Raising Boys to be Good Men

When I found myself pregnant with my first child I knew in my heart I was carrying a boy. I didn’t have the excitement one should feel when they learn they are about to bring a new life into the world. Instead, all I felt was fear.  I was so afraid I went to my doctor and through tears pouring out of my eyes told him I couldn’t have this child.

pregnant

He asked me why? My only answer was that I couldn’t bear the responsibility for bringing another boy into the world who could treat a woman the way  his father had been treating me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my head up and be proud to have raised a man who felt it was okay to beat a woman.

My doctor told me my son wouldn’t grow up to be a wife beater if I didn’t allow violence in my home. He insisted personality was learned not something we were born with. He was wrong. At the time his words were what I needed to hear.

Knowing I had a child coming who would need me to be strong for him gave me the strength to leave his father. It wasn’t easy and I would spend most of the next sixteen years hiding.

My son was born with a volatile personality, similar to his father’s. It wasn’t easy to raise him but I was determined this child would never raise his hands to another human being and feel it was okay to do so.

He and I worked hard to find ways for him to vent his anger in acceptable ways. When he was irrationally angry I would send him outside to shovel snow watching from inside as he beat the snow for the first few minutes with the shovel and then as the anger subsided I would watch the anger dissipate as he would begin to finally shovel the snow.

Summer months were a bit harder. I tried sending him out to mow the grass but after his anger breaking a few of my mowers I decided the angry child wasn’t the one who should be using a mower.

Each time he finished the task at hand he would return to apologize and explain that he didn’t know what made him so angry in the first place.

Our struggles paid off. My son has never struck a woman. I watched his first wife hit him and he would walk outside to cool off rather than retaliate. Today he’s with a supportive woman and he has found ways to work through his mood swings when they do happen that doesn’t involve destruction of property.

Why am I telling you all this?  Last week a story broke that tore my heart into pieces.

Russia has decriminalized domestic violence.  Women were told to wear their bruises with pride.

When my son’s father was beating me there were no protections for women in my position. Police were called to my home who told me I had to have done something to deserve the beating while I watched other officers joke with my ex and even sympathize with him for having a woman who didn’t know her place.

Males and females are different from the very moment they are conceived.  Watch young children. Give a doll to a boy and girl of the same age, raised with the same values and they will play differently.  Give trucks to both sexes and they will play differently.

Listen to any father talk about his little girl and a boy liking her and you will see deep emotions in that father as he struggles with the knowledge that his little girl might not be treated with respect. Yet that same father when his son talks about girlfriends doesn’t struggle with the same feelings.

Look at the reactions when a teacher is accused of having sex with a student.  When it’s a young female teacher you hear some say how lucky the young boy was to have his first experience be with that young hot teacher. Or worse, his friends are envious of that boy. Yet, when it’s a male teacher who seduces a female student there is outcry and calls for harsh punishments and the girl? She’s a whore.

When a boy gets into fights he’s tough and will be a strong man one day,  yet a girl is told she isn’t acting ladylike if she gets into a fight.

To decriminalize domestic violence, I don’t care if it’s perpetrated by a woman or man, is a crime against humanity. To lay your hands on another person you swear you love is not how you love them. It is disrespectful.  The children in these families, studies show, end up seeing the victim as weak and emulate the abuser in many cases. Who wants to be viewed as weak in a society that values strength?

For every child who grows up in an abusive household there is a chance that child will grow up to be abusive even if he or she hated the abuse they saw.

There are laws we shouldn’t have to need, domestic violence laws are one of them. We shouldn’t have to tell people it’s not okay to use your fists on another human being. Yet, until we have evolved to the point where we treat each other with respect, until we learn how to handle our angry moods in non-violent ways, we will need these laws and the protection they give to the victims.

 

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29 comments

  1. My son also had a short temper even as a young child. I do believe some things are hard wired into individuals at birth. Learning to cope with our personality short comings is something that all people do or should do because there is no ‘perfect’ personality. We enrolled our son in a hybrid martial arts class taught by a former county teacher who showed his students how to defend themselves while learning to first walk away from conflict developing self control and self respect and fighting only when there was no other choice. He had the opportunity to get those angry feelings out in his training. I believe that martial arts saved him. He started training at 12 years of age and was a black belt by age 16 – joining the teaching staff for the school. Joining the marines further developed the qualities learned in martial arts. I am glad you got your son away for the bad example of manhood. That was a major step in the right direction. Physical exercise was also an excellent outlet for him.

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    • My son also studied martial arts and it helped him greatly, finding the right teacher was the key. I’m truly surprised by the number of people who will share their struggles parenting angry children. I wish the internet had been around back when I was dealing with those problems with my son, I might not have felt so alone in our struggles.

