RAISING BOYS

REPORTER: DAVID RICHARDSON.

Raising boys has become a popular subject for child psychologists and parenting experts around the world. All of them offer advice on how boy' behaviour and development can be improved. New research shows that boys are missing out on quality time with their dads --the consequences of which can lead to drugs and aggressive behaviour. "Boys are looking for what men do and men should realise that they've got a responsibility from day one to be a role model and think about what sort of boy do I want, how can I influence that" says Dr Richard Fletcher.

The Regan family consistis of: mum, Lucille; Dad, Pete and boys Oscar, Louis, and Hugo. "They never really seem to tire, they play one game of football two games, they play basket ball to skate boarding from one to the other" says Peter. Energetic and a handful, Pete knows exactly what his boys need. "I think they do need a bit of one on one whether it be taking them surfing, taking them fishing something primarily dad does more."

"They're going to learn life skill from dad but also it's that bonding time together too where they learn to talk boy talk" says Lucille. According to experts, dads like Pete are now the exception. "The statistics show dads don't spend enough time with their sons - they want to but the demands of work is much greater when our dads were young they spend time with their sons but they're not quite sure how to do it", said Doctor Bruce Robinson, a parenting author and father of two boys, who believes dads have forgotten how important they are.

"You can't wait for example till he is a teenager and go "I am now going to start being a good dad" I am now going to start working on them to talk about drugs that's important but it's kind of a bit late" says Bruce. Leaving it too late can be disastrous. "It's been shown that boys who do not have a strong father presence in their lives are at least twice as likely to become drug addicts" says Bruce.

It sounds extreme but something as simple as one on one time with dad gives boys the confidence to say" no". "If dad cares about the child, a child feels worthwhile they don't need to do drugs in order to get accepted or feel worthwhile they're likely to say guys I don't need this" says Bruce.

For boys anger management boot-camp is a last resort. "We've made it clear the camps are for anger, dealing with anger and also having more healthy relationships than perhaps they're experiencing at the moment so they're coming out of interest to improve their own lives" says Stuart Anderson, who is the program Director at a Men and Family centre in northern NSW. "Violence and aggressive behaviour is the main one that gives concern to everyone the schools are screaming do something with these boys and so that's the crux of it for us" adds Stuart.

"Although women make terrific teachers for boys one thing they can't show them is how men do things" says Dr Fletcher. There aren't enough blokes in the class room. Only one in three teachers are male. And Doctor Richard Fletcher from Wollongong University is convinced: that leads to misunderstanding in the play ground. "I think we could loosen up a bit the way we see young boys, particularly mucking around with each other, schools are terrified now and call everything fighting and try and ban everything, even running around in the play ground is banned, that's not good for boys" says Dr Fletcher.

"Uncles, other men, coaches and sporting clubs are really, really important" says Stuart. Advice to parents is as simple as scheduling in 'dad time'. "My suggestions is get your diary out and write the words in "have a dad date" with my child and to get a few weekends and to take the child one on one out and do something special it might be a footy trip it, might be a camping trip… it doesn't have to be complicated it doesn't have to be expensive" says Stuart.

Men And Family Centre, Lismore Tel: (02) 6622 6166 or visit the Website: www.menandfamily.org.au