How to Relate Better to Your Sons Now
You know the poem, “Sugar and spice and everything nice; that’s what girls are made of. Worms and snails and puppy dog tails; that’s what boys are made of”?
I coach moms a lot on how to best relate to their kids and how to parent from an empathic standpoint. I write about it a lot as well, and I live it, particularly when it comes to parenting boys. Most of my mothering and grand-mothering has taken place in a sea of testosterone. I’ve got three boys, and my daughter has two.
I often say that “boys are not girls”, something that sounds so, so obvious….duh….but something that we and many official parenting and developmental guidelines tend to forget.
Last week, something happened that really reinforced this to me. And. It. Was. Hilarious!
Joshua, who is 23, had a female friend over to visit. So... they finished their visit, and he walked her out to the driveway to say goodbye, and they chatted for a bit. My daughter and I had taken the little girls and dogs for a walk around the pond but left the two younger boys at home (ages 10 and 9) with their uncle.
Evidently, while Joshua and friend were saying goodbye, the two little boys decided to “man up”. First, they came out with water bottles and paper towels to clean all the car windows. While highlighting their “automotive” prowess, Jonathan (10) looked over at the girl and said, “Wow! Aren’t you adorable!” Cute. But they weren’t through yet. It got much better.
As I returned home with the dogs, Jonathan was still hard at work shining the car windows and cleaning up after himself (a definite sign he was showing off). I looked over and saw the younger one (9) in the driveway, doing pushups and making grunting noises with the effort he was putting into it. As I watched, he slowly worked his way over into the girl’s line of sight and also did some sit ups with equal passion. They were both strutting their stuff like male peacocks in the spring!
No one encouraged either boy to do this. It just seemed the logical thing for their boy minds to do. It totally cracked me up! But it also solidified my view that boys will be boys, and they are biologically programmed to act a certain way.
Boys are usually so different from girls! They’re energetic, impulsive, and frequently more high maintenance than girls. So often, when we try to force them into a more passive model of behavior, we quench something wonderful! As moms, it may be a little more challenging to handle the “worms and snails” that come along with boys, but when we let them blossom the way God programmed them, we are often treated to a sweetness and depth of spirit (and some quite amusing moments) that we will miss out on if we try to curb those biological tendencies.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Boys are different from girls. You’ll be far happier if you just accept that premise. Work with them as they are, playing on and encouraging their strengths. If you have a son after having had a daughter, plan to adapt your parenting style.
Boys mature much more slowly than girls in general. Mine all read later than my daughter, developed their fine motor skills more slowly, and showed no interest in sitting behind a desk for long periods of time.
Boys have much more energy than most girls. They need to fidget. Frequently, they learn better standing on their heads or playing with legos while mom or dad reads to them. Sports like little league, tae kwon do, or basketball let them expend the huge amounts of energy in a positive way.
Boys are naturally impulsive. (there’s a reason why auto insurance is so much higher for boys than girls.)
Boys will do silly and impulsive things to impress girls (case in point above!).
Boys fight. They tend to gravitate towards fists rather than words. So, expect to spend time feeling like an MMA referee. Know that this is normal. It’s not a character flaw. It’s just testosterone. Help them shift their focus to more positive ways of bonding with their brothers.
When we punish boys for boy behavior, we accidentally communicate a message to them that there’s something wrong with them and can dull their spirit. (This is not to say that they shouldn’t be corrected for behavior that might be hurtful or dangerous; they should be, but all correction should be taken and communicated in a way that appreciates their nature as boys.)
Little boys really love their mommies; as a mom, you have the privilege of being the first person they ever love. Bask in that in the more difficult moments of parenting. (heart emoji)
Trust that YOU know your son better than any book, expert, or teacher. Trust your gut instincts when it comes to raising sons.
Communicate, cuddle, let them share their latest adventure, and (if it’s your thing) pray with and for them daily. This will set up a positive pattern that will serve both of you very well as they grow up.
Hi, I'm Beth. I help busy moms ditch the overwhelm and gain confidence, so they can enjoy parenting more, yell less, and have peaceful kids and a happy family.