      It wasn’t only the anger my son inherited, while he never knew his father he has several of his mannerisms. I noticed them early on. It’s amazing how much we truly inherit.

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  2. I don’t doubt that Russia would do something so stupid. I don’t care what the laws are. A man that hits will find himself deceased very quickly around me. It will look like an accident or something he did to himself. When my first husband came at me, I told him so and he saw the look in my eyes that made a believer out of him. When are the people of Russia going to say enough of the crazy? When are we? Trump and Putin are friends because they are the same kind of men. Insecure and worthless as human beings. Sad that anyone thinks it’s ok.

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    • I wish I had your gumption. I thought I did, I didn’t understand how a woman could stay with a man that beat her until I lived it. It creeped up on me so slowly that by the time it started to happen he had me convinced I could never get away safely.

      Russia’s decriminalizing of domestic abuse is sickening but to tell women to wear their bruises with pride makes me want to put those government officials through a few months of domestic abuse to see what it’s like.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have a strong suspicion that Mr. Putin was an abused child. I know he was bullied and tormented in school. What men do to women is called Gaslighting. It happens mostly to girls that came from homes where they were not well cared for either.

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  3. The Russian story was so unbelievable that I had to look it up. Unfortunately, it’s true. I don’t understand the world sometimes. Actually, a lot of the time.

    You have given us yet another example of the incredibly strong person you are, Lois. Life has dealt you a bad hand many times, but you always come out a winner through sheer determination. You have two boys that you should be very proud of.

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    • Wasn’t that story horrible? I too had to double check it to be sure it was truthful, but once I did it just wouldn’t leave me. It feels as if the entire world has gone crazy all of a sudden. Maybe I was just in denial before….

      I am very proud of my sons, they have weathered through so much right along with me.

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  4. It takes a lot of courage to work through these hard issues like you have, Lois, and talk about them. No doubt it was no accident your children are boys and that they came into your life. You had something to do in making a change in their lives and who they would become. They may have never learned it had you not been their mother and went through these experiences to teach them.

    I think not only can boys come into the world angry but girls do, too. I believe our daughter did and when she got a little older we hung a full-sized punching bag out in the carport so whenever she got angry she would go out and punch it out to her heart’s desire. She wore that thing out. I think what’s worse for girls is that it’s not acceptable to be angry like boys and they have to suppress it. In grade school, she had a substitute teacher one day and there was a girl sitting behind who would reach up and dig her nails in my daughter’s arm. My daughter would tell her to stop and try to get the teacher’s attention to no avail. Finally, my daughter had enough, stood up, grabbed the girl, put her on the ground and sat on top of her while grabbing a pair of scissors. The sub-teacher took off for the principal and my daughter cut off the girl’s nails. We never heard anything about it from the school. Guess it was settled in-house. Lord knows how it would have been handled if it had happened in today’s world and the bullying.

    Don’t know why there’s an angry spirit that comes through sometimes. I know it’s not easy to always know what to do and how to help them. Sounds like your boys were exactly where they needed to be to have a mother like you to help them and teach them how to truly love.

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    • Pat, I am so sorry you also had to learn how to help an angry child but it sounds to me like you did well and she is fine today. I do have to say that her solution for the girl with the nails is fantastic! I would have been so proud of her that she handled the situation without causing actual pain for the other child.

      Yes, I do believe I had boys because it was meant to be. Now that I have granddaughters I see that while I love them dearly, I honestly don’t know how to play with them. They bring dolls over and want me to pretend to be one of the dolls and I am lost, completely lost. Give me a boy who wants to play with bugs or work with tools and I’m in my element. Of course, the girls have learned to appreciate the bugs and nature and are working to teach me how to use imagination to play with them so it all works out in the end.

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      • Thank you, Lois. It was challenging but, like you, they were gifts from God to teach me some things and to help them. I never wanted to break their spirit and encouraged them to find their own paths, while still working through my own issues.

        It’s amazing when I look back at it and see where they’re at today — I’m like you do with your boys, as well. I wonder how we ever did it. They’re such beautiful, strong and independently-willed women (put me in my place sometimes). I love it and wouldn’t have changed a thing.

        I also think coming to the mountains, getting away from the distractions of the city and having horses made a huge difference in molding them into what they wanted to be. They were tough as any boy and dressed up pretty good for the dances and proms. They carry it on today with my Tom Boy nail-cutting daughter as an RN and my other fashion jean daughter wood crafting her own treasure trunks. So individual and unique — love it. Come to think of it, don’t really remember them playing with Barbie’s much.

        Now, I have grandsons (ha-ha opposite your granddaughters). It’s an adjustment, too, but have to say much easier and a lot less drama.

