High maintenance? Why not?

I have thought a lot about what it may mean to raise a boy. While I was not completely set on having a girl, I knew that if I had one I would make sure she was a badass. Knowing that I am having a boy, I often think — how do I make sure he is strong while also gentle and sensitive? What happens in a boy’s life that makes them want to kill everything they see, or punch everything? Is it nurture or nature? I guess I will find out soon enough.

I grew up with a dad that would remind us that we were to “be seen and not heard.” I have the smallest of bladders and would always have to go to the bathroom (and still do) and my dad always made me feel horrible about it. As though it was my fault that I had to go to the bathroom 30 minutes later. Thank you to my wonderful, patient husband who might sometimes think: “Seriously? You just went.” but still makes sure we can find a bathroom. (That was the case pre-pregnancy too).

In any case, a line from the book “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown reminded me of my childhood:

“In my family, being high maintenance was a huge shame trigger, especially for girls. Be easy, fun, and flexible. Need a bathroom break on a road trip? We’ll pull over when we don’t have to cross the highway to get to the gas station. Don’t like what we’re having for dinner? Don’t eat. Carsick? It’s all in your head. Unfortunately, being low maintenance also meant not asking for what you needed and never inconveniencing anyone.” Page 100

I cannot tell you how many times I was told by my dad that it was all in my head. I remember one summer we were told we needed to shuck about 6 dozen ears of corn. We would buy a large quantity when it was the end of the season, shuck them and then freeze them for the rest of the year. Supposedly it still tasted just the same (but corn was just corn to me). I vividly remember sitting on the front porch step, making a mess of all the remnants when I felt a sharp pain in my thumb. I look down and my thumb is covered in blood. Now, I have a very high pain tolerance, but I have NO tolerance for seeing blood (mine or anyone else’s). I yell for my dad and we go inside. As he is rinsing it off we realize there is a piece of glass in my thumb. It must have been in the soil and grown in with the corn husk. We get it out and I literally pass out from all the blood. When I am back and normal again my dad basically tells me it is all in my head and that I am a wuss. Seriously.

That and many other situations throughout my childhood made me not ask for help, and honestly it is hard for me to do so today. I did what I could to not be high maintenance, to figure it out on my own, and not be in the way. It was easier that way. However, I do not plan to raise my son that way. I want him to use his words, and speak up — whether he is high maintenance or not. I want him to be just who he is without being squashed by the judgements of others. Is that too much to ask for?

2 thoughts on “High maintenance? Why not?

  1. I have no clue about raising girls but my mother-in-law says that boys are easier because the have guilt – girls have indigence!

    anyway, in my opinion, boys have the disadvantage today that their traditional outlets are almost illegal in many states – look what happens if they get in a fight after school! suspension / arrest / charges. I had at least 5 fights in the fifth grade alone! and my principal knew i was being bullied so i never got in trouble – sat in his office yes, but never suspended or even yelled at. also, you dont see the packs of boys walking around learning about world like you used to. why? if something random happens and there is no one to blame, the parent is usually brought up on charges. because of this, many prefer to have them locked in a house with a PS4 rather than outside running, jumping, falling and getting back up, brushing off and then running again.

    I do know that boys watch the stags locking horns and then while alone with other button bucks, practice for when they will fight for the attention of a female. They want to identify with strength and will find it even if there is no example at home. It’s important to provide them with constructive ways to develop power (can be intellectual or physical or a combination of both). I also believe that personality is a huge driver in how you will need to raise them. my son #1 is a reflection of my empathetic side and has a natural following of kids – seems everyone knows who he is even in the other grades. #2 is my passion and never wants to budge and will engage even if he is not in the strategically superior position. so there is no one clear way to keep both in line.

    that said, I was spanked when i got out of line – Pavlov’s dog – i balanced the potential result with any indiscretion i planned or fell into. Today you have to approach in a different way – a psychological way (which i feel is worse than a spanking). you need to run a line where you need to discipline and then coach and then discipline again. by being unstable, you can keep them wondering how you’ll react and in that instability, have them be able to define the risk return of their indiscretions. but the key i am finding is that you need to be very clear why you are doing this.

    What is also interesting is that our kids are growing up in a world that will fully disclose whatever they do at any time on youtube. given that they must assume that someone they dont know is recording them and posting it to the cloud without their knowledge, i have been seeing that my boys are about complete transparency. no boundaries. and being open to this is important because I’ve been asked questions by my now 11 year old (when he was 10) that i was not preparing for: sex, drugs, condoms, abortion, menstruation… and that was on our way to a baseball practice!!! But the good side is that when a friend of his was caught doing something questionable online, he looked at me and said with complete conviction that he’d never do that and i should go and check his browser log if i did not believe him. there was no hiding. I also found that when i made time to be 1:1, he didnt worry about asking the question – he may have been uncomfortable asking his mom, but not his Dad. i felt that was important too – just being there – available to his emotions, allowed him to be a little bit freer.

    so from a parenting perspective, we are at an inflection point where we are being forced to react to a changing world that’s changing at the pace of technology. lastly, i recommend that you keep your vision of what you want him to be, but remember, he will have a vision of what HE wants to be and he’ll go after that despite anything you say.

    GOOD LUCK!!!!


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