Encouraging Boys to Be Emotionally Engaged
Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees (the inspiration for the movie Mean Girls), has now written a book that explores the emotional lives of boys. In an interview with The Atlantic she explains that boys are less understood than girls and that this leads to adults assuming that they are behaving badly and then reinforcing bad behavior.
We have a very hard time seeing the signs of how and when boys want to talk to us. We also have a hard time–even though we think we don’t–acknowledging that boys have deep emotional lives. We believe that because we can’t see it, it’s not there.
. . .We box boys in. We’re not aware of it. Boys say it’s good to have a female friend — if something bad happens with a girl, or if you break up with your girlfriend, it’s much easier to talk to a girl about it than even your closest male friends. I just talked to a high school boy about how important it is to have girls that are friends. He broke up with his girlfriend . . . his heart was broken and he didn’t know what to do . . . he wanted to talk to his closest friends, but they just wanted to talk about hooking up. They didn’t talk about their relationship problems. So he made evening plans to go to dinner with a very close female friend.
His mom thought he didn’t care about his girlfriend, that he wanted a hookup. So she reinforced the stereotype about guys just going after sex. Even his own mother doesn’t realize that her son needs a strong relationship with a girl . . . to bare his soul, to get relationship advice. We are allowing these stereotypes to shape the way we look at boys and their relationships with other people.
Wiseman also addresses the roles that fathers and schools play, as well as how boys really feel about the “hook-up” culture and more. Read the full interview here.