life.

Which leads to my question, “Should women mentor boys?” I want to be clear that I am not asking “Can women mentor boys?” because I believe that is a different conversation. When we look at most formal mentoring relationships, they are developed to provide boys and young men an advisor, a teacher to offer support and provide guidance. I am not advocating for dismissing male mentors. I do however believe that cross-gender mentoring can add tremendous value to a boy’s life. This is not about assigning stereotypical roles to men and women but exploring gender specific experiences.

With 80% of single parent households headed by a single mom (According to 2013 US Census), having a male figure in a boy’s life demonstrates the need for male mentoring programs. A male role model in a boy’s life is crucial to his emotional, mental and social and professional development. Clearly, having someone of the same gender who understands some of the daily challenges you face is important, but they also need more. If we are preparing children a for a 21st century world, they need a village of mentors to help them become better leaders in our globalized society. Ideally, having mentoring relationships which are cross-cultural, cross-race and cross-gender expands a boy’s perspective and gives him a better understanding of the world.

Our 21st century kids need a village of men and women to guide them through their personal and professional development. A well-rounded global citizen can not be shaped without the supportive environment of diverse people. Mentoring cultivates a network where boys have accountability partners that cheer their successes as well as challenge their behaviors and actions when they are working against their personal and professional goals. If the goal of mentoring is to guide, support and encourage a mentee to be their best, wouldn’t he have more to gain if he had men and women mentors who can help him with his learning and growth.

Another reason why women should mentor boys is that boys gain insight into women’s roles in leadership. How do we raise men who will support women in the workplace, if they don’t have first hand understanding of the barriers women in leadership face? If we ask, “Can a woman teach a boy how to be a man, isn’t it fair to ask can a man teach boys about a woman’s personal and professional experiences.

We can not expect to raise men who will advocate for women (or vice versa) if we do not give them the opportunity to learn from women in leadership. Leadership development is not confined to gender. I believe that same gender mentoring relationships give boys a solid foundation for manhood, but having a woman as a mentor gives him insight into diverse issues.

Repost from The Good Men Project.com

5 Healthy Habits to Teach Your Son

Imagine it is 15 years from now, what do you see your son doing with his life? To answer that question, you need to think about what your son is learning about life now.

1) Be of Service to Others

What will be your son’s legacy? His life defines who he is and the choices he makes will impact his the lives of others. Teach him to understand the power of his words and actions. Remind him that he was uniquely created to make a contribution to the world. Surround him with people who are supportive, positive and encouraging. Staying small and thinking small will not get him where he needs to be in life. Starting today, show him how to have a new perspective on life. He has to believe in his abilities and discover what he has to offer the world.

2) Love Unconditionally

When was the last time you loved without hesitation or caution? Withholding love is a means of control that only leads to distrust and resentment. Loving unconditionally means loving without judgment. Teach the following by being an example:

  • Allow yourself to love and be loved
  • Do not expect your needs and wants to be fulfilled by someone else.
  • Allow those you love to express themselves without fear of rejection.
  • Do not punish yourself or loved ones for past mistakes.
  • Be responsible in how you show love.

3) Do the Impossible

Think it can’t happen; then it won’t. Tell your son the following:

  • Learn from failures and take responsibility for your life.
  • Listening to your inner critic can sabotage your dreams.
  • Dream big and be excited about your future.

4) Be Grateful for Opportunities

Everyday your son is given many opportunities. Some may go unnoticed. Help him to recognize the simple little blessings that come his way daily. Give him a strong foundation on which to build his faith. His life will be more rewarding when he is aware of how much he has to be grateful.

5) Take Healthy Risks

Don’t allow fear of failure to dictate your son’s life. Fear inhibits success. Everything in life involves a risk. Your son will limit himself if he doesn’t step out of what is safe, comfortable and familiar. It is important that he is curious about life. Help him to develop strategies to deal with rejection and disappointment..

By encouraging your son to develop healthy habits, you are giving him the tools he needs to have positive experiences in life.

 

 

Could You be Raising a Misogynist?

I know a mom who frequently says how much she doesn’t like women or girls. She believes that her way of thinking is fine because she has raised boys. Unfortunately, she has also raised misogynists. What she failed to realize is that in all her years of making negative comments about women and creating an environment of distrust and disrespect for women, she has conditioned her sons to share in her belief.

