Please Explain: Boys

Friday, May 15, 2009

Today's Please Explain is about the nature of boys--their minds, bodies, brains, emotional lives, and behaviors. With Margaret M. McCarthy, professor of physiology at the University of Maryland, and Michael G. Thompson, a psychologist, school consultant, and author, most recently of It's a Boy!: Understanding Your Son's Development from Birth to Eighteen.


Margaret M. McCarthy, and Michael G. Thompson,

Comments [30]

charlotte from bklyn

I'd like to hear a show just about brain development and trait and behavior expression. This was an incompatible mixing of a "nature" expert and a "nurture" expert, with some very unfortunate questions from our host. And how about the condescending comment, "you don't need a neuroscientist to tell you that!" during a conversation with a neuroscientist. What a boy thing to say :)

May. 17 2009 12:00 PM
tiger from Booklyn NY

It seems that the commentary in this article or topic is leading to ,the adults being more child like then he children we are professing to love and want to be better humans and later adults .I beleive through my experience that woman are in denial about their place in history and use that to base arguments that only lead us to the place of unconsciousness ,while us men listen to this and feel impotent .We live in a society in which we have disposeable people and things ,their is not a community of wholeness sohow can we convere about it when they thing we speak about have no value in our society ,even though they are right .What in our society can be called a traditional norm ,and more then that ,do any of us know about the cosmolgy of this continent .It can go on and on and on ,.

May. 16 2009 03:08 PM
Ro from NYC from Manhattan

Do you honestly believe that only a man could engineer a bridge? Really?? If you say yes, then you have a narrow view of human potential that is simply confined to past patriarchal power structures. Consider Ro from Soho's comment: women have not, in part or whole, pioneered the technologies that we know today because women were not given the opportunies to participate. Redirecting boy's aggression would perhaps only diminsh the number of wars.

May. 15 2009 05:37 PM
Janelle from New Jersey

I also love the idea of exploring further the response of teachers/administrators to boys' behavior. In my son's school, any drawings that depict anything violent (including pirates, knights with swords) or pictures with guns are strictly prohibited. My son has come home with tiny little squares of paper folded over 20 times to hide a drawing from the aides at school. Pretend gun play on the playground is also banned. Personally, I think the pendulum has swung too far in the "p.c." direction. There's a difference between a kid who draws pictures of mass murder scenes and a kid who draws some stick figure pirates with swords and guns. Is it good to forbid/repress this kind of natural outlet???

May. 15 2009 03:47 PM
Melly Resnicow from 107 Weeks rd. East Williston, N.Y.11596

My 4 children 2 boys and 2 girls were born in "the olden days" between 1947 and 1957. Each on has a totally different personality and outlook on life. I always suspected that nature won out over nurture in many ways and it was not dependent on gender. Of course I avoided buying guns for play (in those days there was a strong taboo against it) but the boys managed to go bang bang in their own fashion. One daughter was an expert tree climber while the other one was , and still is, artistic.
I also taught High School for 20 years found, in general, that girls were more studious while boys tended to take more chances and generally had a better sense of humor.

May. 15 2009 03:00 PM
Joel Hubbard from long island

Today's Please Explain is much to complex a subject for one show,if the nature of Boys in today's world is as simple as to be explained in a one hour show,then golly gosh.Being a parent is the hardest and most rewarding job that I will ever have,the only thing harder is to be a child in the world of the future that we will leave them.Please revisit this subject again.

May. 15 2009 02:29 PM
Ro from SoHo

Leonard - perhaps this is more appropropriate for Dr. O'Connor's visit but in the UK the words are 'SLUGS and snails and puppy dogs' tails' instead of 'snips and snails'. Interesting little difference.

And this in response for Mavrik #13. starting with Magna Carta, women and MOST men had no education and couldn't read nor write. Magna Carta was devised and written by the monastic and aristocratic elite of England in 1215 which compelled King John to sign and issue.

Similarly no women were included in the decision-making process to write the Constitution. So they can be scorned for not participating because they were excluded by the males in their society? Sounds like blaming the forcibly excluded for non-participation.

Mavrik - this is not a fight. It is an exploration and explanation of the fascinating differences between the genders. If you can try to be flexible in your thinking within differences you may be rewarded with greater understanding and compassion toward both genders.

May. 15 2009 02:22 PM
Catharine from Hartsdale, NY

I have a seven-year-old boy in the second grade whose only school-related interests are sports and math. Most of the reading/writing materials deal with topics that are, for the most part, completely uninteresting to him and the other boys in the class. Maybe there would be fewer psychology referrals if the materials in class included topics that boys traditionally like. Another thing that is needed, in my opinion, is a way for boys to let off steam more often. Frequent breaks and, here's a good one from a creative teacher, using exersize balls as chairs so fidgity kids can bounce while they work.

May. 15 2009 02:08 PM
db from nyc

Very interesting stuff.

When discussing the behavior of others, especially kids, I think it is also very important to consider the point of view or perception of the observer.

Many parents have very distorted view of their own children. As a parent myself, I have had to endure many distorted parental observations. I include myself; I try to temper my observations of my kid with a median of outside observations in an effort to maintain some kind of objective perspective.

