July 9, 2020
He couldn’t sleep. Mike’s face stung from the gash and the stitches and a pulsing ache radiated from the back of his skull. His knuckles were shredded, and his arm throbbed under the thick bandages. Whether he closed or opened his eyes -- even his EYES hurt -- the images were there. Like grainy documentary footage. Some of it in motion, some of it still... That’s the start of chapter 2 of Wilderness Therapy, a new book by Paul Cumbo,a long-time teacher and coach. We don’t ordinarily talk about fiction here on ON BOYS, but this book is exceptional. It’s written for boys and tackles issues that are familiar to every boy -- loss, failure, grief, family and rage. "Teenage boys are complex creatures," Paul says, and his novel tells the story of one such boy, Mike, a teenager who's lost his father, his brother and his way. "I hoped that in telling Mike's story, there'd be a window for boys -- and people who love boys -- to help them see that, even in the most rugged terrain, there is a path to be found or made," Paul says. That message is extremely important for teenage boys and their parents & teachers, who too often tend to assume the worst when a boy makes a poor choice. As a teacher, coach and parent, Paul functions from a "presupposition of the good;" he assumes that those he encounters are functioning from a position of good intentions. "There's great value in looking at a messy situation, acknowledging the mess and then noticing that it's not all mess," he says. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Paul discuss: * How teenage boys are like the Grand Canyon * Why you should assume the best about boys * How to use movement to help boys process emotions and problems * The value of purposeful work, travel and service * Getting boys to read and write * The difference between passion and obsession * Boys and anger * Intrinsic motivation * Honoring boys' interests Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Wilderness Therapy -- Paul's book on Amazon -- Paul's online home; includes links to his other books Somos Amigos -- service organization mentioned at about 16:30 Will you share? Twitter:  Use this link Facebook: Use this link Linkedin: 
July 2, 2020
Summer slide (noun): The loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation Photo by bcrumpler via Flicker Parents (& educators) have long worried about the things kids "forget" over the summer. This year, on the tail of a pandemic-interrupted school year that launched valiant attempts at unplanned remote learning, parents (& educators) are more concerned than ever before. According to a recent New York Times article, 3/4 of parents of children under 12 and 64% of parents of teens feel that it's more important to do parent-led educational activities with their children this summer than in previous summers.  Just 17% of surveyed parents said they do not feel this pressure. We're here to tell you that you can take a break. There are a lot of ways to combat summer slide and help boys learn -- and none of them have to be painful. "Relax!" Janet says. "Lower your expectations, give yourself some grace, play and get outside." In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * The truth about summer slide (Spoiler: summer learning losses aren't as large as many people think) * Why you should focus on your son's mental health instead of academic achievement * Decreasing screen-dependency * Nature deficit disorder * How to get your boy OUTSIDE * Natural learning * How to keep kids busy in the summer * Teaching boys to play independently * Helping kids self-entertain * Encouraging self-relianceCommon Sense Skills camp * How to reinforce math & reading skills Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: "Nature Deficit Disorder" is Really a Thing -- NYT article discussed at 8:05 School's Out. Parental Burnout Isn't Going Away -- NYT article mentioned at 11:04 Pandemic Parenting Was Already Relentless. Then Came Summer -- NYT article How to Prevent Your Kids From Losing What They Learned in School During Summer Vacation -- Scholastic article We're Running a Common Sense Camp for Our Kids This Summer -- article mentioned at about 19:00 Dad, How Do I? -- YouTube channel mentioned at 22:35 Summer Survive & Thrive Tips -- ON BOYS episode Garth Brooks: The Road I'm On -- documentary mentioned at 24:30
June 25, 2020
Roughhousing can teach boys about healthy touch. Photo by SnarkleMotion via Flickr Society teaches boys that there are two kinds of "acceptable" touch for males: sex, and aggression. No wonder so many boys and men turn to sex and aggression to meet their very human need for touch! Physical play -- including play wrestling, "chase" games and roughhousing -- give boys multiple opportunities to experience healthy touch while learning about boundaries and consent. "Roughhousing is really more like dancing than fighting," Dr. Cohen says. "It can look like fighting, but the participants have to be really tuned in to each other." Building in frequent stops and starts can prevent physical play from getting out of control, Dr. Cohen says. Make it fun: "Freeze!" "OK, go!" Not sure if the kids are having fun or legitimately trying to hurt one another? Ask. A question that's not asked nearly enough, Dr. Cohen says, is "Are you enjoying this?" Also: tears don't necessarily mean the session was a disaster or ill-advised. "Tears are fine as long as there's comforting and a pause and connection," Dr. Cohen says. "If it's tears and then humiliation, it's the humiliation that's the problem, not the tears." In this episode, Jen, Janet & Lawrence discuss: * The importance of healthy touch * Difference between fighting & roughhousing * Why moms should roughhouse with their boys * The "sock game" * Ground rules: yay or nay? * How to keep roughhousing from getting out of control * When to intervene in rough play NOTE: The sound quality on this episode is still less-than-ideal. Jen was experiencing technical difficulties. The good news is that those episodes are now resolved. :)  Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: The Art of Roughhousing: Good, Old-Fashioned Horseplay and Why Every Kid Needs It, by Dr. Lawrence Cohen & Dr. Anthony T. DeBenedet Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children that Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems and Encourage Confidence, by Dr. Lawrence Cohen — Lawrence’s website 6 Reasons Why You Should Roughhouse with Your Kids - the article that led us to Dr. Cohen Rough and Tumble Games to Play with Boys This Summer -- BuildingBoys blog post Sexual Abuse Affects Boys Too -- our first ON BOYS conversation w Dr. Cohen LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this link Facebook: 
June 17, 2020
Dads are so important! We can't talk about raising boys without also talking about the men who help create and parent them. Dad were boys long before they were fathers, and they understand boyhood and the path to manhood in a way we never will. So, this Father's Day, we turned the mic over to 5 dads: Doc, a Wisconsin-based father of 3 Doc & his 3 kids Doc's advice for moms of boys: "It's going to be OK. It takes boys a long time to fully develop." Luis, a NY-based dad of 2 boys.... Louis, dad of 2 ....who says, "I didn't realize I'd be afraid for my children so often." Chris, a New Hamsphire resident and father of 2 Chris, Dad of 2 Chris reminds us that "your boys don't need you to a superhero. They need you to be kind. They need you to be model of how to manage strong emotions and strong feelings. They need you to be YOU." Phillip, a Portland, OR-based father and grandfather Phillip, Dad & Papa Boys, Phillip says, have a lot of energy and good intentions. Casey, an Idaho-based dad of 2 young boys Casey, Dad of 2 "The father/son relationship is so challenging," Chris says, noting that his view of his dad has changed over the years. Now, Chris says he's "inspired to be just like." THANK YOU TO ALL THE MEN WHO ARE HELPING RAISE THE NEXT GENERATION! In this episode, the dads discuss:Fatherhood * How mothers can support fathers * What dads are trying to teach their sons * What moms need to know about boys * The mother/son relationship * The father/son relationship * Parenting boys Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Charlie Capen on Fatherhood & Raising Boys -- ON BOYS episode Being a Stay-at-Home Dad -- ON BOYS episode LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:   Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin:  Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your ...
June 11, 2020
At least 1 in 5 people are differently wired, says Debbie Reber, founder of TiLT Parenting. Differently wired kids are neurologically atypical. They perceive the world differently than their peers and express themselves differently as well. These differences can be subtle or glaring, and as a parent or teacher, it can be hard to know how to respond to these quirks. Debbie and her husband noticed their son Asher's differences early on. He was "more intense, more precocious, more challenging" than similarly aged children and was "moving through the world in a different way" than his peers. By elementary school, his differences were creating challenges. Eventually, the family learned that Asher is "twice exceptional;" he's gifted and has some learning challenges, including ADHD and executive functioning and sensory issues. The diagnoses confirmed Debbie's gut instinct: Asher moves through the world differently than most boys his age. But the diagnoses didn't unveil any magic solutions. The family still had to learn how to help Asher thrive. "It's tricky to figure out a path and a plan when your child doesn't fit the box," Debbie says. "It's important to realize that there is no handbook for these kids. It's really about trying to identify your child's areas of weakness, learning what kind of support might help them right now and then taking one step at a time." Identifying and supporting your son's strengths is also essential. After all, differences aren't necessarily a bad thing. "We value disruptors as the innovators, the people creating new products and solving the problems of the world. Disruption is a buzzword!" Debbie says. "Our kids are disruptors because they're non-conformists, they see the world differently, they're going to challenge authority and question everything. Isn't that what we want?" In this episode, Jen, Janet & Debbie discuss: * Identifying differently wired children * What to do if people dismiss your concerns about your son's behavior * The link between lagging skill development and "bad behavior" * Respectful transparency (or, how to talk to your son about his challenges) * How to find help for your differently wired kid * Why you need to challenge your beliefs about what you (and your child) "should" do * Homeschooling as an option for differently wired boys * Why non-conformity and disruption are good things Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- TiLT Parenting online (includes links to TiLT Parenting Podcast too) TiLT Together FB Group Differently Wired: A Parent's Guide to Raising an Atypical Child with Confidence and Hope, by Debbie Reber Twice Exceptional Boys (w Ramsey Hootman) -- ON BOYS episode ADHD with Ryan Wexelblatt the ADHD Dude -- ON...
June 4, 2020
Black boys matter. Such a simple statement. And yet... George Floyd is dead. His name joins the long list of others (Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, etc., etc., etc...) whose lives have been cut short by racism, bias and brutality. Photo via Pixabay We here at ON BOYS are NOT OK with the status quo. We are committed to equity and opportunity, to listening and learning. We will not be silent.  This week -- and as often as possible -- we are amplifying black voices. , a freelance writer and lawyer who’s served as a policy fellow for Moms of Black Boys United. We also encourage you to check out Chandra's recent Washington Post article, "We Need More White Parents to Talk to Their Kids About Race. Especially Now," and her new Race@Home multimedia series, featuring conversations about race, socialization and parenting. “There is a lot of discussion going on about suicide, mental health, emotional wellness and stigma, much of it centered around what’s going on in the African-American and other communities of color,” Chandra says. “However, often, it is the sad unfortunate case that African-American women — moms — don’t get invited into these conversations.” Let's listen, and then act. #BlackLivesMatter #podcastblackout In this episode, Jen, Janet & Chandra discuss: * Factors affecting mental health in the African-American community * Implicit, unconscious bias * How racism causes parents to “over-pathologize” black boys’ behavior * The loss of protective factors — tight-knit communities, nearby family — that once helped support mental health * The need for connection * How society often misinterprets anxiety and depression in boys — which may manifest as rage and irritability — as “danger” rather than symptomatic of a mental health concern * Racial disparities in schools * How to begin dismantling implicit bias * How trauma impacts mental health —  & how the legacy of slavery impacts mental health today * Why it’s time to listen to (rather than study) the black community * Engaging in conversations about racism Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: We Need More White Parents to Talk to Their Children About Race. Especially Now. -- Washington Post article by Chandra Race@Home conversation between Chandra & Jen — Chandra’s website. Includes links to many of her articles Addressing Racism & Racial Disparities with Hilary Beard — ON BOYS episode
May 28, 2020
Photo by Lee Carson via Flickr  1 in 5 boys experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.  More than one-quarter of male victims of a completed rape (27.8%) experienced their first rape when they were 10 years of age or younger. And 43% of men report experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.   Today's guest, psychologist Lawrence Cohen, founded one of the first therapy groups for male survivors of sexual abuse. As recently as the 1980s and '90s, there was little public awareness that males could be victims of sexual abuse. Indeed, even today, parents and teachers spend much more time talking to girls than boys about the possibility of sexual abuse or harassment. Girls are taught how to stay safe & how to call for help; boys are mostly told to not sexually abuse or harass females. "The lack of awareness, education and understanding leaves boys very vulnerable," Dr. Cohen says. Societal expectations also contribute to boys' vulnerability to sexual abuse. Consider: * Boys are socialized to believe that males should want sex at any time, anywhere, with anybody * Boys aren't encouraged to feel or express their emotions * Boys are not cuddled, loved and nurtured in the same way girls are "Boys walk around hungry for that kind of nurturing, touch and gentleness, and unfortunately, there are people who will exploit that and take advantage of that," Dr. Cohen says. The #MeToo movement has brought the issue of sexual assault and harassment into public conversation, but the "dominant [public] view is that men are the perpetrators and women are the victims," Dr. Cohen says. Which means that it is absolutely essential for parents and teachers of boys to counter that prevailing narrative. Boys need to know that they (or their friends) can be victims of sexual assault or harassment. They need to be taught red flags that indicate questionable behavior, and they need to know how to safely reach out for help. NOTE: We know our sound quality is less-than-ideal on this episode. Jen's desktop computer AND laptop crashed right before we were scheduled to record, which meant she had to use her phone to join the conversation. Please forgive the poor sound quality; we had Larry on the line and thought his message was important enough to power through our technical challenges. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Lawrence discuss: * Why so many men & boys don't disclose sexual abuse * How sexist stereotypes and unhealthy expectations of masculinity increase boys' vulnerability to abuse * Why you must teach young boys about emotions * Educating boys about consent and boundaries * The importance of acknowledging sexual pleasure -- & the fact that bodies may respond, whether or not the touch was wanted or welcome * Violent vs seductive sexual abuse * Grooming leading to sexual abuse * The emotional impact of abuse * How to support a boy or man who discloses abuse * What to do if you have a "gut feeling" that something is wrong * How roughhousing teaches boys about healthy touch Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Lawrence's website Stop Sexual Abuse with These 6 Steps -- classic BuildingBoys post
May 21, 2020
Chores, Victoria Prooday says, are the most efficient way to build our boys' emotional muscle. Prooday, a psychotherapist, occupational therapist and speaker, is convinced that self-regulation is the key to success -- and science backs up her assertion. As early as 1998, psychologists were publishing papers and chapters stating that, "Self-regulation has major, important implications for success in life...People who are good at self-regulation show a multitude of advantages over other people, in both task performance and interpersonal relations." Meanwhile, our best parenting intentions led us astray. "Even thought we know the the key to success in life is self-regulation, what we offer our children is a lifestyle that promotes the exact opposite," Prooday says. "They are constantly entertained. There is not a moment of boredom. No responsibilities, no chores." The answer, she says, is to "educate our children about what will actually make them successful," Grades and popularity don't guarantee success or satisfaction. Instead, our children need to develop the ability to work hard and persist despite challenges and boredom. Chores can help our children develop self-regulation, but (as you've likely already learned), simply telling your child (OK, yelling at your child) "You need to help me around the house!" is not effective. That's why Prooday explains the why to children. "Your brain is just like a muscle," she says. "You train it the same way you train a physical muscle; you train your emotional muscle." Prooday emphasizes that fact that regular chores -- which must be done even though they're boring and regardless of whether or not one feels like doing them -- help the brain develop persistence and the ability to delay gratification. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Victoria discuss: * How good intentions can lead us astray * Regulation vs. dysregulation * How chores build self-discipline * Why parents should talk to children about the effects of technology on the brain * Balancing physical activity with screen time during the pandemic * The 20-20-20 rule -- when using screens, look away every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, to a distance of 20 feet * Setting kids up for success * How frequent breaks can fuel productivity (& decrease fighting about online school!) * The importance of handwriting * Benefits of handwritten assignments vs. screen-based assignments * Tapping into boys' desire to contribute to the greater good Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Victoria's website The Silent Tragedy Affecting Today's Children -- Victoria's 35 million download blog post Screens and Boys -- ON BOYS episode LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:   Use this link Facebook:  Use t...
May 14, 2020
There are 10 million single moms in the United States. Many are raising boys. And despite the naysayers, many are doing a great job! Is single parenting difficult, especially during a pandemic? Absolutely. But single moms have more power and potential than they realize, says Emma Johnson, aka Wealthy Single Mommy. Johnson, a single mom of two (a boy and a girl), is the author of The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self and Raise Fabulous, Healthy Children. She's also the founder of Wealthy Single Mommy and a strong advocate for shared parenting. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Emma discuss: * Parenting during the pandemic * Single parent stressors * How single moms can give to others * Building systems of support * Co-parenting -- & how to navigate co-parenting during a pandemic * How (& why) moms need to to include fathers Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Wealthy Single Mommy -- Emma's website The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, by Emma Johnson Single Mom Stimulus Grant - Emma is currently giving away $500 each week to a single mom, no strings attached. Apply here Moms for Shared Parenting --  an activist organization promoting equally shared parenting Is Shared Parenting Best for Boys After Divorce? -- BuildingBoys blog post Millionaire Single Moms -- Emma's FB group Being a Single Mom During This Pandemic is No Small Feat -- Your Teen article In Defense of Single Moms Raising Boys -- BuildingBoys blog post Tips for Single Moms Raising Boys -- BuildingBoys blog post LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Facebook: Linkedin: STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too! Follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  use this link for Janet and 
May 7, 2020
Is mom in control at your house?  We don't mean "in control" in the dictator sense, or in the mom-is-storming-around-the-house-yelling-at-everyone way. We don't even mean "in control" to mean "your house is neat and orderly and your children do exactly as you say." We mean in control of YOURSELF. After all, the only thing you can really control are your thoughts and actions. "The first thing I always say is, if you want to feel in control in your life, you have to give up control," says Heather Chauvin , a strategic parenting expert and mom of 3 boys, currently ages 7, 10 and 15. "Because when you're trying to control you children's behavior, when you're trying to control and plan with no flexibility and then this happens and your routine is blown up, you will feel out of control." So, let go. Figure out where you want to focus your time and energy. Figure out how you want to feel. Then, make choices that reflect those priorities. It's OK to insert a pair of ear plugs when you need some peace and quiet. (In fact, Heather recommends investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones!) You do not need to be available to your children, your partner, your work or your friends 24/7. You too deserve down time and time to work on personal projects -- and you will be a better mom if you give yourself that time. "When you're able to figure out how to protect yourself -- your space, your energy -- you're literally teaching your children how to respect themselves," Heather says. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Heather discuss: * Coping with increased screen time * Why you should invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones * Boundary setting * Motivating boys * How you can change the energy in your home -- & get your boy to come out of his room * Dealing with online school * Letting go of other people's expectations * Helping our kids handle anxiety and uncertainty Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Heather's online home Mom is in Control -- Heather's podcast Mom is in Control Business podcast -- Heather's business-oriented podcast LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin:  Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the 
April 30, 2020
A generation ago, few people thought much about understanding gender. Then, gender seemed simple and straightforward: boy or girl, male or female. Things are different today. Merriam-Webster declared they the 2019 word of the year, and there's increasing recognition of the fact that gender is not strictly binary. What does this have to do with boys? Well, our boys are living in a time when it's okay to openly discuss and think about gender. Many of our boys have peers who self-identify as gender-fluid or genderqueer -- and even if they don't have personal friends or acquaintances who are navigating the gender continuum, our sons are growing up in the world in which they (and we) can't assume a person's gender based on physical appearance or anything else. Also: some of us are learning that children we pegged as our daughters might actually be our sons. For many parents (and teachers) -- who grew up in times and places where gender wasn't discussed or pondered but assumed -- this "new" reality can be a bit confusing. But as Alex Iantaffi tells us, gender fluidity has been a part of human experience for millennia. "Gender creativity has always existed across time and space," says Dr. Iantaffi, a licensed marriage and family therapist, parent and author of numerous books about gender. "But at some point in modern science, we have developed this idea of a gender binary and now we think that's 'normal' and 'natural.'" This is a must-listen episode for modern parents who are interested in understanding gender. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Alex discuss: * Real-life pandemic parenting * All the terms: LGBTQ+, LGBTQIA, LGBTQ2S, cisgender, trans, non-binary, pansexual, gender fluid, intersex, heteronormative * The difference between gender & sexuality * Is the internet responsible for gender curiosity? * Gender creativity throughout history * How to support a child who is questioning gender * What to do if your boy tells you he's a girl * Inclusive language * Protecting a gender-nonconforming child in the larger world * Harassment of trans, nonbinary and LGBTQ childre Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Alex's online home Gender Stories -- Alex's podcast Gender Reveal -- another podcast, recommended by Alex Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond and In-Between, by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker How to Understand Your Gender: A Practical Guide to Exploring Who You Are, by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker Why Inclusive Sex Ed is So Important -- article by Jen Additional Resources Recommended by Alex: Sorted: A Memoir of Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir), by Jackson Bird
April 23, 2020
The phrase "adult children" is an oxymoron: the words adult and children clearly describe very different things, and it's impossible to be an adult and a child at the same time. Except it's not. Most of us are adult children; Jen is 47 and a bona fide adult, but she's also still the child of Al & Pat Wondra. She's also the parent of at least one adult child, a 22 year old who's been living independently for 4 years. Of course, the parent/child relationship changes as children grow into adults -- and that transition can be fraught and confusing for both parents and children. Jen & her 2 oldest boys "Our kids grow and change, and so do we as parents," Janet says. Supporting our emerging adults' ambitions isn't always easy. Sometimes, their goals -- to move far away, for instance -- conflict with our personal preferences. Sometimes, we're genuinely concerned for our grown kids' well-being because our years of living have alerted us to dangers our children haven't yet encountered. It's not easy to thread the needle between support and protection. "I've had to step aside and quietly support the choices my children have made," Janet says -- including her daughter's decision to spend 6 months in Europe as a high school junior and, later, 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in western Africa. "The adjustment I've had to make in myself and my children have been huge. It's gut-wrenching sometimes." It all comes down to love "We love our kids so much," Janet says. "We want the best for them, and meanwhile we have to nurture that little crack in our hearts." In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * Acknowledging the many emotions we experience as our children grow * Adjusting to reality * Navigating our aging process alongside our kids' (Menopause + puberty!) * The lack of support for parents of adult children * Finding friendship with your children * Handling our feelings of grief and loss * The importance of staying connected to your own interests Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: The Truth About Parenting Teen Boys -- the BuildingBoys  blog post Jen mentions at 13:13 On Graduation & Growing -- BuildingBoys blog post LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin:  Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .
