14 Ways to Be a Great Boy Mom
I love my boys. They are not little anymore. In fact, they are all grown. But no matter, I will always smile as I think of the rough and tumble that characterized their younger years.
Lots of people don’t ‘get’ boys. They get aggravated, frustrated, annoyed, flustered, and downright angry with boys. The energy, curiosity, and questions are just too much for them. Unfortunately, some of the ‘them’ are parents of boys.
It breaks my heart to see boys misunderstood. I think it’s got to be hard to be a boy sometimes. All the questions, wiggles, bugs, itches, mud, and donuts. There are just too many cars, Lego bricks, soccer balls, and salamanders for boys to be able to sit still all the time.
If you have a boy or several, you know what I mean. Even when they want to, most of them can’t sit still. There is just too much to explore, experience, and examine. They really aren’t trying to drive us crazy. Really, they’re not. They are just doing what they were meant to do: be boys. Be busy, dirty, squirmy, silly, inquisitive boys.
They see the world as wondrous and full of endless adventures. They want to do it all at once. If they want to see how gravity works, they use a vase in an experiment (never mind that it’s an antique). When they want to see how high they can climb, they wear their jeans (never mind that they are their nice ones). And they want to know how fast they can do everything from eating a cheese stick to getting the mail to taking a bath.
We want them to sit still and behave, calm down, be quiet, and listen. And there are times when they need to learn to do each of these things. But not all the time. Most of the time, they need our permission and encouragement to be boys – to run, be loud, and be messy.
It isn’t easy being a boy mom. We forget how hard it is for them to do the things we want them to do, like sit still, be quiet, pay attention, and listen. But what about what they need us to do? Guess what? They need us to do some things too. Some of the things they need us to do are hard, but they need us to do just the same.
Here are 14 ways to be a great boy mom!
1. Allow Critters
This should be obvious by now, but boys love creepy crawlies. They love them. They love to catch them and watch them. Decide to love them too. You can do it. I get that they give you the creeps, but you can hold it together. Dare to be caught up in the wonder of a lightning bug, the danger of a hornet, the curiosity of a dragonfly, and the slime of a salamander. One way to get “Cool Mom” points is to make sure there are always plenty of critter jars available for them to use to catch the critters
2. Accept Wrestling
Boys love rough and tumble. They love to tackle each other, roll on the ground, and get physical with each other. It’s what boys do, and it’s good for them. Ideally, Dad can wrestle with them and teach them some basic boundaries for tussling, things like no kicking, no strangling, no punching – you know, the important stuff. But by in large, they are just having fun when they wrestle. Our daughters sip tea or braid one another’s hair. That doesn’t bother us so much; it’s so much calmer and safe. But boys don’t get into calm and safe. They are into rough and tough.
3. Encourage Fort Building – Inside and Out
It seems instinctual for boys to want to build forts. They might want to do it by using your best shovel to dig out a secret hideaway, or they might get all your best blankets and create a labyrinth of tunnels in your living room. Either way, help them when you encourage their construction projects, their imagination soars. They feel affirmed in their desire to be creative, design, build, and dream.
4. “No,” and Mean it
This point may seem contradictive, but it’s not. If we love our sons, we will say no when we should, and we will mean it. They need to see a strong, confident mom who loves them enough to set boundaries for their safety. A mom who isn’t easily manipulated or out-maneuvered. Boys who have moms bold enough to tell them no are boys who grow up secure in their mother’s love.
5. Encourage Them to Do Hard Things
Boys don’t need helicopter moms who coddle them. They don’t want you hovering over them. Such behaviors are likely to insight deception and resentment. In contrast, moms who insist that their sons don’t give up when things get difficult, challenging, or exhausting are moms who raise boys who have tenacity, determination, and perseverance.
6. Make Their Favorite Foods
Boys need lots of food to fuel their explorations and experiments. They eat and eat and eat. Moms who respond to their son’s hunger by stocking their pantries with good snacks and preparing healthy meals are meeting a fundamental need. These moms are not just cool; they’re smart. They know that not only does good food fule the boys’ bodies, but it also feeds their souls and often creates a context for conversations.
7. Nurture Their Relationship with God
Wise moms know that their boys need God more than anything else. They know that He loves them and has a plan for them. Further, the best moms want to work with God to bring out the gifts, talents, and dreams God has given their sons. They want what’s best for their sons, and they know what’s best for their boys is a knowledge of the Holy Spirit.
8. Respect Their Dad
Boys may act tough, but they are really very tender. They need their mother’s love and nurturing and their father’s discipline and support. And they need the stability a good marriage grants. When boys see their mom respecting their Dad, it shows them how to honor him with their obedience.
9. Give Them Heroes
Although there has been a resurgence of the Marvel and DC superheroes like Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman, boys have long idealized courage and bravery. The ancient tale of Beowulf is just such an example. Boys like the idea of super-human strength, stamina, and speed. While the comic book heroes are fun, they aren’t real. Read books to your boys about real-life heroes of the faith, men like Jim Elliott, Sundar Singh, and Louis Zamperini. Inspire them with what’s possible when men allow God to work through them.
10. Pray For Them
Loving our boys means that we pray for them. The verse, which says to pray without ceasing, was probably written with the mothers of boys in mind. Mothers of boys pray when they watch their sons suit up for the big game, on their way to the ER for a broken arm, or when they go hunting with their Dad. Moms of boys pray for protection, direction, and connection. They pray that their boys will be strong, wise, and bold. Boy moms don’t run out of things to pray; they start the day with “Dear Father” and fall into bed at night whispering, “Amen.”
11. Train Them Intentionally
Don’t be an accidental or passive mom, be intentional. Don’t be a mom who is burdened with regret. Be a mom who keeps her eyes on the prize, is focused, resolved, and whose goal is to raise strong, confident sons who are prepared to stand when others sit, speak when others are silent, and go when others refuse. Be a mom who has an eternal, not an immediate, perspective.
12. Play With Them
Boys bond differently than girls do. Lots of their bonding happens around spheres, AKA: balls – footballs, soccer balls, baseballs, tennis balls, basketballs, and hockey pucks (okay, they’re not all balls.) These are the things boys come around to build relationships. Do you want to have a relationship with your sons? Do you want them to open up? Toss a ball, shoot some hoops, volley, or swing. Dare to join in.
13. Send Them Outside Often
Rain or shine, hot or cold, or anything in between, boys need to be out in the elements. They need fresh air, sun, and space. Boys need to be out in God’s beautiful and curious world. They need to slosh through creek beds, climb trees, roll in the grass, chase rabbits, catch crawdads, hack through the underbrush, and pretend they are being chased, defending a fort, or surviving in the wilderness. Outside is where they can breathe in the fresh air of life.
14. Don’t Insist They Be Still and Quiet All the Time
Most boys don’t move because they want to. Most boys need to move; they have to move. They really can’t sit still, not for any real length of time. Most of them can, over time, develop an ability to cope in a setting that demands them to be still, but being still dramatically diminishes their ability to pay attention or take in information. In other words, when we insist that they sit still and pay attention, they may be able to make us happy by sitting still, but they are probably not able to pay attention. They actually need to move to pay attention. It’s strange but true. We need to help them find situationally appropriate ways to move so they can take in the information we deem important.
Bottom line: Let them be boys! Enjoy your boys and their unique “boyness.” Lean into their energy and daring passion for life instead of fighting against it. Boys are natural adventurers, don’t miss out on exploring the world from their perspective. Love them, laugh with them, and learn from them!