"Boy development is trustworthy."
-- Michael Thompson, author of It's a Boy
How often do we worry about our sons?
When they're babies, we worry that they're not eating enough, that they're growing too fast or that they're slow to walk. We worry when their female cousins babble months ahead of them and try not to obesses when the neighbor's daughter is drawing detailed scenes by age 2 -- and our sons are still eating the crayons.
We worry when their hands, utensils, toast, playdoh, cars and stuffed animals become guns. Scenes of Columbine flash through our head and we pray, please, don't let our sons grow up to be murders.
We worry when our sons bring home notes telling us they can't sit still in class, and we worry when they bring home straight As. We worry about their friends -- and their lack of friends. We tell them to find something to do, and then worry when they do it.
We worry about their impulsivenss, aggressiveness, shyness, intelligence and physical prowess.
In short, we spend a lot of unnecessary time worrying about our sons, because as Thompson says, BOY DEVELOPMENT IS TRUSTWORTHY.
That doesn't mean we can stop parenting our sons; it means that, instead of obsessing over every little milestone or characteristic we don't understand, we should look at the bigger picture. It means that it's OK if your five-year-old son is squiggly in school; that's all a part of how boys develop. It means that a fascination with plastic weapons and hours spent playing war are perfectly normal. It means that our job, as parents, is to accept, love and support our sons as they are.
We don't need to mold our son into what they "should" be. We need to trust the innate developmental timetable built into each and every one of them. Boys -- all boys -- have gifts, and they need time, attention and freedom to grow.
Just today, my six-year-old son asked me to help him read. He'd gotten a reading record at daycare (read 10 books and get a Happy Meal!) and was eager to learn. I was still eating breakfast, but he had the books and was raring to go. For 20 precious minutes, we read together -- not because he was 6, not because it was "reading time" and not because someone, somewhere decided that today was the day he should learn to sound out "c - at." We read because he was ready.
My three-year-old, meanwhile, waited with a pen and paper, watching TV. He wanted help "making letters." And so when I'd finished reading, I held his hand and helped him write his name -- then "Grandpa," "Grandma," "Daddy," and "Mom" -- not because he needs to learn how before he goes to school, but because today, he wanted to "make letters."
Try it. Watch your boys, not the clock. You might be surprised by how much fun you have.