Warning: This Post May Make You Angry.

In a blog post from a few days ago, I asked: Why do girls do better in school? I was reporting on a new study that concluded that girls got higher grades than boys because they have superior “non-cognitive skills,” such as attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization.

A reader who calls himself “Coach” has a different explanation:

I think the biggest problem is that single moms are raising boys. This is akin to a single dad getting his daughter through puberty. Every woman would understand her saying, “Dad, you just don’t understand.” And yet every woman would argue with a son who said the same thing to her. They say, “I’m your mother . . . you can tell me anything.” No, he can’t. He needs a man to guide him.

Sorry, but this is my observation after 25 years of coaching youth sports. It is a huge problem and this is the result. It crosses racial lines too. I can’t count the number of single mothers who approached me with the words, “He hasn’t got a male role model at home,” with them looking to me to fill that role.

Until the women of America stop treating their sons like daughters and then treating them like they are diseased with an affliction (ADD, ADHD, AD BS!) this problem will get worse. Boys learn through physical contact and real life scenarios. Women are not equipped to cope with them on their own.

Readers, what do you think? Is there any truth in what “Coach” has to say? If not, why do you think it that boys are not doing as well as girls in school?

19 Responses to “Warning: This Post May Make You Angry.”

  1. Adam Brown says:

    “Boys learn through physical contact and real life scenarios. Women are not equipped to cope with them on their own.”

    This was part that annoyed me the most. He’s basically saying here that Women shouldn’t be allowed to raise their own sons because they’ll end up with a disease!

    I think there’s a social pressure on boys and girls around that age to fit in and be popular. From my experience at school, the cool boys were very rarely the clever boys. On the flip side, the cool girls were a mix of clever and not so clever girls. I might be wrong, but this is how I observed it at school.

    • Lena says:

      To Coach: Dude, you have got to be kidding. Maybe I don’t know much about sports. (But I do know more than my ex-husband, who moved 3,000 miles away.) However, I am my sons’ parent who has their back, understands them and the person they know they can trust. I can hire — or ask — someone to teach them to throw a football. But we all bring different talents to the table as parents. My sons seem to me to be fairly well adjusted and well educated, even if circumstances aren’t ideal. But whose are?
      PS. You are welcome to lend a hand anytime.

      • Robert says:

        As the now adult son of a single mother, I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that no matter how close you may feel to your sons, you’re not a replacement for a male role model in their lives.

        Your boys need to learn more than just how to throw a football. They need to learn how to act, speak, move and be a man. They aren’t getting that from you. If it isn’t already an issue for them in their everyday lives, it soon will be. Others will notice that your sons are not quite right. Men will respect them less, women will be less interested in them as a partner.

        What it will come out to, is that they step a little lighter, speak a little softer, act a little less aggressively than the men who had a male role model as boys. It will take years for them to unlearn these feminine traits that you, as a sole role model, are providing.

        Sorry, but it’s not about sports.

  2. Jane Robbins says:

    Gee, Coach, maybe it’s the SPORTS. I am a single mother whose son excelled in school, went to Harvard, has no learning diagnoses, at 26 just bought an apartment in NYC with money he earned with his brain–and NEVER played sports. Surely not playing sports is the reason. Or maybe it’s because some women, like me, actually know about real life. Like, you know, from being a single mother and running their own business.

    • Andrea says:

      Thank you, Jane!
      Agreed!

    • Eduardo says:

      It doesn’t help that the grand majority of teachers are female. I mean I’m sure people like Annie or Sian Beilock can cite several studies in which females benefit from having female teachers. Conversely, why can’t the same phenomenon be applied towards males? Oh yeah, that’s right! This is the USA where too many women (single moms or not) thrive on squashing any sign of masculinity. It is so easy in this country to come up with studies that point to female superiority. You mean to tell me that there aren’t any cognitive skill sets in which males score higher? To publish something like that would be dismissed as mere sexism. Brutish or not rock on Coach!

    • hippiefreak says:

      Your self-congratulations about the transmission of asexual business acumen from mother to son has been duly noted. Thanks for taking a moment to shine. However, the topic is about the uniquely male qualities that you are not addressing here, and if they evidence themselves in your 26-year-old son. He needs to leave a comment here about what he didn’t learn from you. That is, if you’ll let him.

  3. Mike G. says:

    1. There is some data on this. Here’s a decent summary.

    http://www.ncoff.gse.upenn.edu/content/father-presence-matters-review-literature

    2. One nugget that is more narrowly drawn from divorce data (whereas many single mothers never marry), but here we go:

    “Although children of divorce experience disruption of academic performance in the aftermath, within two years most children return to their normal patterns of performance.

    Boys experience greater disruption and girls experience greater recovery of their academic performance.

    Interestingly, girls’ experience challenges to their emotional stability, but their school success is somewhat enhanced by father absence.”

    That last sentence is astounding, no?

    • hippiefreak says:

      That last sentence… did they only measure when mothers get custody? What if fathers get custody? Do the kids recover any differently? My point is, what if the reason for academic improvement is not that the absent parent is male, but that, with the departure of the non-custodial parent, the domestic tension and conflict witnessed by the child and leading up to the divorce has ceased, and the child performs better in school because the domestic conflict has ceased, irrespective of the gender of the absent parent?

