8 Things Moms Should Know About Raising Boys

8 Things Moms Should Know About Raising Boys

One mom shares about the wonders, challenges, and chaos of raising sons.

By: Leah Maxwell

I know it’s unpopular to say anything other than that you’re hoping for a healthy baby, but while I was pregnant, whenever someone asked if I wanted a boy or a girl, I couldn’t help but answer truthfully: I wanted a girl. Both times. I didn’t long for girls because I envisioned myself planning mommy-daughter dates for tea and pedicures and clothes shopping (although girl clothes are cuter, they just are). Mostly, I figured I was better equipped to raise a little girl having been one myself. But boys? Where do you even start?

Well, it turns out you start by having a boy, and then a second boy, and you learn as you go along, and soon enough you realize how lucky you are to have such wonderful little fellows in your life (even if they are messy and smelly and probably about to injure themselves even as I type this).

In my five years as a parent, I’ve learned a thing or two about raising boys, and why it’s hard and awesome and frustrating and hilarious and, for me, the greatest lesson in how it’s sometimes better to get what I need instead of what I think I want.

Here are eight things I’ve learned about raising boys:

1. Boys have strange tastes. Your boys might not want to eat anything on their plates, but you can bet they’ll try to taste all manner of things they find on the ground, under the couch cushions, and in their noses. Boys can be adventurous in the very grossest of ways, so just be prepared for that (and maybe sweep the floor more often than usual). Bonus tip: Urinal cakes are not actually cakes – don’t let them taste one!

2. Boys care that you care. Take time to memorize the names of their favorite dinosaurs/cartoon characters/construction vehicles/insects/athletes, even if you don’t care, because it will blow their minds. The day I correctly identified a parasaurolophus was the day I became the coolest mom ever.

3. Boys are collectors. Maybe it will be sticks. Maybe it will be rocks. Hopefully it won’t be anything stinky or gooey or alive. Boys can’t resist picking up odds and ends from their travels, so get in the habit now of checking all pockets before you accidentally send a handful of mystery substances through the laundry.

4. Fine, boys do have cute clothes. I’ll go to my grave saying girl clothes are more fun than boy clothes, but that’s not to say we moms of sons are banished to a bleak fashion wasteland for all time. There are plenty of adorable options for boys out there (bow ties! suspenders! seersucker shorts!), but hear this: Dress them up while you can. Take advantage of the years when they’re still small enough to be wrestled into denim overalls and miniature sailor suits because your days are numbered. Silver lining: Since clothes generally cost less for boys, this is the perfect excuse for you to buy something cute and girly for yourself.

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5. Boys like “girly” things. Some boys will live up to every stereotype you’ve heard -- obsessed with trucks and trains, forever brandishing a toy weapon, constantly jumping from great heights onto their faces -- but they also might not. Boys are complicated creatures and shouldn’t be treated simply as a type. Boys love dolls. And play kitchens and dress-up clothes and the color pink and movies about fairies and princesses and magical talking ponies. I’d even venture that no boy is “all boy.” Get to know your son for who he is – he might surprise you.

6. Boys can be lovers as well as fighters. The stereotypical boy is all rough and tumble and snips and snails and boogers and farts, but boys are also some of the sweetest, gentlest, most sensitive people I know. Whether or not your boy is naturally “boyish,” be sure to encourage his sweeter side by being generous with your affection and how you model tenderness and love. Give him dolls or pets to care for. Snuggle him. Hug and kiss him. Leave him mushy notes in his lunch box. He might roll his eyes or pull away, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t secretly enjoy it.

7. Boys will get dirty. So, so dirty. Dirtier than you even thought possible. They’ll take off their shoes and run through the mud, dump a bucket full of sand in their hair, and draw on their own beards and mustaches using permanent markers. So what’s a mom to do? Let them. Let them explore and experiment and have fun and make a mess of the kitchen – but then also let them help you clean up. Their dirty play doesn’t have to leave you with all the dirty work.

8. Boys love their mamas. Friends who had boys before I did told me there was something special about the mother-son relationship, but I didn’t really understand it until I experienced it firsthand. Boys have a special connection with their mothers, and even if you’re not the “favorite” parent, you will always hold a special place in your sons’ hearts. When they tell you are the prettiest girl in the world, even when you’re three days unshowered and cross-eyed from lack of sleep, listen to them. Believe them. Let them stroke your hair and pat your cheeks and marvel at your sparkly jewelry. Allow them to adore you. They know a good thing when they see it.

What have you learned about raising boys?

Leah Maxwell is a book editor, freelance writer, cereal addict, wife, and mom to two young boys. She has been blogging at A Girl and a Boy since 2003.

Image ©iStock.com/stshank

More articles you may like:

I Wanted a Girl (But I’m Happy I Got Boys)

25 Quotes to Inspire Our Sons

8 Moms Share About Trying to Raise Boys and Girls Equally

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I also have two sons. My youngest will be six in two months and my oldest will be eleven in three weeks. Although Thayon is an older kid, he still has his mommy moments when nobody else is looking. I impress them by knowing the names and colors of the ninja turtles. All of this is accurate. There IS something special about mother-son relationships, I've been that friend to tell new mother's of sons this news. They, just like you, didn't understand until they finally held their little Romeo.

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