April 16, 2020
Photo by Nik Anderson via Flickr COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus) has changed everything. Our daily lives now look nothing like we imagined at the beginning of the year. We're hunkered down in our homes, and wondering how to get toilet paper and flour -- basics we once took for granted. Some of us are working from home and trying to figure out how the $*#( to juggle full-time work with with full-time family. Others have to go to work in spite of the virus, often fearing for their safety. Many have lost work, and our kids have lost the rhythm and routines associated with school. Given the challenges, we thought now might be a good time for another Listener Q & A. You asked: How do we help our boys step up to the self-motivation and self-discipline necessary to do online school? Jen says, "Our kids likely are not going to be better with online learning, in the middle of a pandemic, than they were going before. If your son struggled with self-discipline,organization and motivation before, it's not going to be better now. It will probably be worse." Fighting with or badgering your son isn't likely to help. Instead, reorient your expectations: It's OK (for all of us!) to not be super motivated at the moment. Then, communicate with your son's teachers.  Parents of high schoolers asked us how to motivate boys to take action toward their futures. Christine said: My son is a junior and has huge aspirations for Air Force Academy/fighter pilot, but is REALLY struggling with the big self motivation/dedication required to take the steps for that process. We encourage a pause and some deep breaths. We're all having trouble planning for the future right now, as none of us know what the future holds. Anger & irritability are common right now. You asked: Why is every single thing I say so annoying to my son? and What do we do with angry boys? Jen reminds us that "many people -- especially boys -- are reacting with anger because they haven't learned to identify fear." In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * Managing the many demands on our time (work, school, family, cooking, disinfecting...!) * Why it's okay to NOT do all the assignments school is sending home * Using nature and humor to relieve stress * Learning from life * Navigating online schooling * Planning for the future when the future is uncertain * Getting comfortable with the unknown * Managing fear and discomfort * Why you should share your feelings with your son * The importance of physical activity (to release energy and anger) * Teaching boys to pay attention to their bodies and minds * Vaping & drinking -- some teens may be experiencing withdrawal * When to reach out for professional support Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Coping with Coronavirus - ON BOYS episode Managing Emotions -- ON BOYS episode featuring Ellen Dodge's advice on dealing with feelings during the coronavirus crisis Anger & Boys -- ON BOYS episode 104 Decoding Boys with Dr. Cara Natterson -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 24:40 Mental Health & COVID-19: Information and Resources -- includes links to financial assistance,
April 9, 2020
Wouldn't it be great if boys came with a magic decoder ring to help you decode their mysteries and moods?  Dr. Cara Natterson's book, Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons, is the next best thing. If you have boys, you'll want to add this one to your bookshelf (or check it out from your library) right now -- and you'll definitely want to read it before your son hits puberty. Which may come a lot sooner than you expected. According to Dr. Natterson -- a pediatrician, mom of two and author of Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys -- the first changes of puberty can begin as early as age 9. But because those early changes are largely invisible to parents' eyes, we may misunderstand our boys' mood swings and behavior. And because our culture has long ignored male puberty, many of us simply allow our boys to self-isolate behind closed doors, instead of talking to them about the changes they're experiencing. That's a mistake, Dr. Natterson says: Not talking to your son about his evolving physical, emotional and social self is the biggest parent trap of them all. Kids, she's learned, are hungry for information. "They will take good information and run with it," Dr. Natterson says. "If we just tell them no and don't give them the why, they don't listen." But while girls have been encouraged to share their voices, opinions and experiences in recent years, boys...haven't. Historically, "neither boys nor their parents nor the world around them" has expressed a willingness to talk frankly about erections, voice changes and body image, Dr. Natterson says. She argues that it's time for parents to push past their discomfort and engage boys in conversation. "There isn't one perfect way to do this," she says. "My best advice is, it's not one conversation; it's thousands. It's many, many conversations over many years, so you have lots of opportunities to try it many different ways." In this episode, Jen, Janet & Cara discuss: * Why it's OK to let your teen boys sleep late * What the coronavirus crisis and shutdowns are teaching us about kids' physical and emotional needs * The difference between making kids do something vs. educating them * Why boys go quiet around puberty * Getting boys to talk * Late-blooming boys * Brain development during adolescence (a.k.a, why boys can be so smart and so dumb, at the same time!) * Why boys take more risks when surrounded by friends * Boys, body image & eating disorders * How to tell if your son's fixation on fitness is healthy or harmful Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Decoding Boys: New Science Behind the Subtle Art of Raising Sons -- Cara's book -- Dr. Natterson's online home; includes a link to her newsletter Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys -- one of Cara's puberty book for boys LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: 
April 2, 2020
Managing emotions -- our boys, & our own -- is challenging in the best of times. This, most definitely is not the best of times. We're cooped up in our houses with kids who miss their friends and activities. With boys who no longer have soccer or baseball practice to help them burn off some energy. In the midst of a global pandemic that's upended all of our routines. While we ourselves are experiencing great emotional turmoil. We can't just simply brush our emotions to the side, or expect our children to function like normal.If we're to survive this pandemic with our sanity intact, we need some tools for managing emotions. Ellen Dodge is a  speech-language pathologist and boy advocate who has spend the last 3 decades helping children understand and express emotions. She says "this is a time for us to steady our ships and learn how to communicate feelings, to make things a little bit better." Not sure how to do that? Ellen shares some some super useful tips: * Stop talking so much. Boys can easily become overwhelmed by words. Stop asking what, where, when, why so much. Try quiet instead. Make space for them to speak. * Try "tell me the story." When you see your guys doing something -- positive or negative -- ask them to tell you the story behind their actions. If you see a feeling on your son's face, ask him to tell you the story behind the feeling. * Make feelings concrete. Boys tend to be hands-on learners; they do best when they can touch, feel and manipulate whatever it is they're learning about. You can use plush toys (like Kimochis) to help boys name and identify emotions, or you can do something silly (but effective) like write "feeling words" (happy, scared, frustrated) on a white board and allow your son to "shoot" his feelings with a Nerf gun. * Normalize feelings. Talk about them. Let your kids know that all people (even parents!) have feelings and that we all make mistakes as we figure out how to manage them. Explicitly say, "We all get re-dos." Become a "second-chance family." * Set expectations: "You can be made, but you can't be mean." Brainstorm acceptable ways to express anger & frustration. * Stop & reset. When your kid is exhibiting behaviors you don't like, stop for a minute and imagine that he's not your kid. This mental exercise can allow you to see that situation more clearly and stop catastrophizing. (Yes, your 2-yr-old might be biting now, but he most likely will not be biting people at 16, no matter what you do in the next moment.) Use the 5-5-5 tool: Ask yourself: Will this person be doing this behavior in the next 5 minutes? 5 weeks? 5 years? In this episode, Jen, Janet & Ellen discuss: * Big feelings in small spaces * Why boys may struggle emotionally when confined to home * How to stop over-reacting to your son's feelings * Techniques you can use to help boys manage their emotions * How physical activity helps boys process emotions * Why should should focus on connection, not communication * Why it's OK to admit that you don't know what you're doing * How social distancing might give our kids the chance to rediscover themselves Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Kimochis -- toys, tools and free resources to help children manage their emotions The Parenting Partner -- in...
March 26, 2020
Kara Kinney Cartwright has a message for teenage boys & young men: just don't be an asshole. The mom of two grown sons, Kara began writing Just Don't Be an Asshole: A Surprisingly Necessary Guide to Being a Good Guy as her sons were preparing to head out into the world. The project was inspired, in part, by her anxiety (have I taught them everything they need to know?) and, in part, by cultural changes. Thanks to the #MeToo movement and a slew of highly publicized stories of powerful men behaving badly, parents everywhere are wondering how to raise boys who won't be jerks. Or assholes. Kara's book is designed "to provide young men with a framework for how to treat others -- and themselves -- with respect and dignity." She hopes the book will help parents and teens at a critical (and challenging) juncture in life, noting that teens are less likely to listen to their parents during adolescence, even as the consequences of bad decisions loom ever larger. The best part? Because she's a mom of boys, Kara's advice is grounded in humor and respect. She knows that asshole-y behavior is incredibly common and normal during the teen years, and doesn't shame boys. Instead, she shows them how a mature man behaves. As she writes in the book, Acting like an asshole doesn't mean you're a bad person. It doesn't even necessarily mean you're an asshole. What it means is that you don't understand how your man-sized presence is affecting other people in the moment and how THAT is going to affect YOU in the long run." Note: We recorded this episode before coronavirus shutdowns were common across the United States. For up-to-date information regarding coronavirus & COVID-19, visit and In this episode, Jen, Janet & Kara discuss: * What her sons think about her book * "Normal" teenage development * Important life lessons to teach your son (what to do if you get in a car accident, how to act on a job interview, etc.) * Why boys are often assholes to their families * How to help you boys recognize that other people are human beings * Boys, sarcasm and "hilarious" sexist and racist comments * Talking to teen boys about coronavirus * Helping boys understand the consequences of their decisions * Why you must give boys specific suggestions and language to use Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Just Don't Be an Asshole: A Surprisingly Necessary Guide to Being a Good Guy -- Kara's book Boys & Sex with Peggy Orenstein -- our conversation w Peggy about her book, Boys & Sex (mentioned at 19:11)
March 19, 2020
Photo by Valerie Everett via Flickr Raising boys brings up all kinds of questions. No matter how long you've been parenting, educating or working with boys, you're bound to stumble into a situation that you don't quite know how to handle -- on a weekly basis. At least. In this listener Q & A, we tackle some evergreen questions. Jen also tells you about a time she lied to her parents. :) Matt asks: How do you help boys find their own, positive path in an increasingly girl-dominated environment? Strong, confident, high-achieving girls are a good thing — but in my son’s high school they tend to be far more involved overall, from my observations. The boys just shrink from it all. How do we help them work within this reality to carve their own path? Penny wonders what to do if... a teacher isn't listening and empathetic. My son flourished when he felt understood and liked by his teachers. It makes sense. Who wants to spend all day every day with a person who you think doesn't understand you, like you, or want you there? When the "I like YOU" dynamic is there, the behavior and academics naturally improve. Jacquie asks: What is within the range of normal when it comes to genital exploration, more so on others, for kids 8 and under. Lauren asks: Why do toddlers hit and, more importantly, how do you deal with it? My son is 3 and recently started hitting and kicking and throwing things during tantrums. I feel stuck. I dont want to spank. When I walk away he gets frantic. When I try to hug him he pushes me away. I end up just sitting there with him hitting me repeating over and over "Hitting isn't nice, we don't hit, stop hitting". I want to understand what's happening and what I should do. What questions do YOU have about raising boys? Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: All About E-Sports -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 6:39 Here's How to Motivate Teen Boys: Encourage Them to Take Risks -- Your Teen article by Jen, that touches on ways parents can support boys' interests and build motivation Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers -- ON BOYS episode (includes the story of Sam & his art teacher, mentioned at 14:51) Helping Teachers Understand Boys -- ON BOYS episode Talk to Boys About Sex with Amy Lang -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 27:52 LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:   Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin:  Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive!
March 17, 2020
How are you coping with coronavirus?  Our lives have undergone some pretty massive disruptions over the past few weeks, and it looks like more changes may be on the horizon. We'll all learning new ways of connecting and communicating -- and we're all a bit scared and overwhelmed. That's why we recorded & released this special bonus episode. It's packed full of practical advice and inspiration. Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: ZOOM Video Conferencing - We use ZOOM to record our podcast. You can use it to connect with your friends and loved ones too. It's FREE for calls under 40 minutes.  Use our affiliate link to sign up today. -- Sign up for a Breakthrough Session with Janet (she's currently waiving the fee for this call.)
March 12, 2020
Two years. More than 100 episodes covering important topics such as boys & sex, masculinity, ADHD, mental health, honesty & so much more. But on our SECOND anniversary, we're most grateful for the relationships we've created. We're no longer simply co-hosts or colleagues; we're friends. We enjoy talking to one another as much as (we hope) you enjoy listening to us. We're also grateful for the professional connections we've made as a result of this podcast. This year alone, we spoke with Steve Biddulph, Peggy Orenstein, Phyllis Fagell, Dr. Vanessa LaPointe, Michael C. Reichert & dozens of other on-the-ground boy advocates. It may seem, sometimes, that boys are an after thought in today's world, but we've learned that there a lot of smart, caring, committed people who care deeply about boys and their future. We're thankful for YOU, our listeners. You inspire and motivate us. In fact, we'd like to get to know you better, so we can better meet your needs. Will you please take a few minutes to complete our first-ever Listener Survey? CLICK HERE! In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * The importance of humor in raising boys * How parenting keeps us grounded * ON BOYS' origin story * How Jen & Janet learned so much about boys * Why one-size-fits-all answers don't work * Our individual quirks Will you do us a favor? Take 5 minutes to complete our Listener Survey? Click here: ON BOYS Listener Survey -- we want to know you better, so we can serve up the information you need! Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: The Role of Memes in Teen Culture -- Jen's New York Times article, mentioned at 4:26 Introducing Co-Hosts Janet & Jen -- our very first ON BOYS episode, mentioned at 9:27 Sex, Teens & Everything in Between, by Shafia Zaloom -- book recommended by Peggy Orenstein during our Boys & Sex conversation, mentioned at 25:25 LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:   Use this link Facebook: 
March 5, 2020
Do you know what the term "2e" means? Photo by Jesper Sehested Pluslexia via Flickr 2e is short for "twice exceptional," a term used to refer to people who are both highly gifted and learning disabled. As you might imagine, meeting the social, emotional and educational needs of a 2e child is quite a challenge. Ramsey Hootman is an author and mom of two, including a 10 year old boy who prefers to be called B-Bot, his gaming handle. B-Bot is twice exceptional -- super intellectually gifted yet slow to understand the intricacies of human interaction. "With this child, it was obvious from the beginning that he was his own person and we really had no control over that," Hootman says. Even in the womb, B-Bot was all action, all the time. After birth, he was colicky. His mood improved once he could move around independently, Hootman says, "but he was always so driven." At first, Hootman and her husband thought their son might be on the autism spectrum. ("He was clearly on a different developmental trajectory," she says.) They didn't pursue a diagnosis until B-Bot was in school and faced with a teacher that didn't seem willing to make accommodations for their son unless required to do so. Formal testing revealed that B-Bot is highly intellectually gifted and has ADHD, as well as an auditory processing disorder that makes it difficult for him to learn from verbal instructions and conversations. Although they were initially a bit reluctant to have B-Bot tested and "labeled," the Hootman family discovered that an accurate diagnosis allowed them to help their son more effectively and precisely. Importantly, B-Bot's diagnosis also helped his parents and teachers realize that B-Bot's challenges and behaviors were not a discipline issue. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Ramsey discuss: * Learning to parent the child you have, not the child you expected * Deciding to pursue a diagnosis * Teaching boundaries to a child who struggles with social cues * Early signs of giftedness * Auditory processing disorder * Adapting parenting to the unique needs of the child * Balancing 2e kids' need for intellectual stimulation w their need for additional time to develop other skills * What to do when school isn't adequately meeting your child's needs * How to advocate for the needs of gifted & 2e kids Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Teaching my 2E Kid Social Skills with Star Trek: The Next Generation -- Ramsey's article Twice Exceptional Students -- info from the National Association for Gifted Children Twice Exceptional -- classic Building Boys post Twice Exceptional Kids: Both Gifted and Challenged -- info from Child Mind Institute The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism, by Kristine Barnett -- Ramsey says this "book is a really great model for loving and nurturing the child you have, not the child you expected." LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Facebook:
February 27, 2020
Baby boys' testosterone levels are nearly the same as teenage boys'. But for the first few weeks after conception, well, there's no discernible difference between a male embryo and a female embryo. The testosterone surge that occurs in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy is responsible for the cascade of developmental changes that what differentiates a boy baby from a girl baby, and from then on, "testosterone drive the bus," Janet says. Photo by roxie_jc via Flickr Understanding male development will help you understand your boys and what they need. It may help you relax and enjoy your child as well. "When parents understand male development and what is developmentally appropriate, they feel less anxious if their son can't do the same things as their neighbor's daughter," Jen says. Join us as we discuss the development and growth of baby boys, toddlers and preschoolers. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * Prenatal development of baby boys * How testosterone influences the development of male infants * Male vulnerability to health problems * How lack of father involvement affects boys * Nature vs. nurture * Bonding with baby boys * Why boys may "take longer" to hit developmental milestones * What to look for in a daycare, preschool and elementary school setting * Nature & forest preschools * The link between movement and learning * Why we can't expect our little ones to live on our adult timeline * Using empathy when kids struggle with transitions * How screen time affects language development Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Why Men Die Younger Than Women: The "Guys Are Fragile" Thesis -- NPR story Study Finds Moms Talk More to Babies, Especially Baby Girls Nature Preschools American Forest Kindergarten Association (We love this quote from their founder, Erin Kenny: "Children cannot bounce off the walls if we take the walls away.") Toddlers' Screen Time Linked to Slower Speech Development, Study Finds - PBS story Story Time, Not Screen Time: Why E-Books Aren't Better for Toddlers LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link
February 20, 2020
How can we help our boys grow into healthy men? Ted Bunch, chief development officer of A Call to Men, says he thinks that the key is to support our boys as they become their authentic selves. Ted Bunch "I think the biggest challenge for us is really allowing our boys to show us, say to us and demonstrate to us who they really are," Bunch says, without us excessively trying to mold them. Our job isn't to make boys conform; our job is "to allow them to blossom, to really show who they are." For centuries, boys have been expected to conform to the "Man Box," a rigid set of rules that describe how a boy or man should behave. The problem is that those rigid rules often keep boys from living full, authentic lives. It keeps them from speaking out when they see another male harming an individual or group. It keeps them from expressing, acknowledging and dealing with their physical and emotional pain. All of which harms our boys and those they interact with. Because the "Man Box" -- and our culture -- continues to equate masculinity with sexual conquest, the vast majority of our boys are confused. We tell them that consent is important and that they should treat all people with respect, but they see and hear very different behavior in movies, in music and in the real world. No wonder 8 out of 10 boys can't accurately define "consent."  Notes: these are well-meaning, good boys. But despite their best intentions (and their parents' best intentions) are boys are growing up in a culture that still suggests (in so many ways!) that the proper male response to "no," in a sexual situation, is to "try harder." In our for our boys to grow into healthy men, we must provide accurate, detailed information. We must show them our respect and support. And we need to talk with our boys. This episode is a must-listen for dads of boys. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Ted discuss: * The biggest challenges boys face on the road to becoming healthy men * How to help boys find (and express) their "authentic self" * The "Man Box" * Pornography's effect on boys * Conversations dads need to have with their sons * Teaching boys consent * Empower boys to say "no" to unwanted sexual activity * How sexual abuse harms boys and men * Grappling with Kobe Bryant's legacy, which includes a history of sexual assault ("More than one thing can be true at the same time," Ted says.) * Why it's imperative to help boys consider how their behavior impacts other people Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: A Call to Men -- includes helpful information & data, as well as links to their programs LIVERESPECT curriculum -- FREE resource from A Call To Men, ideal for middle and high school aged boys Tony Porter's TED Talk about the Man Box What I've Learned Since My Son Came Out -- article by Ted, mentioned at 38:37 "My Boy Can" Parenting -- ON BOYS episode Sponsor Spotlight: Stryke Club Skin care specifically made for boys! Created by a group of “boy moms,” including a pediatric dermatologist, Stryke Club products are simple, safe and non-drying. Use discount code ONBOYS to save 10%.
February 13, 2020
Talking about boys and sex can be uncomfortable. But if want our boys (and girls and non-binary children) to have healthy, safe, fulfilling sexual relationships, it's essential. And there's the hitch, right? A lot of us don't even want to think about our children having sexual relationships -- and when we do talk to our kids about sex, it's typically because we don't want them to become pregnant, we don't want them to get a disease, and we don't them to be hurt or arrested. Rarely is our focus on helping our children develop the skills and knowledge they'll need to engage in healthy, safe and fulfilling sexual relationships. That's a mistake, says Peggy Orenstein, author Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity. When we avoid these conversations, our children get their sexual education elsewhere -- often, from porn. Contrary to her expectations when she began reporting the book, Peggy found that boys were "insightful narrators" of their lives and experiences. Boys are acutely aware of the issues that affect them, of the "rules" that govern their behavior and social success and of society's evolving definition of masculinity. The #MeToo movement has inspired a lot of conversation about gender and sexual violence, and given us all the opportunity to rethink the spoken and unspoken messages our society sends boys. "It's not just a time to reduce sexual violence," Peggy says. "It's a crack in the edifice where we can engage boys in a more positive way about sex, intimacy, masculinity and gender dynamics." In this episode, Jen, Janet & Peggy discuss: * Common preconceptions about boys * How the #MeToo movement has created openings for conversation with our boys * Hookup culture * The current status of sex ed in school (only 10 states require that their sex education programs must be medically-accurate!) * Boys' skewed perceptions of bodies and sex * Why boys say "hilarious" all the time * Preparing boys to speak out when they see bad behavior -- & why they might not, in spite of their best intentions * How rigid gender norms harm boys * Broadening boys' emotional vocabulary * Dads as the "gender police" * Supporting fathers as they connect and communicate with their sons * The role of vulnerability in human relationships * How drinking -- and socialization -- warp boys' assumptions about girls' activity and intentions * The difference between a "bad hookup" and sexual assault Sponsor Spotlight: Stryke Club Skin care specifically made for boys! Created by a group of “boy moms,” including a pediatric dermatologist, Stryke Club products are simple, safe and non-drying. Use discount code ONBOYS to save 10%. Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity -- Peggy's book -- Peggy's website; includes a list of resources to help you talk to your kids about sex Will We Ever Figure Out How to Talk to Boys About Sex?
February 6, 2020
Approximately 3-10% of children have ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Many of them -- the majority, in fact -- are boys. Today's guest, Ryan Wexelblatt (aka ADHD Dude) describes ADHD as "an executive function developmental delay." What that means: In all humans, the brain's prefrontal cortex (or "frontal lobe") acts as the operating system for the brain. It controls impulses, understand time and helps us weigh the potential consequences of our actions. In kids who have ADHD, the prefrontal cortex is about 30% behind the rest of the brain, developmentally. So, a 12 year old with ADHD may well act and behave more like a typical 9 year old. The frontal lobe is the home of our "brain coach," that internal voice that gives us feedback and suggestions throughout the day. When he explains ADHD to kids, Ryan tells them, "the volume on your brain coach is turned down a little." Unfortunately for many boys (and their families), a lot of people still misunderstand ADHD. Making matter worse is the fact that "school is not designed with the male brain in mind," as Ryan says. On top of that, many people consider ADHD a mental health issue, not a learning disorder. That conceptualization makes things harder for our boys, who face social stigma and internal shame. Often, their parents are judged as well; too often, educators and others consider ADHD a "character flaw" or the result of poor parenting. The answer, however, is not to ignore or deny any professional or educator who suggests your son might have ADHD. "We're talking about how your son's learning and social relationships may be impacted," Ryan says. If a professional sees signs of ADHD in your child, it's almost always a good idea to have your child evaluated holistically. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Ryan discuss: * The 3 subtypes (different presentations) of ADHD * The link between ADHD and executive function * Why kids with ADHD struggle with time management -- & giving attention to tasks that don't interest them * How ADHD affects adults, children & families * Differentiating "typical boy behavior" from ADHD * How ADHD affects learning * ADHD's effect on emotional regulation * Social learning challenges related to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder * How to help children w ADHD develop perspective-taking skills * Should intellectually advanced but socially immature boys start school, or wait a year? * Misdiagnosis of ADHD * Explaining ADHD to kids * ADHD diagnosis * Other conditions that cause ADHD-like symptoms * Connections between ADHD & depression, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and more * To medicate or not medicate? * Making decisions about ADHD treatment Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: ADHD Dude — the online home of Ryan’s ADHD work. Includes a link to his ADHD Dude Facebook group  Ride The Wave Counseling — Ryan’s counseling service (includes info about online coaching and his summer camp) Dudes Learn Social — Ryan’s series of YouTube videos aimed directly at boys Teaching Boys ...
January 30, 2020
Is honesty the best policy?  Not necessarily, says Judi Ketteler, author of Would I Lie to You? The Amazing Power of Being Honest in a World That Lies. If Judi's name (and voice) sound familiar to you, it's because she's been on the podcast before: in Oct. 2018, she talked to us about parenting risk-taking boys. (Her son, Maxx, is into Gtramp, an extreme trampoline sport.) We all want our boys to be decent, honest human beings, but the truth is, honesty isn't a black-and-white issue. As Judi learned, there are a whole host of reasons why people lie: We want others to like us. We don't want to hurt someone's feelings. We want to avoid a conflict. We're protecting someone (or something). In some cases, lying is healthy -- so telling our kids to be honest all the time is actually a bit hypocritical because our kids see and hear us lying. Believe it or not, a big part of maturity is figuring out when and how to lie. "We think that our kids grow out of lying, but actually they grow into lying," Judi says. If you really want to raise honest, moral children, begin by investigating your own relationship with honesty. "There's such power in saying, 'I'll start with me,'" Judi says. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Judi discuss: * Why kids -- and adults -- lie * How lying  behavior changes as humans grow * Prosocial lying, or lying for the benefit of others * Helping kids be honest and moral online * Why you should "engage at the level of reality they're looking for" * How to handle Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny * What to do when you know your child is lying to you * The connection between shame, lying and honesty Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Would I Lie to You? The Amazing Power of Being Honest in a World That Lies -- Judi's book Risk-Taking Boys with Mom Judi Ketteler -- ON BOYS episode 132 Should You Be Lying to Your Kids About Santa? -- Judi's TIME magazine article I Didn't Do It! -- Scholastic Parent & Child article by Jen LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin:  Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group
January 23, 2020
Suicide rates among black boys ages 13-19 rose 60% from 2001 to 2017. And for children ages 5-12, black males are committing suicide at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group. Significant numbers of black boys are ending their lives before puberty. This is not OK. "There is a lot of discussion going on about suicide, mental health, emotional wellness and stigma, much of it centered around what's going on in the African-American and other communities of color," says today's guest, Chandra White-Cummings is a lawyer who's served as a policy fellow for Moms of Black Boys United. "However, often, it is the sad unfortunate case that African-American women -- moms -- don't get invited into these conversations." That's not OK either. Together, Chandra, Janet and Jen attempt to untangle the intertwining threads that affect black boys' mental health (and their parents' mental health) and figure out how parents, teachers and communities can effectively support black boys. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Chandra discuss: * Factors affecting mental health in the African-American community * Implicit, unconscious bias * How racism causes parents to "over-pathologize" black boys' behavior * The loss of protective factors -- tight-knit communities, nearby family -- that once helped support mental health * The need for connection * How society often misinterprets anxiety and depression in boys -- which may manifest as rage and irritability -- as "danger" rather than symptomatic of a mental health concern * Racial disparities in schools * How to begin dismantling implicit bias * How trauma impacts mental health --  & how the legacy of slavery impacts mental health today * Why it's time to listen to (rather than study) the black community * Engaging in conversations about racism Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Chandra's website. Includes links to many of her articles Addressing Racism & Racial Disparities with Hilary Beard -- ON BOYS episode The 1619 Project -- NYT multi-media examination of the impact of slavery on the United States Teen Football Star Bryce Gowdy Faced Struggles Before His Suicide -- news story mentioned by Chandra at 32:14 Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison, by Shaka Senghor -- book mentioned by Chandra at 48:08 Chokehold: Policing Black Men, by Paul Butler -- book mentioned by Chandra at 48:03 Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, by Mitchell Jackson -- memoir about growing up black in Port...
