3 Tips For Moms of Little Boys
I’ve heard people say that boys are harder when they’re little and girls are harder when they’re in the double digits. So basically what I’m trying to tell you is that we are in the TRENCHES with both right now. Thanks for your prayers.
But seriously, the girls and the boys are sooooo different. I recognize that I might sound sexist or not p.c. when I say that, so let me qualify that by saying that this is only my experience. But all three of my boys are really different from each other, and still they are collectively almost a different species than their sisters.
I think I’ve said this on the blog before, but when I was only a little-girl-mom I thought I was a FANTASTIC mom. We had a set schedule of play time and cooking together and coloring, and our days unfolded with ease. I thought I could write the book on raising little kids, and then I was going to pass them on to Joel when they became teenagers.
And then Jack was born. All my “motherly intuition” went right out the window; it was clear from the start that spending my days with him would be so different than anything I had done in my mothering career so far.
For one thing, he never stopped moving. Our oldest daughter was a very active baby and toddler, too; but this was a different kind of movement. His movements were so aggressive. It was almost like all his energy, even when he was alone; was put forth to win, conquer, or overpower someone or something. He had alpha dripping from his pores even before he could walk—I barely knew what to do with him!
He was also super loud and he had a tendency to bite when he was either happy or sad. So confusing. To me, this biting issue was the most isolating and demoralizing situation I could have come against as a mom. It just accentuated his power over EVERYTHING, including me. I felt like I was the opposition he was always trying to beat, and most of the time he was winning!
When our second son, Henry, came; he was a little less physical and a lot more verbal. And yet somehow he was still so alpha-male-ish. Between the two of them, I was EXHAUSTED. But besides that, I was losing confidence in my abilities as a mom, because no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get them to be quiet and “behave.”
Okay now at this point, you wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask why we had YET ANOTHER baby, seeing as how I was struggling so mightily with the first five. The answer has something to do with this pesky optimism/self-deception I had going on, where I was sure God had one more baby for us and that she would be the easiest yet. Pretty much like how I thought God told me this one time not to get on birth control just as a measure of my obedience, not because He was giving us our third baby in three years. Haha.
Anyway, we decided with the sixth not to find out the sex of the baby, and I couldn’t wait to be surprised to see our little girl at the end of my (what felt like 100th) pregnancy. But at one ultrasound appointment pretty late in the game, I was almost positive I saw a boy-part on the screen. I’m not even kidding when I say that I had a panic attack in the doctor’s office and told my husband that he would have to take the rest of the day off work to stay with the kids, and also—by the way—I don’t want any more kids or to be pregnant. In the most sensitive way possible, he told me to get it together. He said that eight months pregnant was too late to decide I didn’t want any more kids, and it was probably just the umbilical cord that I’d seen, anyway.
But I knew.
You know the rest of the story: the baby was another boy and he was blonde and fat and so so cute, and we kept him. So now that we’ve had three little boys in the last eight years, I’m learning some tips that I wish I could have told my girl-mom self:
1. They do not and will not act like girls; so don’t expect that of them. Boys are active in a different way than girls. My younger boys will run to me and then into me (nearly knocking me over), because they’re so happy to see me. This doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’ve learned that they’re not being rude or naughty. They establish an awareness of themselves and how they fit into the world by bumping (sometimes even crashing) into it. After experiencing this and being shocked by it for years, I now expect it. And when they bump or crash into me, here’s what I do…I squat down to be eye to eye with them, tell them it hurts when they run into me, and back them up. And then I hug them. It sounds a lot harder and more involved than it really is, but my hope is that it makes them aware of more appropriate ways to show physical affection.
2. They cry a lot. Emotions for my boys have been waaaay different than for my girls. My girls get wrapped up in emotions as a logical (albeit sometimes extreme) response to situations that involve others. Our boys feel emotional when words won’t do, and it may or may not have anything to do with anyone else.
Boys cry when they’re mad, yell when they’re happy, and then smile when they’re sad and don’t know what to say. It’s so strange. But after a few years of this, I can see why they do it and remind myself that it’s normal. See item #1: they don’t act like girls, including me.
3. Swift consequences are the ticket. Before we get too far along, I know some people spank and some don’t; and spanking is not exactly what this is about. But as parents, we all know we have to find that discipline measure that reaches them.
I think Proverbs 23:14 says “Discipline your child, and save his soul from death.” Well, I’ve read lots of commentaries that emphasize it being the “rod of punishment” that some versions say, but the Hebrew word for rod, “shebet”, is closest in meaning to a shepherd’s staff…so however you can best lead your little wayward male sheep; do it. The sooner the better.
I have found with my boys that if I get tired and don’t deal with bad choices right away, the situation quickly escalates. I find myself trying to talk or reason with them in the midst of the situation instead of just immediately imposing whatever consequence. The problem with this approach is that my boys are always looking to be the leader; so if I put off discipline by trying to counsel them through it, they feel like they’ve achieved the top spot. Then, not only do they continue with the undesirable behavior, but they usually ramp it up a notch. Pretty soon it’s like a bad behavior snowball! Without exception, on the other hand, the situation ALWAYS diffuses and resolves when I quickly address it—all guns out, so to speak. And then it’s over.
My problem is that I don’t like conflict like this, and I think it’s true for lots of moms. I think I’m being a “nice mom” by giving them second chances or extra grace, but what I’m really doing is avoiding having conflict with them and reinforcing their undesirable behavior. When I don’t consistently and quickly respond to their bad choices, I’m essentially expecting them to think like an adult and grasp the abstract concept of grace. This never goes well for me! They do much better with concrete black and white lessons and clear expectations. “If you do this, then you can expect that every single time.” Done.
I’m definitely not a child psychologist or behavioral expert, but I have learned a few lessons the hard way in the last eight years. My boys are pushing and shoving and laughing and running their way through life, and knowing what to expect from them helps me enjoy it more fully. It’s true that they’re nothing like my girls, and I’m glad. Because not only are they doing their fair share of wrestling and moving, they are also doing more than their fair share of kissing and hugging. My boys are the ones who stroke my cheek and play with my hair. My boys are the ones who ask to snuggle under the covers and touch toes on Saturday mornings. And my boys are the ones who still want a kiss goodnight or an any-other-time kiss. What can be more life-giving for a mom than that?
What about you, friend? Has a little boy or boys stolen your heart? If so, I would love to read some of your favorite stories with him (or them)! Please comment below or message me on Instagram, because I am working on a compilation post of all the wild and crazy things boys do. Moms need to hear that they’re not the only one fishing their car keys out of the toilet or telling their son not to eat kitty litter! So PLEASE comment or message me with your best stories!