Boys: if you have a son, you know that this word can simultaneously strike terror into your heart and fill you with love. What it is about a boy that evokes such a visceral reaction in parents? When you are first pregnant, tell any mother that you are expecting a baby girl and she’ll coo and sigh and tell you how wonderful your news is. On the other hand, tell her that you are about to welcome a boy into this world, and the reaction may be just a tad different. “Boys are another species…” she might say knowingly. “If you can survive the younger years, you’ll find that they are much easier teenagers than girls are!” You might be left wondering if that thought is supposed to be an encouraging one. Once you’ve given birth to a boy, though, or even if you’ve merely had a brother or had a friend with sons, you know that boys are, in fact, a different species. By the time your son has broken his first window, jumped on the couch for the dozenth time in one day over your strenuous objections, and turned your daughter’s baby dolls into an army of oversized and over-smiling soldiers, you’ll have stopped asking yourself whether nurture triumphs over nature. You’ll know that there is something innately different about having a son. And when that son crawls into your lap at the end of the day and hugs you fiercely and tells you he loves you, you’ll know why you will have the strength and courage to do it all again the next day!
Fortunately, there are strategies that mothers of young sons can employ to direct some of that couch-jumping, window-breaking energy! If your son is school aged, realize that he will likely come home from school with his muscles twitching from spending much of the day in a chair at a desk. Instead of expecting him to get to his homework immediately, order him straight outside to burn off some of that excess energy before an argument, or any furniture damage, can develop! If he doesn’t have homework to occupy his after-school time, be prepared to offer suggestions for activities representing appropriate energy outlets, such as Legos, playing with army men, or a craft. For many boys, trouble starts when boredom sets in. Proactive parenting, and realizing that your son will inevitably behave differently than your daughter, can do so much to avoid many of the typical pitfalls associated with raising a young son. Then, the next time another mother looks at you and says, with ill-concealed horror, “Oh, you have a boy!” you can honestly say, “Yes – aren’t they wonderful!”