Is there a more intense, challenging and yet heart-warming relationship in our lives? Well, possibly mothers and daughters, but that’s a subject for another time. When I wrote Raising Boys almost 25 years ago, I was aiming to solve one of the problems that most came along in my work with families in crisis or trouble – how to help mums and sons get along.
This month I am releasing a completely rewritten update of that classic book, because times have changed and there is just so much more helpful stuff coming out from researchers into boy psychology. First of all, the news that boys brains really are much more vulnerable. It starts in the womb, as the production of testosterone by the boys’ own body actually slows down his brain growth. We don’t know why this is, but it means he is vulnerable for longer, well into his first year of life, to stress and anxiety (as well as nasty chemicals like pthalates in plastics, which has been linked to ADHD and other problems). But the main message is that we need to take care of young parents, and mums especially, so they can relax, bond, and engage in that lovely dance of tenderness and comfort that helps a baby learn to regulate their emotions and grow the brain structures that determine a calm and happy level of mental heatlh.
The Full On Fours is another stage – we knew about this – where most boys get very active about this age, but the science has moved on, and it looks like a very early beginning of being not just a toddler, but a BOY toddler. Of course, every boy is different and so don’t let this be a prescription. We talk in the book about how to respond to those energy levels, and not make your boy feel bad for being rambunctious. Human beings are very active creatures and we still need to allow for that.
The Emotional Eights are a new discovery from the Murdoch Institute. The actual brain changes at eight signal the Adrenarche, or pre-puberty shift in adrenal hormones, and your son may become very volatile and need help to understand his own inner turmoil.
And did I mention adolescence? Well, there’s lots about that too because there are a thousand different ways to be a boy. How to keep boys safe, happy, and loving and happy with the girls in their lives, so that they stay friends with their mothers long into adulthood.
What could create more happiness than to have that warmth when they are adult, and into our old age! A son who loves us back, and isn’t afraid to show it. What a Mother’s Day present.
More information on Raising Boys in the 21st Century can be found here >>