        Take care, my friend. You’ve done and are doing a great job. Keep loving and laughing and you’ll be shone the way. xxoo 🙂

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        • Yes, you are so right. I learned much from my boys, lessons I needed to learn. I adore them. They are their own persons, and like your daughters my boys are complete opposites yet that’s what makes them special.

          Laughter has always been the key to living for me. The worst situations can be less stressful if you can find some humor in it.

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          • Same here, Lois. I can totally relate. I adore them, too, and they’re complete opposites, like your boys. So many situations we’ve had that makes me laugh. It’s a wonder we even survived — as I was winging it. Angels were definitely kept busy in our household (hahaha). 🙂

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          • Winging it is exactly how I did it too. We were both lucky in the end. I came to the conclusion that I probably made many mistakes but my boys knew I loved them and love was what made all the difference.

            Liked by 1 person

          • We were lucky, Lois, with a lot of angel help. Love makes all the difference in the world on both sides and looks like we had a lot of it. 🙂

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  5. all true. I read that headline too. Did not read more…as it rather flabbergasted me. I do ask myself, is it true, or is it proganda from the West? I don’t know, as I have made no effort to check…

    You are right, there are some things which we do need laws for, and this is one.

    On the subject of teachers, I have to say (and this is only from news stories), I have seen virtually a surge of charges against female teachers for sexual abuse/sexual interference/porn abuse/luring/and much more with students. Positively a landslide (so to speak), compared to say ten yrs back. I have wondered, was that always the case? Are there more now? Or, did it just not (as you say) get take seriously/criminally prior? (these have been cases of female teachers with boys/ and female teachers with girls).

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    • I did follow up on this report before posting and it turns out that Russia is only one of many countries that allows men to beat their wives. The only difference is Russia is the most recent to decriminalize the behavior.

      I wonder too if the surge in female teachers having relations with students is just now being reported more or if it’s an actual surge. Either way the double standard for the genders bothers me still.

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      • I had no idea there were countries to decriminalize this…

        I wonder too, re the female teachers thing, if it is a surge, or more reported (there was a time it would not have been)…..

        and yes, there is a double standard….but dare I say, at least where I live, the double standard is very much to unwarranted favor of girls/females/women….and I think that is not going to solve anything…Unjust is unjust.

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    • I did my best which is all we can do. I’m proud of my boys who are good fathers and respect women. Having been a victim of domestic abuse I felt a heavy weight on my shoulders to break the cycle of violence against women. To see countries decriminalize domestic violence makes me angry.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. My son is diagnosed with autism and during meltdowns he can get pretty violent as well. It used to be self harm when he was younger, hitting his head on the floor or the walls until he had lumps and bruises. But as he got older it would be taken out on me or his grandparents and for a 6 year old, he has a mean right hook lol. His Dad was never in the picture and that’s probably for the best as I don’t think he could deal with it all. But for years we’ve been working on talking about why he’s mad instead of hitting or breaking things and it’s beginning to get better. I’m still learning his triggers like too much noise or changes in routine but every day is another chance to grow and learn how to create a plan to help him out. You’re definitely not alone in the rowdy boy group💜

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    • Mama Jay, I can relate but I think you have a harder job ahead of you than what I did. Autism is tough. It sounds like you have a good support system, grandparents, around you to help. If I understood you right, I am glad you have their help. I applaud you efforts to teach your son to understand his triggers and learn coping skills. I see some who make excuses for their children instead of helping them as you are. Good luck to you and your son.

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      • It’s a learning process and he knows that he has autism and I explained it to him like he was one of the X-Men that can’t control their super powers yet and his super power is that he hears things better than any of us and tastes things that we don’t taste and some times he needs to be somewhere quiet to get his powers under control. It’s hard to make excuses for his behavior based on autism because he is a 6 year old little boy as well and they act up too but I can usually tell the difference between the two now. The hardest part is other people judging my child’s behavior or my parenting. I recall telling one woman at Wal-Mart, while sitting on the pallet where they kept the paper towel, holding onto my screaming boy while he tried to hit me and she told me I shouldn’t let him act that way and maybe I shouldn’t take him to the store again. I gave her a look of death and said he has autism, would you like to try feeling how he feels every day and how loud and scary a simple trip to the store can be. Judgemental adults infuriate me.

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        • You are one amazing mother to relate his sensitivities to the X-Men, I’ve worked with special needs children most of my adult life and never thought of that.

          I would have given that Walmart woman a piece of my mind then offered to watch your things while you helped your son. People can be so insensitive. I was born with Muscular Dystrophy at a time when families still hid their “less than normal” children. My family didn’t hide me but being one of the first in my area to try to blend in was difficult and I had my share of nasty comments along the way. Thankfully, things are getting better and more people understand disabilities and are willing to accommodate us.

          Good luck to you and your son.

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