Announcing My Second Book, Nurturing and Empowering Our Sons

23 January 2012 Categories: Attachment parenting, unschooling

It all started back in 1979, when I was around five years old. My next door neighbor, Toby, was my best friend at the time, and I recall a conversation he and I had on the long staircase leading up to his kitchen sliding glass door. We were having a serious discourse that both boys and girls could do and be whatever they wanted to be. We were trying to come up with some things that could disprove our theory, but we were coming up short. Suddenly, as he bit into his snack, Toby piped up,

“Wait, I know something you can’t be if you’re a girl!”

“What?” I asked quizzically, eager for the sake of our game that a possibility for further examination had been found.

“You can’t be a daddy.” Toby suggested proudly.

I thought for a moment as I scratched the annoying New England mosquitoes out of my ear canal. Then, I realized I had an idea, too!

“Wait!” I exclaimed loudly, my entire body readying for my unintentional witty quip, “I know something that you can’t be if you’re a boy!”

“What?” The little five year old boy asked innocently, his full head of  straight brown hair shining in the the sun.

“Well,” I began, as my blond curls became mixed around my ear while I scratched at the mosquito bites, “You can’t be a mommy.”

Toby thought for a moment, chewed sweetly as five year olds do, then he swallowed and agreed: “Yeah…”

We looked at each other and then we both nodded our heads and agreed, “Yeah…”. We felt  so grown up in our insight. We had both realized in that moment that boys and girls could grow up to be and do anything we desired- with minimal exceptions. More importantly, we concluded that girls and boys  were both equally valuable and alike in so many ways.

Sadly, over the years to come, I would be increasingly perplexed and shocked as I watched boys being treated in a harsh, aggressive, inhumane and restrictive manner by adult society while girls were empowered, celebrated and nurtured. This seemed to run contrary to the seemingly obvious insight that Toby and I had come to that warm day, an insight that matured over the years into an understanding that girls and boys equally need to be empowered, nurtured and celebrated. My close friendships with boys from early childhood through adolescence allowed me to appreciate how tender, sensitive and compassionate boys are and how deeply wounded they are by society’s ignorance of their needs.

As a youth I had also observed with glaring horror that many girls and women were just as violent and aggressive as boys and men could be, but girls and women were not held equally accountable for acting-out, aggression, emotionally tormenting, dating violence, date rape, domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect and even child sexual exploitation and rape. I didn’t understand this double standard, but I realized as a rebellious teen that I could exploit the adults’ sexism to my advantage when I acted-out in school or fought with other girls- or the occasional boy- who mercilessly harassed me and my friends.

As I came into young adulthood in the early 1990’s, I was appalled at how hostile and negative our culture was becoming towards boys and men, as if the only way to empower and serve the needs of  women and girls was to disempower, pathologize and ignore the needs of men and boys. As I became involved in the next several years with children’s rights work, providing childcare and mentoring and then working professionally with youth of all ages, the more I learned, the more serious I saw the gender bias against males was becoming.

For example, in my previous work in social services, when the charts of  violent teen girls came across my desk,  their histories of being victimized by sexual and physical abuse were prominently stated on the front page and repeatedly stated throughout. When the cases of violent teen boys would come to my desk, I would often need to read ten or more pages of history in these charts before I could locate one passing sentence indicating that a boy was raped by a woman or severely abused by his family. Sometimes, there was no mention of boys’ severe abuse history at all, and many times, boys had not revealed their sexual abuse histories in any assessments. In my later work as a mental health counselor, this pattern continued. In the human services and juvenile justice fields, a girl’s acting-out or violence is viewed as a symptom of her being abused; a boy’s acting-out or violence is viewed primarily as a behavioral or neurochemical problem for which he is solely accountable.

By the turn of the 2000’s, I realized it was becoming a political agenda, an educational paradigm and a pop-cultural and mental health goldmine to push a diva-ish “girl power” persona onto girls- and to ignore, shame and pathologize boys.

I am passionate about raising awareness to the rights and needs of all children, girls and boys, from pregnancies and the youngest babies to the oldest teens, and all of the ages in between. In 2008, I released my first book, Instead of Medicating and Punishing: Healing the Causes of Our Children’s Acting-Out Behavior by Parenting and Educating the Way Nature Intended.  The intention of my first book was to compile the research from science, anthropology, psychology, neurology, trauma healing, child development and learning theory to support natural parenting and learning, or Attachment Parenting and unschooling, for children of all ages. My book also covered in depth how to heal the emotional, behavioral and learning trauma that children sustain by being raised in a mainstream cultural manner.

However, it has become increasingly urgent and clear to me, being the mother of an adolescent boy, that adolescents as a group and boys of all ages need special protection in our culture right now, from an Attachment Parenting and natural learning perspective. I realized this past summer that two new books were in order and had already been forming in my mind for years, all while I have been compiling a library of research, unreleased commentary and notes. I decided that I would focus first on the book about boys, and then write Attachment Parenting Our Adolescent Children, as my third release.

This is the official announcement of my second book, and its working title:

Nurturing and Empowering Our Sons: Healing and Celebrating Our Boys Through Attachment Parenting and Unschooling

My book will cover as many issues as possible pertaining to the suffering and harm of boys in our culture today, especially overlooked issues such as Male Genital Mutilation, the shaming of boys, their maleness, their bodies, their emotions and their sexuality; the dangers to boys of public school, the mass labeling and drugging of school-age boys, the trauma of corporal punishment and other forms of child abuse; sexual abuse of boys by men and women, derogatory portrayal of boys in the media; violence, behavioral and emotional problems suffered by boys;  gender identity struggles, and the political lobby to block awareness of and funding for male victims of trauma, abuse, sexual assault and domestic violence. The book will focus on the attachment needs of boys, their developmental and holistic needs, the need for boys of all ages to learn through freedom, play and physical activity (unschooling), the critical need for nurturing and affectionate mother-son and father-son connections, the natural empathy of boys; healthy sexuality, body image and gender identity formation; positive boy empowerment; the need for a cultural paradigm shift to heal and meet the needs of boys and… so much more.

