203 episodes

Ever wonder why do boys DO that? Join co-hosts Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four boys, and Janet Allison, parenting coach & educator, as they explore and explain boy behavior. Their weekly conversations include a healthy dose of humor & insight, and feature take-away tips you can use right now, at home or in the classroom, to help boys grow into healthy, happy men. Whether your boys are teens or toddlers, you’ll find a big dose of support, encouragement and camaraderie at On Boys.

ON BOYS Podcast Janet Allison, Jennifer LW Fink

    • Kids & Family
    • 5.0 • 5 Ratings

Ever wonder why do boys DO that? Join co-hosts Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four boys, and Janet Allison, parenting coach & educator, as they explore and explain boy behavior. Their weekly conversations include a healthy dose of humor & insight, and feature take-away tips you can use right now, at home or in the classroom, to help boys grow into healthy, happy men. Whether your boys are teens or toddlers, you’ll find a big dose of support, encouragement and camaraderie at On Boys.

    Sports & Masculinity

    Sports & Masculinity

    Sports and masculinity have long been intertwined.



    For a long time, boys and men were the only ones who were allowed to play sports. Athletic fields and locker rooms were seen as places where boys became men.



    We’ve seen where that can lead. We’ve seen little boys & teenagers told to “man up!”, “rub some dirt on it” and play past the pain. We’ve heard “locker room talk” and know all about horrific hazing that has happened in some high school locker rooms. Each of us can probably name multiple top athletes who’ve been accused of sexual assault, domestic violence or murder.



    And yet, in recent years, we’ve seen some pretty amazing examples of male athletes pushing back against stereotypical gender norms. 



    "There's a long narrative around boys dominating the field and boys being trained to be men. And sport and athleticism was yet another arena in which boys and men could publicly demonstrate strength, domination, and power over other men," says Michael Kehler, PhD, Werklund Research Professor, Masculinities Studies at the University of Calgary. Sports, he says, has become another "bastion of the male elite" where boys and men "establish themselves within the hierarchy of masculinity."



    Before signing your son up for a sport, you should "think carefully about why," Michael says. Why are you choosing sport over, say, other physical activities? And why are you choosing that particular sport? It is because your son has expressed an interest in the activity? Because you or his father played it? Because you want him to toughen up?



    "We need to be award of the intentional ways in which we contribute to our children's understanding of gender through certain activities," he says.



    It is most helpful to encourage our kids to try a wide variety of activities. "The more that our children have opportunities to try things and express themselves in different ways, then the healthier they're going to be in terms of their own well-being," Michael says, "because they see that they don't need to adhere to those fairly rigid (and what can be very damaging) scripts of masculinity."



    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Michael discuss:



    * Why (& how) sports & masculinity are linked

    * How adult ideas about sport & masculinity influence the sports offer to little boys

    * Hierarchy of sports in the male world

    * Other physical activities for boys

    * Sports, popularity, & social currency

    * Helping boys understand that there are many ways to be a boy or man

    * How coaches affect boys' understanding of masculinity

    * Why male affection seems more welcome in sport than elsewhere

    * Body image and bodyshaming

    * How to tell if it's time to quit a sport

    * Masculinity and mental health



    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    Rule of Being a Man: If We Know Them, Why Don't We Change Them? -- Dr. Kehler's TEDx talk



    Men & Boys Cry Too -- Building Boys post about incident mentioned at 4:39



    How (Not) to Talk to Boys -- Building Boys post (mentioned at 21:32)



    Coaches Speak About Youth Sports -- ON BOYS episode

    Need help with your boys?

    • 46 min
    How to Have a Kid and a Life

    How to Have a Kid and a Life

    Yes, it's possible to have a kid and a life.



    A life beyond babies, boys, and ballgames. A life that includes your hopes, dreams, and passions.



    It's normal (and healthy) for your career, marriage, and friendships to shift and evolve when you become a parent. But you don't have to give your all to parenting. It's okay (and healthy!) to reserve some time and energy for yourself.



