I just dropped off my 14-year-old son for the start of new year, at a brand-new new school. I had a lump in my throat, knowing how nervous he was about this new season.
Every year brings a new set of challenges for our kids, even at old schools. But today, that is especially true for boys. We saw in our For Parents Only research with teens and pre-teens, that in today’s culture – even in the most well-intentioned school environments – our boys often internalize one overwhelming, toxic message: You aren’t good enough. You’re dumb. You don’t measure up.
That is a nasty feeling for anyone, of course, but for a guy it is particularly excruciating, since statistically, that is the hidden doubt most guys have about themselves anyway! And to get anywhere in life, a guy needs to feel that he does measure up. If he doesn’t, the young male heart all too often shuts down to school, preferring to find his worth in sports, girls, friends, risky activities, or other outlets. All too often, boys check out.
This is one reason why college enrollment today is 57% young women, and only 42% young men. All the studies show boys and girls have the same cognitive ability – and there are even some areas where the male brain particularly excels, like math! – yet many of our boys are down on themselves.
Parents, our teachers are working so hard, often in difficult conditions, to help our kids learn and succeed in school – but we have the main role in sending our son into school believing that he CAN succeed in the first place! It starts with us emphasizing three truths to our son over and over.
So start saying these truths today, and say them often!