January 16, 2020
Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr How do you help boys deal with change and anxiety? And how can parents deal with boys' incessant energy?  Those are just a few of the questions we tackle in our first listener Q & A of 2020! Jacquie asked: How do you help boys adjust to change and uncomfortable situations (new school, daycare, meeting new kids...)? Eden and Katie also wanted advice on helping boys (and themselves) cope with anxiety, albeit at different ends of the age spectrum. Eden asked: How do you help your teen boy with anxiety? while Katie said My 3.5 year old boy strongly dislikes going to preschool. He started 3 months ago. The teachers reassure me that after I leave, he adjusts and is fine. However, it feels awful to force him through the front door, with the teacher grabbing him on the other side, and him saying he doesn't want to go? Any tips? Ashley -- an introvert -- asked how to cope with her energetic boys: I have 3 boys who love to roughhouse ALL the time. I'm an introvert and thrive in quiet environments. I'm struggling to adjust to the natural rambunctious behavior of little boys. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * Helping boys adjust to change and uncomfortable situations * How age and personality affect boys' response to change * Working with your son to increase his comfort level * Using playacting & anticipatory guidance to prepare boys for new situations * Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety and depression * Affordable at-home treatment for anxiety * Differentiating anxiety from nervousness and excitement * Separation anxiety * Tips for dealing with overwhelm * The importance of self-care for introverted boy parents * How you can make your house more movement-friendly Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Helping Teens Cope with Anxiety, Depression & More -- ON BOYS episode Anxiety & Depression in Boys -- ON BOYS episode COPE (Creating Opportunities for Personal Empowerment) -- evidence-based program proven to help kids with anxiety & depression (mentioned at 7:14) Age of Anxiety: Are We "Pathologizing" Normal Emotion? -- article mentioned at 10:18 The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn -- book mentioned at 15:35 (great for those dealing with separation anxiety!) Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour: Parenting in the Digital Age -- ON BOYS episode 4 Ways to Make Your Home Movement-Friendly -- Understanding Boys article by Jen Learning to Live with Boys (w Katy Rank Lev) -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 23:44 LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Facebook: Linkedin:
January 9, 2020
Meagan Francis has been writing, blogging and podcasting about parenting for the better part of 20 years. You might not know her name, but odds are good you've seen a photo of her: That's Meagan, in the hot pink dress. And that's one of her (four) boys under her arm. (Meagan also has a daughter.) If you have kids -- and you probably do, if you're listening to this podcast -- you know that look on her face. You've felt that combination of frustration and determination. And that, likely, is why the photo went viral and remains wildly popular. What you may not know is that the "surfboard kid" photo is 16 years ago. The boy under Meagan's arm is now a 20 year old man she calls "mellow," "sweet, and "reserved." The moral(s) of the story: * Whatever you are experiencing today will not last forever. At age three, Meagan's son was a "holy terror." (Her words.) He would hide under clothes racks when they went shopping and was. uh, difficult to control at times. It's easy to assume, when that's your daily reality, that that's how your kid is -- and how he will BE. It's easy to assume that unless you crack down (a.k.a, figure out the "right" way to handle this behavior), your kid will turn into an out-of-control juvenile delinquent. But that is not necessarily the case. What is true: Your child will grow. You will grow. Life in 15 years -- or even next week! -- might look very different than the current moment. * Photos (and stories) on the Internet do last forever. Meagan discovered the photo about 6 years ago while going through a box of photographs. She posted it on her Facebook page with an encouraging story -- and then, it took on a life of its own. The photo went viral and has surged in popularity at least 3 separate times, often in slightly different forms. Meagan has noticed that "people's reactions to the photo tend to vary based on what caption is on there." Some moms see it and are supportive. Some -- especially those who see it in the iteration posted above, think, "I'd never!" In this episode, Jen, Janet & Meagan discuss: * How a photo from a family wedding turned into the viral "surfboard kid" meme * Raising lots of boys -- and coping with silly questions, like, "So, you gonna keep trying for a girl?" * Life as a #momofboys * How family dynamics change over time * Responding to internal (and external) parenting pressure * Parenting as a single mom * Why you might want to get a cat (Meagan's son says getting a cat was the "best thing she ever did for the family") * Learning to communicate via sarcasm & joking (Also: What to do when your kids' "joking" hurts your feelings) * Navigating screen time & social media * Encouraging character, civility & safety online * Why you DON'T need to constantly monitor your child's whereabouts and grades Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: The Mom Hour -- Meagan & Sarah Power's popular parenting podcast Helicopter Parenting & Bulldozer Parenting are Bad for Everyone -- Including Parents -- NBC News article by Meagan (mentioned at 33:20) Surfboard Kid Backstory -- Meagan explains the story behind the viral photo (& what's happened since)
January 2, 2020
Jo LangfordSex educator & author How much do you know about the apps KIK, WeChat and My LOL? If you're like most parents, the answer is "not much" (if anything!). You know that cell phones and social media are an important part of tween and teen culture -- in fact, digital communication is the primary source of social connection for many kids today -- but you don't really understand what they do online. As an adult, you're well aware of the potential risks of digital communication, but are unsure which apps and activities are safe. Enter Jo Langford. We last talked to Jo, a therapist, author and sex educator, about sex education in the 21st century. Since then, he's started a podcast to help today's parents understand the apps used by today's kids: APPropriate. Freaking out about your sons' social media activity is never helpful. Jo encourages parents to stop, breathe and be aware. "You don't have to understand every single app out there," Jo says. "There are dozens of them and they're changing all the time; it's just exhausting. What you want to do is get clear about what your values are and communicate that to your kids. Tell your kids what you're OK with them doing, what kind of pictures you're OK with them having, who you're OK with them following and friending and how they behave when they do that." In this episode, Jen, Janet & Jo discuss: * How to tame your fear regarding kids' online activities * Tweens' favorite apps: Instagram & Tik Tok * Teens' favorite apps: SnapChat and Instagram * Why kids may have more than one Instagram account (It's not necessarily nefarious) * Whether or not it's OK to kids to have a private space online * How you can connect with your child via Tik Tok and Instagram * Why young kids (especially) should keep their social circles small * How to establish behavioral expectations for social networking and online activities * What to do if you find an app on your son's phone that you don't approve of (Hint: Don't yell. Ask questions!) * How to use parental controls * How to help your kids be conscious of the content they are consuming online * Red flag behaviors to watch for -- and what to do if you notice them Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: APPropriate -- Jo's podcast -- Jo's online home 21st Century Sex Ed with Jo Langford -- ON BOYS episode The Pride Guide: The Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth, by Jo Langford Racists are Recruiting. Watch your White Sons. -- NYT op-ed by Joanna Schroeder (discussed at 25:50) How to Raise a Boy with Michael C. Reichert -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 33:00 LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: 
December 26, 2019
340%. The ON BOYS audience grew by 340% this year. We now have listeners in more than 110 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, the UK, India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Botswana and Bolivia -- which means that our message of support for boys is resonating and empowering parents worldwide. This year, we hosted 33 guests, ranging of Phyllis Fagell of Middle School Matters fame to Katy Rank Lev, an ON BOYS listener who shared with us the reality of parenting three young sons. We tackled a wide variety of topics, including esports, vaping, racism, mental health and suicide. We shared, we laughed and sometimes, we cried. Next year, we'll tackle more timely topics and introduce you to more guests. (Already slated for the new year: an episode about the apps your kids use on a daily basis, and a conversation with Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour.) But first, we review 2019. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss our favorite episodes of 2019: Steve Biddulph on Raising Boys -- our most popular episode of the year! A basic knowledge of boy development, coupled with general familiarity with the many challenges boys face, will help you parent your son. (“There are risk factors to being a boy,” Steve says, pointing out that males are 3 times more likely to die by age 25 than females.) Learning more about the “Full-On 4s” and the “Emotional 8s” will increase your understanding of your son, so you can respond more effectively to his mood changes and growth. How to Raise a Boy with Michael C. Reichert Raising good boys, Reichert says, is really quite simple.  “If we violate boys’ basic natures, bad outcomes will ensue,” he says, “If we meet their basic needs, they’re likely to wind up connected to their hearts, connected to their virtue and connected to their goodness.” Breaking the Boy Code While many people talk about boys, Jonathon talks with boys. He gives them a safe space to explore their thoughts and experiences of masculinity, and he gives them a venue to share their insights with others. "My Boy Can" Parenting At age 4, Sassy Harvey’s son was told that if he dances, he must be a girl. Or gay.  Not surprisingly, he quit dance class soon after that. Parent From Love, Not Fear (w Bryan Post) The best part about love- vs. fear-based parenting is that you don’t have to understand and even know the details of your child’s trauma. Often, Post says, adoptive parents feel frustrated because they are overwhelmed by their child’s behavior and don’t even know the details of the child’s life pre-adoption. No matter, he says.
December 18, 2019
CBSN recently released a new documentary, Raising Boys. Among those featured in the documentary: our very own Jennifer L.W. Fink. The intent of the documentary, says producer Kayla Ruble, was to examine "what issues lead to the headlines" that so often announce stories of men behaving badly. The intent was to search for answers to the question that is on the mind of every parent of boys: How do we raise good men?  The documentary features 6  families -- * David French, a dad who discusses the difference between raising boys today vs. when he was growing up * Gemma Gaudette, the mom of a son who got in trouble for punching a kid who picked on him * Mike & Katy Anderson, parents of three active boys who love to wrestle and brawl * Roe Anderson, a single mom of a boy who prefers art to sports * Ruth Whippman, a mom of three boys who discusses the messages boys receive about masculinity from books and movies * Roberto and Tenysa Santiago, parents of three children including a boy who like to paint his nails and wear his hair in a pontail -- as well as expert commentary from * Ted Bunch, co-founder of A Call to Men (Tim Bell, a Call to Men mentor and basketball coach also shares his experience) * Michael C. Reichert, author of How to Raise a Boy (and a previous ON BOYS guest) * Dr. Lise Eliot, author of Pink Brain, Blue Brain * Jen! What did you think about the documentary? Are there topics you wish they would have covered? Something you think deserved a deeper dive? Let us know in the comments below! In this episode, Jen, Janet & Kayla discuss: * Why CBS felt the time was right to focus on boys * What Kayla learned about boys while working on the documentary * Parents' attitudes toward the #MeToo and girl empowerment movements * Response to the documentary (Spoiler: Many people love it. Others say the FBI and Child Protective Services should be called on the parents.) * The pressure and fears felt by parents of boys * Evolving gender norms and roles * How dads are coping with changing expectations for boys and men * Progress toward gender equality Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Raising Boys -- CBSN documentary Raising Boys as Society Redefines Masculinity -- CBS Morning Show segment about the documentary Grown Men Are the Solution, Not the Problem -- article by David French, one of the dads in the documentary Masculinity in the Age of #MeToo -- ON BOYS episode #105 Sponsor Spotlight: Stryke Club Skin care specifically made for boys! Created by a group of “boy moms,” including a pediatric dermatologist, Stryke Club products are simple, safe and non-drying. Use discount code ONBOYS to save 10%.
December 12, 2019
We initially ran this episode in July 2018. But we've gained a lot of followers since then and tween & teen boys have not suddenly gotten better at personal hygiene in the interim. If you're sick of fighting with your boy about hygiene, this episode is a must-listen. Photo by Kasey Eriksen via Flickr Have a boy who hates to shower? You are not alone! When a mom recently asked the Building Boys Facebook group, “Anyone else have a teenage boy who hates to shower?” she was quickly inundated with support and sympathy. Personal hygiene, it seems, is not a priority for most tween and teen boys. Lots of moms said they’re dealing with the exact same issue. Others said that their boys spend a lot of time in the shower, but come out with unwashed, still-dirty hair. Is this lack of interest in appearance and, um, smell, merely a stage that will resolve without intervention? Or should parents and teachers take a more active role in teaching and reinforcing hygiene habits? Turns out, the best approach is actually a combination of those two strategies. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * WHY some boys seems oblivious to their own stench * The essential role of 5th grade teachers in the hygiene battle * How colored liquid soap can help boys shower effectively * “Man soap” vs. “girly soap” * Axe bombs (Don’t know what that is? Listen in at 12:41!) * When — and how — to have the hygiene talk * When boys should start using deodorant – & how to make sure your boys use it regularly (Listen carefully for Jen’s pro tips!) * The role of role-modeling in personal hygiene * How to get the stench out of your boys’ gym clothes and sports uniforms * Tooth brushing (Spoiler: Instill good tooth brushing habits when you boys are young!) * Hair care * How to combine male bonding and hygiene rituals (not as weird as it sounds!) * BEING NEUTRAL! Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold and Brilliant. by Mayim Bialik — A great book to leave laying around the house. Includes detailed hygiene instructions for boys. Why Do Teenagers Smell Bad? Study Suggests They May Be Unable to Detect Own Scent — report of Danish research ON BOYS on YouTube -- watch uncut versions of our conversations Sponsor Spotlight: Stryke Club Skin care specifically made for boys! Created by a group of “boy moms,” including a pediatric dermatologist, Stryke Club products are simple, safe and non-drying. Use discount code ONBOYS to save 10%. LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: 
December 5, 2019
"Middle school," Phyillis Fagell says, "is a stew of simmering hormones, shifting relationships and increased expectations." It's also a time of massive confusion and overwhelm -- for middle school boys and their parents. Phyllis Fagell is a school counselor and the author of Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School & Beyond and How Parents Can Help. She's also a mom of three; her youngest son is currently in 6th grade. While many of us view the middle school years with terror, Fagell sees them as a time of great opportunity. The question all middle schoolers wrestle with is, "Am I good enough?" Now is the time we can build their self-confidence, competence and coping skills. To do so, though, we need to increase our understanding and compassion. Boys often behave in ways that can be baffling to "boy moms." Case in point: a 7th grade boy might think sharing pictures of his privates via Snapchat is a great way to bond with the guys. (Seriously. Listen in at about 8:45) When we don't take the time to consider our boys' perspective, we often over-react -- & alienate the very children we're trying to help. Middle school boys, Fagell says, love hard, care hard and mean well. They want to be funny and well-liked, but they may not yet have the socioemotional skills and experience to avoid unintentionally harming or even humiliating others. When you understand that fact, parenting middle school boys becomes a whole lot easier. (And more fun!) In this episode, Janet, Jen & Phyllis discuss: * What's on the minds of middle school boys * Gender stereotypes * Boys' friendships * Common misconceptions about middle school boys * Boys & body image * Sensitively supporting boys by validating their feelings * Why middle school boys are sometimes obnoxious * What to do if you spot inappropriate photos on your son's phone * Giving boys space to discuss masculinity * Encouraging tween boys autonomy * When (& how) to involve the school in your son's academic struggles * Handling students/teacher conflicts * Helping boys deconstruct the "man box" * How to use inoculation therapy to decrease the chances that your son will vape, gossip or try drugs or alcohol Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Fagell's online home. Includes blog posts and links to her speaking schedule. How Shame Harms Boys -- ON BOYS episode Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers -- ON BOYS episode Vaping & E-Cigarette Use: What Parents Need to Know -- ON BOYS episode Sponsor Spotlight: Stryke Club Skin care specifically made for boys! Created by a group of “boy moms,” including a pediatric dermatologist, Stryke Club products are simple, safe and non-drying. Use discount code ONBOYS to save 10%.
November 28, 2019
Image by Kate Ware via Flickr How do you teach boys gratitude? So many parents today are frustrated by their boys' apparent lack of gratitude. All too often, our boys come off as ungrateful, entitled jerks -- and it bugs the bejeezus out of us! We're embarrassed, we're annoyed and we secretly feel like failures, because surely good parents would raise grateful, gracious children, right? Well, the truth is that all children are self-centered; that's part of being a child! As children grow, they gradually learn that they are not the center of the universe, and they gradually -- very gradually -- learn that they must consider others' feelings, desires, and needs as well. Science has shown a strong link between kids' developmental stages and gratitude. Put simply, older teenagers are much more capable of feeling and expressing gratitude than younger younger. In fact, according to an on Harvard Health, "gratitude is an attainment associated with emotional maturity." In other words, your 7-year-old son is not supposed to be great at gratitude. He's still developing the socioemotional skills that will allow him to perceive and appreciate all that others do for him. That said, there's a lot you can do to nurture the development of gratitude in your sons. Happy Thanksgiving! In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * The limits of role-modeling in teaching gratitude * How emotional development affects gratitude * Why boys w ADHD may struggle with gratitude * Developmentally appropriate expectations * Gratitude's benefits * Creating a culture of service and volunteering * Drawing kids' attention to the many ways others hep them * How wonder & awe create appreciation * Concrete steps you can take to teach boys gratitude * How keeping a gratitude journal can help combat anxiety and depression Sponsor Spotlight: Stryke Club Skin care specifically made for boys! Created by a group of "boy moms," including a pediatric dermatologist, Stryke Club products are simple, safe and non-drying. Jen's boys have been using Everywhere Wash and Face First for the past month, and their faces are clear. Best of all, they actually use these products (unlike some other products I've brought home). Use discount code ONBOYS to save 10%. Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Teaching Boys Social Skills -- ON BOYS episode featuring ADHD expert Ryan Wexelblatt (mentioned at 5:06) Parenting Boys with Maggie Dent (Part 1) -- ON BOYS episode featuring Australia's "boy champion" (mentioned at 22:55) In Praise of Gratitude -- Harvard Health article Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids -- Greater Good magazine article LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Use this link
November 21, 2019
How important is college? That's a fraught question for many families, particularly in an age of rapid technological change and occupational insecurity. We've been told that education is the key to success, but post-secondary education is priced like a luxury item, at least here in the U.S. In his new book, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, author Paul Tough writes, "for many young Americans, [the U.S. system of higher education] functions obstacle to mobility, an instrument that reinforces a rigid social hierarchy and prevents them from moving beyond the circumstances of their birth." Ouch. And yet, many of us shy away from that reality. "We're not being honest with ourselves and with our young people about how complex it is to get from high school to the kind of education you need to succeed," Paul says. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Paul discuss: * The intense pressure kids feel to achieve academically and go to college * A healthier approach to education & learning * The value of liberal arts studies * Helping boys navigate high-stakes academic decisions * Other post-high school options * Vocational education  (& why the skilled trades aren't exactly a "no college" option) * The truth about welding as a career * Supporting boys as they figure out a career and life plan * Encouraging resilience, optimism & self-discipline to help boys overcome obstacles * Helping boys transition to college (for more, check out this previous episode) * Navigating socioeconomic and cultural challenges at college * Advocating for systemic changes to higher education Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Paul's online home. Includes his speaking schedule and links to his online articles. The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us -- Paul's latest book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity & the Hidden Power of Character -- 2013 classic by Paul Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why -- the follow-up book to How Children Succeed Managing the Transition to College -- On Boys episode featuring Dr. Pamela Ellis, author of What to Know Before they Go  LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Facebook: Linkedin:
November 14, 2019
"You will be brought to your knees in the act of parenting." -- Dr. Vanessa Lapointe Parenting boys is not an easy gig! So often, we are confronted with situations that we simply don't know how to handle. What does one do when your two-year-old insists on pooping in the corner? How should you respond when your tween calls you a "bitch?" What's an appropriate consequence for a boy who's failing all his classes because he refuses to do any of the work? Vanessa Lapointe, a child psychologist and parent of two boys, says those are the wrong questions. Instead of worrying over, "What do I DO when X happens?" she encourages parents to consider "How do I need to BE when X happens?" Her books, Parenting Right From the Start: Laying a Healthy Foundation in the Baby and Toddler Years and Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, urge parents to take a step back. Despite our best intentions, many of us parent as we were parented. That can be a good thing, but it's also frustrating for many of us who find ourselves yelling more often than connecting. To truly move forward, we need to wrestle with the ways our growing-up experiences affected us -- and that's not easy. "Everyone wants the magic steps. We all want tips and techniques, but that just isn't the way humans go," Dr. Vanessa says. "The truth is, you will be brought to your knees in the act of parenting. As you tumble to your knees and realize that there's this massive shift occurring inside of you, you have a choice: You can choose to stay in the status quo and carry on as-is and come what may, and that may seem like the easier route, but I promise you: down the road, that's not going to be the easier route." Alternately, she says, "you can choose to accept this as what it actually is: an invitation for you to step into your own growth." In this episode, Janet, Jen & Dr. Vanessa discuss: * The 2 most powerful influences on how we parent * Why you should never accept parenting advice from someone who's not been in the trenches * How to effectively parent with a partner when you're on different pages (Spoiler: Your partner's job is to "trigger the beejeebies out of you!" Dr. Vanessa says) * Dealing with toddler biting * How your emotions affect your parenting * Letting go of guilt * Dandelion & orchid children * What raising 2 boys taught Dr. Vanessa about parenting * Why one-size-fits-all parenting will never work Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Dr. Vanessa's online home Discipline Without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, by Vanessa Lapointe Parenting Right From the Start: Laying a Healthy Foundation in the Baby and Toddler Years, by Vanessa Lapointe The Work of Byron Katie -- mentioned by Dr. Vanessa at 16:50. Includes tools you can use to question and reframe stressful thoughts LIKE THIS EPISODE?