    "As my son got older, all of my activities centered around what he did," says Ericka Souter, a journalist and author of How to Have a Kid and a Life: A Survival Guide. "I realized that I was drowning in kid activities and I was unhappy about that. I felt like I needed to do something for myself."



    That urge led her to interview other moms and begin writing her book. Reporting, researching, traveling and talking to others helped Erika feel whole again.



    Of course, it's not easy to make time for yourself amidst the demands of family life. So, you'll have to let go of things that don't serve you.



    "You have to give yourself permission to let go of people and activities that don't make you feel good," Ericka says.





    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Ericka discuss:



    * The "mom gene"

    * Making time for personal passions

    * How to make mom friends

    * Advocating for yourself

    * Why taking time for yourself is good for your kids

    * Taking back ownership of your body

    * Prioritizing time with your partner



    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    How to Have a Kid and a Life: A Survival Guide -- Ericka's book



    erikasouter.com -- Ericka's website



    Discovery of the "Mom Gene" May Explain Why Some of Us Don't Crave Having Kids -- article by Ericka (mentioned at 6:45)

    Need help with your boys?

    Subscribe to Jen’s newsletter, Building Boys Bulletin



    Opt-in at Boys Alive! for your free guide: Boys & Big Emotions with Janet

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    • 39 min
    Sambucol sample ad

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    • 1 min
    Best of 2021

    Best of 2021

    Which ON BOYS episodes were the Best of 2021? 



    Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels



    The answers may surprise you!



    5. Highly Sensitive Boys with William Allen

    By age 5, William Allen understood very clearly that he was different. People told him to “man up” and that he “needed to be tougher.” Their words and reactions to his emotions told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was not living up to the masculine ideal. And, like many highly sensitive people (HSP), William reacted strongly to criticism. He internalized it and assumed that people were laughing at him, for instance, rather than his ridiculous costume when he took the stage in a school play.



    William says parents can help their highly sensitive sons learn how to verbalize and test their internal thoughts..

    If you liked this episode, you may like Sensitive Boys (w Sandy Gluckman)



    4. The First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys



    Jen & Janet talk about Jen's first book, The First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys!

    “If you don’t express an openness or willingness to listen to your son’s viewpoint, he’s not going to listen to yours. Remember that you have different perspectives. When it comes to social issues, your son does not know what happened 20, 30, 50, 100 years before he was born. So you have important perspective that you can share with him. But at the same time, you don’t know what his daily experience is like. You don’t fully understand what’s happening in schools, what it’s like to be a kid today."

    If you liked this episode, you may like Parenting Tween & Teenage Boys



    3. Dr. Michele Borba Knows How to Help Boys Thrive

    Many boys are stressed but don’t tell their parents because “they don’t want to hurt us,” Dr. Borba says. They want and need coping skills, and aren’t getting what they need from school social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. And they’re really worried about “flunking life.”



    It’s time for parents to pivot and refocus their parenting efforts. The first step, Dr. Borba says, is to prioritize mental health.

    If you liked this episode, you may like You Can Thrive with Chronic Illness and Special Needs



    2. How to NOT Raise an A-Hole

    Karen Alpert (of the blog Baby Sideburns), a mom of two and author of Mamas, Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up to be A-Holes: Unfiltered Advice on How to Raise Awesome Kids, recognizes that parents are terrified of inadvertently raising a******s.



    “It is definitely one of my big fears,” she says. “I don’t want to raise a kid that’s an a-hole. All the sexting and scary stuff and  male chauvinism and racism  – I’m trying to hard to teach my kids that stuff shouldn’t be part of their lives.”

    If you liked this episode, you may like a href="https://www.

    • 34 min
    ON BOYS Most Popular Episode of 2021

    ON BOYS Most Popular Episode of 2021

    ON BOYS listeners really want to know how to keep boys safe online.



    Which makes sense, given that the internet is a portal to all kinds of free and easily accessible porn -- as well as conspiracy theories, disinformation, and peer pressure.



