K, Teacher

I'm a fourth grade teacher from Indiana. I've been using part of your site as a resource for my fourth graders for some time now (particularly this page - http://www.mothersofbadboys.com/resources/) so I wanted to send you a thank you :) 
    In May we started a program which teaches our kids how to effectively use the internet for research while avoiding inappropriate content and if/when they do find that content we teach them how to deal with it. Your links page was one that the kids found and added it to our classroom bookmarks! We use it often :) 
    Anyway, I also wanted to send you this email to show you a page my fourth graders (Lauren) found this morning while searching for school safety resources (http://www.surveillance-video.com/home-school-safety-for-kids.html). She made the connection that this page would be a good addition to your page and asked me if I would ask you to add it. She thinks our bookmarks list is getting too long and it would help if your page had the new one we found so we didn't have to add more to our bookmarks haha! (She is so cute!)

PG, researcher and writer
I have a stepson who fell squarely into the "bad boy" category. His mom and I married at a difficult time for him, when he was 13. He was angry about the divorce of his parents (which occurred because his dad "came out" as gay and wanted to leave the marriage) and took it out on his mom and then, especially, on me when I entered the picture. He was a poor reader, a kid diagnosed with ADHD (but his mom successfully resisted all attempts to put him on stimulants), impulsive & volatile, a regular user of pot and sometimes cocaine in high school. He went to the public high school and he barely squeaked through. As tends to happen with kids who don't take to school lessons, he fell in with the "bad crowd" there and got into all sorts of trouble. I was amazed at how his mom, who is a physician, responded to all this with such relative calmness. She continued to show unconditioned love and support for him and continued to reassure me that he would grow out of it. After high school he entered a local gap year program called "Dynamy" for kids who don't know what they want to do. Through that he tried out various internships and found he liked cooking. Now, this year, at age 21, he's graduated from culinary school and has a great job as assistant to a chef. He gives me a big hug when he sees me--this is the kid who once threatened me to a physical fight. He's still impulsive, but he's gradually learning to control it, with the help of a very supportive girlfriend.His sister, on the other hand (now 17), is a model student in school--as sisters tend to be! 
    It's too bad men don't take up issues with boys the way women do on issues with girls. Can you imagine what would happen if it were girls rather than boys, who were receiving all these diagnoses of mental disorders in schools and were dropping out at high rates? Wouldn't there (quite appropriately) be a feminist outcry? "It's not our girls who are disordered, it's our schools!"

Mary June, artist
Dear Clara: 
    I remember when my son was a baby one of my friends held him and said voila, a beautiful, healthy boy, and then something to the effect of “Let's see what you'll do with him!” Well, it's been a long and tumultuous 15 years and it's only 15 years. My husband always said that if he were a woman he would not choose to have a child. “There are better things to do,” he says!!! Or, “Why do we do this to ourselves?!!!” Must be beyond us, the underlying force to reproduce! 
    Anyhow I have been avidly reading your MoBB site and boy what you are and have been going through! It is as though after giving birth one is doomed to bear its pain for a lifetime! The world has changed so much that raising a child is like trying to find clean water to drink in the wrong place. We have to worry about so much fulltime, and then we expect our children not to be affected by it all. At the end of the day it's like people who live in a war zone except all seems otherwise. I remember you used to say you preferred not to live in a place that is beautiful as paradise because then if you are still unhappy in life you have to look at yourself! I don't know how that connects with what I had to say but anyhow that is part of my problem too. 
    As I write, my son is playing PS3, shooting and killing online. His favorite monstrous game. Before that he watched a new American film "The Loser". Also all about the same thing: killing Rambo style. I feel so lost in this environment and feel my function is far less important than yours. Providing food and washing clothes and nagging a lot and shouting and the cycle that is endless. I have lost that light-hearted side of me and my insecurities seem to overcome me. 
    None the less, do not despair. It is very tough and I for one rise to you for taking on so much. I can see another Clara that I knew who liked to read/ write and dance in NY! Life is so different now! I could also have been just running after my visual world and now it seems I am lost. Like that poem about the bird that lost his own language and did not acquire a new one. I often hear myself mumbling: God take pity on us!!!