  4. JoLynne says:

    I don’t have data, just experience as a parent. Here’s my unresearched opinion: the world would be a better place if parents and teachers would quit dragging kids into a war between the sexes. Every child deserves supporting adults who help them learn in whatever way works best for them.

    I’m not a sports fan, but I saw some great things happen when my boy signed up for a competitive program. It has pushed him socially and academically, not just athletically. It’s not what I would have chosen for him, but I’m glad I listened when he chose it for himself.

  5. Maudi says:

    Perhaps I am a minority but I can’t raise my son by myself, I need help and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m a 30 y/o single mother of a 13 y/o young man. He’s going through the change…and I have no idea how to help him. His biological father has been out of the picture since he was 2 so I’ve been by myself raising him. Up until him hitting puberty, I think I’ve done a fair job. He’s smart, gets good grades (A’s and B’s), he’s caring, has stood up to bullies when he saw an injustice, helps me as much as a typical 13 y/o son does, and treats people with respect (always receiving compliments of what a good boy he is)…but right now, I need help. I’ve never went through the changes that a man goes through and when I found out my son enjoys what most young teenage boys enjoy in the privacy of their our bedroom/bathroom, I cried. Thankfully I have a brother who lives close with whom he is very close with…and they were able to have a “man talk.” I needed and still need help with the stuff I have no clue about and I’m not ashamed to ask for help. I’m raising my son the best way I know how and I’m smart enough to admit when I need outside help to ensure the best possible outcome despite us being a single parent household. Nothing wrong with asking for a little help these days, right?

    • Robert says:

      Good for you! But keep in mind that he needs a constant male role model. What would be very useful is for him to see that role model interact with women. This is a key item that most boys raised by a single mother face. They never learn the value of having a partner, seeing how a man acts toward her, how they treat each other when happy, when sad, when angry, etc… Without this, they are crippled when it comes to dealing with their own own relationships. They have no role model to see how that works. It’s no surprised that many children of divorce end up alone or divorced.

      If you want to do the best you can for your kids, find a man to bring into your life who can make you happy, but also provide that example of a strong healthy relationship for your kids.

  6. Susan says:

    Sad to say but I agree. Of course Jane there are always exceptions but after 25 years working for the Probation Dept. with the last 6 years at Juvenile Hall, unfortunately I have to concur with the Coach. It is very hard on boys, especially teenage boys to grow up without a Dad. No disrespect to single parents, but the ideal situation is an intact two parent home. As a widow, I know this is not always possible, but it IS the best situation.

  7. Sam says:

    I am 24 years old, and the son of a single mother. My parents divorced when I was 6 years old. I excelled in school, and earned a full-tuition scholarship to the college I attended. I also participated in sports throughout my life, including playing multiple high school sports. At this time, I am one semester from graduating law school.

    My opinion is not informed by any research in this area, I can only denounce what Coach believes with my own experience.

    I have a good, close group of “guys”, guys I’ve been friends with for a long time. Part of our bond was forged by playing sports. To say that boys only learn through physical contact and “real-life scenarios”, though, is pretty bold. I echo Jane’s sentiment on that point.

    My mother might not have known anything about sports, or did anything herself to fuel my interest in them, but she supported all my endeavors to the best of her ability. She did not try and treat my “boyish” energy as some “disease”, and I can’t remember my other friends with single moms raising them being treated as such.

    It’s unfortunate boys are falling behind girls in academic achievement, but it does nothing to blame single mothers for that. All I can say is, without my single mother, I would be lost and ill-equipped to succeed.

  8. Gidget says:

    Why blame the mothers? My husband of 23 years started working with the home-wrecker then fell in love with her, leaving me to finish raising his 4 children. Now I’m to blame? He was coached by her to tell them, “It happens everyday.’ Why do the men get the free pass?

  9. I have grown more and more dismayed if not disturbed by the amount of anecdotal, opinion-based “information” which passes as fact. Where is the corroborating evidence confirmed by a university sanctioned analytic methodology of double blind testing with a statistically significant cross-section of the population?

    Boys need to be raised by men to become men? Just what is the definition of a man? Do we always think in terms of our traditions? As reported by the University of Southern California (http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/6908.html), a study of children raised by gay parents showed differences in their behaviour from those raised by heterosexual parents. For example, boys raised by lesbians appear to be less aggressive and more nurturing than boys raised in heterosexual families. While the aggressiveness of males may be attributed in part to the genes of the species, is aggressiveness also a learned behaviour? A study showing that lesbian parents have less aggressive boys would seem to point out that if Junior’s a tough guy, he may have gotten that way from imitating dear old Dad.

    I think the issue is a tad more complex than Johnny doesn’t have a dad. Parenting is parenting and good parenting is good parenting.

    • Janice says:

      If only parenting in any context was so easy! From experience and the school of hard knocks as a single professional mom, I’d say that for a parent in any context, being a role model is a challenge. Yes, a single mother does face more challenges. But my personal opinion is that single mothers on the whole try harder because of the ill-informed and hence judgmental contexts they find themselves in. Let’s talk about this kind of positive, constructive coping.

  10. Mark says:

    Notice though how articles praising how much “better” single moms are proliferate in the media, but someone makes a single comment suggesting that boys need to have father figures in their lives, and suddenly that becomes a controversy. That’s sexism.

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