November 7, 2019
November is Military Family Month. We Americans pause on November 11 to recognize the sacrifices of our veterans. This month, let's also remember the sacrifices of their families. If you think it's hard to raise boys, try raising boys in a military environment. Frequent moves and deployments challenge the whole family! Lauren Tamm, creator of The Military Wife and Mom, is a mom of two (a boy and a girl); she's also married to an active-duty Marine. She's passionate about helping parents, teachers, care givers and military spouses discover simple tools that minimize stress, create peace and build connection. Whether or not you're a military family, you're likely to take away a few tips that will help you in everyday life. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Lauren discuss: * The challenges -- and unpredictability -- of military life * How citizens can support military families * Parenting under stress * Masculinity in the military * Making space for difficult feelings * Building resilience & coping skills * Managing your emotions so you can effectively help your children Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: The Military Wife and Mom -- Lauren's blog How to Handle Backtalk and Disrespect Like a Parenting Warrior -- great post by Lauren What No One Tells You About Parenting Toddler Boys -- blog post by Lauren Raising Boys to be Men: 3 Crucial Steps That You're Missing -- a must-read by Lauren (mentioned at 20:02) Multi-State Licenses Help Military Spouse & Other Nurses Start Working Right Away -- article by Jen that highlights how legislation can affect military spouses' employability LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this Link Facebook: Use this Link Linkedin: Use this Link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the 
October 31, 2019
Charlie Capen Humor, says Charlie Capen, is one of the most important tools in parenting. But this actor/musician/writer/dad-of-two-boys isn't afraid to get serious either. Capen is one of the founders of, which he freely admits uses humor as a way to get guys to talk and think about parenting. A generation ago, there were few -- if any -- spaces for dads to discuss the challenges of parenthood. Today's dads often grew up with career-focused fathers who spent little time on day-to-day childcare. Now, fathers are increasingly involved in their children's lives but they're still stymied by stereotypes. Capen is one of the many dads who are blazing a new trail. He encourages all parents to reject stereotypical expectations and instead use their natural gifts and talents to connect with their children. "Every time I tried to be what I thought was a 'good dad,' I removed my creativity and my ability from parenting" Capen says. "I started to do things that we out of character and I left out whole parts of myself, and as soon as I started accepting, 'this is my parenting style & how I choose to live,' more power and ability arose." That's not to say he has parenting figured out. He doesn't. "Parenting is the process of unlearning the things you absolutely thought you knew," Capen says. But "not knowing" is a powerful agent for change. When you accept the fact that you don't have all the answer, you're free to explore and experiment. Wondering why Jen has a blanket on her head? Blame California's Pacific Gas & Electric. We like to snap a photo with our guests, but Charlie was reluctant; he lives in CA and his power was off due to the threat of wildfire -- which meant that he hadn't been able to shower or style his hair prior to our conversation. We reassured him & told him we've recorded LOTS of episodes like that! (Pictorial evidence below).  Charlie gamely pulled up his hood and Janet did too, in solidarity, and Jen didn't have a hood, so...Silly photo brought to you by PG&E. :) Remember: humor is one of the most important tools in parenting (and life)!  In this episode, Janet, Jen & Charlie discuss: * Using humor to survive parenting * Dad stereotypes * How moms subsconsciously interfere with dads' relationships with their kids * Breaking down gender stereotypes to empower children & adults * Why you should embrace your unique skills, talents & interests (& stop worrying about the "shoulds!") * The benefits of striving for harmony, vs. striving for balance * Identifying and meeting the needs of each unique child * Surviving parenting challenges * Gaming for social good Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- the website Charlie founded -- online home of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, by Jane McGonigal -- book mentioned at 32:38 LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: 
October 24, 2019
Photo by Grey World via Flickr What do you do if a teacher shames your son in front of the class?  For many parents, this is not an abstract question. Teachers, coaches, bus drivers and yes, even parents still use shame to shape kids' behavior. Adults yell at children in front of their peers, berate them for a lack of effort, criticize their attempts...and children's spirits shrivel. Shame is a universal human experience. According to the Oxford dictionary, shame is "a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior." In and of itself, the emotion isn't particularly harmful; it can even positively mold behavior. However, when human beings are humiliated by others, they tend to assume that there is something wrong with them. People who are repetitively shamed do not feel an innate sense of worth; instead, they feel unworthy and unlovable. If your grew up with shame (and many of us did), you may be hard-pressed to recognize it or its harm. Breathe. Listen. Think. We can do better for our boys. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * The difference between SHAME and SHAMING * How the "boy code" feeds shame and guilt * Harmful effects of shame * Breaking the generational cycles of shame * Classroom management practices that fuel shame & cause harm (Clip charts, we're looking at you!) * The link between school shaming and boys' negative attitudes toward school * Respectful discipline * Healing from shame Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Teaching Boys Respect -- ON BOYS episode Steve Biddulph on Raising Boys -- ON BOYS episode How Children Develop Toxic Shame -- Aha! Parenting blog post How to Break the Cycle of Shame with Your Child -- Aha! Parenting blog post Moving Into the Red: Boys & Education -- Jen's post about her son's experience with school behavior charts (mentioned at 15:40) Why Classroom Clip Charts Do More Harm Than Good -- Parents article by psychologist Emily King Is There a Place for Shame in Your Parenting Toolbox? -- Washington Post article 5 Ways Shame Can Shape Your Life -- article mentioned by Janet at 22:30 How to Teach Consent to Boys -- Without Shaming Them -- Your Teen article by Jen LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Facebook: Linkedin: STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and t...
October 17, 2019
It's not easy to talk to boys about anxiety, depression and mental health. And yet, in a world in which 1 in 8 kids has an anxiety disorder and 2-3% of children ages 6-12 have serious depression and suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24, not talking about these topics is irresponsible. You wouldn't skip the sex talk, would you? (If so, click over to this episode right now!) As adults, it's our job to equip our children with the skills they need to deal with whatever life sends their way. Our job to help them develop problem-solving and coping skills, and our responsibility to make sure they know the facts about mental health. Kristi Hugstad, a health educator-turned-author, speaker and grief recovery specialist, learned about mental illness the hard way. Her husband battled depression; in 2012, he died by suicide. Today, Kristi shares her knowledge and message of hope with others. Her book, Beneath the Surface: A Teen's Guide to Reaching Out When You or Your Friend Is in Crisis, is designed to help parents, teens and educators dig into tough subjects. The overarching message is that you are not alone;  mental illness is very treatable and manageable with support. "Depression is an illness, and there is help and there is hope," Kristi says. "Once you understand that it is an illness just like cancer, just like diabetes, and you need treatment, it takes away some of its power. It's a little less scary." And, she says, "if you had cancer, you wouldn't just sit and hope it goes away. You would immediately seek treatment and do what you need to do to conquer that disease." If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, there are resources for you by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visiting In this episode, Janet, Jen & Kristi discuss: * HOW to start discussing mental health with teens * What most people misunderstand about suicide * Why so many men & boys are so reluctant to admit problems or reach out for help (Spoiler: they've been taught that it's a sign of weakness -- and the opposite of how a male should behave) * Age-appropriate conversations about mental health * Physical symptoms of anxiety and depression * How to respond to a headache or stomachache that you think might be related to anxiety * The pros and cons of taking away your son's phone when he gets in trouble * Technology guidelines for mental health * How lack of sleep negatively affects mental health * Working together in community to support kids' mental health * Talking to your kids about your own mental health struggles * Warning signs and risk factors of suicide and depression - & how to respond * Supporting our sons when there's been a suicide in the community * Teaching tweens and teens to care for their mental health (Note: Lead by example! Get outside, exercise, get enough sleep) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:
October 10, 2019
Australian author and psychologist Steve Biddulph was one of the first to highlight the unique needs of boys. In the mid-1990s, "Steve went out on a limb to stand up for boys and men in a time when, culturally, the focus was really on girls and women," Janet says. His books, including The Secrets of Happy Children and Manhood, have been translated into more than 30 languages. The 1997 classic Raising Boys: Why Boys are So Different - and How to Help Them Become Happy and Well-Balance Men changed the way Janet taught and influenced a generation of parents and teachers. Steve completed updated the book in 2018; Raising Boys in the 21st Century: How to Help Our Boys Become Open-Hearted, Kind and Strong Men addresses the concerns and challenges facing today's parents of boys. Now, we know that boys' brains develop on a different trajectory than girls'. The part of the brain that handles language, for instance, matures more slowly in males than in females, which is one reason why boys aren't as verbal as girls (generally speaking), especially when it comes to emotions. But a tendency isn't destiny; with that knowledge in hand, parents can make a concerted effort to stimulate their son's language development by reading to him, singing to him and talking with him often. A basic knowledge of boy development, coupled with general familiarity with the many challenges boys face, will help you parent your son. ("There are risk factors to being a boy," Steve says, pointing out that males are 3 times more likely to die by age 25 than females.) Learning more about the "Full-On 4s" and the "Emotional 8s" will increase your understanding of your son, so you can respond more effectively to his mood changes and growth. However, it's absolutely essential for you to get to know -- and support -- your son as a unique individual. There is no boy quite like your boy. (Jen missed this conversation after realizing that Fri. in Tasmania is Thursday in the U.S -- and her son's biggest soccer game of the season thus far was at the exact same time as this conversation. Good news: They won, and Jen didn't miss her son's first varsity start!) In this episode, Janet & Steve discuss: * How cultural changes have affected dads and boys * What modern dads get right * How parents can stimulate boys' communication skills * The link between testosterone levels and reading difficulties * The problem with early formal education -- and the benefits of delaying school entry * How shame harms boys * Adrenarche and the "emotional 8s" (Spoiler: there's a biological reason 8 & 9 yr old boys are often easily upset!) * How to talk to boys about pornography * Why you MUST point out the differences between lovemaking and porn * Talking to boys about sexually aggressive girls * Setting expectations with your teen (Hint: you have to listen to them too) * How Steve's love of children fuels his humanitarian work
October 3, 2019
Are all teenage boys jerks? That's the question we tackle in this episode, albeit with some more colorful language. (Heads up: If you're opposed to the word "asshole," you might want to skip this episode. If you've ever thought to yourself, "When did my kid become such an asshole?!?" you're definitely going to want to listen!) Raising tween & teen boys is hard. That's why so many parents of teens are desperate for information, help & support. And that's why Sue Borison & Stephanie Silverman started Your Teen media. Sue & Steph also co-host the podcast Your Teen with Sue & Steph. "Not only has it been a journey of joy to build something together, but for me, it changed my parenting completely," Sue says. In creating the magazine and talking with other parents, she learned to let go of perfection, to let go of the idea that there's a "right" way to parent teens. Good parents of good kids struggle. The fact that you or your son is struggling is not an indication that you are a terrible or ineffective parent, or that he's bad kid. Of course, that's easier to say than remember in the moment. "I never got great at not catastrophizing," Sue says. "I got really good at recognizing that today didn't have to be perfect, but it doesn't mean I didn't lose sleep at night." Teenage boys, Steph reminds us, have "a hard time getting out of their own way." Like puppies, they are growing and awkward -- mature one minute, immature the next. It's this unpredictability that makes parenting tweens and teens so challenging. Like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. "If I could do it over, I would show more love and kindness," Sue says.  "Most importantly, treasure them & love them." In this episode, Jen, Janet, Sue & Steph discuss: * The loneliness & isolation of parenting teens * Perfectionism in parenting * Why talking about the "hard parts" of parenting is so helpful * How teenage boys are like puppies * Why you must lower your expectations * The social jungle of middle school & high school - & how it affects our kids' emotions & behavior * How the #MeToo movement and online porn have affected boys * How social media has changed parenting * Modern dating * Promposals & heightened Homecoming expectations * Teen boys' need for physical touch (Hug your boys!) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Your Teen magazine -- online home of Your Teen. Features lots of great articles, including some by Jen Your Teen with Sue & Steph -- the Your Teen podcast featuring (you guessed it!) Sue & Steph The Truth About Parenting Teen Boys -- BuildingBoys post that tackles the "are all 14 yr old boys assholes?" question Have You Hugged Your Teen? The Importance of Parental Affection -- Your Teen article mentioned at 20:38 Getting Asked to Homecoming: A Boy Mom's Advice for Girls -- Your Teen article mentioned at 20:50
September 26, 2019
The secret to parenting success  -- & satisfaction -- is simple: Parent from love, not fear.  Bryan Post So says Bryan Post, founder of The Post Institute for Family Centered Therapy. Adopted as a child, Post experienced the difficulties that can arise when a child's needs conflict with a parent's experience. His adopted sister was born prematurely due to fetal alcohol syndrome and spent the first months of her life in an incubator, which stunted her emotional development. His well-meaning parents had both been raised in alcoholic families, which caused them to become hyper-responsive. The combination was volatile. Post has devoted his professional life to helping parents understand how stress, fear and trauma play out in the lives of children -- and adults. "Trauma is any stressful event which is prolonged, overwhelming or unpredictable," Post says. "If it remains unexpressed, unprocessed, and misunderstood, that forms the difference between a short-term stressful experience and a long-term, potentially life-altering traumatic event." A major problem with our society, Post says, "is that we discount everything...we're always discounting experiences because we don't like to think about things that make us uncomfortable." But we --- and our children -- would be better served if we acknowledge and work through experiences, rather than pushing them aside. Unfortunately, parents are prone to blame themselves for their children's struggles. Our brains are wired in such a way that we take personal responsibility for their behavioral challenges, for instance. We perceive their behavior as a threat that must be dealt with immediately. It all happens in an instant. "We've got to slow down and look at own internal reactions," Post says. Blame, shame and guilt plague parents on a daily basis, but the true problem is that we beat ourselves up for feeling these emotions. "Judgement of the feeling becomes the problem," Post says. "When you observe the feeling, the feeling can change. When you judge the feeling, you increase the intensity of it." The best part about love- vs. fear-based parenting is that you don't have to understand and even know the details of your child's trauma. Often, Post says, adoptive parents feel frustrated because they are overwhelmed by their child's behavior and don't even know the details of the child's life pre-adoption. No matter, he says. The parent is likely overwhelmed and frustrated because the "energy of the child triggers something that is already there." Identifying and dealing with that energy (aka unresolved issue) will lead to dramatic improvement in the parents' ability to connect with their child. "We have to realize that parenting, whether biological, adoptive, foster or grandparenting, is more than just raising kids," Post says. "We have to train up the children in the way they should go, but before we can can train up the child, we have to be effective disciples." (The word disciple, by the way, means "to teach.") A stressed out parent will never be able to force behavioral change on a stressed-out child. Instead, both become more stressed. Post challenges parents to jot down 3 things you do that are creating the most stress in your relationship with your child & 3 things you can do to reduce stress. Then, do more of the 3 things that reduce stress & less of the 3 things that increase stress. Your parenting will change, for the better. So will your relationship with your child. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Bryan discuss: * The definition of trauma * How trauma affects children * Why we must be trauma-responsive,
September 19, 2019
Photo by Martin Abegglen via Flickr What is respect? We tell our boys all the time to "show some respect!" and to "respect your teachers," and worry about whether or not our boys know how to respect girls and women. But what does that mean? Defining respect, we've learned, is trickier than it seems at first glance, and if you and your son (or you and your parenting partner) are working with different definitions of "respect," you're likely to find yourself frustrated. According to the dictionary, respect has two definitions: * a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities or achievements * due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others Do you see the difference? According to Definition One, respect is something that is earned; someone must be or do something special to elicit admiration. Definition Two, on the other hand, implies regard for another, regardless of what the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of that person may be. What does this have to do with raising boys? Well, we're living in a culture in which people say things like, "I will never teach my son to respect women. I'd rather have him respect a rock. I teach him to respect people who earn it...Only toxic feminists demand respect when none is earned." A culture in which an online commenter responded to this sentence, "...It was important to us that our boys understand the incredible worth and dignity of women and that they grew up to be men who treated women with the respect they deserve" with this sentence: "The fact is that some women are deserving of no more commitment and respect than a urinal at a truck stop." It's time to talk seriously about respect: what it is, why it matters and what exactly we mean when we ask our boys to "show respect." In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * The definition of respect * Why simply telling your kids to respect someone is meaningless * How to handle tricky situations (Example: you want your son to respect his teacher, but the teacher belittles another child in the class) * How to help a child handle feelings of disrespect * Teaching respect in a disrespectful world * Why you must explicitly describe the kind of you behavior you want from your child * Helping boys navigate respect, justice and injustice * The importance of role-modeling * The difference between "dissing" and "disrespect" * Disrespectful language * How to disagree without showing disrespect Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Teaching Boys to Respect Women -- BuildingBoys post (learn more about the "some women are no more deserving of respect than a truck stop urinal" comment) 21 Completely Subjective Rules for Raising Teenage Boys -- rule 1 is the one that inspired one man to write "I will never teach my son to respect" women - & inspired this podcast episode! Finding Balance & Handling Disrespect -- ON BOYS episode that can help you deal with disrespectful behavior How to Show Respect to Others (& Why It's Important in Life) -- includes 6 concrete suggestions LiveRespect Curriculum -- FREE curriculum to help boys become healthy men
September 12, 2019
More Maggie Dent! (If you haven't yet listened to Part 1 of our conversation, go listen to that one first. Then come back for more Maggie!) In this episode, Maggie, Janet & Jen discuss: * How to help elementary school boys handle their frustration when they get in trouble at school * Boys’ inclination toward protecting others * How to support boys’ interest in superhero boy & play fighting * How to deconstruct the “man code” and help boys’ live authentically * How to talk so boys will listen * The importance of social-emotional development and learning * Boys’ friendships — & how moms can help their sons develop important relationship skills * “Rooster” boys & “lamb” boys, & what they need from their parents & teachers Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons — Maggie’s latest book “This is the book I’m on the earth to write.” — Maggie Dent — Maggie’s website. Jam-packed with resources! Let Grow —  The new website of Lenore Skenazy, of Free-Range Kids fame Dear mums of smelly, unmotivated, lazy, moody and confused 14 year old boys — one of Maggie’s best blog posts Maggie Dent on YouTube –– Pro Tip: These short videos are great to share with dads! Episode 129: Grief with Tom Golden How to Listen to Him -- So He Will Want to Talk to You IF YOU LIKE THIS EPISODE - Please share it with a friend! (and thanks!) TEXT them the link: And share on your social media: Twitter: Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin: Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too!
September 5, 2019
Maggie Dent Our friend Maggie Dent  will be in British Columbia later this month, so we thought this would be a great time to re-share her wisdom & encouragement! Maggie the mom of four now-grown boys, a parenting educator & author of numerous books, including Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Moms of Sons. This conversation was originally recorded in December 2018 but the advice here is timeless. Enjoy! Some gems: Moms, be careful not to shatter your boys’ dreams or fantastic plans with your words. It is helpful to explore why there is often a mismatch between what a mom thinks has happened, and what a boy thinks has happened. That whole perception that there is an inevitability to boys’ behavior being bad is just the biggest fallacy out there that we must pull apart. In this episode, Maggie, Janet & Jen discuss: * Why shaming is so harmful to boys * Societal changes within the past 30 years that have made life tougher for boys & their families (including increased academic expectations & the demise of free play) * The importance of PLAY * Male loneliness (and how to help boys build connections) * The link between movement and learning * How negative stereotypes about boys & boy behavior affect how people view — and treat — boys * What to do when boys muck up IF YOU LIKE THIS EPISODE - Will you share it with a friend? (and thanks!) TEXT them the link: Twitter: Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin: Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too! Follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  use this link for Janet and use this link for Jennifer
August 29, 2019
Google "boy mentors" and you'll get more than 20,000,000 results. Search for "mentors for boy moms" and you'll get just over 900,000 results -- and most are resources to help single moms find male mentors for their sons.You'll find next-to-nothing about how to find a mentor for yourself. But moms need mentors too. When Jen & Janet met recently (for the first time! at a podcast conference), they heard a talk about the importance of female mentors. The presenter, Robyn Sayles, pointed out the dearth of female mentors in movies, books and real life. Luke Skywalker had Obi Wan Kenobi & Yoda to guide him and encourage him; they shared with him crucial information and skills that helped him complete his mission. Without their help, would Luke have managed to inspire and lead the Rebels? Here at ON BOYS, we talk a lot about boys. But we know that many (if not most) of our listeners are women. We know that many of you are facing challenges in your parenting and that you'd love an Obi Wan to help you through this parenting journey. We realized that boy moms, in particular, need mentors. According to the dictionary, a mentor is an experienced and trusted advisor. We hope we've earned your trust and we want to continue serving you as experienced advisors. But we also encourage you to reach out to other "boy moms," both locally and globally. Connect with a mom whose boys are just a bit older than yours; she can help you put your current challenges in perspective and share tips and tricks that have (and have not!) worked for her. Reach out to a mom with younger boys too; no matter how young your boys are, there's another mom out there with younger boys who feels even more inexperienced and lost than you do. When we parent alone & in isolation, we all hurt. When we share our knowledge & strength, we all win. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * How a lack of mentorship harms moms & families * The benefits of mentoring -- to both the mentee & mentor * How to find an effective mentor * Why it's hard for moms to accept (and ask for) help Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Mommy Mentor: Why Every Mom Needs One -- 2013 article from Today's Parent LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Use this link Facebook:  Use this link Linkedin: Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too! Follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and 
August 22, 2019
At age 4, Sassy Harvey's son was told that if he dances, he must be a girl. Or gay.  Not surprisingly, he quit dance class soon after that. It's 2019. Girls, we know can become astronauts and scientists and ministers and presidents. But boys who dance are STILL routinely perceived as gay and effeminate. In fact, according to a recent study of male ballet dancers: * 93% of boys involved in ballet report "teasing and name calling" * 68% experience "verbal or physical harassment" * 11% were victims of physical harm - at the hands of people who targeted them because they study dance Shortly after her son quit formal dance classes, Sassy launched MY BOY CAN, an organization that would like to see a social shift in attitudes towards boys and challenges the constraints placed on boys. Often, Sassy says, "when a boy expresses interest that in things that are perceived as 'for girls,' they are told they shouldn't or can't." MY BOY CAN's first campaign was #MyBoyCanDance. Sassy reached out to dance studios and others in Portsmouth, England (her home base) and encouraged people to share photos of boys and men dancing, with the hashtag #MyBoyCanDance. Thanks to the power of the Internet, "it went crazy," Sassy said. "It's now worldwide." Of course, there's much work yet to be done. But as Sassy explains, "It all starts with us stopping the 'My boy won’t, can’t, shouldn’t because he is a boy' and starting instead to say, 'My Boy Can.'" Top L: Sassy Harvey. Top R: Janet Allison. Bottom: Jennifer Fink In this episode, Jen, Janet & Sassy discuss: * The pressure boys face to conform to gender stereotypes * How parents can support boys (and each other) as they challenge stereotypes * The power of community (working together, parents of boys have more power than we do individually) * How boy parents can create societal change * How to help boys reframe public perceptions of dance * How dance instructors and studios can create boy-friendly dance classes * The importance (and value) of empowering boys to pursue their interests * What to do if your boy's dad is the one discouraging dance (or any other activity) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: My Boy Can -- Sassy's Facebook community Boys Can Dance Too -- Building Boys post Tight, Tutus & "Relentless" Teasing: Inside Ballet's Bullying Epidemic -- excellent HuffPo article Danseur -- documentary film (mentioned at about 19:20) about male dancers The Heart of a Boy: Celebrating the Strength and Spirit of Boyhood, by Kate T. Parker -- BEAUTIFUL books w tons of photos of boys engaged in all kinds of activities. Includes thought-provoking quotes from the featured boys Let Toys Be Toys -- UK-based campaign that asks the toy & publishing industries to stop limiting children's interests by promoting some toys & books as only suitable for girls, and others only for boys (Website includes lots of great articles and links to their social media)
August 15, 2019
It's time for another listener Q & A! A Boys Alive! FB group member asks: How can I interest a teen boy in becoming a good world citizen? A Twitter follower asks: What do you say to boys who say they're the best at...whatever the conversation is about. I've heard this from multiple 7/8/9 yo boys. So much bragging. Jacquie asks: How do we help people understand that there are differences between boys and girls and that it's OK to recognize that fact? So often, we are focused on saying, 'girls can do anything boys can do' that we forget there are things girls may not want to do or boys tend to do more naturally. Greg asks: Why won't they listen? In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * Why you'll have better luck following your son's lead than trying to plot his direction * How to enlarge your son's world and expand his point-of-view, no matter where you live (or the size of your budget) * How to reign in your own anxiety (Note: your son's behavior is not a judgement of your parenting!) * How to handle boys' boasting * Why boys brag * Talking about gender differences between boys and girls * Respecting individual differences * How parents can advocate for boys * The Handmaid's Tale (trust us: it's relevant) * How to help boys listen * Biological factors that affect boys' ability to listen Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Boys Overestimate Their School Skills, Girls Underestimate Theirs -- study mentioned at 9:09 Girls Underestimate Their STEM Aptitude, Boys Overestimate -- similar study Gender Hearing Differences -- blog post that explores why boys  may not listen as well as you think they should LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link LinkedIn:  Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too!