Raising a Misogynist

A misogynist is a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women. Despite your best efforts to teach your son to respect, like and trust women, you may inadvertently be conditioning him to have misogynistic views of women. We often forget that children don’t remember so much what we say, but what we do.  Boys learn as much from their mothers as they do their fathers. As moms, we are as responsible as fathers for influencing our son’s views on the opposite sex. If you’re thinking, “There’s no way, I’m raising my son to be a misogynist”,  see if you behave in the following ways:

1- You use derogatory terms in reference to other women. Before you say, “I’m just joking when I say that” or “All women say that”, let me correct you, not all women do it. If the word “bitch” seems to fly off your tongue for any minor infraction from another women, you are showing your son that it is fine to disrespect women when they piss you off. Don’t be surprised when your 7 year old calls his sister a “bitch” for breaking his toy.

2-You send him mixed messages about respect. You reprimand your son about respecting you but he witnesses men disrespecting you and you accepting it. If you’re being unauthentic in how you present yourself to your son, he will see through it. You are your son’s teacher and mentor. How you conduct yourself teaches him what he should think about women. By giving men permission to disrespect or mistreat you, you’re also giving your son permission to do the same to women. If you want your son to respect women, he needs to see mutual respect in the relationships with other males in your life.

3-You don’t value your own and other women’s contribution-There’s nothing noble or honorable about playing small in the world. When your son sees you downplaying your greatness or your hard work, he learns to believe that what women contribute is insignificant or unimportant. Expose him to nontraditional activities so that he has a better understanding of the different roles we have in the world as women.

4-You teach him to have an overinflated sense of entitlement-You can’t teach your son that he is entitled to respect and love without having to be respectful or loving. As moms, we are often consumed by the need to provide our sons with “perfect love”. What we fail to realize is that in offering “perfect love”, we are conditioning our sons to believe they are entitled to this kind of love. He has to learn that in life what he puts out into the world, he gets back. He won’t be able to engage in meaningful, loving and mutually respectful relationship with women, if he is so self-centered, that he can not give of himself.

5-You’re intolerant of other women-If you dismiss women who do not behave or think like you, you are presently a narrow view of women to your son. If you’re highly critical of other women, your son will be too. I’m not saying that you have to surround yourself with women who you clearly have nothing in common with, but do not feed into the negative stereotype of women as being conniving, superficial, emotionally unstable or fragile.  We have different experiences in life, so it’s important to not be quick to judge other women based on a limited perspective.

Your son will be exposed to various messages about women through media, music and other boys and men in his community. It is imperative that we as mothers do our best to dispel many of the myths about women our sons are learning. Instead of teaching gender differences at an early age, we need to teach gender acceptance and tolerance.

Brilliant But Lazy: Helping Your Underachieving Son to Succeed in the 21st Century

Relaxing on the sofa

One of my favorite lines from Spiderman 2 is when Peter Parker’s professor describes him- “He’s brilliant, but lazy. He’s always late to class, or absent entirely. He must stay out all night partying or something, because when he is here, he’s always exhausted, too worn out to take much initiative. He doesn’t do his homework.”

How many of us can relate to that when it comes to our sons? We nag, we threaten and we yell, but nothing seems to phase our sloth-like genius.What’s most frustrating is that we know they are capable of doing the work. It’s one thing if your son is struggling because of lack of knowledge or skill, it’s another when he’s just not motivated to do it. If you want your son to be intrinsically motivated, you have to explore the source of his underachievement.

I’ve watched my son set lofty academic goals and not meet them because he was not disciplined. We tried talking to him about studying habits and managing his time. All these suggestions were ignored.  At what point, do you step back and let your son be accountable for his grades and his future? When dealing with your brilliant but lazy son, ask yourself: Who owns the problem? Is this your son’s problem or your problem? You’re probably thinking, ‘If he fails, it becomes my problem because I’ll be blamed”. Well first, you take your son’s age and mental and emotional development.  If he’s at a stage where he can be accountable for his actions, then it’s time to redefine your role as a parent.  As your son grows, you parenting responsibilities move from directing/managing to collaborating/delegating. We equip our sons with the tools they need to move from the cycle of underachievement to achievement.

Your son needs to be committed to his own personal success. We may want our sons to be intrinsically motivated  but he needs to identify his attitudes and beliefs about himself. Does he see himself as a failure in some areas of his life? Why?  What are his limiting beliefs?  Are his beliefs turning into a self fulfilling prophecy?

One of the mistakes we made with our son was not identifying the underlying reason for his lack of motivation.  We made assumptions, we blamed social media and social change, but we didn’t acknowledge our contribution to the problem.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Create a safe space for your son to share and feel heard.  There may be hidden feelings that he does not feel comfortable sharing with you.

