Understanding Boys

what makes a boy tickBoys, boys, boys. It sure is hard to understand them. I was therefore pleased to find this bit of information in one of my latest purchases: A Girl’s Guide to Dating and Going Steady by Dr. Tom McGinnis.

You may want to also read a selection from a few pages later titled “How Boys Try to Prove Their Masculinity.” I just know you must be on the edge of your seat.

1968: Understanding Boys

Probably the most important thing you will learn about boys is this simple fact: they are boys. This statement is not as ridiculous as it may sound. Just as you have been trained since birth to think and act as a girl ~ you have been given dolls to play with and pretty dresses to wear, and have been told to behave like a young lady and not to be a ‘tomboy’ ~ so too boys have been trained to act as boys from their earliest days. The fact that even as infants they are given blue things to wear instead of pink ones shows that different ways of acting are expected of them.

From the time he is old enough to understand, a boy is taught to ‘behave like a man.’ If he is hurt, he is told not to cry, for that is what girls do. If he wants to play with dolls, they may be taken away from him and he is given building blocks or toy trains instead. If he wants to play games with girls instead of playing baseball or football with other boys, he is sneered at and called a sissy. He is praised for being strong, for enduring pain without whimpering, for being brave. If challenged, he is told to ‘fight for his rights.’ He is taught to assert himself and not give in to others easily lest he be thought a pushover. He is discouraged from showing ‘soft’ emotions like tenderness, lest he be ridiculed by his friends.

To be considered a man is worth more to a boy than almost anything else. He will confess to many weaknesses. He may admit that he does not do well in school, is not good at basketball, and cannot hit a straight nail with a hammer. He will admit to almost any shortcomings ~ but if he wants to maintain his self-respect, he will not confess to a ‘lack of manliness.’ And this desire to be thought manly persists throughout life. Even in their deepest sorrow, many men consider it soft and womanly to weep or to confess any lack of emotional control. . . .

If you want to understand boys, then, you first must understand that their own sense of self-survival will not allow them to tolerate any suggestions that they lack manliness.

The best way to know what makes a boy tick is to find out what his idea of manhood is. This is easier said than done. Like you, a boy has been influenced not only by his parents, but also by other members of his family, his social environment, his religion, and many other factors which have helped him form a picture in his mind of what being a man consists of.

Source: McGinnis, Tom. A Girl’s Guide to Dating and Going Steady. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1968.
~ pp. 50-51 ~