August 8, 2019
The beginning of the school year stirs up a lot of emotions for boys -- and their parents. The number of boys who don't like school has been increasing in recent years. In 1980, just 14% of boys told researchers they "didn't like" school. By 2001, 24% -- nearly one-quarter of all boys -- said they didn't like school. Today, that number is likely even higher. Pay attention to your son's signals. His reactions to back-to-school ads and events can tell you a lot about his general attitude toward school. Look. Listen. Then, help him address his concerns. Remember: school is just ONE PART of your son's life. Sure, you'll want to encourage him to do his best, but please leave room for family time and personal interests as well. Overemphasizing academics does not help boys. In this episode, Janet & Jen  discuss: * Why so many boys dislike school * Physical and emotional symptoms of school anxiety * Transitioning from summer to school * How to help your son set goals for the school year * Establishing a sane schedule * Prioritizing family time * How unstructured time helps boys learn * Teacher-parent relationships * How to get on his teacher's "good side" * Why you shouldn't "overshare" with your son's teacher, especially at the beginning of the academic year * The kindergarten/1st grade conundrum -- how to know when it's time to send your son to first grade & why you might want to wait * Why it's crucial to build activity into your son's day Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Back to School: Start Getting Ready Now -- Boys Alive! blog post How to Help Your Boys Have a Great School Year -- On Boys episode 124 5 Back to School Resolutions -- Building Boys blog post Homework and Boys -- On Boys episode 101 Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers -- On Boys episode 131 Back to School Tips for Boys -- Building Boys blog post New Research Shows Link Between Kindergarten Cutoff Dates & ADHD Diagnosis -- study mentioned at 24:30 LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter:  use this link Facebook:   use this link LinkedIn:   use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report “3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy.”  And opt-in at, too!
August 1, 2019
Youth sports are a BIG DEAL.  According to ESPN, 28.7 million American kids between the ages of 6 and 17 played youth sports in 2013. That number is likely low; many kids start well before age 6. Gone are the days when boys started Little League at age 10 or 11. Today, T-ball begins at age 3 or 4, and many kids are on travel teams by the time they're 6. Today's families are investing a lot of time and money into sports. (According to one estimate, travel team parents spent on average $2266 annually on youth sports; at the elite level, that number can jump to more than $20,000.) Whether your son is into sports or not, your family will surely face pressure to sign him up for one (or more) sports teams and then steadily escalate his involvement. If your son is into it, he can reap a lot of benefits; it's well-known that sports are a great way to learn teamwork and persistence. But sports aren't all positive. We've all heard stories about athletes behaving badly and parents berating small children and umpires from the bleachers. We know that locker room antics aren't always positive and we wonder how to balance youth sports with family life. (20 years into parenting boys, Jen still hasn't satisfactorily solved the problem of supper on sports nights.) Geoff and Jacob are that rare breed - VOLUNTEER youth sport coaches - and THEY LOVE IT! It's a way for them to be involved with their own children's sports but they also like guiding other youth to E.A.T.  Yep, EAT - that's E for Effort, A for attitude, and T for teamwork.  Those are their guiding principles and consequently, their players are learning life skills along with their sports skills. A dynamic conversation with these two amazing dads, coaches, and gentlemen. LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends (and thanks!): Twitter: Use this link Facebook: Use this link LinkedIn: Use this link STAY CONNECTED WITH JANET & JEN: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report "3 Simple Tips to CONNECT with Your Boy."  And opt-in at, too! Follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  use this link for Janet and use this link for Jennifer
July 25, 2019
Black boys fare worse than white boys in 99% of America. Here to help us untangle the many factors that affect black boys' experience in America is Hilary Beard, author of Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and Life and creator of Rise & Thrive Online Parenting Program. Hilary Beard "We thought we were raising the Obama generation, a generation of young people who would live in a world that was very diverse, with racial harmony and a greater level of equity. We thought our children would finally be able to walk through the doors of opportunity and assume their rightful seat at the table," Hilary says. But in late 2019, Black and brown boys continue to be pulled over and prosecuted for actions that often net white boys a warning. The President of the United States recently told four black and brown congresswomen to "go back....[to] the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." And hate crimes targeting individuals' race and ethnicity are on the rise, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice. So, even as Americans cry over the injustices illustrated in When They See Us, the Netflix mini-series portraying the experiences of five boys once known as the Central Park Five, inequality and racism remain. Black and brown children are frequently disciplined in school for developmentally appropriate behavior -- which affects children's perceptions of themselves and of school, as well as academic outcomes. (Kids who are suspended and expelled from school spend less time in class, so their academic performance tends to fall off and they are less likely to graduate high school and attend college.) Talking about race isn't easy, but it's absolutely necessary. In this episode, we discuss: * How parents of Black & brown boys can help them survive & thrive in the face of racism * The racial wealth gap (& how it was created by public policies) * Mass incarceration & the school-to-prison pipeline * Unconscious and implicit bias * How zero tolerance policies have had an out-sized effect on boys, especially Black and brown boys * How parents & concerned citizens can address racial disparities in education * How white people can effectively ally with Black and brown people Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and Life, by Hilary Beard (companion book to the documentary American Promise) -- Hilary's website. Includes links to her books, articles & classes Extensive Data Shows Punishing Reach of Racism for Black Men -- New York Times article that graphically illustrates differences in outcomes between white & black males of similar backgrounds How to Build Up Black Boys -- U.S. News & World Report article by Jen
July 18, 2019
Our boys often wear metaphorical masks. We all do, in fact. At work, we typically wear our confident, professional faces. At home, we aim for warm, nurturing and competent. But underneath, we may be feeling anger, frustration, sadness or shame. Our "masks" allow us to go about our days and meet our responsibilities without ruffling too many feathers or attracting too much attention. Boys don masks for the same reason. Our boys are swimming in a soup of messages that tell them exactly how boys should look and behave. So, to meet expectations and find social acceptance, boys often adopt personas and attitudes that conceal their true personalities and feelings. Ashanti Branch, founder and executive director of Ever Forward Club, helps boys (and girls) identify and remove their masks. He helps them get in touch with their inner selves and emotions, so they can connect authentically with themselves and others. He also helps educators understand and connect with students. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Ashanti discuss: * Social pressures that affect boys * Why telling a boy he's "the man of the house" is harmful * The #100K Mask Challenge * Why it may take boys a long time to remove their masks * Why treating boys as if they're giving their best is often a better option than nagging or negatively engaging * How to create space for boys to be human Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Ever Forward Club -- Ashanti's non-profit The Mask You Live In -- 2015 documentary about boys' struggles with masculinity; features Ashanti. The film is currently available on Amazon Prime. #100K Masks Challenge --  Ashanti & Ever Forward's effort to engage 100,000 people from all over the world in self-reflection The Masks We All Wear -- TEDx talk by Ashanti LIKE THIS EPISODE? Share it with your friends: Twitter:  Use this link Facebook:  Use this link LinkedIn: Use this link Pinterest: Use this link STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  
July 11, 2019
Do you know what sensory processing disorder (SPD) is?  Many parents (and teachers) don't, but 5-15% of all children exhibit symptoms of SPD, which affects how they learn, socialize and interact with the world. It's possible that your child has a sensory processing problem that you haven't yet recognized as an issue with available & effective interventions. Nancy Peske, aka The Sensory Smart Parent, is a co-author of Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. She's also the mother of a son who has SPD. Nancy Peske According to Nancy, children who have sensory processing issues may: * Have problems eating (particular textures may bother them, for instance) * Be overly sensitive to stimulation -- or under-sensitive to stimulation * Struggle with body awareness and control * Exhibit language delays * Constantly seek movement * Be easily overwhelmed and distracted * Have difficulty with reading and fine motor control For some reason, the bodies and brains of people with sensory  issues process sensory stimuli differently than most people. Their experience of the world is very different, and that can lead to misunderstanding. The more you know about sensory processing challenges, the better prepared you'll be to recognize and respond to the symptoms. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Nancy discuss: * What sensory processing is * Signs & symptoms of sensory processing disorder * Why you should always trust your instincts (Got concerns about your child's development? Talk to your pediatrician. Keep pushing. Ask for an evaluation.) * How to find help for children with sensory challenges * Sensory diets * Interventions to help children with sensory processing issues * How movement helps boys with sensory issues * The role of "heavy work" in manage sensory processing disorder * How the changing expectations of childhood may be contributing to a rise in SPD diagnoses * Screen time and sensory processing disorder (Spoiler: "Kids with sensory issues often have a different relationship with technology than you might expect," Nancy says. "It's often helping them learn.") * How teachers can accommodate sensory processing issues * Why recess should NEVER be taken away from children with sensory challenges * Classic children's games that can help kids with sensory issues Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: -- Nancy's website (includes links to all her social channels) Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues, by Nancy Peske & Lindsey Biel Helping Boys with Sensory Issues -- 2016 Building Boys interview with Nancy Sensory Processing Disorder Symptoms Checklist
July 4, 2019
As we in the United States celebrate our nation's independence, we reflect on our boys' drive for independence.  Toddlers cry, "I do it!" when we attempt to put on their clothes. Our teens scowl when we tell them what time to be home. Their frustration -- toddlers' & teens' alike -- is driven by their desire for mastery and control. Children are wired to learn. They're wired to gradually take on more and more responsibility. "Kids," Jen reminds us, "have an innate drive for independence. You can use that to your advantage." Of course, it's not always easy for adults to release control. Our boys' judgement seems questionable at times (often, in some cases!). We worry for their safety. And sometimes, we simply don't recognize that our little ones are capable of more. We don't see the ways in which our well intentioned actions may be handicapping our boys' development. It's never too late to begin giving your boys more independence. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * Age-appropriate responsibilities * Why ages 0-7 is the perfect time to introduce skills & healthy habits (Spoiler: O-7 is the Age of Imitation) * Why investing in right-sized tools is a great investment in your child's development * How to make time to allow your child to develop his skills * How building a child's independence prevents entitlement and apathy * Why it's so hard to give our boys autonomy * How to get buy-in from older boys who aren't used to managing their own affairs * How to deal with resistance * Dealing with the heartache & pain of letting go * Independence vs interdependence Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Why Boys Need More Independence -- Building Boys post Parenting: Raise Independent Children -- excelled Psychology Today post 5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting - Janet's online course; mentioned at 12:20 How to Deal with an Unmotivated Boy -- one of Building Boys' most popular posts Hygiene Help for Tween & Teen Boys -- On Boys episode 120; mentioned at 15:30 The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives, by William Stixrud PhD & Ned Johnson  Waldorf Education turns 100 this year.  Find out more about Waldorf Education here: STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report on “Understanding Boys Better – and Why He Needs You Now More Than Ever” and Also, follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and 
June 27, 2019
Ahhhh, summer! Relaxed lazy days....oh, who are we kidding?!? For most parents in the Northern hemisphere, summer is a time of stress. The kids are home from school and the parents have to somehow juggle their regular work schedule while also trying to keep their kids engaged, active and on screens for less than 12 hours a day. Navigating summer responsibilities and expectations is a challenge for the whole family. If we can give you one piece of advice, it's this: Relax your standards. You don't have to take the kids to the pool weekly. Your kids can stay up later; strict bedtimes really aren't as important if the kids don't have to be anywhere in the morning. PJs are perfectly acceptable summer attire, at least sometimes. And no one -- seriously: no one -- is expecting a gourmet meal every night. Focus your attention on what's important to you and your children instead. Our summer tips will help you do just that. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * Common summer challenges * Why boredom is perfectly OK (in fact, it's important!) * Balancing scheduled vs unscheduled activity * How to prevent "summer slide" (loss of academic skills) * Fun FREE activities * Summer jobs for kids (even kids younger than 16) * Summer schedules * Recording summer memories Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Surviving Summer -- classic Building Boys post Kids Bowl Free -- 2 free games of bowling daily for registered children at participating centers Planet Fitness Teen Challenge -- high school teens ages 15 - 18 can work out at any of  1,800 locations throughout the United States and Canada for FREE all summer long Free Meals -- No Kid Hungry runs a summer meals texting service. Text ‘FOOD’ to 877-877 to find free summer meals sites in your neighborhood. On Boys Episode 117: Summer Jobs On Boys Episode 114: Sleepovers, Camp & Separation Anxiety On Boys Episode 118: Business Tips for a 12-Year-Old Entrepreneur Keeping Bored Boys Occupied During the Summer Holidays -- Building Boys post Summer Safety: Preventing Injuries -- Building Boys post STAY CONNECTED: Join the Building Boys FB group and the Boys Alive! FB group Be sure to opt-in at  Boys Alive! .com for your free report on "Understanding Boys Better - and Why He Needs You Now More Than Ever" and Also, follow us on Instagram:  @on.boys.podcast and @boys.alive Twitter:  @ParentAdvisor and @BuildingBoys  LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.
June 20, 2019
What do you get when you mix two fitness- and outdoors-minded dads with two moms who are staunch advocates for boys? A freewheeling discussion that touches on everything from fatherhood to weapons play and the current lack of movement in schools. Janet met Jaremy Day, co-host of the podcast Backcountry & Barbells, when she spoke at an event in Washington state. As a former boy and current dad of 2 boys & a girl, he's all too familiar with the challenges facing boys today. His co-host, Joe Szymanek (pronounced Sh-mon-ek), is also a father. He has three young children (one is a boy) and also teaches middle school. Despite the fact that they are both former boys & current parents of boys, neither Joe nor Jaremy were really aware of the obstacles and challenges that make life difficult for boys -- until Joe discovered Christina Hoff Sommers & The War on Boys via Joe Rogan and Jaremy heard Janet speak. Think about that: we are a culture that pins so much blame on individual boys that even men and boys aren't aware of all of the ways school and society work against boys' interests. All too often, boys, parents & teachers think the problem lies within the boy, without recognizing the many ways we've all contributed to the problem. For instance, in many schools, students who do not have PE that particular day stand or move for less than one hour a day. (Joe actually calculated this out with his students.) Growing children who NEED movement to develop their bodies and minds are denied the opportunity to move and often punished if they do so out of turn. (Raise your hand if your son has ever gotten in trouble for wiggling or squiggling or refusing to stay on the rug in the classroom.) via GIPHY In this episode, Janet, Jen, Jaremy & Joe discuss: * The value of outdoors time & play * The war on boys * How schools contribute to boys' struggles * Corporal punishment * The influence of coaches * Creating a culture of movement (including specific ideas parents & teachers can use at home or in the classroom) * Screen time (because a group of parents cannot come together today without touching on screen time!) * The plight of high-energy boys * Hunting and guns * Weapons play Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Backcountry & Barbells -- Jaremy & Joe's podcast -- website mentioned at 13:58 NASP -- National Archery in Schools Program Joe Rogan Experience #724: Christina Sommers -- podcast episode mentioned at 5:03 The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men, by Christina Hoff Sommers -- book mentioned at 5:43 Hudson Highlands Nature Museum -- includes the Grasshopper Grove natural playground mentioned around 37:45
June 13, 2019
The Boy Code. The Man Box. Whatever you want to call it, our boys are constrained by a largely unspoken set of expectations that exert pressure on them to behave and act in certain ways. Jonathon Reed helps boys -- and others -- understand and question these expectations. His podcast, Breaking the Boy Code, features real boys talking about their real, lived experiences. Reed adds the voices and insights of experts to each episode, and it's impossible to listen to even one episode and not be moved by the plight of boys and men. It's impossible to listen and not learn something. Jonathon Reed, creator of Breaking the Boy Code podcast, & friend While many people talk about boys, Jonathon talks with boys. He gives them a safe space to explore their thoughts and experiences of masculinity, and he gives them a venue to share their insights with others. For instance, after reports of sexual assault and hazing at St. Michael's College in Toronto made international news, Jonathan asked boys about their experience. Was the episode at St. Michael's an aberration, or something boys commonly experience? Why does hazing persist? How does it affect boys? The resulting episode, In That Moment You're Scared: Boys & Hazing, is a must-listen. Seriously: if you are raising boys, teaching boys or coaching boys, you need to go listen to it. Right now. (We'll wait.) As a child, Jonathon says, "I got told everyday, 'The way you're being a boy is not okay.'" Today, he helps boys understand that it's perfectly okay to be themselves. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Jonathon discuss: * Hazing * Building relationships with boys * The Boy Code * How to help boys handle social stereotypes and peer pressure * Why you need to know what's going on in your son's life * How to talk to boys about social expectations -- & how to support them when they want to step beyond the norm * The search for safety * How boys' experience & express emotion * How to equip boys to handle spaces with no supervision (such as locker rooms) * Why you shouldn't take your boy's moods personally Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Breaking the Boy Code podcast In That Moment You're Scared: Boys & Hazing -- Episode 1 of Breaking the Boy Code Cracking the Boy Code: How to Understand and Talk with Boys, by Adam Cox -- book mentioned at 24:21 Next Gen Men -- a Canadian-based nonprofit organization engaging, educating, and empowering men and boys around gender in schools, communities, and workplaces Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons From the M...
June 6, 2019
Do you have a son heading off to college or university this fall? How about in the future? The more you know about the college search and admission process, the easier this transition will be -- for your son, for you and for your entire family. Dr. Pamela Ellis, author of What to Know Before they Go and founder of Compass College Advisory, has helped many families navigate college preparation and the transition from high school to university. She says that lack of knowledge -- the "unknown" -- complicates the process, causing unnecessary anxiety and stress. She also reminds us that one of the most important questions we can ask our college-bound kids is "Why?" -- as in, Why are you going to college? What do you hope to get from the experience? That question might seem extremely simplistic, but it's crucial. Your child's answer will help him focus his energies and find the path that's most appropriate for him. It may also highlight a disconnect. If your expectations, hopes and dreams for your child's college experience are radically different than your child's, one (or both of you) is bound to be disappointed. Better to have these conversations in advance! Pamela also encourage us to take a holistic view of college preparation. When your child is in middle school, developing social skills and taking some tentative steps toward independence (by gradually assuming more responsibility, for instance) IS college prep. Children also need to learn how to spend time alone. High school students should develop self-advocacy skills and increasing self-awareness. Teenagers must be in charge of college planning, Pamela says. Your child may benefit from your guidance and experience, but ultimately, your child should lead. If you're having a hard time letting go or are concerned about some of your child's choices, Pamela suggests involving a third party, such as a teacher, coach or guidance counselor who's already a part of your child's life. "Kids hear things differently from their parents than they do from a third party," she says. "They could say the same thing that you're saying but somehow it just sounds totally different when they say it than when you say it as a parent." In this episode, Janet, Jen & Pamela discuss: * Why the summer between high school and college is particularly challenging for teens & their parents -- and how to make it easier * Why YOU need to be confident when your son is leaving home * What parents of middle-schoolers need to know about college * How an interest inventory can help your child create a realistic post-high school plan * How reading for pleasure prepares kids for college and beyond * How to minimize stress in the college preparation process * Why visiting colleges too soon is a very bad idea * Managing college costs * 4 key features to ensure that a college is the right fit * Gap years (and why a gap year may be a particularly good idea for boys!) * How working with an independent college counselor can save you time & money * How to find a trustworthy, ethical college consultant Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: What to Know Before They Go: College Edition -- Pamela's book Compass College Advisory -- Pamela's website. Includes lots of FREE, helpful information about college preparation
May 30, 2019
Boys interact differently than girls do. Sure, some of that is socialization. (A lot of that is probably socialization.) But the fact remains: boys' interactions on the playground, in school and at home are different than girls'. The way boys greet and play with one another is different than the way girls do so -- and if you're a mom or teacher of boys, odds are good that you've never been a boy yourself and don't understand the nuances of male interaction. Most boys naturally pick up these nuances. But some kids, particularly children with ADHD or autism, do not. These kids need extra assistance and support as they learn social skills. Unfortunately for our boys, many of people who do that work are middle-aged females who don't "speak" tween or teenage boy. Ryan Wexelblatt does. Ryan Wexelblatt Ryan is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with boys. He's also the father of a 21 year old son. Raising a son ignited Ryan's interest in teaching social skills to boys -- and highlighted the need to teach social skills from a male perspective. (Did you know that the vast majority of people who teach social skills are women, while the vast majority of kids who require help with social skills are boys?) "These boys were learning social communication skills that weren't organic to the way boys their age spoke to each other," Ryan says. "It was overly formal, it was a lot of scripted behavior." Essentially, he says, many boys who were receiving formal social skills training "were being taught to speak like middle-aged women" -- which wasn't doing them any favors on the playground. Ryan helps boys navigate friendships and social situations. Listen & learn how you can support your boys' social development. In this episode, Jen & Ryan discuss: * Male/male social communication * How to differentiate disrespect from "roasting" & sarcasm * The importance of perspective-taking skills (& how to teach them) * Appropriate vs. needs-some-support social behavior * Signs of social problems * The difference between social anxiety and social learning challenges * Signs and symptoms of social anxiety * How to help boys with social anxiety * Why accommodating social anxiety is the absolute wrong thing to do (& what to do instead) * How to talk to your child about learning differences * Techniques you can use to reinforce and teach social skills * How to develop boys' social problem solving skills -- so they can solve playground and friendship disputes on their own! * Why trusting your instincts is a better option than soliciting parenting advice online Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Ride The Wave Counseling -- Ryan's counseling service (includes info about online coaching and his summer camp) ADHD Dude -- the online home of Ryan's ADHD work. Includes a link to his ADHD Dude Facebook group, and will soon feature an Executive Function class for parents as well as a Social Skills class for boys -- includes lots of free articles about social, emotional & mental health Dudes Learn Social -- Ryan's series of YouTube videos aimed directly at boys
May 23, 2019
Photo by Daniel Hooker via Flickr When do boys grow up? That question tends to elicit a chuckle; ask it in a group of middle-aged women, and you're likely to hear someone joke about their not-yet-grown husband. Ask it in a group of men, and well, you'll hear much the same thing. But to anxious parents, the when do they grow up? question is anything but funny. Parents of teenage boys wonder if their won't-listen, leaves-his-clothes-all-around-the-house-and-never-wants-to-do-anything-but-play-video-games boys will ever turn into responsible young men who can hold down a job. Parents of toddlers wonder if they'll ever be potty-trained, and parents of preschool boys wonder if their guys are prepared for kindergarten. Moms, in particular, are often anxious about their sons' futures. That's because females, in general, worry into the future, Janet says. We look at what's right in front of us and wonder how that will affect situations we see looming in the future. Which is reasonable, right? When you anticipate what's coming, you can prepare for it. But only to a certain extent. The future is always uncertain, and sometimes our worry about what might happen in the future keeps us from enjoying and appreciating the present. Of course, our worries aren't unfounded. There's plenty of reasons to worry about boys' preparation for the future. Consider these stats: * Boys are less likely to succeed in school than girls * Boys are more likely to get in trouble at school * Boys are less likely to graduate from high school & less likely to attend college * Boys are less likely to work in high school and college * Men ages 18-24 are more likely to live with their parents than their female counterparts Males Develop at a Different Pace Boys' and girls' brains and bodies develop according to unique timetables. At birth, newborn boys are developmentally about 2 weeks behind newborn girls. Girls typically develop fine-motor control and verbal skills before boys do, and boys' gross-motor skills tend to develop before their fine-motor skills. By school age, girls generally are able to sit and listen for a longer period of time than boys. Females' brain tend to mature years before males' brains. The prefrontal cortex -- the part of the brain that controls impulsivity and organization -- doesn't fully develop until age 25 in men, compared to age 21 for women. Unfortunately, our expectations don't always match our boys' development. If parents and teachers expect a 6-year-old boy to sit and read quietly for 20 minutes, they're likely to be disappointed; the part of the brain that handles language matures much later in boys than in girls, so many 6-year-old boys are not yet independent readers, and most struggle to sit still for longer than a few minutes. Boys who don't meet developmentally inappropriate expectations aren't "bad;" they've simply been asked to do something they're not yet ready to do. It's much easier to work with boys' natural timetable. It's a LOT easier -- and a lot less frustrating -- to teach reading to a boy who is ready to read. In the meantime, you can  read aloud to your son, for instance, while his brain continues to grow and mature. You can point out letters and squiggle them in the sand during play. And you can educate others about boys' developmental timetable. How to Support Boys' Development * Don't compare your son to others * Recognize that he can do more than you may be allowing him to do * Let your son take risks * Wait before "rescuing" your son * Involve boys in household work
May 16, 2019
Photo by Veronique Debord-Lazaro via Flickr We recently put out a call for listener questions, and boy, did you send 'em to us! Deanna asked: about the struggle of trying to find the perfect balance of keeping your boys busy enough to stay out of trouble, yet not overscheduled Erin asked us how to handle a "chatty" son who insists he's the one being unfairly targeted at school: Our son is almost 10, and in 4th grade. We've always heard report card feedback of "we know that he can talk and get his work done at the same time, but he needs to respect the fact that other students are disrupted by his talking." Ok, I get it -- I heard the exact same feedback on my report cards. We're chatty people! But now we're getting negative reports that are more serious because when he is asked to stop talking or joking around in class/after care, he is defiant, keeps doing what he's doing, and then tries to talk back when he gets a consequence. And when we talk to him about it, he acts like a victim who is unfairly persecuted...He'll argue with his teachers that his behavior isn't that bad, and that they're just being hard on him.  We're not sure how to handle this. He has certainly talked back to us at home before many times, and we feel like we know what to do about it. But he has NEVER been disrespectful to his teachers...Any advice would be lovely! Penny asked a related question: When is "disrespect" really DISRESPECT? How much attention, energy and punishment should we devote to it? Is it that they really need to be listened to and understood without judgement? In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * The myth of "perfect balance" * Balancing your sons' need for activity with your family schedule * The culture of busyness * How to help a son who doesn't accept responsibility for his behavior and blames others instead * Emotional development of 9- and 10-year old boys * How to effectively collaborate your son's teacher to solve behavioral challenges (Hint: Involve your son!) * How to differentiate between "disrespect," thoughtless behavior and sarcasm * Dealing with disrespect * How to discuss respect and disrespect with your son (Note: You need to be very, very concrete! What does respect look like? What is disrespect?) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: You Asked About Age 14, Implicit Bias and Sensitive Boys (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode 144 Help! My Son Has a Girlfriend (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode  127 Lying, Risk & How to Advocate for Boys (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode 113 Potty Talk, Vaping & School (Listener Q & A) -- On Boys Episode 112 Emails and Phone Calls From Teachers -- On Boys Episode 131 (includes the story about Sam's struggle w his art teacher, as mentioned at 8:56) Helping Boys Deal with Negative Stereotypes -- On Boys episode mentioned at 10:59 How to Advocate for Your Son - The live webinar with Janet has aired but you'll get the replay when you regi...