2 . Set guidelines and show him how to balance “work and play time”.  Be consistent with helping him manage his time. This is something we struggle with as adults.  Think about how much time do you spend on social media.

3. Show him how to problem solve. Teach your son to be resourceful.  As he grows, life will become more complicated and challenging. He needs to be able to confront adversity and focus on solutions. Let him see problems as learning opportunities rather than setbacks.

4. Help him to recognize his abilities. He needs to know his own potential. If you are constantly praising him, he may become addicted to praise instead of recognizing his own strengths.

5.  Build his self-awareness.  Self-reflection gives  your son insight into his goals and his plans for the future.

6.  Help your son to see the lessons in failure.  Let him know mistakes are part of life. Be an example of resiliency by showing him how you rebound from your mistakes.

7.  Teach him self management skills. He will need these skills when he is dealing with a frustrating or challenging situation. If he falters under pressure, it will require more effort to get him to get back up.

8.  Be flexible in your approach. Your frustration will not be a catalyst for your his transformation.

9. Don’t project your unfulfilled dreams on your son. Help him to blaze his own trails.

10. Don’t use shame to motivate your son. Shaming just produces feelings of inadequacies and resentment.

Keep in mind, that your son needs your guidance in order to achieve success in life. He also needs you to model the behavior. Therefore, you need to address your own underachievement in order to help your son.

Be sure to check out my free GoalSetting Toolkit for Boys

 

Internet Safety & Cyberbullying for Boys #MomsofBoysChat

Do you know what your son is doing on line?  How about what to do to keep your son safe from internet dangers. According to Consumer Reports, 2011: One million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during the past year.

Spy Parent.net Sedgrid Lewis of Spy Parent.net is my co-host for #momsofboyschat this Friday at 10pm Est. Sedgrid will be helping us look at risks your son may be taking on-line and how we can minimize potential cyberbullying. We’ll also chat about how to monitor your son’s internet use and talk to him about online safety.

Sedgrid Lewis, Spy ParentJuvenile Justice Expert Sedgrid Lewis created Spy Parent in 2008. Sedgrid has over 15 years of experience in the field and is a national cyber crime expert who specializes in sexting and cyberbullying. He has been quoted in several national publications such as CBS News, Fox News, and MNBC to name a few.

mSpy is offering two participants a 1 month subscription to their powerful mobile monitoring software. Click here to find out more about mSpy.

mSpy gives parents a peace of mind, but is not the ultimate solution or a substitute to proper parenting.

  • Helps to identify the root cause of psychological or behavioral problems (i.e. cyber bullying, substance abuse, depression, etc.).
  • Experts suggest monitoring cyber behavior, mSpy helps to ensure kids aren’t indulging in any aggressive or solicited behavior harmful to themselves or others.  With 70% of teens hiding online behavior from their parents, cyber bullying on the rise and illicit content more accessible than ever, keeping tabs on your kid’s mobile activity is essential.
  • mSpy advocates users and parents sharing with their kids that they are using the software.
  • Child protection is very important and starts in the home and with the parents.  It shouldn’t be viewed as something malicious, but rather an opportunity to educate yourself as parent and make your child aware of the harm.  It’s a preventative tool, many parents have been able to us mSpy as a means to teach responsible cyber behavior.

Understanding Your Son’s World with Author Rosalind Wiseman

I had the pleasure of interviewing author, Rosalind Wiseman with Joanna Schroeder, Executive Editor of The Good Men Project. Rosalind Wiseman’s new book, Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Your Son Cope with School Yard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Realities of Guy World, shows what’s really happening in boys’ lives.

Ms. Wiseman shared key points about communicating with your son, understanding the social roles of boys as well as what boys need from parents to get through the daily challenge living up to the “Act Like a Man” box.

 

 

What Kind of Man Do You Want to Be: Image of a Real Man

This month’s What Kind of Man Do You Want to Be topic: The Image of a Real Man was a conversation about the image of a real man and how societal  and media masculine standards perpetuates male stereotyping.

Panelists  for Part I:  Enrique Pascal,  author of What Does A Real MAN Look Like? and host of Transformation Radio and Alan Bishop, founder of The 365 Effect, producer and creator several television shows .

Panelists for Part II: Edmund Adjapong, Rey Saint-Vil and Alex Hanse

FYI (if you’re teenage girl) A Response from a Mom of Boys

20120915_132929Dear Mrs. Hall,

My letter is in response to your post: FYI (if you’re a teenage girl).

