I never imagined myself as a mom of two boys. I wasn’t the “girliest” girl, but I was certain when it came time for me to have children, I’d have girls. Apparently Allah (swt) had other plans! When my oldest son was born, things were easy until he was old enough to make independent decisions, like which toys he wanted and what games he wanted to play. It seemed like this also was a time my husband and I started to butt heads about what those toys and games would be. I was always taught that it was good for kids of both genders to embrace whatever play they wanted. My husband grew up in a society where gender roles were black and white.
There are roles described in the Qur’an for men and women that cater to the strengths each gender has been given. However, there are also descriptions of women as business owners (Khadija) and men as helping in the home (Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and many other examples in the sunnah and hadith of both men and women crossing the gender lines. As I’ve stated in a previous post, I believe it is so important to raise boys to participate in all areas of life. One of the arguments raised against this is that boys who play with girl toys or take on more traditional roles for women will become less of a man. In response, I firmly believe a well-rounded beginning creates a better man!
5 Common “Issues” with Boys
Here are five common “issues” I have heard from moms of boys and a positive outlook on them.
- My son likes to play house. Role playing and modeling is a normal and important type of play for children. It teaches them about the running of a home, team work, and caring for a home. But he wants to be the mommy. Great!! Chances are good he is modeling the behavior he sees from you. He loves and admires his mommy and wants to bring that to the game.
- When we go shopping my son chooses “girl colored” clothing. Shop in any clothing store and you will find clothing in every color imaginable for both genders. No longer are pinks reserved for girls and blues for boys. Allowing your son independence in choosing what he wants to wear will strengthen his sense of independence and pride in his appearance.
- My son doesn’t always take the lead when playing with a mixed group. Many people believe that a boy/man should always be the leader. However, boys (and girls) need to learn to allow others to step up and facilitate games and play. In the future, boys will have coworkers and superiors that are women. Learning to respect, follow along, as well as assert their opinions in a constructive way are important skills to learn.
- My son loves to cook and help around the house. I am a firm believer that boys need to learn basic survival skills such as running a home. There is nothing wrong with this! In homes where a dual-income is needed, both the husband and wife must contribute to the home. Learning these skills early in life will make life easier down the road!
- When we go to the store, my son would rather have a doll than a race-car. Children have different interests at different ages. Some boys will never like dolls or race-cars for that matter. Allowing children the space and ability to explore their own interests will help them develop their interests as well as dislikes. On the baby issue, Insha’Allah our sons will be fathers one day, I allow them to be familiar with the needs of a baby!
I hope that these few bits of advice help you with your boys. It’s not always easy, especially when cultural differences and attitudes about raising children are also at play.
I would love to know if you have other issues that come up relating to gender stereotypes or advice about dealing with them.
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- Raising Muslim Boys: Sensitivity
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