May 9, 2019
How do you raise boys to become great men? That's the big question we tackle here at On Boys. It's the question Jen grapples with in her own home and on BuildingBoys, and the question Janet helps parents and teachers explore and answer through her coaching and online courses. Michael C. Reichert has spent a lot of time studying this question as well. He's a psychologist, dad & grandfather of boys and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Boys' and Girls' Lives. He's also the author of the recently released book, How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men. The key, he says, is to make sure your boys feel known and loved. Many people today blame "toxic masculinity" for violent, entitled and racist behavior in men and boys. But blaming "masculinity" for these behaviors draws attention away from the ways the current method of raising and socializing boys leads to all kinds of harms, including loss of virtue, loss of connection and loss of humanity, Reichert says. Unfortunately, stereotypes about boys & masculinity cause many of us to forget or neglect boys' basic need for connection. Pushing a boy out of the nest too early -- insisting he go it alone with minimal support -- does not lead to strength, resilience and grit. Boys who lack a solid relational anchor (usually, a strong relationship with a parent or other adult) are adrift -- and these the boys who harm themselves and others. Of course, boys don't make connection easy. Thanks in part of stereotypes and societal expectations, boys are likely to resist, reject and avoid your efforts to connect. Try anyway. Keep trying. Reichert recommends these three strategies to build connection:  1 Deep listening 2. Special time 3. The listen-limit-listen model of discipline It's possible to reach your son, no matter how disconnected he may be, Reichert says. It is never too late to develop and deepen your relationship with your son. Raising good boys, Reichert says, is really quite simple.  "If we violate boys' basic natures, bad outcomes will ensue," he says, "If we meet their basic needs, they're likely to wind up connected to their hearts, connected to their virtue and connected to their goodness." Memorial to the victims of the Portland MAX train shooting In this episode, Janet, Jen & Michael discuss: * The importance of connection to boys * How relationships help boys become good men * The "Man Box" & how it restricts & harms boys * The 2017 MAX train attack in Portland & what it teaches us about masculinity * Toxic masculinity * The mama's boy myth (Spoiler alert: It is NOT TRUE that only men can teach boys how to be good men) * Dads' role in raising boys (Spoiler: It's NOT to teach him the secrets of masculinity) * 3 strategies to build connection with boys * Why boys won't work for teachers they don't believe care about them * How stereotypes affect boys' behavior * Why you need to create space & time to simply be delighted by your boys * How to control your emotions so you can become emotionally available to your son * Why it's perfectly OK to not be perfect
May 2, 2019
Photo by Pat Knight via Flickr Boys are subject to negative stereotypes too. If you've been parenting boys for awhile, that fact probably isn't news to you. You've probably heard your son complain about teachers who treat boys differently than girls. Maybe you've seen the way other moms watch your son -- and you -- at the park, as if they expect your son to cause trouble at any moment. If you're new to parenting boys, it might surprise you to learn that a lot people assume (consciously and subconsciously) that boys are troublemakers. Worse yet, these assumptions color the way people talk about and interact with our boys -- which affects our boys, socially and emotionally. A 2018 study, The Education of Playful Boys: Class Clowns in the Classroom, found that kindergarten teachers regard active, playful boys as "rebellious" and "intrusive." These attitudes transferred to the children. By the time the children were in 3rd grade, both the boys and their classmates had internalized the teachers' negative perceptions of the "class clowns." Is is any wonder that boys, on a whole, are less interested in school than girls? Or that boys are far more likely than girls to be suspended and expelled? Despite its prevalence, anti-boy/anti-male bias is not often discussed. Socially, we've made a lot of progress in addressing racial stereotypes and sexist behavior toward women, but negative assumptions about males are rarely acknowledged. One of the things we can do, as boy parents and advocates, is draw attention to persistent negative stereotypes. We can point them out. We can share our experiences with other families and insist on equitable treatment of our boys. And we can talk honestly about negative stereotypes. Our boys already know that many people are quick to assume the worst about boys. They need us to acknowledge that fact. They need us to help them untangle stereotype from reality. We also have to equip our boys with the tools they need to stand strong in the face of anti-boy messages. You can begin by loving your son unconditionally, as is. In this episode, Janet & Jen: * The "feel good" news story about middle school boys befriending a boy with autism at a local skate park -- and the negative stereotypes embedded in that story * How to respond when your son reports stereotyping or misunderstandings at school * How to help your son process negative stereotypes * The link between fear and implicit bias * Connection as a cure for implicit bias and negative stereotypes * How to effectively teach self-advocacy skills * Why moms of boys might be boys' best advocates Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Stop Assuming Boys Are Bad -- BuildingBoys blog post The Education of Playful Boys: Class Clowns in the Classroom -- research study mentioned at about 7:00 Don't Assume the Worst About Boys -- U.S News article by Jen How My Son, and a Pleather Jacket, Schooled Me on Being a 10-Year-Old Boy Today -- Washington Post article mentioned at 9:40
April 25, 2019
Kelly Goodwin is boy mom extraordinaire. Kelly Goodwin w her husband & 5 boys She's got 5 boys (currently ages 8-16), a degree in child development and a slew of nieces and nephews. If parenting boys has taught her anything, it's the power of trusting your instincts. That's why she launched Trust Yourself Mama, a YouTube channel that encourages parents of young children to trust themselves. Kelly's videos are short & sweet, so they're perfect for time-swamped parents who need a bit of encouragement and insight. Thanks to the internet (and podcasts!), parents today have instantaneous access to more parenting information than our grandparents could have ever envisioned. But all of that information can be a bit overwhelming. Kelly reminds us that we parents know our kids better than anyone. The parenting tips we find online might sound great, but only we can decide if those tips will be effective or helpful in our families. Kelly's videos are designed to be conversation-starters. You can watch them with your spouse or parenting partner, and then discuss your reactions. Her videos give you the chance to think carefully about your parenting goals and choose strategies aligned with your family values and goals. Kelly is quick to tell you that she doesn't have all the answer. Five boys and 16 years into parenting, she's still not sure when her boys need a dose of reality and when it would be better to simply encourage their dreams. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Kelly discuss: * How to decide when to send your son to school (especially if he has a late summer birthday) * Making tough parenting decisions * Learning to "adjust on the fly" * Why it's important to understand what motivates each of your children * The value of intuition in parenting * How a family mission statement can help you make effective parenting decisions * The importance of consistency in parenting * How our emotions can hijack our parenting * Boys' desire for a cheerleader * Self-care for busy moms -- & why it's not selfish * The stupid questions people ask parents of all boys, including the ever-popular "So, you gonna keep trying for a girl?" Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: Trust Yourself Mama -- Kelly's YouTube channel  
April 18, 2019
"He just won't talk to me." If you've ever uttered those words, you are not alone. Nearly every parent of boys has complained and/or worried about their sons' silence. We know that there's a lot going on in our boys' lives and we want to help -- but how can we help if they won't even tell us what's going on? Psychogeography, Janet says, might be the answer. (Don't know what that is? Don't worry! Jen didn't either.) The term psychogeography refers to the influence of geographical environment on the mind or on behavior. In other words, WHERE you are can influence communication. Think about it: hollering through a door sets an entirely different tone than sitting side-by-side in the car. As a parent, you can't make your son talk -- but there's a lot you can do to set the stage. Your actions, body language and behavior tell your son a lot about whether or not it's "safe" to talk to you. Phrases such as "My door is always open" and "You can tell me anything" are empty words to most boys. If you want your son to talk, you must first prove to your son -- through you words and behavior -- that you won't make things worse and are physically and emotionally available. Here's an acronym you can use to set yourself up for success: :  T.A.L.K. T -  The timing of your conversation. Be sensitive to your son's signals. A -  Incorporate action. Boys o best when they can do something physical during conversation. L - Love. Boys need to know that they're okay whatever is happening with them. K - Keep it kid-friendly. Choose developmentally appropriate words, and engage in your boy's world and interests. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * The importance of listening * Phrases that don't work * How to set aside time for communication * Why side-by-side conversations are often the most productive * The T.A.L.K. approach to conversation * How to fix things if the conversation goes badly (Note: It is ALWAYS the adult's responsibility to repair the relationship. Don't expect your son to take the first step) * Why you must be vulnerable in conversation * How to set realistic expectations * Males' tendency to process feelings via action & females' tendency to process via words * Timing conversation (a.k.a, why it's important to make yourself available when they want to talk) Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode: How to Listen so Boys Will Talk -- BuildingBoys blog post by Rob Brown What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents -- New York Times article mentioned at 6:14 How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men -- book by Michael C. Reichert, mentioned at about 10:30 Episode 129: Grief with Tom Golden -- podcast episode mentioned at 16:41
April 11, 2019
Katy Rank Lev has 3 feral sons. (Her words, not ours!) And up until her first son was born nine years ago, Katy had zero experience living with boys. She recently sent us this message :  I just had to write in and tell you all how meaningful your podcast is for me. I have all sisters and 12 female cousins...I never spent time w boys until I had 3! Your podcast is both validating and practical for me. Today, my oldest son asked if he could dismantle the dresser he broke before we hauled it out to the trash. I paused. And then said yes. All of my sons spent several peaceful hours dismantling the broken dresser, categorizing the metal bits they pulled out, splintering the paperboard into evenly sized stakes to hunt vampires. It was the most imaginative and wonderful morning we’ve had in weeks. Thank you for teaching me it’s ok to say yes to that!! As a "boy mom," Katy is not alone. It's so hard for moms of boys to figure out what's OK. We desperately want to raise boys who become decent, respectful men, but we aren't exactly sure if allowing fart jokes at the table will hinder that process. We want our boys to be active, strong and creative, but when they want to take apart furniture or wrestle at the playground, we're not sure if our job is to encourage them or rein them in. And through it all, we feel the weight of other parents' expectations. Learning to live with (and parent) boys is a skill. As Katy discovered, the more you know about boys, the better you can meet their needs -- and the more peaceful and joyful your home will be. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Katy discuss: * The value of free play * The benefits of saying YES * Why you should let your kids use real tools * Parenting "firecracker boys" * How letting go of your expectations can create a happier home * The stupid comments people make when they see an all-boy family * Dealing with judgments from moms of girls * The importance of connecting with other parents of boys * Learning to listen to your instincts Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 156: -- Katy's website (includes lots of links to her articles!) Comments From Strangers Upon Seeing My 3 Sons Out in Public This Week: An Annotated List -- Katy's Brain,Child article Step Lively: When Baby's Cries Are Cries for Help -- Katy's article about discovering her oldest son has autism Episode 102: Disappointments and Helping Boys Deal with Them -- all about Sam getting his 4-wheel license Savage Park - BuildingBoys blog post about a free-range playground in Japan 11 Tips for Surviving -- & Thriving -- With Boys in the House -- Parade article by Jen 4 Ways to Make Your House Movement-Friendly -- article by Jen
April 4, 2019
Photo by John Mackie via Flickr Nearly 1 in 3 high school seniors tried vaping in the last year.  Middle schoolers are vaping too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, e-cigarette use among middle school students increased by 48% between 2017 and 2018. Now, nearly 5% of middle school students in the United States vape on a regular basis. Kids and teachers alike say that middle and high school students are vaping in the bathroom, in the halls and even in class. Vaping is so prevalent among tweens and teens that the U.S. Surgeon General declared youth vaping an epidemic in late 2018. The makers of e-cigarettes say that their products are intended to help adult smokers quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. Some have questioned the sincerity of that claim, noting that vape pens and juice come in shapes and flavors that appeal to children. The Juul, a common vape device, looks like a USB drive and is so popular among youth that the word "Juuling" is often used to mean "vaping." Juul e-cigarette and vape juice pods The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to release new rules designed to limit kids' access to vaping products. Among the rules under consideration: * A ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes (except menthol and mint flavors) in stores that don't have areas prohibiting children under the age of 18 * New age-verification standards for online stores selling e-cigarettes * Increased enforcement of rules banning e-cigarette marketing toward minors Such rules may limit kids' access to e-cigarettes in the future, but right now, there are a whole lot of teens, tweens and families grappling with the issue of vaping. In this episode, we talk with Renee, a mom of twin teenage boys who vape. As she learned firsthand, it's not easy to help a son who's hooked on vaping. If your child vapes or smokes, visit for resources to help them quit including the quitSTART app and a text messaging program (Text “Quit” to 47848). In this episode,  Jen, Janet & Renee discuss: * Signs and symptoms of vaping * How to talk to your kids about vaping * Why kids who would never dream of smoking a cigarette are comfortable with e-cigarettes * How to help your kids resist peer pressure, including phrases you can teach your child to use when someone offers an e-cigarette * A possible link between anxiety and vaping * Health risks of vaping * What it's like to help a teen quit vaping * What to do if your son is vaping Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 155: Teens and Vaping: 9 Things Parents Need to Know -- article by Jen How to Talk with Your Kids About Vaping -- guide from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) -- basic intro by the National Institute on Drug Abuse
March 28, 2019
Photo by Russ Allison Loar via Flickr Sweet 16. Here in the United States, age 16 has long been an eagerly anticipated milestone, largely because teens are eligible to get a driver's license at age 16. In the minds of many teens, age 16 = driver's license = increased independence. In the minds of many parents, age 16 = increased insurance costs and anxiety regarding their child's safety. In fact, fewer teens are getting drivers' licenses at age 16. According to an article published on, just 71% of high school seniors have a driver's license; that's the lowest percentage in decades. Societal changes account for the decline: the prevalence of ride-sharing services such as Lyft & Uber means that many teens don't need to drive to get from one place to another, and social media now allows teens to socialize without leaving home. Economic challenges are a factor as well: 36% of non-driving teens cite "overall cost" as a contributing issue. Whether your teen gets a driver's license or not age 16 is a big deal. It's a step toward independence, and time to talk about responsible decision making. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss: * Learning to drive as a rite of passage * The importance of following your son's lead (Some are ready to drive at age 16; some have no desire) * How to tell if your son is ready to drive * How to set limits and guidelines that fit your son * Why parents may not be the best driving instructors for their children * How to talk to kids about the risks & responsibilities of driving (Hint: sharing scary stats does not work.) * How graduated driver's licenses help teens build experience * The role of role-modeling (Don't want your teen to text & drive? Don't text and drive!) * The cost of driving -- how parents & kids can share the expense * Things to consider when purchasing/helping your son purchase a car Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 154: How to Intervene When Life Gives Your Grown Son a Lemon -- article mentioned by Jen at about 20:00 Parent-Teen Driving Contract -- template created by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control Street Survival driving school -- driving school mentioned by Janet at 10:02 Age 16 & Learning to Let Go - blog post about what happened after Jen's son got his license
March 21, 2019
Janet & Jen had very different reactions to The New Childhood: Raising Children to Thrive in a Connected World, by author and educator Jordan Shapiro. Jen loved it. Janet has some, uh, questions. And concerns. So, we decided to talk to the author. Jordan was happy to talk with us. He's an assistant professor at Temple University who specializes in game-based learning, digital play and screens. As a senior fellow for the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop,  he coordinates research and advocacy around digital technology and playful education. He's also a dad of two boys, ages 11 and 13, so his knowledge of screens and digital play is more than academic. Like all 21st century parents, he grapples with technology and parenting every single day. Our society, he says, is changing. The digital age is here, and interconnected technology is changing everything -- how we work, relate, socialize, play, learn and plan. The pace of change has been fast and furious, and as a result, a lot of adults are feeling overwhelmed and somewhat fearful. But fear of technological and societal shifts won't help us teach our children to use the tools of the digital age in intentional, ethical and moral ways. To effectively parent today's kids -- and prepare them for the future -- we must open our minds, get clear about our values and talk to our kids about their digital engagement. In this episode, Janet, Jen & Jordan discuss: * How parents' fear of screens can disrupt the parent/child relationship & inhibit child development * How our ideas of "healthy behaviors" are based on and influenced by when and where we live * What's really going on when kids are staring at separate screens * Parallel digital play * How screens can lead to connection (vs. disconnection) * How non-techy parents can guide kids through the digital age (hint: it's all about values) * Screens in schools * Reading on screens vs reading text -- pros and cons * Digital note taking vs. hand-written notes -- what does the evidence say? * Whether or not screens and apps are "manipulating" us * How our children internalize our voices and values Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 153: -- Jordan's website (includes links to his articles and videos of his talks) The New Childhood: Raising Kids to Thrive in a Connected World -- Jordan's latest book 'The New Childhood' and How Games, Social Media are Good for Kids -- Variety article that brought Jordan's book to Jen's attention Screens and Boys -- On Boys episode 106 iGen - On Boys episode 137 Video Games & Boys (with special guest Greg Wondra) - On Boys episode 108
March 14, 2019
Happy Anniversary....Happy Birthday .... Any way you slice it - we're thrilled to bring you this special edition of ON BOYS. After a year of conversations - that's well over 50+ hours of talking, laughing, lamenting, and inspiring each other - and hopefully, our listeners - Jen and Janet learn some new and surprising things about each other in this episode ... and daydream about the day when they will FINALLY meet in person! Thank you, dear listeners, for supporting ON BOYS this year -- and for being boy champions! Much love, Janet & Jen
March 7, 2019
Rosalind Wiseman's work is based on the belief that young people's experiences are important, but often discounted. Adults, she says, frequently give young people advice without listening to them first. Boys often tune out adult's well-meaning messages because we fail to recognize that they are the subject matter experts of their own lives. However, if you respect their experiences and listen to their concerns, boys will work with you. Wiseman says that parents and teachers who want to communicate more effectively with boys should: * Stop freaking out. Don't let anxiety drive your interactions with boys. * Stop making assumptions about boys. Ask, don't lecture. In this episode, Wiseman answers some tough questions from parents, and drops wisdom that's sure to change your approach to (and relationship with) the boys in your life. In this episode,  Janet & Rosalind discuss: * Why most social-emotional learning experiences alienate boys -- and why it's so important to consider boys' needs as we create programs to teach them character development, empathy & kindness * How parents can more effectively listen to boys * Why overwhelming boys with questions is exactly the wrong thing to do * The importance of simply showing affection to your boys (vs. showering them with questions) * How moms' intensity can cause boys to shut up or lash out * The hypocrisy of adults (Boys aren't wrong when they call out adults as hypocritical and unfair!) * The tightrope boys walk: On some level and in some instances, males have privilege and power that amplifies their voices. But in other cases, boys' voices aren't respected. * Why there are no clear-cut answers to parenting dilemmas * The importance of acknowledging the fact that adults sometimes make things worse * How parents and teachers can partner with boys to help them solve tough problems * Why it's so important to listen to and honor teen boys' fear of being falsely accused of sexual assault * How to role-model apologies and healthy conflict resolution * How to cope with boys' anger (Pro tip: Ask him what he needs, and let him walk away) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 151: - organization founded by Rosalind Wiseman. Works with communities to shift the way we think about young people's physical and emotional well-being Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, by Rosalind Wiseman Masterminds & Wingmen -- BuildingBoys' review of Wiseman's book Q & A w Rosalind Wiseman, Author of Masterminds & Wingmen -- 2013 BuildingBoys post Owning Up curriculum -- Wiseman-developed curriculum created in collaboration with children and teens. Designed to help kids deal with bullying, harassment, racism, gossip, media and self-image Creating Culture's of Dignity - Wiseman's speech discussing adult & child/teen perceptions of "respect"
February 28, 2019
Meet Stay-at-Home Dad, Homeschooling Dad, and Mankind Project participant and advocate, Mark. Dad of Sam, age 8, husband of Corissa, living in Portland, Oregon, Mark retraces his journey as a boy who didn't feel listened to by his mom and dad, struggling with his identity as a stay-at-home dad, and his striving to be an emotionally available, strong role model for his family. Mark's story may feel familiar to many men. A dad who was distant and detached. A mom who seemed to ignore his attempts to share his deeper feelings. Mark was left wondering what was wrong with him and wishing for more connection to himself and his family. When Mark discovered The Mankind Project, he discovered a brotherhood of men who are committed to bringing The Mankind Project states, "We believe that emotionally mature, powerful, compassionate, and purpose-driven men will help heal some of our society’s deepest wounds. We support the powerful brilliance of men and we are willing to look at, and take full responsibility for, the pain we are also capable of creating – and suffering. We care deeply about men, our families, communities, and the planet." Mark's conversation with Janet is touching, inspiring, and thoughtful. Listen until the end to hear Mark's heart-warming conversation with his dad - one that he wished had happened years earlier. Article of interest, too:
February 21, 2019
Photo by Ye Fang Kuang via Flickr Competitive video gaming may be coming soon to a school near you. E-sports  (short for "electronic sports") is a $900 million dollar global industry. In South Korea, top video game players are household names, and matches are televised. Here in the United States, more than 80 colleges and universities, including Kent State and the University of California - Berkeley, now offer esports scholarships. High schools are getting in on the action too. In October 2018, the National Federation of State High School Associations -- the same organization that promotes interscholastic sports and performing arts activities -- launches its first-ever eSports season; six different states hosted their first-ever state video game championships in January 2019. In February, another season of high school esports kicks off, with three additional states joining in on the fun. To many parents and grandparents, the idea of video games as a sport sounds, well, ridiculous. But coaches and players say that esports have a lot more in common with football, basketball and soccer than you may think. The real benefit of school sports, most people know, is that they teach teamwork, discipline and camaraderie. Few high school football players will go on to play football after high school, but the lessons learned on the field linger. So do the relationships players develop with their coaches and teammates. The same holds true for competitive video gamers. Like other athletes, they must learn how to communicate effectively and how to best use the strengths of each person on the team. They must learn how to control their emotions and assess and respond to an ever-changing environment. They gain a sense of pride and connection. In fact, there a lot of good reasons to say yes to esports: * Kids thrive when they connect with other kids who share their passions * Esports teams are under the supervision of a coach during practices and meets (rather than spending dozens of unsupervised hours playing video games) * Esports fall under school athletic policies, so competitors must meet academic eligibility requirements and adhere to behavioral standards * Anyone can compete in eSports. Size and strength aren't a plus or a minus, and mixed gender teams are common. (Check out this awesome Microsoft commercial, which illustrates how adaptive controllers break down barriers by allowing kids of all abilities to play together.) * Most schools already have the equipment necessary to participate in eSports * There's almost no travel involved (especially when compared to other sports!) In this episode,  Janet & Jen discuss: * What esports are * How -- and why -- esports can benefit video game-loving boys, especially non-athletic boys who don't feel connected to school * What parents & teachers need to know about esports & competitive video gaming * The similarities between esports & traditional sports * What kids can learn from esports Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 149: Video Games are the New Competitive Sport in Schools -- Jen's article about esports Griffin's Chovy on His Ridi...
