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A note to parents of elementary age girls from a mom of elementary age boys….

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Dear Parents of Girls,

I am a mom of boys…it’s all I know as a mother. However, I am a woman who was once a girl. I remember being boy crazy long before boys seemed to notice me. I remember being uncomfortable in my skin. I remember doing stupid things to get noticed. I remember the frenzy that happened when a pack of us got together. I remember kicking a boy I thought was cute in the crotch and getting in trouble. I also remember being smart, and capable, and strong, and talented and knowing I could be whomever I chose to be if I worked hard enough.

Now as a mom of boys, I am consumed with the “other” gender, and it’s tough being a boy too…just like it is tough being a girl. I am doing my best to raise young men who respect themselves and respect others. I want to raise the type of boys worthy of an awesome girl. I want them to become their dad, a man who treats women with dignity, respect, fun, love, and equality.

So here is my bone to pick. Each of my boys have come to me (or I have watched it happen) where girls, in complete fun, get physical with them…badly enough that they end up hurt. My boys are physically tough; it’s eat or be eaten when you are one of 5 boys in a home and they are all plenty physical and strong and willing to wrestle and  fight; however, we try to teach our boys that we don’t hurt people, and especially we don’t hurt, wrestle or fight with girls. This puts them in a tough spot. My 3 examples:

1. At a high school football game, my second grader was playing on the grassy area with a few of his friends. A couple of darling girls from his class came up and started to play too. These girls are good girls; fun, happy, and nice and good friends with my son. However, when the boys went back to playing football, the girls started to chase them. The chase turned into a tackle and while my second grader was on the ground, the girls started kicking him. Hard. In the stomach and back. As they were doing this they were smiling and laughing and shrieking. Obviously, this was their version of teasing and having fun and getting attention. I had to run over and stop things. My son did not fight back because he didn’t feel right about kicking the crap out of them. If the roles had been reversed, he would have been in BIG trouble. Not cool.

2. The second time this happened at a friend’s home when 3 families were hanging out and playing games. Both the families we were with are AMAZING. I mean the types of parents you hope you will be someday with wonderful kids. When we got in the car, I asked my boys if they had fun. The oldest one had a blast playing with the “older” kids, but my two youngest said that the girls kept chasing them, then pinching or kicking them or hitting them and it wasn’t fun at all. My third was really hurt on his arm and both said they didn’t want to go back. Same situation…excited, little girls trying to get attention and play and have fun, but doing it in a way that just isn’t ideal. Once again, my boys didn’t do anything back. If they did there would have been some serious tears, I’m sure.

So, that night we had to have a talk about defending yourself. That if you are being hurt, even if it is by a girl or someone younger than you are, you can shove them away from you and find an adult. Funny that the first time we had to talk about fighting back was because of girls. The parents of these girls took care of things lickety split after we chatted.

3. The third time happened recently at recess. My older son and some friends were being chased by the younger sisters of some girls in their grade…the older sisters egging them on and cheering. The little girls were trying to kick them in the crotch and were trying to pull their hair and other things. When the older boys had had enough, they grabbed the little ones and pushed them away…guess who was in trouble? Right, the boys. And I think they should have been. They weren’t in big trouble, just got a talking to and a reminder, which was totally appropriate, but it was still a situation that could have been avoided.

So, now my request to parents of girls. PLEASE teach them other ways to get attention, to play, to have conversations, to create friendships with boys. And if the boys still aren’t interested, please teach them to move on. They need to feel confident enough to want to spend time with people who want to spend time with them. The boys will come around one day, and you want your girls to choose the ones who treat them well, who put them front and center, who listen to them, who pay attention to what they have to say. No one wants their daughter to be the side kick of some jerk. Teach them that they deserve more than that; that if someone is worth their friendship they shouldn’t have to fight to be noticed. It might also be worth while to chat with them about the way they play and that it is inappropriate to hurt people…even older kids. Hurting people is never a good way to make a friend.

I will continue to try and teach my boys to treat everyone with respect and to find appropriate ways to change situations, and they will continue to have bumps in the road, get in trouble and need reminders. As they get older, they get bigger and tougher and stronger, so a physical response is not the place I ever want them to go…with anyone, but especially with girls. Lines blur much too quickly. In addition to the fact that fighting is not an appropriate way to fix things, in the world we live in, the word of a boy against the word of a girl rarely turns out well for the boy; so, I have to protect my boys, especially when it comes to physical encounters and teach them to look out for themselves. It is just the way our world works.

So, let’s help each other make this life just a little kinder and nicer and a bit easier for our kids to navigate. Boys and girls alike.

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14 thoughts on “A note to parents of elementary age girls from a mom of elementary age boys….

  1. I am about to have my 4th baby and 4th girl! My oldest is 5 and not in school yet. I sure hope she doesn't do that but the only way to make sure is to teach her. Any chance these little girls in your examples learn these things from boys inside or outside of their families? Having all girls I would note that they don't naturally want to chase, hit, and kick other kids. Any time my kids have had physical problems with other kids at play dates have been with boys pushing the girls over a toy or something. Kind of dreading and looking forward to my kids being in school! ah!

  2. I am a mother of 3 boys, my oldest being 5 in July and only in pre-school. I have to disagree with your comment that girls don't want to "naturally chase, hit, and kick other kids". I watch a girl twice a week who is the same age as my boy. Since she was 2 years old, and before I stared to watch her two days a week, if something did not go her way, she would attack, hit, and scratch up other kids, including my boy. Both genders need to be taught gentleness when playing, do not blame just boys for rambunctious behavior.

  3. Maybe there is an element of girls mimicking boyish behavior, though I would point out that is our responsibility as parents to correct inappropriate behavior and not pass the problem onto the opposite gender.

  4. Just discovered your blog, so I'm late to this conversation, but I also think this is a group mentality. My eldest, a girl, is 10 and has no idea she's supposed to "like" boys or have crushes or try to get their attention. It's just not on her radar. She has a great friend at church who is a boy, and they talk about rocks and random things that interest them. It could be because she's homeschooled and she's away from the influence of a pack of girls. Not making any wild claims, but she does behave differently from the girls her age when it comes to boys. And boy am I grateful!

    I'm glad you mentioned self-defense, and talking with your boys about it. It's right, and okay, to defend yourself and get an adult.

  5. This was great! I also am a mom of only boys (4 so far) and I understand the struggle. I also teach my boys not to hit girls, but I know that's been hard for them to hold back when the girls get physical. Thanks for pointing this out in such an eloquent manner.

  6. I do have to say that all girls and all boys are really different with unique personalities. I really didn't see anything until school started, and I really haven't seen it much, just in a few instances but they did really bother me. It didn't seem like it was mimicking either, it really was just girls being so excited and wanting attention. I remember doing that too. Luckily we haven't seen it in quite awhile.

  7. That could be true too Jennie, a group mentality for sure fuels the fire. However, my boys are all totally different. The first has always loved girls and the second has only ever seen them as friends…same home, totally different outlook.

  8. I agree that this is a problem. I think most girls assume that boys don't have feelings. Seriously, boys don't usually talk about getting hurt, they wrestle with each other, they skin their knees and continue playing, etc. It is important for parents to teach them not to hit and kick boys. I have 2 boys and one girl. My boys know not to hit girls (and boys too), but I have taught my daughter that it's not right to tease rough with boys, either. I have 3 older brothers, and growing up I saw so many girls who had crushes on them come up to them to punch them in the shoulder or kick them in the back. They told me, "When you get older, never hit boys. They don't like it." I think if more girls knew that the boys didn't like it, they would stop.

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