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Monday, November 19, 2012

Manly Mondays

Yup...I'm making Mondays all about my little male at home.  It's only fitting too as I take my bath on Sunday night (God, I sound like half-pint, right?  I swear...I bathe more than just once a week in some stupid wooden tub in the outhouse), read my awesome boy book in my bath (does that sound dirty?), and don't tutor on Mondays (holla!!!  A night off).

Okay, so today's topic is boys and empathy.  If you haven't noticed, children in general don't have a ton of empathy (damn narcissistic little things), but boys seem to have even less.  If someone gets hurt on a soccer field, you notice the girls stop and check on that person.  The boys continue to play for the most part.  They may glance in the direction of the injured person, but they continue the game.

Seems cold-hearted, right?  Makes you want to rush right on the field and say something to the effect of "Matt, get back there and ask your friend if he's okay."  To which he'll ignore you and continue to play the game.

Then you start to panic...OMG, my child has NO empathy...he's a sociopath...I knew I shouldn't have that glass of wine in the third trimester!!!*

The author of my boy book says something different.  He says:

Instead of trying to get boys to change their initial responses, we need to help them see empathy as a task, a sacred task even, that they have the resources and time to fulfill.  Saying this in no way denies their responsibility to aid someone substantially hurt; all boys must learn basic empathy.  But boys are already wired to give emergency aid, recognize severe injury, and give immediate, problem-solving assistance.  Their culture and we who influence it need to nurture these instincts but also do the most subtle teaching of the more complex boy-specific empathic responses. 
Interesting, right?  So, basically rather than running on the field and trying to get them to run back to their friend immediately, we can take a different course.  We can talk to them after the game is over and discuss their friend getting hurt and talk about different responses.

We know they care.  We know they want to help.  We also know they have no clue how to do this. 

We're not trying to raise pansy asses either.  You don't want him running up to this friend all worried and concerned either.  That would not only embarrass him, but it would also embarrass his friend.  You can discuss the fact that it would be appropriate to approach the guy at the end of the game and say something like, "tough fall dude...you okay?"  That would be an appropriate response from a guy who really does care, but is hard wired to act like he doesn't.

This section of the book also mentions that boys tend to be more empathetic when a girl is hurt over a boy.  They will stop what they're doing to see if the girl is okay rather than ignore it and deal with it later.  There is an innate need in boys to be the protector, the rescuer, and the guy who will take care of them over the guy who won't.  Therein lies an entirely different type of issue for me because I get to see the whole boy/girl twin relationship and the fact that he can totally ignore Hailey when she's hurt.  He can even laugh at her and he only comes to her aid if it's really bad.

Can't wait to volunteer in his classroom to see how he acts with other girls and not just his sister.  I swear, if he drop kicks a girl and doesn't go over to see if she's okay, I'll freak on his sociopathic butt!  Bahahahahaaaaa...maybe Husband should take that day!


*  Disclaimer:  I didn't actually drink during my pregnancy, but some do and I think it's fine.  I just didn't do it and so I can't even blame that on my son not having empathy!  LOL