This book is obviously for parents. However, it is also for grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors, educators, mental health professionals, social workers, researchers, attorneys, child advocates, community members and anyone who cares about boys. If you have only daughters, this book is also for you, as it will help you help your daughters to understand their male friends, future partners and spouses better- And who knows, you may have a grandson or nephew someday! As of this blog post, I am nearing the end of writing what is now the lengthy Chapter One. I hope you will share in the journey by sharing any relevant stories or resources you have about the harm done to boys in Western culture, including media that is derogatory towards boys. I will be doing a few short interviews with people as well. As you await this book, please read Instead of Medicating and Punishing, as my new book, Nurturing and Empowering Our Sons, will build upon and greatly expand from the foundation of basic principles covered in my first book.

6 Responses to “Announcing My Second Book, Nurturing and Empowering Our Sons”

  1. Robinsunne 23 January 2012 at 10:25 am (PERMALINK)

    I can’t wait. Yay, you!

    Author
  2. Radha 23 January 2012 at 12:53 pm (PERMALINK)

    Whole heartedly support your efforts to shed light on what it is to be a boy and how to protect boys in a culture that does not allow them to *BE* themselves…

    ~ mother of an 8 year old unschooled boy…

    Author
  3. Adora 23 January 2012 at 9:44 pm (PERMALINK)

    Have you watched the film “Miss Representation?” (http://youtu.be/6gkIiV6konY , I highly recommend it) While I wholeheartedly agree with your efforts to help boys and think that we do overlook injustices toward them, I also know that it does injustice to the millions of girls around the world suffering from negative media messages, double standards, harassment and rape (just look at the situation in Darfur), to say that feminism’s work is over or that boys get it worse.

    Author
    • Laurie A. Couture 21 February 2012 at 3:12 pm (PERMALINK)

      Adora,

      I’m not understanding how you think that either sex “has it worse” and I’m not understanding why you seem to WANT to convince me that girls have it worse? There seems to be a need for you to stifle or subdue voices that will speak up for boys. Not sure where that sexist and oppressive principle fits into social justice? My work and research of nearly 20 years working in the community or human services fields has consistently indicated that because there is little to no advocacy for boys, their needs and their suffering, they actually “have it worse” than girls, who are supported by powerful political lobbies (Feminists). The fact that Feminists are writing to me and other advocates for boys to keep our voices down- or to shut up all together- is evidence that boys have few advocates. Wouldn’t that constitute them “having it worse”? Feminists do not as a political lobby care about boys, men or their issues and do not stand up for them, but rather attempt as a political group to drown their voices when they speak out, or vilify them as the cause of female suffering. Why it is uncomfortable for you to focus on the severe injustices affecting boys such as Male Genital Mutilation, sexual assault, rape and males being portrayed in degrading, sexist ways in the media? Why is it being ignored that boys commit suicide in far greater numbers than girls, that boys are the victims of violence overwhelmingly more than girls and that boyness is being pathologized and drugged by schools and society? I’m not understanding why Feminists are not decrying these injustices to boys, especially the barbaric penis mutilation of boys in the USA. These same issues would illicit outrage by Feminists if girls were the victims in the USA. The work that is needed is not an “ism” or a political ideology, Adora. The work that is needed now is compassionate, humanitarian work that unities all people and fights for the rights of ALL people, work that sees and realizes that every human suffers and that by elevating female suffering over male suffering actually harms both sexes and causes more suffering in the world. I challenge progressives and conservatives alike to transcend “isms” and political ideologies and feel compassion for every suffering person and living being. Anything less is discrimination, inequality, hypocrisy and the antithesis to social justice.

      Laurie

      Author
  4. Kate a.k.a. The Secret Goddess 24 January 2012 at 9:39 am (PERMALINK)

    Laurie,

    I’m so glad you are addressing this. As my own dear unschooled son approaches 13 I become more and more aware of the damaging messages he is receiving from our culture and it is sad and horrific to see him struggle against those – not that he fights them in an effort to find his own authentic sense – but that there are there to be fought in the first place.

    I look forward to reading this book when it is published.

    Author
  5. t 24 January 2012 at 11:23 pm (PERMALINK)

    great! I can’t wait to read it!
    My son and I attended a “baby and toddler group” that pathologized “typical boy behavior”, while rewarding “typical girl behavior”, but was very very very careful to point out that boys exhibiting “girl behavior” were not to be tolerated either. also suggested using age 3-6 to manipulate your child into conforming to your ideas of appropriate gendered behavior….totally creepy, and in a very west coast liberal sort of way.
    and it frustrates me that I have more than once been talked to by a mother of a girl who has approached my son, told him she wanted the toy he was using and then hit him – not in apology, but to pat herself on the back for raising a strong girl, or to say that my son said something mean AFTER the girl hit him, or in once case where a girl regularly hit and kicked my son at school, he was reprimanded when the girl said he hit her, even thought the adults watching didn’t see him hit her, but DID see her hit him repeatedly. At the same school, a boy who once hit this girl (who hit him also) was kicked out of the school for aggression.

    Author

Leave a Reply