Raising Boys (A Dad’s Advice for Moms)

Even with three kids there are times when I sill feel like I’m just now getting the hang of being a dad. Most of us are. That said, there are a few subtle nuances that I have picked up along the way as a dad that might come in handy for moms raising boys.

Ladies, here are some things to think about with your boys:

  • Think caveman. Adult women have thousands of emotional states, as do girls like my daughter. Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy. Don’t project your complex emotional life on your son. His issue of the moment might not be that complicated. He wants to eat, poop, or run. On a really bad day he wants his toy back after some other kid took it from him. He doesn’t want to stare out the window and have lengthy discussions about the meaning of life, as my eight-year-old daughter often did.
  • Watch his body not his mouth. Again, like adult men, the clues to how your son is doing will show up first in his body language. Jumping up and down with six-inch vertical leaps is the natural state of being and is good. Slumped shoulders are bad. Yelling is good. Quiet needs attention.
  • When in doubt, hug. Boys will often have a much harder time than girls verbalizing their problems. My 5-year-old son will sometimes burst out into tears after seemingly trivial events. I know there is something deeper going on, but I am not going to get it out of him, at least not at that moment (whereas my daughter would not only tell me what went wrong but in no uncertain terms why it was my fault, which was generally true enough). So the solution is physical not verbal. I spend a lot of time just hugging my boys. I usually have no idea why. But as a default cure-all, it seems to work wonders. A minute later they are all patched up and ready to rumble again. This even works pretty well with my 14-year-old, who is a 6-foot-tall linebacker at Boston College High School.
  • Yes, it really is all about poop. Girls potty train 6 to 9 months before boys, but once boys make it onto the throne, there is no stopping them. Moving their bowels is pretty much the highlight of their day (true confession: it still is for me, too), and they are going to want to talk about it. Bathroom time is a participatory sport. My five-year-old likes to head to the bathroom just as the family is sitting down to dinner, sometimesduring dinner. It’s the first time he has been still long enough to realize he has to go. And he wants me to come with him, not just to assist in the wipe but to have a leisurely conversation about the status of his poop. As much as I found this inconvenient at first, now I just go with it. Quality time is quality time.
  • Batman lives forever. Boys, even at a young age, realize the importance of super powers. They want to be good and believe in the existence of ultimate good in the world. Boys sort out their identities in relation to the mythical characters they hear about. My son is obsessed with Batman. He wears a full costume, even through the airport and down Madison Avenue. What amazes me even more than his dedication to the superhero is how the guard at LaGuardia or the guy hanging off the back of a garbage truck sees him and shouts, “Batman!” My boy nods his head just slightly, acknowledging his public before moving onto the important work at hand, like going to kindergarten.
  • Pointless physical activity is perfect. My brother and I once convinced his two sons and my older boy, when they were all around the age of 10, that they really needed to build a structure out of rocks. The rocks were on one side of a beach, but the perfect spot where the structure had to be built, according to our sage advice, was on the other side of the beach. Each stone weighed between ten and thirty pounds. The boys started moving the boulders one by one, working together to lift the heaviest ones. My brother and I set up our beach chairs midway from the rock pile to building site. We read the paper most of the morning while the boys tired themselves out moving rocks and then assembling a tremendous cathedral. By lunch they were tired and happy, and my brother and I had enjoyed a peaceful morning.
  • Winning does matter, but less than you think. Boys — perhaps even more than girls — put themselves under extreme pressure to perform in school, in sports, and in social situations. They talk about it less, so the sting of failure can run even more deeply than with girls. With boys it’s important to emphasize the lessons to be gained from failure, instead of trying to win at all costs, and to emphasize the development of the whole boy. Too often in our culture, boys are pushed to become one-dimensional robots. Goodness isn’t about winning at youth soccer or having the most friends or being the smartest kid in class; it’s also about being kind. That’s something as a mom that you can particularly help your son understand.
  • Clothes matter. I know there are way more options for dressing little girls than little boys, so the tendency might be to just throw jeans and a t-shirt on your son and forget about it. But you better make sure they are the right jeans and the right t-shirt. The only consistent battle I have had with my sons is over what they wear. It matters way more to them than I ever would have imagined. They want to look cool; they want to be comfortable (pants that are tight but not too tight, warm and yet breathable). I do draw the line with clothes that have already been worn two days in a row, but I don’t discount the importance of fashion to my kindergartener.
  • Crowds, not so much. I have noticed that my daughter lights up when she enters a crowd, whether family or strangers. Mass humanity is something that gives her energy. With my boys, and, frankly, for me too, it’s the opposite. They get shy and tend to hide behind my legs. I try to protect them from these situations and not push them beyond their limitations.
  • Bedtime is sacred. Because boys are so active, it’s hard to get them to sit still. The best time of day is the ten minutes before they go to sleep. Crawl into bed with them, read books, and hold them while they fall off to sleep. If you don’t believe in God, you will once you have lain next to your overactive son while his body goes limp next to you, and he ever so faintly begins to snore.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like Tom’s new piece: Raising Teenagers For Dummies (Like Me)

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.

