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Boy Tribe: Everything's Better Together

Posted by Jen on August 16, 2008 at 7:00 AM in JenRaising Boys
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josiah (center) blissed out on the boy tribe with brother jack (left) and his cousin carter (right)

Growing up in a family of sisters, I had no idea what I was in for when I found out we were having a boy so many years ago. Being the oh-so-progressive mother with her own fair share of women's studies classes in her brief college career, I wanted to believe it wouldn't make much of a difference. Kids are kids, right? Boys, shmoys. How different could they be?

For the most part, I think I was right. What makes Carter different from Madeleine has more to do with his personality than anything else--at least so far. But one thing has truly surprised me--Carter's insatiable need to have a boy tribe, especially when that tribe has any chance of including his boy cousins, Josiah and Jack.

Occasional family dinners where the kids might play for an hour or two quickly evolve into all day playdates which give way to weekend extravaganzas of boy goodness. Good-byes turn more tearful with each visit. Sisters have to barter and bargain to beat off the daily question, "Are we going to Josiah's house today? I have an idea! Let's go there NOW!"

Being together with the boy tribe is everything. I have no idea how to explain this phenomenon other than these boys are finding a kind of happiness in their together play that I didn't know was possible--even if that togetherness is measured in burps shared, Lego structures conquered and finding out who can out laugh who over silly jokes that go straight over my head.

Without a tribe of boys--his cousins or otherwise--I find Carter getting a little wistful, more than a lot fidgety and absolutely soul sick for the kind of friendship only another boy can provide. I'm finally understanding this is no small thing, and that nurturing the boy tribe is one easy and healthy way to help Carter deepen his sense that he belongs.

How about you and your boys? Do you find your boys need to run in a pack? Is it just me or do the intricacies of sisterhood have a very different quality? Your thoughts on boy tribes are more than welcome in the comments below.


Cari writes...

This post brought to my attention that my 7-year-old son is surrounded by girls. He has a twin sister, a 5-year-old sister, and a 9-year-old neighbor girl who comes over frequently. Plus, me, his mom. No wonder he sometimes wants to eat in the next room because "the girls drive him crazy!" And he seeks out more time with Dad. Makes sense.

I am feeling like I should "nurture the boy tribe" and set up more opportunities for my son to connect with other boys through play dates and extra-curriculars. I am curious to see how more interactions with boys will affect him! Thought provoking! Thank you.

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