Mrs. Hall, I congratulate you in doing a fine job in raising great men. It is always a pleasure to meet another mom who is leaving a legacy of compassionate, respectful and responsible men. I read your post and thought it was a well-written and thoughtful  letter to teen girls.  I appreciate how you approached the topic with love and candor.  Your letter was indeed a wake-up call to teen girls and their parents.

It’s unfortunate that so many people missed the points you were making because they were obsessing over your picture of your sons in swimsuits.

I wanted to share some thoughts with you( mom to mom) about how we can all help teen boys and girls to have self-respect, make better decisions, and use social media responsibly.

We were teens (not that long ago) and fortunately we did not have social media to capture some of our antics or poor decisions. I can speak for myself but I remember wearing short skirts to draw the attention of boys. I never went to the extreme but when my friends and I noticed what guys liked, we would make subtle changes to get attention.

As a mom of two boys, one a teenager, I want to believe that my sons will always make the right decisions. But let’s be honest, a teen brain isn’t fully developed and teens can make less than rational choices. Although, we are instilling in our sons  the importance of love,  integrity, honesty, and empathy, we are not living in a teen boy’s world. As much as our teen son shares with us, there’s still some information he keeps to himself.

There are many honorable, respectful young men out there but even they sometimes get caught up in doing less than honorable things. I’ve worked with teen boys and most have been honest enough to tell me that they have passed along to their friends private photos of teen girls..  They felt they were claiming their alpha male status and didn’t see the harm in sharing the picture.

We have to ask ourselves: Why do these teen girls feel the need to take half-naked pictures in sultry positions? Perhaps instead of putting the responsibility on girls, we have to talk with our sons about objectification of women. There is a culture standard of sexy that teens feel they have to live up to. When teen girls see themselves as  “parts of a body” instead of whole and complete, they justify the need to be an object of desire for teen boys. We need to teach our sons to see these girls as “whole” and not just body parts. Yes, easier said than done when dealing with teens and raging hormones.

We can not dismiss the fact that as a society we contribute to this objectification and our sons aren’t always innocent bystanders.    We need to explain to them why these girls are taking these pictures. Yes, it’s important to tell teen girls to be a “real beauty inside and out” but we also have to teach our sons to be gentlemen.

Have you asked your sons what they think about these pictures or do you take it upon yourself to voice your disapproval? I would hope that they would take it upon themselves to block these girls as oppose to you doing it for them.

Our kids are living in a different time and are exposed to the media’s continuous objectification and sexualization of teen boys and girls. We can’t just expect to block people or sites to protect them. We must have honest conversations with our sons about sex and porn. We have to bear the responsibility of what we’re teaching our sons and daughters about the opposite sex.

Let’s continue the good fight to raise men and women of character.

Are You Feeding Your Son’s Inner Critic?

As parents, we sometimes aren’t mindful of how we speak to our children. Although we think we’re offering constructive criticism, we may be feeding our son’s inner critic.Children internalize the voices from their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives and start to criticize themselves.

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Who is the Inner Critic?

The inner critic is that nagging voice that  points out our failures, inadequacies, and our shortcomings. Although disguised as constructive criticism,  this inner critic sabotages our best interest. The inner critic undermines our belief in our abilities.

In children, the inner critic tells them that they are not smart enough, good enough, or talented enough to accomplish their goals.  Children start to use their inner dialog as a defense mechanism against the world. The truth is that criticism can never be constructive. According to Merriam -Webster dictionary, the definition of constructive is: promoting improvement or development, while the definition of criticize is: to find fault with: point out the faults of.

Since the inner critic is so powerful and convincing, how can we help our sons deal with their inner critic?

1. Help your son identify when his inner critic is attacking. Signs of the inner critic are fear, feeling powerless, feeling disappointed or discouraged, feeling tired or sick (such as a belly ache or headache), self blame and lack of motivation. Once your son senses when the inner critic is at play, help him to observe the underlying situation. What is the inner critic telling your son that he can not or should not do? Tell you son to observe what he is feeling physically and emotionally when the inner critic attacks. It might be helpful to have your son write down whatever he  is feeling. It could be just one sentence such as: “I am not a good at math.” “My hands get sweaty and my stomach hurts when I have to take a math test.” Have your son do this whenever he notices the inner critic. If your son is young, ask him to draw a picture about what it feels like.

2. Help your son to develop powerful self-talk. Developing powerful self -talk takes time and practice. This is a tool that is useful for parents too! It is very easy for us to name our weaknesses or to recognize our limiting beliefs. However, it takes time for us to identify our strengths and potential. Try this exercise: Ask your son to tell you 5 things he believes is a weakness or something he is not good at. Time how long it take for them to respond. Next, ask him to name his 5 strengths. Time how long it takes for a response again. Most boys who have a healthy self-esteem and practice powerful self talk are able to tell you their strengths much quicker than their weaknesses. You can help your son nurture his strengths by brainstorming on strengths and helping your son to use his strengths more often. Make a list of all the strengths and post it on the wall, where your son can see it on a daily basis.