February 14, 2019
Love really is what makes the world go around.  At least, it's what makes the world a better place! Photo by photosavvy via Flickr On Valentine's Day, our thoughts typically turn to romantic love (thanks to a hefty assist by Hallmark, restaurants and jewelry companies.) In this special Valentine's Day episode, we're focusing on another kind of love: The love between parents and children, between grandparents and grandchildren, between teachers and the kids they teach. We're talking about transformative love -- the kind of love that tells a kid he's all right, and that the world needs him. We all love our children, but do our kids feel that love in their lives in a very real way? Many moms of boys struggle with how to best connect with their male children, especially when their boys seem more interested in playing video games online with their friends than having a heart-to-heart talk. So, we asked boys: How can the adults in your lives show you their love? Their answers may surprise you -- and give you some ideas you can use to build your relationship with the boys in your life. In this episode,  Janet & Jen: * Why investing time in having fun with your boys is SO worthwhile! * The importance of engaging with boys on their level, of accepting them as they are right this moment * The important of physical affection, even for tween & teen boys * Why you might want to be careful about packing "love notes" in your son's lunch box Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 148: How to Tell Your Son "I Love You" -- BuildingBoys post that inspired this episode Hug Your Boys -- classic BuildingBoys post Where the Red Fern Grows -- YA book mentioned by Janet at about 16:00 (and yes, she sent Jen a copy immediately after recording this episode!) McElligot's Pool -- classic Dr. Seuss book mentioned at about 19:00 Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons — Maggie Dent's latest book (Don't know who Maggie Dent is? Pop over & listen to our conversation with her!) Episode 120: Hygiene Help for Tween and Teen Boys The 5 Love Languages of Children -- book by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers -- book by Gary Chapman
February 7, 2019
Over the last year or so, as story after story of men's misconduct hit the headlines, one question rang out in the hearts, minds and souls of parents: How do we raise boys to become good men?  Boys, we know, are not born evil or prejudiced. We've seen their sweetness. We tousle their hair and tuck them in bed. We step over plastic dinosaurs and sit on the sidelines in all kinds of weather because we care about our boys. Because we love them. Because we want them to share their gifts and talents with the world. None of us wants to raise a sexual abuser, serial predator or school shooter. But none of us are quite sure how to insure against those awful possibilities. We don't know the exact recipe for a good man. Sure, we have some ideas, but in real time, most of us are just doing the best we can, minute to minute. Raising boys in a culture that's rapidly changing brings some real challenges, and those of us born before the turn of the century aren't sure how to parent the digital natives who share our homes. Washington Post writer and editor Amy Joyce is intimately familiar with the challenges of raising boys; she has two sons, ages 9 and 11. In 2018, motivated in part by national discussions about masculinity and how to raise good men, she and a team of journalists talked to boys, parents and experts about what it's like to be a boy today. The resulting three articles, published in late 2018, captured the essence of American boys at this critical juncture in time. The articles focus on boys at three discrete stages: Age 8, Age 11 and Age 17. Jen calls this series "the most real and compassionate portrayal of boys and their families in the media in a long time." We talked to Amy about this ground-breaking series and her experience raising boys. Amy Joyce, Washington Post On Parenting editor, top L. Janet, upper R; Jen bottom. In this episode,  Janet, Jen, & Amy discuss: * Why the Washington Post produced this series, and how they found the boys and families they featured * Possible plans for a follow up series * Real-life challenges of boys and their parents * Generational changes and challenges * The "how do I not raise a jerk?" question * How our stereotypical beliefs about boys can limit our boys, our parenting and our teaching * Implicit biases against boys * How working on this series changed Amy's approach to parenting her sons * Male friendships during the tween and teen years * Changing expectations for boys and men * The public response to the WaPo series * Why listening to -- and not underestimating -- boys is key to raising great men Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 145: Being a Boy: Age 8 -- Washington Post article Being a Boy: Ages 11 & 12 -- Washington Post article Being a Boy: Age 17 -- Washington Post article
January 31, 2019
Young men are 4X more likely to die of suicide than young women The suicide rate for boys ages 15 to 19 grew by 30 percent from 2007 to 2015 Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 No one wants to think or talk about suicide, but as people who care deeply about the well-being of boys, we'd be remiss to stay silent. This episode is a tough, but vitally important, one. Trigger warning: This episode includes frank conversations about suicide and includes non-graphic descriptions of the circumstances surrounding some suicides Katey McPherson Our guest, Katey McPherson, is a boy advocate, educator and consultant who turned her attention to suicide prevention after a slew of teenage boys in Arizona committed suicide. "Just in my 20 mile radius, we've lost 32 boys in 20 months," says McPherson. Most, she said, had experienced a "significant life crisis" in the weeks previous such as a breakup, academic or athletic failure or altercation with the law.  To many adults, these incidents may seem relatively minor. But in the life of tween or teen, these are major events. "The reality is, some of these children have never failed. And so when they have a failure, it is epic," McPherson explains. Social networking can further amplify kids' feeling of failure, as news of kids' achievements and failures quickly spread. Unfortunately, adults sometimes unwittingly make things worse by taking away their child's phone or keeping their child apart from friends. Teens rely on one another for social support, and use their phones to connect. Without their phones and friends, they feel alone and isolated. Trapped in their thoughts, it's all too easy to move from depression to suicidal ideation to suicide. Teenage boys' brains are immature. They don't process the world the same way we do. They're impulsive. We have to remember those facts when interacting with our teen boys. We have to listen, learn and love. Above all, pay attention to your gut instincts. "If your mom or dad radar is going off, there's something wrong," McPherson says. "Don't dismiss your mom or dad radar. That's where we go wrong."  Don't dismiss your concerns; act instead. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, there are resources for you by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visiting In this episode, Jen, Janet & Katey discuss: * Parenting strategies that can decrease the risk of suicide and build resiliency * The importance of discussing socio-emotional wellness * Why it's CRUCIAL to discuss suicide, depression and mental health with your boys * Why asking about suicide WILL NOT trigger suicide -- but may save a life * How to tell the difference between teenage angst & depression * Red flags, including disrupted sleep patterns and changes in behavior, hygiene, nonverbal communication and device usage * Why you should be on alert after breakups, academic and athletic failures * How a growth mindset can build coping skills and resilience * How kids signal their despair on social media * The importance of family media rules and a central charging station * How to help your kids recognize -- and respond to -- friends' cries for help * The importance of the village -- why parents must work together to keep kids safe
January 24, 2019
By now, you've probably seen this picture... ...and heard about Gillette's new ad, The Best Men Can Be Maybe you've even heard about the American Psychological Association's Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men, which some applaud and some condemn. (Two recent headlines: "Toxic Masculinity is Under Attack. And That's Fine," from a left-leaning website, and "The American Psychological Association Has Made Choosing a Therapist Easy," from a right-leaning site.) Discussion of these videos, pictures and guidelines have dominated social media recently -- for better and for worse. For better: People are publicly discussing masculinity and the expectations placed on boys and men. For worse: Many people are jumping to conclusions without looking at the actual source material. In many corners, "discussion" has devolved into shouting. In this episode, Jen & Janet dive in & discuss: * The APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men * The Gillette ad, The Best Men Can Be * The encounter between the boys of Covington High School, tribal elder Nathan Phillips and the Black Hebrew Israelites Note: On 1/21/19, Twitter suspended an account which spread the initial 1-minute video of the encounter in DC after realizing that the account was likely part of a network of anonymous accounts that were working to amplify the video. Soon after that initial, short video sparked outrage, a longer, nearly 2-hour video of the encounter was posted on YouTube to an account called "John Duncan." As of 1/23/19, no one seems to know who recorded or posted the video. One journalist Jen spoke with said, "We all have serious questions about the origins of the vids and related content and the fact that finding a human attached to any of it proves elusive." Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 145: APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men We Believe: The Best Men Can Be -- the Gillette ad Gillette Responds to Controversial Advert Challenging Toxic Masculinity -- article MAGA Losers Bothering a Native American -- short 1 minute video that ignited controversy Full video of what transpired regarding Catholic High students -- "John Duncan" video Episode 1...
January 17, 2019
Photo by duncan c via Flickr Our listeners ask the big, important questions! When we put out our most recent call for listener questions, we got some heart-felt, thought-provoking, difficult-to-answer questions. Allison asked how to effectively love and support a young teen: We have a 14 year old boy, and I'm on shifting sands. I'm trying to find balance supporting and loving him while holding boundaries for battles that feel worthy of fighting. I know you all have talked young teens before, but this is all new for me, and I'm really struggling to find my new normal now that he's growing into a young man. We are strongly attached and have lots of love, so I'm grateful we get to start from there, but he can be combative and moody and I'm often taken aback by what new terrain this is. Margaret wants to know more about sensitive boys. She wrote: How about some conversation about the highly sensitive tween and tween boy? How to protect and honor and care for that gift and sensitivity, and integrate, be resilient and grow into their full masculine self in a way that honors and keeps the sensitive piece safe and ideally shares and appreciates it in helpful, meaningful, contributing ways? Linda asks about implicit bias: How do you help boys dealing with implicit bias, such as lower expectations from the teacher, benefit of doubt going to girls in conflict, etc.   In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * Normal behavior for a 14 yr old boy * Parenting teens as a marathon (on shifting sands) * How learning & talking about the brain changes of adolescence can help parents & boys * Why deliberate boundaries can decrease conflict between parents & children (and co-parents!) * Shifting definitions of masculinity, and how to help your boy navigate them * How to help your boy find his tribe * Implicit bias against boys in schools - & how to keep it from damaging your son's self-esteem Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 144: Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis American Psychological Association Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men Episode 103: Sports and Boys Who Don't Like Them Episode 131: Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers Love this Listener Q & A? Plan to join us for an Open Mic! Upcoming Open Mic dates & times: January 31st – EVENING (6 pm pacific/ 9 pm eastern) March 9th – WEEKEND (11 am pacific/ 2 pm eastern) May 14th – DAYTIME (9 am pacific/ 1 pm eastern) Click here to learn more & register
January 10, 2019
"Confidence and joy are to the development of a child as oxygen is to life."   -- from Confidence & Joy: Success Strategies for Kids with Learning Differences If your son struggles -- academically, socially, or emotionally -- you know how quickly simple struggles can dissolve into despair. A child who feels unsuccessful at school or in social settings tends to withdraw and give up; after all, what's the point of trying when more effort doesn't lead to more success? Repeated failure breeds apathy -- and given how many boys struggle in school, it's no wonder we're facing an epidemic of unmotivated teenage boys. It doesn't have to be this way. In their 2018 book Confidence & Joy: Success Strategies for Kids with Learning Difference: A Step-by-Step Guidebook for Parents & Professionals, Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain and Elaine Fogel Schneider outline the toll learning differences take on kids' (and families') spirits, emotional health and overall well-being. Most importantly, they point the way toward change. Parents and educators, they say, can make a massive, positive difference in a child's life by finding and encouraging their strengths. Building confidence and joy in a child will give the child the will and fortitude necessary to thrive in the world Deb and Elaine are veteran speech-language pathologists; between them, they have more than 70 years combined experience working with children and families. Join Jen, Janet, Deb & Elaine for a lively conversation about the importance of confidence & joy, and how we can work together to spark change. Top L - Elaine Fogel Schneider; Top R - Janet Allison; Bottom L - Deborah Ross-Swain; Bottom R - Jennifer Fink In this episode,  Janet, Jen, Elaine & Deb discuss: * "Red flags" parents & educators should watch for * The importance of early intervention * How to get help for a child who doesn't qualify for special education services * How to build advocacy skills, so you can get your child the help he needs * The importance of self-care * How to build a support team * How -- and why -- it's so important to offset negative feelings and angst Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 143: Confidence & Joy: Success Strategies for Kids with Learning Difference: A Step-by-Step Guidebook for Parents & Professionals, by Dr. Deborah Ross-Swain and Elaine Fogel Schneider 7 Strategies for Raising Calm, Successful, Inspired Children, by Elaine Fogel Schneider How to Deal with an Unmotivated Boy -- BuildingBoys blog post by Jen The Swain Center - Dr. Swain's clinical practice. Ask Dr. Elaine -- Dr. Fogel-Schneider's website. (She's also a leading authority on touch & infant massage!)
January 3, 2019
The word resolution means "a firm decision to do or not to do something." It also means "the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter." As we head into 2019, let's consider both definitions of the word. Let's make some firm decisions to improve our relationships with our boys. Let's take steps to address and solve the contentious matters facing us. And let's work together to create a climate that encourages and supports boys and their families and teachers. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of Janet & Jen's Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys: 1. Read a book about boys Our recommendations include The Minds of Boys:Saving Our Sons From Falling Behind in School and Life, by Michael Gurian; Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, by Rosalind Wiseman; and Boy Talk: How You Can Help Your Son Express His Emotions, by Mary Polce-Lynch. 2. Investigate your school's discipline and recess policies. Compared to girls, boys are far more likely to be disciplined, suspended and expelled. They're also more likely to lose recess time (in many schools, keeping a child inside for recess is still an acceptable, oft-used disciplinary tactic). Unfortunately, harsh discipline and recess policies rarely lead boys to greater academic success and engagement. To the contrary: harsh discipline and lack of recess time is correlated with decreased engagement in school. If you have time, recess advocacy is a great way to help boys (and girls!). 3. Add activity Most boys -- most people! -- would do better with more movement in their lives. So, think about how you can add activity to your family life. 4. Say 'yes' as often as possible In our zeal to keep our boys safe, we often say no to activities that we consider "risky" or "stupid." This year, stop and think; don't let "no" be your reflexive answer. Whenever possible, say "yes" to your boys. You can mitigate risk without crushing your boys' hopes, dreams and ambitions. 5. Focus on what's right In her book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, Jen Sincero writes, "What you focus on, you create more of, and if you keep expecting people to annoy you, they will not let you down." This year, make it a point to see, acknowledge and remember all of the things your boys are doing right -- and all of the good you're doing as well. 6. Share what you know about boys with other people. The world is in the midst of a current and ongoing conversation about how to raise boys. Increasingly, we're realizing that the way we treat our boys today influences the way they treat others when they become men. Collectively, there seems to be a strong desire to do better. As someone who cares about boys, you already know a lot about what boys think, feel and need. Share your knowledge with others, and discuss the things you're learning with them. Together, we can build a better world for boys. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 142: New Year's Resolutions for People Who Care About Boys - BuildingBoys post On Boys OPEN MIC -- Your chance to ask us anything. Come to discuss your problems with other people who care about boys.
December 27, 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect back on our first year.  This podcast launched on March 12, 2018. Since then, we've recorded 40+ episodes, on everything from tween boy hygiene to how to talk to boys about sex, consent and masculinity in the #MeToo era. We hosted 11 guests, including Warren Farrell (author of The Boy Crisis), Maggie Dent (Australia's "Boy Champion") and Jen's 12 year old son, Sam Fink. We tried hard to bring you information and inspiration, and look forward to tackling all kinds of topics in 2019. In this episode, Janet & Jen discuss the 5 most popular episodes of 2018: Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis This book is taking America by storm, and she is changing the way we are parenting. Episode 101: Homework and Boys As parents, we feel we have to conform to the school and the teacher, but that means we're battling with our sons every night because they don't want to do another ridiculous math sheet. Episode 125: Anxiety and Depression in Boys Anxiety and depression can show up so differently in boys and men than it does in girls and women. Episode 121: Sibling Stress: How to Handle Bickering, Fighting & More Part of what we did in this episode was talk about what's normal, and when bickering and fighting cross the line into a very harmful pattern of behavior. Episode 104: Anger & Boys Developmentally, there are really good reasons why your boys are quick to anger. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 141: 5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting -- Janet's course to help parents Down with Homework, Say U.S. School Districts - Wall Street Journal article We Spent a Year Reporting on Teen Anxiety. Here's What We Learned - and Why You're Part of the Solution -- Deseret News article. Includes links to many other articles about anxiety. Minivan Musings: How Parents Should Handle Their Angry Tween, Teen -- article referenced by Jen during the discussion of Anger & Boys
December 20, 2018
Photo by cotaro70s via Flickr Want your boys to develop gentleness and empathy? Get a guinea pig. So says Maggie Dent, Australia's BOY CHAMPION, mother of four grown boys and author of Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons.  If you haven't yet heard Part 1 of our conversation, toggle over and listen to that episode first. Then dig into Part 2. Some highlights: "It's really annoying that we still speak more harshly to little boys." "'Boys will be boys' is not acceptable without boundaries. However, you can't punish a little boy for something he did unintentionally." "The #1 biological calling for males, still, is to be the defender and protector." "Natural consequences are the best teacher. Sometimes, we have to celebrate the owies and ouchies and not see them as a sign of bad parenting." In this episode, Maggie, Janet & Jen discuss: * How to help elementary school boys handle their frustration when they get in trouble at school * Boys' inclination toward protecting others * How to support boys' interest in superhero boy & play fighting * How to deconstruct the "man code" and help boys' live authentically * How to talk so boys will listen * The importance of social-emotional development and learning * Boys' friendships -- & how moms can help their sons develop important relationship skills * "Rooster" boys & "lamb" boys, & what they need from their parents & teachers * How (& why) natural consequences help boys learn * Why stepping back -- and allowing your son to make his own choices -- may be the best gift you can give your son   Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 140: Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons — Maggie’s latest book "This is the book I'm on the earth to write." -- Maggie Dent — Maggie’s website. Jam-packed with resources! Let Grow --  The new website of Lenore Skenazy, of Free-Range Kids fame Dear mums of smelly, unmotivated, lazy, moody and confused 14 year old boys -- one of Maggie's best blog posts Maggie Dent on YouTube -- Pro Tip: These short videos are great to share with dads! Episode 129: Grief with Tom Golden  
December 13, 2018
Maggie Dent Please meet the marvelous Maggie Dent! Known in Australia as "the queen of common sense," Maggie is a teacher, counselor and dedicated BOY CHAMPION. She's a popular speaker, parenting educator and the author of 11 books, including the recently-released Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons.  She's also a whole lotta fun! (Maggie's "Bear Pit" story is not-to-be-missed!) You'll laugh -- learn a lot about what boys really need from their parents. Some wisdom from Maggie: Moms, be careful not to shatter your boys' dreams or fantastic plans with your words. It is helpful to explore why there is often a mismatch between what a mom thinks has happened, and what a boy thinks has happened. That whole perception that there is an inevitability to boys' behavior being bad is just the biggest fallacy out there that we must pull apart. This special episode is the first-ever gathering of Maggie, Jen & Janet, but it definitely won't be the last. In this episode, Maggie, Janet & Jen discuss: * Why boys are struggling in the Western world * How the male code stifles boys * Why shaming is so harmful to boys * Societal changes within the past 30 years that have made life tougher for boys & their families (including increased academic expectations & the demise of free play) * The importance of PLAY * Male loneliness (and how to help boys build connections) * How moms can nurture their boys * The link between movement and learning * How negative stereotypes about boys & boy behavior affect how people view -- and treat -- boys * What to do when boys muck up Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 139: -- Maggie's website. Jam-packed with resources! Mothering Our Boys: A Guide for Mums of Sons -- Maggie's latest book Stuart Brown: Play is More Than Fun - TED talk We hope you also enjoy Part 2 of our conversation with Maggie Dent! Don't miss it!
