Bringing up boys

I am behind on blogging at the moment – lots of things on my mind, but not getting around to posting them!

One of the topics I wanted to mention was this excellent article in The Times from the other week, discussing the problem of badly behaved adolescent boys in the UK – the lack of role models available to them, the way the education system ignores their needs, etc.

I was very lucky growing up. I had two loving parents at home and teachers who were able to take the time to give me the necessary kick needed to make sure I got the best results I could at school. My mother and father encouraged me to go to scouts and Air Cadets and made sure I didn’t give up if things got a bit tough. They were also quite happy for me to take on part-time jobs, go off on my own, cycling around the area, skateboarding in London, taking part in school trips and so on. I had no lack of role models, either male or female, as well as plenty of fun things to do in and outside of school, with plenty of responsible adults keeping an eye on me.

Not everyone is so lucky.

Here’s an extract from the last page of the article –

“For the sake of the next generation, it really is time to get over this fret about gender. Admitting that boys still need mothers, fathers and male mentors is not a denial of sexual equality. It’s a recognition that men and women bring different strengths to the enterprise of raising their young. The achievement of sexual equality shouldn’t make acting like a competent adult any more difficult than it ever was — 21st-century men and women are still human beings with the DNA that makes them “good enough” to take on their part of the task. But before they can get down to work and sort out the mess, men have to rise above the graceless feminist scorn and cynical commercialism that have made them doubt their better nature. And women have to recognise that, in terms of raising boys, there are some things sisters just can’t do.”

Changing the topic to that of the world of male adult behaviour, after living here for a while I’ve noticed a marked difference between what South African women expect or tolerate from their boyfriends of husbands, as compared to British women. Saffer blokes seem to be allowed to get away with a lot more laddish antics than their British counterparts. The Saffer girls seem to be happier to let their blokes do the blokeish things that blokes tend to want to do – within reason of course. They seem to accept that boys will be boys from time to time and that letting the guys let off steam every now and then is ok if it makes them happy and more tolerable around the house. Obviously there are limits, but I see more resignation than resentment when it comes to ‘the things men do’ than I see amongst British women. Those things might be watching sport, going off to play golf, the odd boys’ night out, that kind of thing.

This observation is hardly the result of scientific research – it’s simply based on what I’ve seen over the last few years being surrounded by South Africans in Dubai and visiting Jo’burg and Cape Town for work.

As a Brit with a British wife, I’m glad that Mrs Saul is so tolerant with me!

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