My son came home from school this afternoon with a fat lip and a rip in the knee of his jeans. When I asked him what happened he said he got into a fight after school. I looked him over and he was fine, but I was angry that he got into a fight with another kid. My husband was working late so I didn’t get to tell him about it until hours after the kids went to bed and you know what his response was? “Oh, well, boys will be boys. How’d the other kid look?” I was incensed! I don’t know if I am being crazy or if my husband is being dumb about this. Help!
– Worried Mom
Dear Worried Mom,
I’m about to catch a lot of flack for this answer, but I gotta tell you, HELL TO THE NO would I put up with that “boys will be boys” crap. You know why? Because it’s an old-school, misogynist, sexist rallying-cry that excuses horrific behavior from males – and it’s 2017, this stuff is not ok anymore.
The whole point of parenting is to raise decent human beings who go out into the world and chase down their goals and dreams, which, as a mother, I would hope includes getting a job, having healthy relationships, and being happy. I’m not sure how getting into a fist fight with another kid contributes to that. At. All.
Furthermore, this whole “boys will be boys” nonsense does nothing more than to tell boys that they are not only okay to resort to violence as an answer to problems, but that they are encouraged to do it. So, when your husband asked, “How’d the other kid look?” I can’t help but assume that he was hoping his son fared better not because fighting is dangerous but rather because there is supposed to be some stupid male pride attached to winning a physical altercation.
You know what is far more impressive than a fat lip and a ripped pant leg? Diplomacy.
So, to answer your question, you are absolutely not crazy and indeed you have every right to be incensed by this behavior. I suggest sitting your family down and explaining to them that “boys will be boys” is a reckless and irresponsible attitude to have. Then work out acceptable ways for your son to handle future conflicts with other kids because he isn’t going to go very far in life if he relies on a fist instead of his words.
If you have a question for Dear Liz and her team of experts just drop us an email at email@example.com.