Sadie, engineer
I read your blogs on MOBB, and I have to say, they're superb writings ... can't say the best that I've ever read from you ... but maybe only due to the small scale ... otherwise, after each read, I just go: Wow! ... And that somehow tells me how much it hurts ;(

JJ, publisher

I have been an enthusiastic MoBB fan since the moment "Clara Middleton" mentioned the idea during lunch a year or so ago. I thought what a brilliant idea. A web site that is:

a) Unique and original; first of its kind on the web
b) Helpful to society at large
c) Able to engage mothers with sons all over the world and therefore have regular, energetic and purposeful contributors
d) Able to bring about positive change through exchange of ideas and experiences
e) and able to be self-sustaining and generate revenue from advertisers

In other words, mothersofbadboys.com has everything that would make a web site special for a large group of
people. Congratulations on a job very well done and thank you for being a force for good.

SP, children's rights advocate
I read your post on John Merrow's website. My husband and I have 3 sons (30, 26 and 24) all of whom were considered to be "bad boys" for most of their school-age years but fortunately they came out unscathed. We (especially me) were told repeatedly they had ADHD and were learning disabled and if I had a dime for every phone call I got from a teacher saying "We need to talk about Ben or Andy or Jamie" I'd be a VERY rich person. It was John Merrow's documentary ADD: A Dubious Diagnosis (it was our son's pediatrician that gave us a copy) that exposed how the public school system has been hijacked by the drug industry. I'm just wondering if I might be able to work with you in some way. Please let me know if I can help you out in any way. I have loads of info.

CH, teacher
I went to your mothersofbadboys site. What a good concept. Most elementary classrooms at any grade level have a couple of these types of kids. Sometimes they're girls. That's a lot of misunderstood children who endure great unhappiness in the name of being educated. Boys especially have it tough in this non boy-oriented world. I think we should never lose sight of the fact that modern humans are operating with stone-age minds. How can we make public school cater to the naturally evolved inclinations of a boy? Just having them sit in a desk or crisscross for more than 5 minutes is its own torture to boys who would be better off sprawling, crawling, and throwing things. I am, to my shame, one who insists that boys sit at attention when I am addressing the class. A lot has to do with crowd control. To be fair, if I allow one child to sprawl, shouldn't I allow them all to? Things like this come up all the time. The bottom line is to treat the children lovingly as you steer them down the educational garden path. I always pay a huge tax when I resort to angry outbursts at students for whom I haven't developed successful management strategies. The most effective way to cause the children to bully a peer is for the teacher to let her dislike for the child, not just his challenging behaviors, be known to the class. I struggle with this all the time. I make it my professional duty to love each child and make sure they know it. Some kids I love on day one but some, like my little Alejandro, take a lot longer. Children who misbehave send teachers into flight/fight mode. The threat the misbehavers make is to the teacher's opinion of herself as an effective teacher. Misbehavior translates to "you suck as a teacher."

Bebe, business owner
Interesting perspective. I don't have children (yet) and still have an irrational fear of having a boy for just the reasons you have noted. I am worried about my ability to steer them through childhood and adolescence when there is so much to avoid. I worry about them becoming a 'bad' boy in the eyes of society. I particularly like your 'invitation' to men. I agree, it's about co-parenting and about Men who were once boys (bad or otherwise) to step up and help decipher the codes and navigate the road. Great idea for a site. Maybe I won't keep praying for a girl. Well done!

AS, writer and scientist
Excellent website. I read the first installment of  "The Making of a bad boy," and it was so engaging I went on to read the whole series. The writing is lucid, personal, with insights for everyone. As an aside, I too wish some modern teachers would call a kid they don't like "bad," instead of covering their true negative emotions with psychobabble like "distorted family values."


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