Adventures in Divorce

I always wondered why people who murdered their spouses didn't just get a divorce.... I now understand why

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Location: Nap Town, Indie-anne-ahhhhhh!, United States

No, I'm not a prophetess. Cassandra, according to Greek mythology, spurned the advances of the Greek god Apollo and her gift of prophecy was cursed so that her predictions would never be believed. Such is my life. I tend not to think like most people, which is a gift... but also a curse. So step into my mind, take off your shoes and stay for awhile... you're always welcome, loved ones.

May 21, 2010

Boys to Men

Recently I had a conversation with one of my friends about a woman he was dating who is a single mother raising a young boy.  I thought I had written about my opinions about the ability for a single woman to successfully raise a son into a man, but I couldn't find it on my blogs anywhere.  However, I remembered that I actually did commit such opinion to writing (luckily, because I thought I was going crazy) in the form of an e-interview with another blogger.

I'm sure some of you may be a little irked by my opinions, some of you out there raising sons or someone who was raised by a single mother.  I just ask (like many of my other posts) that you suspend judgement for the few minutes it takes to read this and really think about what I am saying and save your feminist pitch forks for someone else.  After all, I am a single woman, I do have a teenage son who is closer to manhood than childhood, so this just isn't another out of touch opinion of someone who's never had to face this situation.  So..... *takes deep breath* here it goes:

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1. What are some of the trials you've been faced with in raising a boy to a man?

"Being a man" is one of those things that, as a woman, I know it when I see it, but I don't know how to teach it. I don't know exactly what I need to teach my son in order to teach him to "be a man." There's that balance between that natural desire to protect my son from all the "evils" of the world and makings sure he knows how to deal with them on his own. There are different societal expectations for men and women, and I'm just ill equipped to fully teach him how to meet those expectations.

There's also the challenge of openness of communication. No matter how "cool" mom is, there are just some topics that a boy feels more comfortable talking to another male about. I can generally lecture him about things like sex, but he's not going to come to me with the nitty gritty specific questions.

When I got divorced, I made the difficult decision of letting my son go live with his dad, while my daughter lives with me. He was just starting high school and I knew that these were the years where he would need his dad more than he needed me. Most of my "heavy lifting" as a mother was done when he was young, and now the most important thing he needs right now is strong male influence more than the nurturing of his mother.

2. Do you feel that women can successfully raise boys?

Completely by themselves, no. Young boys need some sort of consistent male role model in their lives, and if this doesn't come from their father then mothers should make sure that they have an uncle, grandfather, god father, church member, coach or some other older male that can help them with the challenges that are unique to males. There are just some aspects of "being a man" that can only be taught by men, and it is apparent when men don't grow up with this consistent positive male influence. I think single women should NOT rely on boyfriends to fulfill this role because there will always be some natural resistance to any man that is romatically involved with a boy's mother.

I see a definite difference between my ex husband and the man I am dating now in terms of the concept of "being a man". Both grew up during their adolescent and teen years without their dad; my ex's parents divorced and his dad disappeared and my boyfriend's dad died when he was 8. I don't think my ex-mother-in-law did a good job making sure he had some outside male influence, while my boyfriend had a godfather and several positive male mentors through various activities his mother had him involved in. My ex husband has done, and continues to do, many things most would consider out of line for how a man should handle a situation (or "bitchassed" for lack of a better term). People are floored when I explain some of the things I've dealt with from him. He always carried a sense of entitlement to what I had and I never got the feeling he felt the need to step up and truly be the head of our household. I see a night and day diffierence between him and my current beau. He is a lot more self sufficient and deals with his obligations as a man and a father much better.

Women cannot teach boys to be men any more than men can teach girls to be women, so it really bothers me when single mothers have the "I can do this all by myself" attitude. It's not a knock on the mother's parenting skills or love for her child. It's just reality. Single mothers have to have reinforcements, just as I'm sure it would be normal to expect a single father raising a daughter to find a female to help him out with his daughter.

3. What do you think are the primary differences when it comes to raising boys and girls?

I think the primary objective of raising a girl is to teach her how to protect herself, while the objective of raising a boy is to teach him how to protect himself AND others. Women are nurturers, men are protectors. I am constantly telling my son to look out for his little sister, as I think ALL boys are taught. I think one of the key negative traits that you see amongst men who don't grow up with strong male influences is selfishness and being self centered. Many of them are constantly looking for a woman to take care of them just like their mother did (as mothers have a natural tendency to do) and don't have that same sense of obligation to sacrafice themselves for the benefit of others. All they have seen is that "mom takes care of me" and they don't see the role that a male plays in a relationship and in society. I can provide a model for my daughter of how she should conduct herself; it's easy for her to mimic me. I do not, on the other hand, want my son to mimic me.

I think people make the mistake of believing in the notion of equality for men and women. In some respects (education, employment opportunities) there should be some equality, but people just need to accept that there are definite differences in men's and women's roles and expectations in society. Boys and girls need influence from both genders, but the primary way they learn to conduct themselves is by examples from people of their same gender.

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Adventures in Divorce: 05/2010 - 06/2010

Adventures in Divorce