More on the Demasculinization Syndrome, DMS, and Fearless Mothers
“Make sure you know what size animal you are before you enter the jungle.” –Rudyard Kipling
It was a sunny morning when I settled down for breakfast on my enclosed porch with my coffee and daily broccoli rape dish (at room temperature) reading through a stack of publications when I came upon two articles, published on the same day, dealing on how we are seriously screwing up the minds of our children, and undermining their strength which is essential to handle life’s persisted oncoming difficulties. The first, “Fight Cub”, was authored by Heather Schumaker and published in the New York Post. It has as a subtitle, “Why it’s healthy to let your kids roughhouse and play with toy guns.” The second, “Raising Successful Children,” by Madeline Levine, was published in the New York Times.
Ms. Shumaker’s begins, “When my son was 4, he brought home a photocopied “peace” handout from preschool. At the base of the page were lyrics (sung to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”): “Let’s all live in peace, lets’ play harmony…” Her message is that children need to experience conflict in order to develop the skills necessary to deal with and resolve the problems in life. Unstructured play, Star War fantasy acting-out as goodies and baddies, playing with toy guns and roughhousing are scenarios of healthy conflict and problem solving. She sounds the alarm, “But kids need these experiences desperately!” She concludes, “To do this kids need more than peace songs.”
Ms. Levine tackles the children problem from a different perspective than Ms. Shumaker though both are dealing with the same issue. She points her finger to over or toxic parenting where kids are not left alone to develop their skills to handle life. Over parenting leads to a) reduced motivation and b) increased dependency. She refers to a study where some children were told how smart they are and others told they were not so smart before they entered into a puzzle-solving test. The not-so-smart kids were more motivated and confident to tackle the problems, and they performed better.
She describes her personal clinical experience observing that children of authoritative parents are happier than those of permissive ones. She quotes a study conducted at Stanford University which reported that the children of authoritative parents are more motivated and more successful.
The conclusion of the two authors is in harmony with the way it was not too long ago- leave the kids alone, and they listened to their parents. In the article it wasn’t clear, however, whether authoritative parents are the ones that leave the kids alone or it is an independent factor. From a practical point of view, however, it doesn’t matter. Both work.
In a previous post I described two stories of how men, Henry Kissinger and the father of Judge Sam Alito “entered the jungle” because they knew what size they were. That, however, was before the Demasculinization Syndrome or DMS came to be.
Ms. Shumaker states that boys have a greater need for body contact through play fights in order to bind with other males. But most women do not like rough energy which presents a problem because the boys are surrounded by women- moms, grandmas, babysitters and teachers.
The encouraging news is that there is a core group of mothers who not only agree with the authors’ general messages but are particularly concerned about how DMS is demasculinizing their boys. As I mentioned in the previous post, mothers have more courage than fathers about protecting their sons, and it will take a group of fearless mothers to launch a political- legal crusade, like the Civil Rights and Tea Party folks have done, to let the “boys be boys” once again.