Sonhood parent coaching the boy's code blog article cover image
Sonhood parent coaching the boy's code blog article cover image

The Boy’s Code

Society's set of expectations for boys

By: Kathryne Savage Imabayashi

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MYTHS

Boys will be boys. Boys are naturally aggressive due to testosterone. 

Boys should be boys. Only anger is an acceptable emotion. Don’t show any weakness or vulnerability.

Boys are toxic. They are dangerous to society.

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TRUTHS

Boy’s behaviour is shaped more by loved ones than by nature.

There are many ways to be a boy – the diversity of masculinity.

Boys are empathetic.

What the Boy’s Code Tells Boys — and shouldn’t.

Stand on your own two feet. Always be independent.

Separate from Mom and all things female as quickly as possible.

Never show any feelings – except anger.

Stay on top and in the limelight.

“Give ‘em hell” through macho behaviour, cruelty, bravado, and banter.

Sex is conquest.

Bullying and teasing are just “normal” boy talk.

Never give in or really listen.

Don’t show your fear of violence.

Don’t “rat” or let anyone else know when another boy does something harmful.

Dr. William Pollack first spoke of the boys’ code in his book Real Boys, based on decades of researching the inner lives of boys. Society sends mixed messages about what it means to be a man. Outwardly many men wear the masks we expect to see while on the inside many of them are sad, lonely and confused. Pollack speaks about boys self-esteem, the power of parents, how to communicate with boys more effectively, depression, and so much more.

As parents we CAN help raise our sons to be happier, kind hearted men, and reduce some of the pain and danger they will face if we don’t. Here are a few practical things you can do:

  • Learn more. There is so much information available! You need to understand the problems if you are to be part of the solutions. Examine your own feelings about what it means to be a male in our society and your inner belief system about men in general.
  • Spend time in their early years developing and expanding their emotional awareness and vocabulary. Read, read, read – make books their best friend. Play games about what people’s facial expressions mean. Point out the variety of ways men can be men – the good role models.
  • Give them responsibilities around the house to boost their self-esteem. Empower them to feel competent and a valued member of the family.
  • Take them out in nature and make your family time happy and fun.Take action together. Go bike riding, start a baseball team with his friends, play music together.
  • Be curious about what is going on in their minds and actively listen to what they are saying, and what they are not.
  • Be firm, fair and consistent with rules. Boys need to know the limits, know the consequences and know that this applies to all involved.
  • Never shame your son. It is an emotion that hurts them deeply. If you need to speak to him about some negative behaviour, do it respectfully and in private. Respect a boy’s need for timed silence.
  • Show your boy lots of love.
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