May. 15 2009 02:03 PM
Mavrik from NYC

If you control the boy's desire and need to physical and aggressive then you will diminish the number of people who will continue to build and lead civilization.

May. 15 2009 01:59 PM
sandra from NJ

I'd love to hear much more about boys in school and how I can advocate for my boy if he does have a teacher who doesn't "get boys"

May. 15 2009 01:57 PM
Jack from Brooklyn

What about when violence is depicted in kids'art? As an art teacher, is there one response better than another? Discourage? Prohibit the depiction of violence, guns, etc.?

May. 15 2009 01:55 PM
Debbie from Woodmere

So, what can we as teachers, (I teach h.s.) do to control the boys to not be physical and use inappropriate language as I find the girls don't do?

May. 15 2009 01:54 PM
waf from Brooklyn

That's really interesting about the number of older brothers being predictive (to some degree) of sexual orientation. Some evolutionary biologists have argued that homosexuality is adaptive in that fitness can be maximized by helping your siblings survive. So do the guests think that that finding supports the idea of homosexuality being adaptive under certain conditions (such as a large family)?

May. 15 2009 01:54 PM
Marion from Brooklyn, NY

Thank you for this fascinating topic. I am the mother of an almost 2 year old but I’m curious….
What happens to the personality of a boy how isn’t properly exposed to the mothers testosterone or is missing the chromosomal information that “tell” the fetus it’s male? Is there any evidence that contributes to gender confusion later in life?

May. 15 2009 01:54 PM
saundra from new york (of course)

See we made full circle, Enrique, let's call it a civilized rap by Blur. If men had only allowed women to develop civilization....

May. 15 2009 01:53 PM
Enrique from Elizabeth, NJ

I just thinki we should rap up this show with "Boys and Girls" by Blur. It will give both (gender characters) some peace.

May. 15 2009 01:43 PM
Mavrik from NYC

Ok, lets ask boys to cease their pursuits. In fact, lets start in the past. You would have no -

GW bridge, among many others.
Washing machines, fridges, dishwashers, vacuums
MRI machines
Automobiles - gas or electric
Electric power
Magna Carter or Constitution
Great art and all the museums that house it

Need to stop as there is a word limit on these posts. Sorry.

May. 15 2009 01:41 PM
hjs from 11211

what about gays and transgendered persons

May. 15 2009 01:35 PM

What a problematic topic! How can we have this conversation without including the socio-cultural formation of what gender is? Leonard, you just talked about the "insulting" rhyme that gave you "boys" a bad rap...what about the rap that girls have to fight against for the rest of their lives, that they are unable to fight against the objects they are encouraged to pick up-- Barbies/Doll/Stuffed dolls. We are ignoring the social influences that you all are perpetuating here. Mentioning them once or twice just gives them lip-service.

May. 15 2009 01:34 PM
Janelle from New Jersey

I always thought I could raise my boy to be a gentle, non-violent little person, but I learned that directing him to Maisy Mouse and kitchen toys and dolls was useless. Boys will pick up sticks in the yard to have a sword fight and pretend to shoot guns with their fingers. My girls have no interest in that type of play whatsoever. I am finding as the years pass that nature is much more powerful than nurture!!

May. 15 2009 01:33 PM
saundra from new york (of course)

What civilization precisely? If that's the case, let's please ask all boys to cease engaging in any more of their behavior and pursuits.

May. 15 2009 01:32 PM
geneGC from Brooklyn

Is there something to "boys will be boys"? My son started hitting other kids about 2 weeks ago (he is almost 4, and was never a hitter beforehand). Parents of girls tell me my son is a monster, parents of boys tell me that it is just normal...

May. 15 2009 01:31 PM
Enrique from Elizabeth, NJ heard Saundra. Wide variability.
So the answer to your question will be introduce in the next "Please Explain: Men" :)

But i hear you... Definitely.

May. 15 2009 01:30 PM
Mavrik from NYC

If boys did not engage in the behaviors and pursuits leading to outcomes they desire, would we have the developed environment that benefits all people and represents civilization today?

May. 15 2009 01:15 PM
Kate from NewYork

As a new mother of fraternal twins - a boy and a girl, I'm looking forward to listening today. I'm a long time believer that many of the behaviors of boys and girls are socially taught, though how much of that - how to know ? I see differences in my children's behavior now even at nine weeks, but I figure that it's just simple personality differences that could as easily be seen between two girls.

May. 15 2009 01:08 PM
saundra from new york (of course)

Just cutting through the crap, Enrique! I'm a nice : ) wife, mother (of daughters) and lover. But let's just get real here!

You mean there are men on the other side of the Hudson....

May. 15 2009 01:06 PM
Enrique from Elizabeth, NJ

...a bit vicious there Saundra.
Don't hate. XD

May. 15 2009 12:48 PM
saundra from new york (of course)

Its really rather simple: Boys will be boys...forever. Very few of them ever grow up to be men!

May. 15 2009 10:33 AM
GG from Brooklyn

great topic! I have a 3 1/2 year old nephew and am always trying to find ways to raise him to think critically and to be compassionate person.

May. 15 2009 09:55 AM

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