Two Things This Mom of Boys is Learning

For 12 years I was a mom only to daughters. My husband and I had four daughters. Then, in 2013, that changed with the addition of our first son (affectionately known as the “iBoy”).

We thought our family was complete, but God laughed, and there was a plot twist, and this year (2015) we added another son.
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I kind of thought I had this mom thing down, at least in principle, until these little boys came along (Don’t even get me started on our other newest parenting challenge: the teen years. That’s a post for another day!).

Now, I still have many of the same principles, but I’m also learning two important additions to my parenting techniques.

Two Things This New Mom of Boys is Learning:

1. Don’t be too easy on them.

I love our girls. I loved them as babies. They melted my heart (they still do). They were (and are) cute / adorable / loveable.

But, oh, these boys.
baby boys
I don’t love them more than I loved my girls, but ya’ll: they are stinkin’ cute.  Sometimes they are so cute it hurts my heart a little bit.

They’re loveable and kissable and affectionate at this stage in their lives and I know that is a limited thing so I’m soaking it in.

They’re hilarious. The iBoy in particular (just because he’s older), seems to think it’s his mission in life to keep our family laughing and on our toes. And now his younger brother is almost always smiling.

Sometimes I want to scold the iBoy for doing something but he’s just so doggone cute it’s hard. Sometimes he needs to be corrected but I’m trying not to laugh at the same time.

They are my baby boys and I am their Mama and they love me and I love that.

But, I can’t excuse disobedience in my sons, just because they’re my sons.

I have to help my husband with this as we raise our girls (because some of our girls realize they can get a sweeter deal just by asking dad instead of mom) and now he has to help me with the boys. Sweet smiles and hugs are not the way to get out of obeying, even if Mama melts when you say, “Hold you, I hold you!”
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The second thing I’m working on:

2. Don’t correct them just for being boys.

I also asked my husband to help me with this one. Our culture is not designed for boys.

There are so many things they aren’t supposed to do. What used to be called “being a boy” is now treated like a disorder, complete with pharmaceutical intervention.

Little boys are not designed to sit still. They’re not designed to be careful. They definitely are not designed to always use quiet voices. They’re not designed to stay put. (Side note: little girls aren’t really designed to do those things either. We’ve always encouraged our girls to push themselves and I’m not saying either girls OR boys have a monopoly on stereotypically good or bad behavior.)

So, we need to set reasonable boundaries for our boys.

Yes: the iBoy can explore our yard without us or his sisters holding his hand. No: he cannot go in the road alone.

Yes: he can take some things apart to see how they work. No: he cannot have our cell phones, Kindles, or mp3 players (or any other gadget we deem out of his reach).

Yes: he can sing or talk loudly at home or outside (unless there’s a specific reason why he shouldn’t). No: he can’t lead a restaurant in a rousing chorus of “Hallelu” or even “This is the Day” (Yes, this actually happened. The iBoy may grow up to be a church worship leader. He’s got the lungs for it and pretty good pitch already, if I do say so myself.)

Yes: the iBoy can hug or hold his baby brother. No: his brother cannot wrestle with him yet.

This is where it’s helpful to remind ourselves of the difference between what Dr. Dobson used to call “Childish Irresponsibility” and “Deliberate Disobedience”.

A little boy who knocks over his sister’s cup of water when he’s trying to climb into his seat at dinner isn’t disobeying. A little boy who picks up that cup and deliberately spills it on the floor after he was told to set it down IS disobeying.

The difference is fairly clear when you stop to analyze the two situations, but in the midst of parenting time for analysis is not always abundant (possibly the understatement of the year, there).

My boys are only a toddler and baby at this point.

But I want to be aware of these two tendencies: the pull to be too lenient because, my goodness, they’re adorable, and the push to be too strict because, wow, they sure can make some messes or hurt themselves (and others).

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Game changer?

Definitely. And all for the best.

What’s your favorite parenting advice? And if you’re a fellow mom of boys, have you struggled with these two aspects?

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Comments

  1. Oh, I get this!! I will admit my baby boy (who is now 2 1/2) has me pretty wrapped around his finger. I KNOW I wasn’t carrying around his brother or sister at this stage, because I already had another baby by then! But my Joshua will go up about three stairs and then look at me and say, “You hold me?” with his big old giant eyes. I am weak.

    I think I struggle with #2 also. Not that my daughter is not VERY LOUD and ACTIVE herself. But I did not grow up with a brother, so I feel like I am never sure what I should let them do and what I should stop. (Wrestling? Swinging from the handrails above cement stairs? Climbing incessantly all over the couches?) Mr. Joshua has almost no sense of fear, which can be pretty scary.

    The thought of your toddler trying to lead a chorus of “Hallulu Hallelujah” made me giggle. I bet they totally would have done it.

  2. Sounds like our boys are just alike! Can’t wait to see them together

  3. Kimberly Pitman says:

    Oh, the memories, I’m grateful my aunt took the time to educate me when your brother was young. She helped me navigate unfamiliar territory.

    Nothing against you and your sisters (because I love all 3 of you as much as any mom POSSIBLY could) but yeah. There’s a whole different relationship between mothers and sons. I’m so glad God gave me the opportunity to experience it myself because it’s awesome!

    So in addition to what you said I learned that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a young man being a “mama’s boy,” within limits, of course. It’s appropriate that he should want to please his mom, the most important woman in his young life. He might even feel the need to protect her once in awhile. It’s good practice for when he’s older and wanting to associate with females outside of his own family. :)

    P.S. The real “understatement of the year”in this post is that iBoy and Sidekick are “stinkin’ cute.” They’re that . . . and then some!

  4. We had 3 boys and then one lone girl followed by another boy. So we are kind of the opposite of you…still struggling a little with how to parent a girl! But I think you’ve got it. Raising boys is a delicate balance of “boys will be boys” and “being a boy doesn’t excuse bad behavior”.

  5. Well, I am the mother of only a just-turned-4 year old son and an 11 month old son. Whew! Yes, I am constantly trying to find that balance between when correction is needed and when latitude is needed. Fun times!