Maggie Dent's 3 top tips to teach our boys to be good men

Kinderling News & Features

If you’re raising a boy right now, you might be wondering how you can do it right. And you’re not the only one!

Fortunately, parenting educator Maggie Dent gave some comforting advice on Kinderling Conversation. She’d like to encourage all parents out there that it’s not all doom and gloom raising boys. Sure, they’ll be forgetful, fart a lot, miss the toilet at times, but they’re going to be okay.

Maggie said that the majority of men are good and decent (of course!). But to continue to support our boys in growing up that way in the age of #metoo, mass shootings and bad celebrity and sporting role models, we have to change the daily conversation we’re having with them.

What is a ‘good man’?

“For me a definition of a good man is a man who owns the warrior side of his biology but is also able to own the heart side of being a man, which is a man who cares and is not frightened to show he cares,” Maggie shared. “A man who cares not just about what he can get, but what he can give.”

Maggie also said a good man is someone who is respectful not just in relationships, but also with people from all walks of life.

“In other words, we're wanting them to basically be a decent human being whose actions do not hurt others.”

Listen to Maggie on Kinderling Conversation:

To encourage this sort of behaviour Maggie recommended us parents to change three things in our day to day.

1. Teach that both boys AND girls can be strong AND vulnerable

“If you’re raising our boys to be good men, you've got to be doing something else at the same time.  And that’s raising our girls to be brave and courageous,” Maggie emphasised. “Both conversations have to happen at the same time regardless of whether you've got any girls in your house.” 

“Shaming boys for crying in early childhood settings is still happening,” Maggie said. Teaching that boys, like girls, have a soft side and vulnerability is essential to shift the stereotypes that currently exist. And we also need to teach that girls, like boys, can be tough and strong.

Maggie also recognised that sometimes us parents DON’T talk to our daughters and sons in the exact same way. So invest your time in paying attention to that. Let boys cry as much as girls do.

2. Invest in your boy’s emotions

“We are the ones who are going to need to invest time and energy into our little boys about what their anger is about,” Maggie said. “We need to be their teachers and guides into making a different choice when that anger or that aggression is there, so we have to do it under five.”

Sometimes what appears to be anger doesn’t really represent the emotion being felt, but instead sadness, feeling unloved or misunderstood.

Maggie also suggested that we consider what we’re doing in those moments when our boys muck up. We have to ensure they’re not feeling unloved, not good enough and less-than, as this can later manifest in anger in intimate relationships.

3. See the world through a boy’s eyes

Maggie said that for mums in particular, we often don’t quite understand that boys don’t develop as quickly as girls in terms of linguistics and emotions. Boys are a bit more impulsive and have higher energy levels. They’re a little less organised, a bit more focused on only one thing and can’t articulate what they’re feeling as well.

“If we keep seeing boys as less than or something wrong with them we create mindsets that say they are already inferior or less than,” Maggie explained.

Instead, use less words when speaking to them. Really try to help them understand what you’re communicating to them at all times.

Make these three shifts, and we’ll all be unplugging those stereotypes that have proved to be harmful.

To see Maggie in your state, head to maggiedent.com/events.