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The different ways that boys and girls relate to the world around them has long been a source of debate and fascination for parents and researchers alike. While some believe gender plays a significant role in how children behave and learn, others downplay those differences as exaggerations.
When it comes to a child's faith formation, some scholars and pastors say it's worthwhile for parents to consider the ways gender can frame the experience — especially for boys.
Media messages tell boys they're supposed to be tough and self-reliant — two key characteristics of what researchers call the "boy code" of popular culture. But this code can cause some boys to feel disconnected from the message of Christian spirituality, which calls for a measure of emotional vulnerability and an ethic of following Jesus' lead rather than blazing an independent trail, said Allan Hugh Cole Jr., editor of the Journal of Childhood and Religion.
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