Comments

  1. “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. And that goes double for me. ”
    Heavily disagree, neither is a better parent…even in gender role stereotypes both are quite valuable. Were you trying to win over the mum-brigade? It’s pretty damn insulting to men and not a good choice on a site for men, you’re a father, do you really believe mothers make better parents than fathers? It’s that silly attitude that helps make it much more difficult for men to be trusted around children.

    “Think caveman. Adult women have thousands of emotional states, as do girls like my daughter. Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy. ”
    Care to tell what states these are? Hell even as a boy I had far more emotional states than those. I could easily spot jealousy, distrust, fear, love, compassion, intrigue, curiosity etc in boys and men.

    *Grabs popcorn n waits for the pitchforks*

    • Okay, so I’m not a man… so I can’t verify any of this to be true, but I do agree with Archy’s points. I’m not a mother, but I’m like 99% sure I would be a pretty horrible mother. Some women do seem to really REALLY love children. I think I missed the maternal gene. However, I have also met many men who really seem to enjoy being fathers. So I think it is overly simplistic to say women are better parents (kind of pushing the sexist card for both genders there).

      And yes. The emotion thing? Super stereotypical! I think it’s hurtful to assume your boys don’t have those same emotions. I really despise the “men are simple, women are complex” stereotype. From a female perspective, my emotions were pretty clear growing up. When I was mad, it was because my brother was bugging me and I wanted to throw things at him. Pretty straightforward. :/ I think this minimizes male emotions and overcomplicates female emotions. Boys can get nervous, boys can feel stressed, those don’t seem to fit into the 3 categories. Unless you’re saying like… 3 years old, in which case then that is true for girls too.

      • I agree. The internal lives of boys and girls are probably more similar than they may look from the outside. If there’s a big “emotional difference” between boys and girls, it’s probably in the ways they express their feelings more than the original feelings themselves. If you’re a mother and you see your son act in a way that you didn’t as a little girl, that doesn’t mean he’s experiencing a feeling that you never experienced. He could be feeling the same way you did at his age but expressing it differently.

        Good point about the “boys simple, girls complex” trope. The stereotype looks like a pro-female sentiment on the surface, but it also comes with a downside for girls – what a girl says she’s feeling isn’t really what she’s feeling, because it must be something else, because girls are complex, and they get upset for really stupid reasons, because they’re so damn mysterious and complex. Their complexity transcends rationality, and they’re so complex we can just ignore them because we’ll never really understand them.

  2. Anthony Zarat says:

    “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads.”

    This is absurd. I would argue that typical father qualities (one on one playtime and interaction) are MUCH more valuable than typical mother qualities.

  3. John Sctoll says:

    I always hate it when men (for lack of a better word) cow tow to women and mothers. I know you are trying to give advice to moms about raising boys and I think it is great BUT for gods sake , don’t start off with a hugely insulting (to men) statement, then go on to tell a mom that her son only has 3 states.

    I expected better from GMP, I fully expected this from a radfem websites who are opposing shared parenting.

    • I disagree. I believe it’s spelled “kowtow.”

      Other than that, of course, you’re 100% right.

    • Anthony Zarat says:

      Like you, I respect that the intent was to advise mothers to treat boys like boys, instead of defective girls.

      However, I also thought the statement about boys was dehumanizing. It certainly does not pass the switch-genders test. “Girls only have three emotional states: needy, angry, and subdued”. Defining the emotional state of a child by the way the child is perceived by mom is not helpful, in my opinion.

      Every person’s emotional state should be defined by how the person feels, and not by how other persons feel in response. Just my opinion.

      With all respect to the wonderful advocacy that Matlack has, and continues, to do on behalf of boys: this one fell far short.

  4. Well, that first line made me not read any further. The suggestion that mothers are innately better parents is absurd.

  5. Its funny. My son (age 10 at the time) began building a rock dam on a mid-sized river where many people gather in the summer to swim in the vast natural pool. He realized the big bolders where much lighter while in the water, and used that to his advantage. Soon, all the boys under 16-ish joined in the project. They acted as if they were building a dam for their very survival. They would occasionally check the changing level of the pool and shout-out the results to the non-building public. A couple of hours-in, half the men had joined-in with the same perceived imaginary cause.

