If you pictured yourself with girls and saw your future filled with hair bows and frilly dresses, but instead were blessed with bow ties and monster trucks, take this advice from real moms on raising men and being the only girl in the all-boys club.
Lessons in sensitivity
I grew up with mostly women — a sister, three aunts and a single mom that my world pretty much revolved around. What I’ve learned so far about raising boys is that they play louder, are more inquisitive and more fearless than what I was exposed to growing up with girls. I’ve also learned that they can be sweeter, gentler, more giving and affectionate than I could have ever dreamed of.
While we have our fair share of pillow fights, play wrestling and stunt-man-worthy barrel rolls off of couches in our home… there are also tons of kisses, lots of snuggling and heart-melting acts of kindness that remind me daily that under all of the ruckus, there are fragile, loving little boys.
Bucking societal pressures
From a young age, little girls are coddled and tended to, while little boys are told to suck it up, stop crying and essentially taught to stuff their emotions.
Marie Roker-Jones, founder of Raising Great Men and mom of two boys, says, “Boys are more emotional and sensitive than we think, but they often cover it up because of the pressure to man up.”
Sondra Drahos, parenting educator and founder of Happy Healthy Hip Parenting, says, “I remind my oldest son that boys do actually cry, despite what he’s heard. I also encourage him to keep a journal where he can write down his feelings since society discourages boys from sharing. I want him to have a place where he can feel comfortable sharing his feelings without having to tell me if he doesn’t want to.”
How raising boys changes you
No doubt, a woman raising boys is forever changed. When I would think about having children, I’d envision raising a little girl, playing dress-up and shopping for everything pink. Now that I’m the only girl in my house, I’ve actually fallen in love with all-things-boy — from skateboarding to Star Wars role-playing, to explaining snails and building Lego space ships.
Cynthia Indelicarto DeGuzman, mom of three boys, relates, “I’ve realized that I actually love bugs and snakes and I’m not afraid of a little dirt.”
Roker-Jones says having boys has made her change how she relates and communicates with them. “I’m more aware of the need to communicate in boy language with my sons; to be clear and concise when speaking to them and not to over-analyze when listening to them.”
Advice from the all-boys club
DeGuzman has some advice for moms surrounded by boys: They should enjoy the perks of being the only woman in the house. “I love being the princess in my home. Boys adore their mothers and that’s really a great thing.”
My advice to new moms of boys is to encourage their sons to express their feelings. Get down on their level, look them in their eyes and really connect with them when they’re sharing feelings with you, so they know they can lean on you and that what they’re feeling is important. Also, do whatever you can to soak in all of the wonderful qualities that seem to make boys tick — like their relentlessness, their curiosity and their seemingly-endless energy and learn from it. I’m convinced that if I had even half of my sons’ fearlessness, the world would be a better place.