3. Offer positive feedback. Listen to how your son explains what failure means to him. How does your son react when he fails a test or scores lower than expected? Find out what position your son takes on his accomplishments or failures? Don’t rush to solve the problem or tell your son why he failed. Let him use critical thinking skills to identify what is going on. If you notice your son making excuses or self criticizing, make your son aware of it.

4. Be a role model. Do you have a grasp on your inner critic? Your son notices how you behave when your inner critic attacks. When you are disappointed or have failed at something, talk to your son about it. Be honest with your son about your own inner critic. Notice how you behave when your inner critic attacks and set the example for your son. Let your son see you demonstrating healthy ways of dealing with disappointment.

5 Tips for Raising an Exceptional Man

If you ask most parents what do they want most for their children, the response will more likely be: to raise happy, healthy and successful children. We sometimes forget that what we want for our children has to be what they want for themselves.  It’s more important to raise children that have an understanding of their values and do their best to live by them.  You may raise a successful child, but if he has no compassion, love or integrity, what good is his success to the world?

Raising boys to be men

The key to raising better children is simple: Live your life as a better person. Yes, this is easier said than done. We are not perfect and sometimes our best isn’t good enough.  Even in our challenging times, our children can learn from us and gain a better understanding of how to pick yourself up when you fall down.  These five tips are a springboard for you to  live life with grace.

1. Teach Your Son to Be Open to Life’s Blessings

Saying yes to life allows wonderful blessings to come to you. Say yes to new opportunities and success. Say yes to a life that you live by your standards. Say yes to making your own decisions and not seeking approval of others. Say yes to a fulfilling and rewarding career. Say yes to a relationship that energizes, supports and stimulates you. Say yes to a promising future. Say yes to living without guilt, resentment or regrets. Say yes to spending more time on your self improvement. Say yes to living an authentic life. Say yes to taking chances and freeing yourself from fear. Say yes to happiness and achievements. Say yes to a well-lived life.

2.  Teach Your Son That Love is Unconditional

When was the last time you allowed love to lead? Withholding love as a means of control only leads to distrust and resentment. Loving unconditionally means loving without judgment. Free yourself from unrealistic expectations and accept the person you love for who they are. Do not expect your needs and wants to be fulfilled by someone else. Allow those you love to express themselves without fear of rejection. Do not punish yourself or loved ones for past mistakes. People use the word love very loosely, but do not stop to think of the implications of using the word. Take the time to be responsible in how you show love. Allow yourself to love and be loved.

3. Teach Your Son to  Take Healthy Risks

Everything in life involves a risk.  Are you allowing fear of rejection and failure to dictate your life? Fear inhibits success. Take chances and free yourself from limiting beliefs. Taking risks empowers you to take charge of your life. Be curious about life; experiment and try new things. Set goals for yourself and take action. Step out of what is safe, comfortable and familiar to you. Examine what feelings emerge when you are thinking about taking a risk. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?”  Concealing yourself in a safe container prevents you from exploring other possibilities. Embrace the unknown and anticipate success. You will never know the outcome if you don’t take the risk.

4. Teach Your Son to Make the Most of Opportunities and Failures

It is possible to get through the difficult times in life. Learn from failures and take responsibility for your life. Listening to your inner critic can sabotage your dreams. Silence the critic by reaffirming all the things you are capable of doing. Dream big and be excited about your future. Find and release your untapped talents. Believe in your abilities and discover what you have to offer the world. Think about all the things you can’t do and try to do them. Think back to a time, when something was difficult and you were able to overcome the challenge. Continuing to live life in a safe container doesn’t help you gain anything in life. Take the necessary actions to achieve your goals. Stop assuming and start achieving!

5. Inspire  Your Son to Leave a Legacy

What’s your legacy? How do you want to be remembered? The life you live defines who you are and the choices you make will determine what impact you will have on the lives of others.  Never underestimate the power of your words and actions. You were uniquely created to make a contribution to the world. It is your right and your obligation to make your mark in this world. Surround yourself with people who are supportive, positive and encouraging.  Show appreciation and gratitude to those around you. If you have a message to share, then share it with the world. Staying small and thinking small will not get you where you need to be in life. Starting today, have a new perspective on life. Start a new chapter in your life.