For this month's Books We Like installment, I offer up one that made me less worried about raising a serial killer.
The Way of Boys: Raising Healthy Boys in a Challenging and Complex World by Anthony Rao tells moms of young boys what we need to hear:
The shouting, climbing up the walls, breaking everything in sight and generally acting like a howler monkey? That's normal.
The fascination with guns and weapons, even if you never gave him anything more lethal than a plastic light saber to play with? Also normal.
Instead of trying to control the natural desire of little boys to be litte savages, maybe we should adjust our expectations, Rao writes.
Millions of years of evolution -- not our parenting mistakes -- make boys the way they are.
If your son's anti-social behavior is actually dangerous, or makes it impossible to learn in a classroom, consultation with a doctor may be in order.
But minor-league annoyances like yelling "poop" in the library, composing incessant potty word limericks at the dinner table, or backtalking to Grandma? He'll almost certainly grow out of it.
Rao, a psychologst at Children's Hospital, also questions whether society may have mislabled a lot of boys with ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder or Asperger's, for simply being ... well, not girls.
Empathy, impulse control, and the ability to sit still for more than 30 seconds are significantly delayed in boys. There's nothing necessarily "wrong" with a little boy who hasn't developed these skills yet.
There is a wide spectrum of normal boy development that eventually produces well-adjusted, grown men who don't shoot people or climb the walls.
Of course, men still like potty word limericks, too. Evolution hasn't worked that one out yet.
What do you think is "normal" boy behavior? Do you approve of a boys-will-be-boys parenting philosophy? Or should we discipline and control boys more? Leave a comment or email me at email@example.com
about the author
Erica Noonan is chief of the Globe West bureau. Before joining the Globe in 2000, she worked for the Associated Press in Boston. Raised in Wellesley, she has a master's degree in political communication from Emerson College and a BA in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio. She lives in Natick with two energetic children: Dennis, 6, and Lila, 4.
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