How should we be raising our boys?

2014-10-08 13:45

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Twitter bio I wish I owned belongs to Ory Okolloh (@kenyanpundit), the Harvard graduate, businesswoman and activist, among many things, who’s also one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

You can understand why I’d be in awe of her. What I love about her bio is not the work details she has listed, but her opening line: “Mama of three girls who will run the world.”

From those simple words, I conclude that mothering her girls is her priority.

I feel the sense of intention, and believe that her children are predestined to grow up to be women who not only inhabit the space in which they live, but will be shape shifters, much like their mama.

And, naturally, I approve of the reference to pop culture’s number one feminist, Beyoncé.

The truth is I favour women. I grew up with two boys in the house for part of my childhood, but mostly it was my mother, my two sisters and I around my father.

Then both my sisters went on to have three girls between them, and this is how I hoped it would continue. But a nephew was born recently – a boy we actually referred to as a girl until the moment he arrived in the world, stupefying all of us, including his mother, who had prepared the new arrival’s room in pink.

I don’t think my mother has quite recovered. She calls him “Mfana Ndini” (darn boy). She sends me images on WhatsApp, showing the stages of his development, that read: “Mfana Ndini. Sitting.” She’s amazed and proud of him, but I sense she might feel, as I did for a little while, that there’s been a glitch in our matrix.

My sister’s girls are raised with the same kind of philosophy I read in Okolloh’s bio. I also notice that today’s parents are raising their girls differently, not constantly telling them how to sit or speak, or reminding them to “act like a girl”. My nieces run riot in a way befitting each of their personalities.

One is deep and emotional, the other is an impulsive diva and the third is quietly mischievous. Just this weekend, I saw the bossiest three-year-old and loved watching her mother not thwart her exuberant personality.

“Who runs the world?” Beyoncé asks in one of her songs. “Girls,” the chorus shouts back.

It sounds catchy, but the truth is altogether different. We know that the world favours men, that they hold an unfair advantage on resources, that in public their voices ring louder and in private their might can be even stronger – in some cases deadly.

So seeing where we live, I make no apologies for why I favour women and naturally lean my attention in their direction.

If we are raising our girls to ‘run the world’, how should we be raising our boys?

But with this little boy I’m forced to wonder: how do we raise our boys so that they rock in ways that build them and the rest of us?

This to offset what has set in so deeply in our society, where so many of our men see gender equality as a threat to their masculinity.

I believe female empowerment has angered our men, where they see it as a challenge to their privilege instead of a force for equality.

This little boy has made me think that we also have to turn our attention equally to our boys, to redefine how they interpret masculinity. I not only wish that he grows up to protect his sisters, but that he’s their champion as they take their rightful places in the world.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.