December 6, 2018
Photo by Sotiris Marionpulous via Flickr (Talk with Janet & Jen LIVE on 'OPEN MIC' - click here for date & ticket information.) 'Tis the season for gift-giving, overspending & guilt. In today's consumer culture, there's intense pressure to show love and care for your family via material things. We give you permission to recognize that pressure and set it aside, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, or something else. An abundance of gifts to open can actually be overwhelming for a child. (Never mind the parent who's stressed about paying off the credit card bill, and who will likely spend the next 12 months reminding the child to pick up the *&%* toys!) So this year, we encourage you to stop and think. Don't buy gifts reflexively, or because that's "what's expected" this time of year. Instead, think about the true essence of your holiday celebration. Think about your family values, and what you really want to teach your family. Think about your time, budget and energy levels, and then plan a holiday that's grounded in reality. The average American child already has 70-100 toys -- and toys are a leading cause of sibling fights and disagreements. If your holiday celebration will include gift giving, think out-of-the-box. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * How to introduce a less-is-more approach to gift-giving * Strategies to minimize gift fatigue * Why babies and toddlers don't need holiday gifts * How too many toys fuel sibling fights, and a lack of focus * Why you should steer clear of "one-trick" toys * Cheap, creative gifts of boys of all ages, including a do-it-yourself marble run, "creation kits," and experience presents, such as museum memberships or tickets to a show Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 138: 12 Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Boys -- Parade article by Jen Doodle - subscription craft and science gift crates Scrap PDX -- the creative reuse store Janet mentions at 10:25, where people can donate and buy arts & crafts supplies
November 29, 2018
Photo by Janet Allison Baby Boomers. Gen X. Millennials. And now, iGen. According to psychology professor Jean Twenge, the members of iGen include the children and young adults born between 1995 and 2012. And what sets these kids apart from previous generations, she says, is their near-constant connection to the Internet. Theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and concomitant rise of social media...members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. Compared to previous generations, Twenge says, members of iGen are: * Less independent * Less eager to drive * Less likely to socialize in person * Less likely to work * Less likely to get seven hours of sleep per night * More likely to report anxiety and depression That list is enough to give any parent or teacher palpitations! But is it a fair depiction of today's youth? Are "kids today" really that different from their parents and grandparents -- and that unprepared for adult life? And if so, are smartphones really the culprit? And if so, what do we do about it? If you're parenting or teaching iGen, you're gonna want to listen to this episode! In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * Intra-generational gaps within iGen * The 10 important trends shaping iGen * How constant connectivity can increase anxiety * The "Wait 'til 8th" movement * How parents can give their kids a break from tech * Why technology might not be to blame for all of these problems * The power of board games and playing cards * How to encourage free play and tactile exploration in the digital age * Why we should expect the best Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 137: iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy -- and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood -- and What That Means for the Rest of Us -- Twenge's latest book Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - Atlantic article by Jean Twenge, adapted from iGen What the Times Got Wrong About Kids and Phones -- Columbia Journalism Review article Episode 106: Screens & Boys The Big Myth of Teenage Anxiety: Relax - The Digital Age is Not Wrecking Your Kid's Brain -- NYT article by psychiatrist Richard A. Friedman Is Screen Time Really All That Bad? – Building Boys post by Jen
November 22, 2018
Photo by Cindi Albright via Flickr We talk a lot about what's hard about parenting. About all of the important things you need to and should do with your boys. This Thanksgiving, we talk about why we're thankful for boys.  Let us count the ways: * They expand our worldview and experience. The boys in our lives introduce us to hobbies, interests and events we didn't even know existed! (Did you know that that there's a Green Industry & Equipment Expo? Jen didn't -- until her 12-year-old entrepreneur asked if they can go.) * Their "ginormous" hearts. As one Mom told Janet, "My boys will always tell me they love me." Boys may express their love differently than girls, but they have huge hearts and give so much love. * The privilege of shaping future men. Boys Alive member Luis told us he's grateful for the privilege of shaping "future honorable men." We are too. And we're so grateful for all the dads, grandpas, uncles and others who are also helping us build great men. * They inspire us be better people. Joseph, another Boys Alive member,  says he's thankful for his son's "admiration for me -- which is motivation for me to be what he should look up to." * They show us how to relax & have fun. Building Boys member Laura says, "I love that my little boys have taught me to loosen up and have fun wrestling and just being silly. I love that they're so comfortable dressing up to play 'Let's Pretend.' I love that they itch to get outside and run around and play all day...They are teaching me patience, courage and that fine balance between keeping them safe and letting them take those important risks." (If that doesn't sum up the experience of raising boys, I don't know what does!) * They stretch our comfort zone. When we see our boys doing something out of our comfort zone -- or when we're called upon to do something beyond our comfort zone -- it's easy to panic and say no. But often, our love for our boys inspires us to wait, to watch, and to say yes. We see our boys (or ourselves) accomplish something we'd previously thought "too hard" or "too risky," and gain confidence. We realize that we're more capable than we ever thought. * They help us better understand half the world. We've learned so much about men by watching, listening to and learning from our boys! As Carma, a BuildingBoys member, told us, "I learned to see life from a male perspective and was shocked to learn there are stereotypes and expectations on males too." Males and females approach the world differently, and that's OK. * They increase our tolerance. Boys have taught us to enjoy and appreciate mess, chaos and physical energy. * They teach us that fighting is OK. As women, we often get the message the fighting is "bad." Parenting and teaching boys has shown us that it's OK -- and even healthy -- to disagree and stand your ground. People can fight, and still be friends. * They challenge our beliefs. Before boys, Jen was sure she'd have a "no gun" household. Four boys later, her house contains a virtual arsenal of Nerf weapons and Airsoft guns, and she's learned that there's no evidence to link "violent" play with real-life violence. Tell us: Why are you thankful for your boys? We'd love to hear your thoughts! There are a few slight audio glitches in this episode. We apologize for any inconvenience. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 136: 7 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Boys
November 15, 2018
Photo by Whitney H via Flickr Some call the tween years a "second toddlerhood." Like toddlers, tweens are striving for independence and determined to do things on their own. Except when they'd rather not. Some days, they want nothing more than to be little kids again, cuddled in your lap. The mood swings of tween boys catch many parents off guard, especially parents who mistakenly bought into the idea that "boys are easier." Truth is, the tween years are a challenge: for you, and for your kids. That's because a lot of physical, neurological and emotional growth happens between the ages of 10 and 14. Your boys are changing -- so quickly, in fact, that it is literally difficult to keep up. Whether this is your first or third (or seventh!) time through the tween years, you likely need support, information and humor.  We're here to give it to you. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * Common reactions to the tween years * Why your kids need reassurance during their tweens * How the physical changes of tween-dom lead to common behavioral changes (Hint: increased testosterone leads to increased body odor and increased risk-taking) * The 10-year gap between experience emotions, and learning to control them * Why the tween years can be emotionally triggering for parents * The importance of self-care during the tween years * "Potted plant" parenting  -- and why it may be the best way to parent tweens and teens * Sam's 24 Hour Garage Challenge * The value of playfulness (for tweens and their parents!) * Mental health concerns in the tween years (the peak onset age for most mental health disorders is 14) * Why you must make sure your son is connected with adult males * Jen's 3 Tips for Surviving the Tween Years Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 135: Top 6 Tips for Parenting Tween Boys 120: Hygiene Help for Tween & Teen Boys Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, by Daniel J Siegel, MD What Do Teenagers Want? Potted Plant Parents -- NYT article by Lisa Damour 123: The Good News about Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis 110: Talk to Boys about Sex with Amy Lang 128: 21st Century Sex Ed with Jo Langford Author Ann Douglas on How to Health Boys with Mental Health Challenges -- Q & A with the author of Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems 132: Risk-Taking Boys with Mom Judi Ketteler Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, by John Medina.  Also:  Attack of the Teenage Brain
November 8, 2018
Photo by Linda Severson via Flickr Traditional societies had many (often elaborate) rites of passage for boys and girls. On the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, boys become men after diving off rickety 40 foot platforms -- toward the ground. (You may have seen or heard about this tradition on National Geographic.) In the Sioux culture, young boys were raised predominantly by their mothers; as they became men, their fathers took over their training. And in some traditional African tribes, a boy's passage to manhood is marked by time alone in nature and circumcision. Here in the United States (and in most developed countries), there aren't really any well-recognized rites of passage to adulthood. Sure, many Jewish boys still have a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and many Christians become full adult members in their churches after undergoing Confirmation, but neither ritual is well-recognized in the larger world as a marker of adulthood. Instead, the line between childhood, adolescence and adulthood remains blurry. According to The Art of Manliness, "At the heart of the modern crisis of manhood is the extension of adolescence, a boyhood which is stretching on for a longer and longer period of time. Once thought to end in a man’s 20s at the latest, men are extending their adolescence into their 30’s and in some especially sad cases, their 40’s. But in some ways it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of a culture in which rites of passage have all but disappeared, leaving men adrift and lost, never sure when and if they’ve become men. Today’s men lack a community of males to initiate them into manhood and to recognize their new status. Across time and place, cultures have inherently understood that without clear markers on the journey to manhood, males have a difficult time making the transition and can drift along indefinitely." In this episode, Janet discusses: * Why men -- not women -- must lead rites of passage for boys * How rites of passage affirm the value (and role) of men in society * Common components of traditional rites of passage * The risks (& harms) that can occur when boys initiate themselves into manhood * Barriers to rites of passage in the modern world (a culture of individualism, mistrust of religion and 'strangers') * How (& why) to create your own rites of passage Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 134: Inner Guide Expeditions
November 1, 2018
Enjoy this episode from our archives - it's too good to miss! AND if you're intrigued by what you hear, consider joining co-host Janet Allison for her upcoming online class: "5 Steps to Untangle Your Parenting."  All the deets are here: If your kids always do what they're told, consistently treat others with kindness and never over-react to unintended slights, you can skip this episode. If not -- WELCOME! Your child is 100% normal, and you're going to love this conversation with Jen, Janet and Katherine Reynolds Lewis, author of The Good News About Bad Behavior. In her book, Lewis writes: If you look around and see misbehaving, undisciplined children everywhere, it's not just imagination. Children today are fundamentally different from past generations. They truly have less self-control. Simply put, we face a crisis of self-regulation. Lewis's observations of her own children, and comments from other parents, led her on a six-year exploration of behavior, parenting and neurobiology -- and points the way toward parenting techniques we can begin adapting right now to improve our children's behavior. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Katherine discuss: * The dramatic increase in mental health problems in today's youth * What self-regulation is, why it's important, and how to develop it in our kids * How to shift your mindset from "How do I control my children?" to "How do I teach them to control themselves?" * Progress, not perfection * How to shift from a reactive model of parenting to thoughtful, deliberate parenting * The "mumble and walk away technique" (Trust us: this can change your parenting for the better!) * 3 common characteristics of research-backed models of discipline: connection, communication & capability * How to use physical touch to help your child self-regulate * Why kids need to do hard stuff -- & the link between failure & self-esteem * The relationship between risk & capability ("Early risky experiences seem to inoculate kids from later phobias & anxiety," Lewis says. She also says, "Kids should do something a little bit risky every day.") * Why you should watch out for the word "should" * How to find support as you practice a new model of parenting Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 123: -- Katherine's author website. Contains a lot of info about her book and a complete list of her speaking gigs. Teaching Consent to a 12-Year-Old Boy -- the backstory behind the "bathroom email" referenced at about 7:16 Why Boys Do What They Do -- blog post about Jen's son pulling himself around the bases (referenced at 8:00) Episode 111: Self-Esteem & Boys Episode 116: Why Risk is Important for Boys BuildingBoys private FB group -- Jen's online parenting community. We welcome parents of boys of all ages, but seem to specialize in helping each other navigate the tween and teen years. A consistently supportive community, filled with tenderness, honesty and compassion. Boys Alive!
October 25, 2018
Would you let your 10-year-old son hang out with a bunch of teenagers you haven’t met? Would you let him attempt a double or triple flip in the trampoline in the backyard – or manage his own Instagram account? Writer and mom Judi Ketteler has. In a society that spends so much time telling boys to sit down and shut up, Judi has found a way to facilitate her son’s interests and personal growth, even though her son’s preferred sport, Gtramp, is risky and unregulated.  She’s found ways to say yes, rather than no, and her son is thriving as a result. If you’re not familiar with Gtramp, your son might be. Backyard “flippers” are extremely popular on YouTube and Instagram, particularly among tween boys. They’ve created a whole subculture, which Judi documented for the New York Times and explores with her son Maxx. Judi Ketteler w her husband, son Maxx & daughter Georgia Judi describes the experience of watching her son try new tricks on the trampoline as a “balance of absolute terror with absolute awe” – which, when you think about it, is also a pretty good description of parenting. In this episode, Jen & Judi discuss: * Balancing safety concerns against the risk of inhibiting our boys’ motivation * Making space for your kids to pursue their passions * The sport of GTramp * How kids can use YouTube to teach themselves the things they want to learn * Learning to trust your son’s judgement * The power of peer influence * Helping tweens navigate social media * “Digital training wheels” * How self-directed learning helps kids find community * Dealing with judgmental parents Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 132: Kaboom! Cody! Rudi! Young Flippers Embrace Gtramp, a New Sport for the Instagram Set -- Judi's NYT article about Gramp When is a Child Instagram-Ready?  -- Judi's NYT article about helping her son join Instagram @maxx_flippz -- Maxx on Instagram Maxx on his bike -- Judi's website
October 18, 2018
Photo by Pascal Maramis via Flickr How do you respond to phone calls and emails from teachers about your son's misbehavior? Excerpts of actual emails I've received from my son's teachers: On Tuesday, Sam was sitting in a chair with his legs on a stool, he was flipping it and turning the stool with his legs and feet. I made eye contact with him and shook my head. He smiled and then slithered around on the floor... ... Subject line: Bathroom Issue It was reported to me by another teacher that Sam *came up to a student and flipped him off and then was using his fingers to poke the student in the stomach *jumped up on the urinal ledge *sat on the wall *pulling down of pants in front of a student and then walked over to go to the urinal to pee and with his pants down went back to the student and started to poke his stomach again. ... ....Today, Sam, along with many others, was very disruptive by talking, laughing, blurting out, and trying to gain peer attention...The whole class was given a reminder on my expectations and Sam was given a personal reminder in addition to that. The disruption continues. Then, Sam took his scissors out of his box and began to open and close them.... Even after 20 years of parenting boys, I'm still not quite sure how to respond to emails like this -- how to best support my son and his teacher while trying to preserve my son's love of learning. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * How teachers can adapt instruction to be more boy-friendly (Hint: Front-load the lesson with tactile, kinesthetic activities instead of starting with a lot of verbal instruction) * How to talk to boys about behavior without shaming them * The importance of mutual respect -- between teachers and students, parents and kids, teachers and parents * How parents, teachers and students can work together toward mutually satisfactory solutions * Teaching kids what "respect" looks like in a classroom * The benefit of focusing on what's right * How to help kids develop self-regulation skills * The 3 things you absolutely must do when you receive a phone call or email from your son's teacher (#1: Breathe!) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 131: Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis Want Your Son To Succeed in School? Don't Fixate on Academics -- U.S. News & World Report article by Jen
September 27, 2018
HOMEWORK can bring out the worst in us...and our kids. We wonder if we should force them to do it (again) or if we can just stop having them do it all together because the conflict is too great. Is it really important?  How do you manage - and help your son manage? In this re-broadcast of Episode 101, you'll find information and courage to choose the homework path that is right for your family. Photo by Lars Plougmann via Flickr Few things cause boys (and their families) as much stress as HOMEWORK. In many cases, homework battles turn into outright power struggles -- with no winners. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * Why boys struggle with homework * The impact of homework on boys' academic achievement * What to do about "meaningless" homework * How a "too cool for school" attitude can interfere with learning * Why arguing about homework might not be the best use of your time and energy Links we mentioned (and more!) in Episode 101 How to Get Boys to Do Homework, Part 1 By Jennifer LW Fink How to Get Boys to Do Homework, Part 2 By Jennifer LW Fink Homework Tip #3: Let Your Kids Figure Out When & Where to Work by Jennifer LW Fink Homework at My House by Jennifer LW Fink Homework Solutions in the Age of Distraction by Devorah Heitner, Phd ==================== Watch the UNCUT version on Youtube here. ==================== What great solutions have you found that work with your boys?  Please share!
September 20, 2018
One of our jobs, as parents and educators of boys, is to help them learn how to deal with tough emotions -- including grief. As much as we want to, we can't protect our boys from hurt. Loved ones die. Parents divorce Friends move. Boys fail to achieve important goals, and experience rejection from peers. Grief hurts. It comes and goes. Or it just stays and never seems to go away... Everyone handles grief differently. Boys tend to handle grief MUCH differently - we may be surprised AND concerned when we don't see our boys cry after a major loss. . Tom Golden, a therapist has worked with hundreds of boys and their families, has some great tips for helping boys him navigate grief. Speaking of grief: Janet is taking some time as she has just helped her dad wind down his life (only weeks after an epic trip to England). He died with a dream realized and we are celebrating that! In this episode, Jen & Tom discuss: * What cross-cultural research tells us about how males & females grieve * How action helps boys heal * The link between safety & storytelling -- and how both are necessary to help boys who are grieving * How to identify your son's "safe place" * The physiological reason your boy might not cry * Precarious manhood * How parallel, shoulder-to-shoulder activities can help you connect with your boy * What NOT to say to a grieving boy -- & what to say instead * Why honoring the deceased via action is so important & meaningful to boys & men * Red flags that might indicate a need for professional help Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 129: Getting Closer to Boys -- Tom's website that helps moms better understand boys -- Tom's professional website (and a great place to explore ALL of his work) Helping Mothers Be Closer to Their Sons: Understanding the Unique World of Boys, by Tom Golden If you are grieving, we send you hugs.  Know that you are not alone.
September 13, 2018
Jo LangfordSex educator & author The standard "birds and bees" sex talk doesn't work any more. (If it ever really did!) Today, parents have to address pornography, homosexuality, gender and consent. If you feel nervous tackling those topics, don't worry. You're not alone. Sex educator and therapist Jo Langford routinely helps parents navigate these tricky conversations. Langford is the author of Spare Me the Talk!: A Guy's Guide to Sex, Relationships and Growing Up and The Pride Guide: The Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth, the first book about sex and sexuality written specifically for LGBTQ tweens and teens. Langford is also the father of a teenage boy and tween girl. In this episode, Jen, Janet & Jo discuss: * How to support 21st century kids, even if you don't yet know what cisgender means * Inclusive language - & why it's important (Hint: when you start talking about sex, you probably won't know if your child is gay, straight or trans, and the words you use can lead to alienation or signal acceptance.) * How to help boys understand gender fluidity * The influence of culture on boys' attitudes towards sex and gender * How to respond when boys use the word "gay" as an insult or putdown * What teens want their parents to discuss with them (Spoiler: technology!) * How teens use screens to explore their sexuality and develop relationships - & how parents can help their kids navigate the digital world * How to protect kids from accidental porn exposure (Hint: blocking software is your friend) * Age-appropriate language you can use to discuss porn with your boys * Jo's "50% rule" for porn Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 126: -- Jo's website, featuring his talks, speaking schedule & free downloads (including Porn: The Guide to a Healthy Grab-It Habit) Spare Me 'The Talk!': A Guy's Guide to Sex, Relationship, and Growing Up, by Jo Langford The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth, by Jo Langford When Children Say They're Trans -- The Atlantic article Episode 110: Talk to Boys About Sex with Amy Lang Why Inclusive Sex Ed is So Important -- article by Jen
September 6, 2018
"My son just turned 14 & his girlfriend is 13, and he doesn't understand why I won't leave them alone in my house. Am I being over protective of BOTH of them? I feel a duty of care to his girlfriend. I know how easily things can turn from innocent to not-so-innocent. They are both physically mature. Help!" -- Kathleen   Photo by Robyn Gallant via Flickr Helping boys (and girls) navigate the ins-and-outs of relationships isn't easy. It's also one of our most important jobs. The groundwork and guidelines we establish will set the tone for our kids' behavior and relationship expectations for years to come. It's not enough to simply say, "Stay safe." And it's not practical (or even advisable) to say, "No dating!" Somehow, we need to give our children room to explore and experiment with emotional and physical intimacy, while also teaching them respect and boundaries. While dealing with teenagers. Who are sure they know everything. Not easy. We're here to help you muddle through.   In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * The changing definition of "girlfriend" -- & why it's important to ask your son what the term means to him * How family rules & values can help you (& your teen) navigate relationships * Why it's so important to discuss relationships, consent & sex with your boys, beginning when they're young * How to connect with the family of your son's GF (& why you might want to) * Why it's more beneficial to talk about what to do in a relationship than what not to do * How relationships can help your son expand his emotional vocabulary * Why you might want to invest in a box of condoms. Even if your son is only 10. Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 127: Episode 110: Talk to Boys about Sex with Amy Lang Episode 119: Consent with Mike Domritz Talking to Boys about Sexually Aggressive Girls -- BuildingBoys post about how to help your son handle sexual pressure
August 30, 2018
Photo via PixaBay A listener asked us, "How do you gently encourage/educate your boy's teacher on what boys need and how to help them, rather than shame them, when they have gone into anger?" The short answer: It ain't easy, but it's so, so worth it! Many teachers know very little about the specific developmental trajectory and needs of boys; teacher training often does not include a course that delves into gender-related differences in learning and communication. Some teachers naturally "get" boys; others are easily overwhelmed by boys' energy. Most teachers, however, sincerely want to help children. They're eager to learn, and usually quite open to partnering with students' parents. After all, parents have had years to figure out their child's trigger points and preferred calming strategies; teachers only get a few months. Also: the research has consistently shown that what's good for boys is good for learning. Increasing recess time actually improves student focus, decreases off-task behavior (by as much as 25%, according to at least one study!) and increases academic achievement. But how do you share information about boys' needs with your sons' teachers? Very carefully. According to Janet & Jen, timing is everything; don't approach a teacher at the end of a busy day or during morning drop-off, and definitely DO NOT fire off an email or text to your son's teacher when you are angry. Share specific information about your boy before gently segueing to a more general discussion of boys' needs. Try framing your comments in a way that shows empathy. Saying something like, "Before I had Caleb, I didn't realize..." is one way to acknowledge the fact that you yourself had a lot to learn about boys-- and may inspire your son's teacher to reflect on her own knowledge of boys. If your son's teacher is interested in learning more, consider sharing a book or articles with her. (Some of our favorites are listed in the show notes below.) A school or community-wide book study is a great way to increase awareness of boys' needs too -- and may be the way to increase boys' engagement and academic achievement. Janet and Jen are available to speak at your school and bring a wealth of wisdom, humor, and empathy to both parents and teachers. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * The right time to talk "boy" with your son's teacher * When -- and how -- to involve administration * How to use the school's discipline referral data to identify opportunities for improvement * How parents can work together to make a school more boy-friendly Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 126: BOKS Kids-- Reebok-sponsored, parent-inspired before & after school activity program 7 Ways Teachers Can Make School Better for Boys -- BuildingBoys blog post BuildingBoys Resource List Writing the Playbook: A Practitioner's Guide to Creating a Boy-Friendly School, by Kelley King Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, by Stephen James & David S. Thomas The Minds of Boys: Saving Our Sons from Falling Behind in School & in Life, by Michael Gurian US! We can come to your school, library or community & educate parents & teachers about boys. Click on the picture below to send us a message.
August 23, 2018
Photo by Brent Gambrell via Flickr 1 in 2 children will develop a mood or behavioral disorder or substance addiction by age 18.  We parents like to think that if we "do everything right," our kids will be mentally and physically healthy with nary a care in the world. But that's not the case. The truth is that mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety, affect people of all ages from every segment of society -- including Jen, who was diagnosed with double depression in her mid-30s. Sadly, boys & men are far less likely to seek help for a mental health condition than girls and women. Fear of looking "weak" or "unmanly" causes many guys to bottle up their feelings, with potentially disastrous results. (In 2016, white males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in the United States.) Anxiety and depression, the two most common mental health disorders, are highly treatable, but too many children and families suffer alone. Only about 40% of children and teens with anxiety or depression receive treatment. Intervening when your son exhibits symptoms of anxiety or depression can change the trajectory of his life, for the better. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * How persistent stigma keeps families from acknowledging and seeking help for anxiety & depression (4:05) * Symptoms of anxiety and depression in boys & men (4:56; 10:59;16:49) * The link between anxiety & depression and risk-taking behavior, including drug use and promiscuous sex (7:40) * Breaking through denial (11:53) * How to help your child, even if no one else thinks there's a problem (13:45) or you have a hard time accessing mental health services (14:01) * The difference between "worry" and "anxiety" (17:46) * The link between anxiety & depression (20:44) * How to find professional help, including online counseling (24:42) * How to identify a boy-friendly therapist or counselor (27:53) * The importance of self-care when dealing with a family member's mental health issues (29:30) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 125: The Good News About Bad Behavior: Why Kids Are Less Disciplined Than Ever and What to Do About It -- book by Katherine Reynolds Lewis Episode 123: The Good News About Bad Behavior with Katherine Reynolds Lewis Episode 115: The Boy Crisis with Warren Farrell Author Ann Douglas on How to Help Boys with Mental Health Challenges -- BuildingBoys blog post Parenting Through the Storm: Find Help, Hope, and Strength When Your Child Has Psychological Problems -- book by Ann Douglas Episode 114: Sleepover, Summer Camp & Separation Anxiety National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
August 16, 2018
Photo by ThoseGuys 199 via Flickr It's back to school time!  But despite the smiley faces pictured in many back-to-school ads, the start of a new academic year doesn't exactly generate feelings of enthusiasm and excitement in many boys (or their parents). For many families, back-to-school time is synonymous with dread, fear and anxiety. In fact, the number of boys who don't like school has increased over the past generation. In 1980, 14% of boys said they didn't like school. By 2001, 24% of boys -- nearly one-quarter -- said they disliked school. Today, the number is likely even higher. We get it: school isn't always a boy-friendly place. Boys who have experienced failure and shame in school aren't likely to suddenly develop an optimistic attitude toward school. That's where you come in. There's a lot parents and teachers can do to preserve boys' love of learning, and set them up for a successful school year, including introducing them to new rules and teachers well before the first day and creating morning and after-school routines that respect boys' need for movement. Also important: learning about boys' natural development, so you can better understand why so many boys struggle in school. In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss: * The unique challenges boys face in modern classrooms, including early academic pressure and expectations that aren't aligned with boy development  (3:25 & 9:15)) * Why it's important to tackle your own unresolved issues and values regarding learning and education (4:00) * How to help boys starting preschool (6:30) * Why you need to explicitly outline behavior expectations for school and home (12:04) * How unscheduled downtime helps boys learn (14:05) * Why you should focus on developing boys' social-emotional skills (14:58) * Setting screen time limits (15:50) * Why (& when) it's OK to prioritize life over homework (16:40) * The "potted plant" method of parenting -- & how to use it to support teen boys (18:00) * How to help your boys get organized (19:23) * Why letting our boys fail will ultimately allow them to succeed (20:36) * How to get teenage boys to talk about school (22:00) * Helps boys transition to high school (22:50) * How teachers can connect with boys (25:42) * How humor can help you deal with setbacks (29:23) Links we mentioned (or should have) in Episode 124: Episode 101: Homework & Boys Episode 106: Screens & Boys 7 Ways Teachers Can Make School Better for Boys -- BuildingBoys blog post Boys & School -- classic BuildingBoys post about the challenges Jen's son Sam encountered when he started school 5 Back-to-School Resolutions
      0:00:00 / 0:00:00