by Dr Ray Swann

Why relationships are so important

I interviewed Dr Judy Chu (Stanford University Professor and author of When Boys Become Boys) for the Understanding Boys podcast and talked about her research into boys and learning.

Through Dr Chu’s research, she shows that a boy’s development actually occurs primarily through and within his relationships with others.

A growing body of research indicates that close relationships are crucial to boys’ well being. Dr Chu says there is evidence that boys, like girls, begin with a primary desire to be emotionally close and genuinely connected to other people.

However, for boys there are obstacles in the way, such as the issue of trust and the stereotypical view that being emotionally connected to others is a feminine trait.

To help boys thrive, rather than merely survive, Dr Chu concludes that we should focus on relationships as the means by which boys develop a sense of who they are, and not assume that boys should prove their masculinity and worth by being autonomous and self-sufficient.

So, we have a great opportunity at the moment to do a bit of a ‘litmus’ test with our boys and their relationships.

Ask yourself, does your son:

  • Have good, connected relationships generally?
  • Does he receive positive, healthy messages about who he is?
  • Does he have a mentor or someone in his life he can talk to about his passions and purpose?

It is important as a parent to know that you don’t have to be all of these things. Having them in discussion, enabling them, and helping our boys to make connections, can very much help them to build the relationships through which they will learn and experience the world.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Dr Ray Swann is Deputy Headmaster and Head of Crowther Centre at Brighton Grammar School, an all-boys school in Melbourne. His professional background includes consulting, research, lecturing and coaching This article is about


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