How to Raise Boys Not to Be Total Jerks

An update on an older post was published on xojane and TIME!


xojaneThis story originally appeared on

At some level, I’ve known since before my oldest son was born that this moment would come. But when it did, it took me utterly and completely off guard. I was driving a car chock-full of boys home from a soccer tournament when my nine-year-old son piped up from the back.

“Hey Mom! I’ve got a funny joke. I’ll ask you a question and you say, ‘Ketchup and rubber buns’.”

“I’ve heard this one,” chuckled my 12-year-old son.

Snickers all around from the soccer players.

Apparently, I was the only one who didn’t know what was coming next.

My son: “What did you have for breakfast?”

Me: “Oatmeal and ketchup and rubber buns.”

My son: “No! Mom! Just say ketchup and rubber buns. Try again. What did you have for breakfast?”

Me: “Ketchup and rubber buns.”

“What did you have for lunch?” “What…

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2 thoughts on “How to Raise Boys Not to Be Total Jerks

  1. On the one hand, a terrible moment, and yet another, amazing how you were able to turn it around and begin to gently explain to the boys how slippery the slope of misogyny is, beginning with so called “innocent jokes”. You have probably heard in the news, how in Canada our CBC media star (sic) Jion Gomeshi, has now been charged with sexual assault and aggravated battery. It has begun a mainstream dialogue about sexual violence against women… and you as a lawyer I’m sure know how the minority of rapes of rape are reported (through no fault of women), and only a tiny fraction are convicted….

    I’m about 1/2 way through the new book by Jimmy Carter: A Call to action; Women, Religion, Violence, and Power. You’ve probably read it, but if not, I’d highly recommend it.

    This post was actually heartening – to know that at times, boys do have women (and men) to help them navigate through the cultural quagmire of these confusing times. I remember when I was young, how difficult I found it to be as an adolescent boy…. how much harder it must be today!!! Thank you for this story of your experience Jennifer. By the way – sorry for your boys hockey injury.

    Best regards – Bruce


    1. Hi Bruce! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I have been following the news from Canada. Ultimately, real change will only happen if we have mainstream dialogue about sexual violence. I haven’t read Carter’s new book but will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip! Best wishes, Jennifer


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