Guest post by Sharmeen Wasim
We have all heard this phrase before. ‘Boys will be boys’ has not only made negative actions forgivable, but it has also robbed the potential for men to become better people. So many times, parents have accepted negative behaviours in young boys claiming that it is normal and so many times, parents have taught young girls to sit quietly and be patient with it.
Why is there a difference between how we treat girls and boys? Having manners has often been linked to being “ladylike” and is always mentioned to young girls as a trait to aspire towards, but being a gentleman is barely mentioned until they have grown older.
So, how are boys expected to change their beliefs when manners are taught to them later on or even worse, not taught to them at all?
It all starts at a young age…
When boys are given more competitive games to play, this (arguably) promotes some of these undesirable behaviours. It is natural to feel adrenaline when playing competitive sports and games. To release this adrenaline, most would scream or shout and the problem here is that they are not being told that they should contain or control this excitement after a certain point. When they start to feel comfortable in raising their voices, they assume it is normal and alright in all contexts. Some may roll their eyes when the phrase, “one thing leads to another” is being said, but really, this is usually the case.
Children are still experimenting with the world and are beginning to understand what is right and what is wrong. They start to recognize the boundaries that people around them put. When they push the boundaries, and when their actions are not being acknowledged, they tend to believe that it is acceptable. The more these actions are ignored, the more it unfolds in the future. This is usually the time when the people around them start to say it has gone too far.
Unsurprisingly, the boys’ reaction would be confusion and a sense of betrayal. The reason being that their whole time growing up, they were not stopped for their unacceptable behaviours. Hence, comprehending these new boundaries would become much more difficult and the most popular outcome of all of this would then be rebellion.
This rebellion is often mixed with distrust as well, which is understandable. It would not make sense for someone to trust another person who changes their minds, especially without explaining their reasons. Often times these newly introduced boundaries are just stated and not explained but expected to be understood. These expectations can be extremely mentally exhausting, eventually leading the boys to give up. All of this just because of lack of communication that nobody wants to address.
Does maturity come with age?
Oftentimes it has been noticed that a lot of expectation is put on puberty. For example, the blind belief that boys will miraculously become mature and understand those older than them. This will only be the case if the boy himself goes through a huge realization. However, it cannot and should not be hoped for or expected to happen. Effort needs to be put during the beginning stages.
This brings up another point: girls have been taught from a young age to be patient with boys as they go through puberty later and hence, mature later. In other words, tolerate their bad behaviours. When bad behaviour is being tolerated or justified, it becomes acceptable behaviour in the minds of children. The cycle then goes on.
Society only makes things worse
The power of social expectations is extremely underestimated. It is easy for people from the outside to ask why these boys don’t just do what is right when they know it. At a very young age, when children begin to interact with the people of the same age, their instinct would be to fit in as much as possible. The reason being not many kids at that age would have the confidence to go on without having any friends.
Hence, they would try their best to think and act the same as those around them, making sure they would not be outcasted. Trust is easily established amongst these children, increasing the chances of them trusting their peers’ opinions more than those older than them. It may seem ridiculous to some who truly believe that it is easier to trust those who are older as they would know more. However, some look at it this way that older people do not understand their perspective and hence, their words may not be relevant to them.
The parents’ responsibility
It is important to nourish the child’s life with good influences because children look up to those they love and feel understood by. Oftentimes, relationships with young boys do not really involve much care or love as compared to girls. It may be due to the fact that women, such as mothers and teachers, are normally the ones raising them and naturally have a more relatable connection with young girls.
Sometimes there is also the subconscious thought of leaving it to the fathers to handle the sons. This is fine if the amount of attention received by the sons was the same as the daughters. However this is usually not the case, especially when the fathers are the main breadwinners of the family and have many more things to focus on other than parenting their sons. This imbalance of attention would leave the sons feeling disregarded and so, leading them to look for inspiration outside of their homes instead.
As mentioned previously, one of the main roots of this problem is the lack of communication. This can be in terms of both ways where people, mainly parents, do not communicate with their sons or the sons not wanting to communicate with them. Girls often like to communicate and share their feelings, but this is hardly seen in boys. It may be due to the fact that society has always said that girls are more emotional than boys. Hence, these boys tend to not be confident in sharing how they feel, afraid that they would be made fun of.
Sharmeen was born and raised in Singapore, in a family of Pakistani origin. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Baking and Pastry & Food Service Management. Her many electives in sociology, ethics and leadership have allowed her to observe the world from a different perspective.
Sharmeen explores her passion for baking on her Instagram MeenBakes.
Besides baking, she also enjoys drawing, painting and doing photography in her free time.