When was the last time a little boy was living in and running around the White House (and I mean a real little boy…not a President acting like a boy)?
- President Obama? Raising two girls
- President Bush? His two girls grew up in the White House
- President Clinton? His daughter grew up in the White House
- President H. Bush? His sons were grown men
- President Carter? His daughter grew up in the White House
- President Ford? Nope
- President Nixon? Nope
- President Johnson? Nope
- President Kennedy? Bingo. It’s been 50+ years since a boy (John John) lived in the White House (and sadly, that didn’t last very long!)
Interesting trivia…But so what?
Consider this: Is it possible that there is a connection between the lack of little boys in the White House the last 50 years and the utter lack of national energy put into boys during that same time period?
Is it possible that there is a connection between the lack of little boys in the White House the last 50 years—and the preponderance of girls in the White House—and the national energy poured into girls and women during that same time period?
For example—and this is all conjecture but hopefully a conjecture worth mulling over—take the Obama Administration:
On March 11, 2009, the White House issued a press release announcing the formation of the President’s Council on Women and Children. “The purpose of this council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy,” President Obama was quoted as saying.
Shortly after, an invitation went out to a few male leaders to begin advising the President on a similar Council for men and boys. Nothing has happened. And by all accounts, nothing happened because the President wasn’t engaged with the issue.
I don’t think it was intentional. Could it be that the issue of boys is simply not on his radar? He was raised by a strong woman. He is married to a strong woman. He is raising two girls. He lives in a woman’s world in that sense. He’s sensitive to the issues of women. When charges of a “war on women” are shouted through the media, his ears perk up. When the old storyline of girls falling behind boys is paraded again and again, he listens because he has daughters. Raise the issue of boys, and it’s simply not on his radar. It’s not that he doesn’t care. Could it be that he is “tone deaf” to the needs of boys? Understandably, most of the time, when the Obamas talk about children, they usually do so using the feminine pronoun.Could it be that for the last 50 years, with no little boy in the White House, our Presidents have unintentionally overlooked our boys because boys were not on their radars? Carter, Clinton, W. Bush, and now Obama all raised girls in the White House. It stands to reason that girls will be on the radar. It stands to reason that anything to do with girls will of course capture the attention of these dads raising girls.
Could it be, then, that one of the many reasons why there is no national urgency about the plight of our boys is simply because we have these great dads in the White House doing what dads ought to do…looking out for their daughters? What might culture look like if all of these Presidents had been raising boys?
(An aside…some of you may asking: Plight of boys? What are you talking about? How about a few stats:
- Boys have fallen behind girls in every area of education from pre-k through graduate school
- 70% of D’s and F’s given in schools are given to boys
- The readings skills of the average 17 year old boy have declined over the last 20 years
- 85% of all stimulant addressing medications prescribed throughout the world are prescribed to US boys)
In this 2016 election that storyline will not change. This time around there will be no children in the White House. Hillary Clinton has planted her flag in important women’s issues (but has not once, as far as I can tell, engaged on the issue of boys). Donald Trump has grown sons, which may open his eyes to the challenges boys face, but so far, nothing on boys from him, either.
Interesting stuff. But what do we do with it?
Keep fighting the battle for boys on the grass roots level by:
- Putting the issue of boys on the radar for our educators, the vast majority of whom are female and who may unintentionally miss the learning differences between boys and girls
- Putting the issue of boys on the radar for church leaders, far too many of whom have intentionally or unintentionally skewed the Gospel to a female way of learning and hearing
- Putting the issue of boys on the radar of those who still buy into the myth that girls are falling behind boys (they actually started passing boys in the 1980’s), including the media and local, state, and national leaders
- Reminding both Presidential Candidates and their parties that boys need our attention