Girls Are More Delicate -- and Other Wrong Ways to Teach Boys Respect

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The little boys at our local playground have two games that they like to play. One is chase and shoot, a thrilling adventure that involves running at top speed while making machine gun noises and slashing through the air with imaginary swords. The other game goes like this: One boy falls down, the other boy jumps on top of him, a third boy completes the sandwich and then all kinds of grappling ensues. The latter game is awesome to watch and I often have to refrain from coaching. (Grab his arm, roll to the left, now get on top, get on TOP! Yes!)

Usually Maya is off with her own friends playing their odd combo of rainbow princess Star Wars expedition. But occasionally she becomes intrigued with the boys' rough and tumble game, as do some of her other buddies. It was on one of these days when this gold medal parenting moment happened:

Mom (to her 5-year-old son who was grabbing at one of the young ladies): Hey, be gentle! You have to be careful when you play with girls, they are more delicate.

Boys roughhousing at the Playground
Credit: amslerpix.

She meant well. In fact, a few minutes later she made some comment about wanting her son to grow up treating women properly, which is of course a good goal.

But I could write a novel about all the things that are wrong with her statement.

First of all, your son should be careful no matter who he is playing with. There might actually be boys out there too who are not in the mood to have their stomachs jumped on. How about you look at the other kid's face (no matter what the gender) and see if he/she is having fun? Here is a good tip; if they are laughing, punch away. And if they look miserable, stop. Easy peasy.

If you read my blog often you know that I am a huge fan of rough play, so long as both parties are willing and it does not get too out of hand. I think it helps kids learn control and physical limits and body awareness. And yes, it hurts sometimes. What do you expect from a game that involves kicks and punches?

Here are the rules of the road: If your kid is bigger than the person he is rolling around with, he needs to be more careful. If he is more aggressive, he needs to be more careful. If he is getting a little too crazy, he needs to be more careful. If his buddy says stop, he stops. Immediately. Isn't that the lesson we want our little boys to learn? That no means no?

Yup, that about covers it. Parenting done.

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