    In January 2021, we asked our friend Amy Lang to help us address this question, and she did not disappoint. The resulting episode was so well-received that it became our most popular episode of 2021. Keeping Boys Safe Online has been downloaded more than 8,000 times!







    (For context: That's 1,000 more downloads than our next most popular episode.)



    A few highlights:

    “All the research shows that parents are the most important influence when it comes to sexual decision-making. If we don’t get in the door early, our impact is less. It’s really important to establish yourself as their go-to person.”

    and

    “I think it’s way more important to be sexually savvy and to understand healthy relationships than to score a 9000 on the PSAT.”

    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Amy discuss:



    * Why you need to talk to your boys about sex a lot sooner than you think

    * How boys accidently encounter porn

    * Setting the stage to talk about sex

    * Does talking to boys about porn encourage them to seek it out?

    * Establishing family guidelines re internet usage

    * The difference between parental controls and monitoring (and how to use each)

    * How porn affects boys

    * Preparing boys for porn exposure

    * Helping boys resist peer pressure to look at porn

    * Keeping boys safe online



    Need help with your boys?

    Subscribe to Jen’s newsletter, Building Boys Bulletin



    Opt-in at Boys Alive! for your free guide: Boys & Big Emotions with Janet

    Sponsor Spotlight: Next Gen Men





    Use the ON BOYS discount code to SAVE 15% off their Raising Next Gen Men course, designed for parents, educators, coaches, and youth workers who work with boys and believe in better possibilities for the next generation of men.

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    • 54 min
    Raising Next Gen Men

    Raising Next Gen Men

    How do we raise next gen men -- men who can thrive in the 21st century?



    "When you're on a playground, you can't yell, 'Hey, Tommy, cut that hegemonic masculinity out!'" says Jake Stika, co-founder of Next Gen Men, a Canadian organization dedicated to changing how the world sees, acts and thinks about masculinity. Parents, educators and boys need concrete, practical suggestions and assistance.



    Talking to boys about consent, for example, is not enough. Today's tweens and teens understand the concept of consent and understand why it's important, but they need help figuring out how to apply consent in their personal relationships.



    "They want to know, 'What do I actually say, that's not too awkward?'" says Jonathon Reed, youth program manager for Next Gen Men.



    Boys also need and want to understand their role in the #MeToo era. Many have heard that they should listen to women and girls and want to know if they're allowed to talk as well.



    "It's really benevolent sexism that we're perpetuating when we don't empower boys to be stakeholders, beneficiaries, and co-conspirators in conversations" about equality, the gender wage gap, childcare, and parenting, Stika says.





    In this episode, Jen, Janet, Jake & Jonathon discuss:



    * Helping boys understand consent (and giving them words to use in real-life situations)

    * Creating space for boys to find solutions

    * How boys use humor

    * Gendered expectations

    * Gender equity

    * Benevolent sexism

    * Male-on-male violence

    * Why boys (all boys!) need people who see them, value them, & KNOW them

    * The difference between harm & abuse

    * Boys & anger (Did you know that trauma can manifest as anger?)

    * Metabolizing shame



    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    NextGenMen website



    Breaking the Boy Code -- our previous ON BOYS conversation with Jonathon



    Raising Next Gen Men course -- use the ON BOYS coupon code to save 15%



    ON BOYS episodes featuring ADHD Dude Ryan Wexelblatt (mentioned at 14:17)



    Boys & Sex (w Peggy Orenstein) -- ON BOYS episode



    We Will Not Cancel Us -- essay by Adrienne Brown (mentioned at 34:22)

    Need help with your boys?

    Subscribe to Jen’s newsletter, Building Boys Bulletin



    Opt-in at Boys Alive! for your free guide: Boys & Big Emotions with Janet

    Sponsor Spotlight: LCP Medical 

    Comfortable face masks that capture, disable & discard infectious germs



    Use the ON BOYS discount code to SAVE 10% off your order





    Sponsor Spotlight: a href="https://www.cozi.

    • 49 min

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