When a psychotherapist, relationship expert, author, speaker and mother of three boys reveals deep truths about, well, being a mother of boys, you listen. If there is anyone who fits that bill, it’s Abby Rodman who has helped enlighten “mom of boys only” in a recent piece for Huffington Post. It seems to have come out of this preconceived idea that only raising boys – as if it’s ever your choice – is “somehow disrupting the natural order of the universe.” From the father of a babysitter to a mom of two boys (who didn’t want a third) to a jaded teacher, people would look down in judgement on Rodman when they learned she wasn’t still trying for a girl…
The Ups and Downs
This last point is really applicable to all parents. No one likes to admit they have regrets, but sometimes they sneak in your mind and get you down. For example, one of Rodman’s regrets is that yelled a lot at her three high-energy boys and didn’t always exercise patients. She “[wishes she’d given herself] more timeouts to gather [her] wits.” Sound familiar? Well, there’s comfort in knowing that no parent on this planet is perfect. As long as you keep parenting (or grandparenting) to the best of your abilities, no one can blame you for anything.
Although it used to bother her, looking back, she wholly appreciates the ups, the downs, the struggles, the successes – all of it! Now, taking a quick break from providing midlife relationship advice, Rodman wants to share the gems she has lived and learned along the way while mothering three boys. We’ve listed some of them below![1-3]
What You Didn’t Know About Raising (Only) Boys
1) You’re their first love
From the moment of conception, your baby boy is dependent on you. The love just becomes more tangible when you’re holding him and he looks up at you with those eyes and you fall in love with each other in the healthiest sense of the word. It always amazed Rodman’s sister when her boys would caress their mom’s hair or pick her flowers. In fact, they learn how to love and be loved by the future women in their lives from you.
2) They will talk if you know how to listen
If you’ve ever tried talking to your son and received nothing but one-word answers or a blank wall, you’re not alone. Compared to females, males are generally less talkative. Although boys can seem like strong silent types at a certain age, they want to talk to their mothers. But one-on-one conversations can seem forced or awkward sometimes, so try talking while preparing dinner or cleaning or out on a walk. Even if they aren’t making eye contact or seem distracted, you never know what timeless mommy wisdom they’ll hold onto for life.
3) They learn through natural consequences
It’s not the only way to learn but when it comes to boys, at the root of every lesson learned is probably marked by a scar. We understand it might be difficult to watch, but roughhousing is part of growing up and having fun. One of the worst things you can do is to smother them when they get a scrape or cut (within reason). Allowing them to learn through experience will help foster creativity and street smarts when they face similar situations in the future.
4) Risks will become a daily part of life
Similar to the point above, risks are inevitable when you’re raising boys because, for whatever reason, they seem to have a death wish! No matter how much you baby-proof your home or yell “Careful!” at the playground, boys will find a way to get hurt. Every single day. They key is not to blame yourself because it is all part of the learning and developmental process.
5) They’re somewhat safer
How many times have you heard stories of parents letting sons go out with friends, but when daughters are involved there’s no hope in hell? Parents might deny it, however, it’s like this strange unwritten parental law. Boys are not risk-free by any stretch but daughters are more likely to encounter risks of attacks or harassment. “I still worry about my sons,” says Rodman, “but I worry less (and teach them to respect women so other mothers can worry less about their daughters).”
6) You will always feel this way about them
Some things never change when you have a baby boy and that “baby” is one of them! No matter how old they get, how much facial hair covers their cheeks, how deep their voices get – they’ll always be your baby boys. “The peaceful joy of watching them sleep… the leaping of your heart when they walk into the room… the maternal thrill you get from their boyish, bearish hugs?” Rodman cherishes moments and memories like these ones and you probably do, too.
7) Their brains work differently
The phrase “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” is a cliché for a reason. Chances are any parent will tell you that parenting sons is wildly different from raising daughters. This also means that your mom brain will function differently than boys’ brains. Scientists have actually found about 100 gender differences in the brain! So, the next time there’s a disconnect or miscommunication between you and your boys, practice patience! It will only strengthen your relationship in the long-run.
8) No girl drama
If you’re’ a boys-only-mom, you have probably thought about what having a daughter is like, how different your life would be with at least one extra girl in the house, etc. Take it from Rodman, though: “I’m grateful I didn’t have to navigate the dramatics of having a daughter. The he-said-she-saids, the tears, the mood swings. Boys have their own set of issues (believe you me), but they usually play the emotional roller coaster of preteen/teen social life close to the vest.”
9) It’s the messiest experience
From plates to potties, boys are experts at making the most mess in the least amount of time! Don’t fight it – you will never win. Plus, parents need a break to have fun and get messy every once in a while. It’s moments like those where parents create special bonds with your boys. If anything, just make sure you have a DIY cleaning kit that you carry around with you everywhere you go.
10) Healthy regret is a part of parenting
Raising good boys is hard, but raising good men is harder. But if you do the first thing right, the second usually follows. Remember, you are the first example of what a good person, good friend, or good spouse looks like. There are countless other ways your son will look to you for guidance. However, the most important thing is that it’s your responsibility… whether you want it or not. Take responsibility. Be present. Love unconditionally. Be the best mom you can be.