  6. Julie Gillis says:

    As a mother of two boys (living across the street from two girls the same age), I take issue with a great deal of the article. One, the idea that mothers are inherently better parents. Good parents are good parents whether they are male, female, gay or straight, black or white. There are periods of time (breastfeeding) where one gender may be needed more than others, but we do have formula and bottles and fathers widely speak of enjoying nurturing and rearing their young.

    Also, I think all children have complex emotional states. How they manifest this may fall along gender lines, or it may not. Both of my children are male and they have 180 degrees difference in how they express themselves, though both have excellent vocabularies and are encouraged to talk about feelings and thoughts when they are ready to do so. One is more of an introvert and needs to talk right before bed when he’s quiet and still. One needs to tell me all about his day the minute he sees me or his father.

    Body language is important to read no matter the gender of the person, fyi. Girls transmit information subtly as well, especially introverted ones (meaning introverted from the classic Myers Briggs test).

    Physicality, I agree with but for both genders. Girls (at least the girl children I know) benefit massively from being able to be physical, exhaust themselves and engage in creative outdoor play. Our neighbor kids (many of all genders in the neighborhood) all ride bikes together, climb trees, build things, and roughhouse.

    I myself was an immensely physically active kid and spent most of my summers and after school catching snakes and frogs in the creeks behind our house, building forts and playing Wonder Woman. Girls like superheroes too. 😉 I liked to read and listen to music too, of course and mostly acted “like a girl” in middle and high school, but I think it’s very hard to come up with “boys are like this/girls are like that” parenting tips for the following reason:

    –Each child will have unique needs in terms of their emotional life and will need different things from each parent at different points in their life. Just like adults have unique needs in terms of their emotional lives and need unique support in their relationships.

    • wellokaythen says:

      Yes, yes, and yes. There may be some good general rules about kids, but never forget the complexity and the similarities. Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean that they’re simple.

  7. Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. And that goes double for me.
    I wonder about that “generally are better parents than dads” part (of course you’re free to measure yourself against moms all you want though). Its kinda like saying “men generally make better soldiers than women”. Its an accepted idea but bear in mind that for a long time women were actively limited in their ability to become soldiers just as men have been actively limited in their ability to be parents. As for your listing:

    1. I would certainly agree that as an adult woman she should not project her emotions onto him but at the same time its important for an adult man to not project his emotions onto him either. I take it you are trying to tell moms they need to be ready for the differences between young boys and young girls but “He doesn’t want to stare out the window and have lengthy discussions about the meaning of life…” sounds a bit absolute. He may not want to do those things but parents, moms and dads, need to be able to recognize, accept, and assist a young boy whether he wants to do that or not.

    2. Very much agree on this. Its important to show boys that its okay to verbally express their feelings but parents need to be able to recognize body language. I bet girls express in body language as well.

    3. Yes. If nothing else this will let them know that you are there for them. All kids need this from their parents.

    4. The poop thing has always puzzled me. I’m glad you’re making quality time (that’s almost always a good thing) of it but I just don’t get it.

    5. And plus stuff like that makes for funny stories when he gets older.

    6. Nice.

    7. Yes. Don’t let the future be filled with more men that think they are only as valuable as the victories they collect.

    8. This is a lesson I’m just picking up on now for myself. I don’t wear stuff multiple days in a row mind you. At the end of the day though make sure they understand that its not the clothes that make the man but the man that makes the clothes.

    9. Its good to not force them but I think a gentle nudge or two may help with this.

    10. Downtime is important. Get it while you can.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      Thanks for responding point by point Danny. I would qualify my statement about moms and dads as having potentially/generally different strengths. Women have been the traditional stay at home parents so they have more practice historically. But us dads bring something special to the table which was really what I was trying to demonstrate here.

      • Women have been the traditional stay at home parents so they have more practice historically.
        I think that’s what’s getting at people Tom. Women have gotten that practical history from what I said above: “Its an accepted idea but bear in mind that for a long time women were actively limited in their ability to become soldiers just as men have been actively limited in their ability to be parents.”

        So while you may have been trying to be funny it doesn’t surprise me that men that have been actively limited would be put off by commenting that women are* better parents (nor would I be surprised at women getting put off by the comment that men are better soldiers).

        Also I notice you are giving advice to moms that are raising sons from the perspective of a dad. You’re a son yourself right (or is that kinda being blended in with the advice you give here)? I’m sure most people know that but actively asserting that you are a son as well kinda drives the point home.

        * – I know you said “generally” but this can every easily but just written off as only being used to deflect accusations of generalizing.

  8. Tom Matlack says:

    Julie et al.

    Funny I wrote this for Babble and it’s one of my most read pieces ever (3k FB shares). I heard from friends all over the country who had had strangers pass it along. Mom bloggers like Daphne (http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/cool-mom-reads-to-her-son/) who was a stand up comic before staying home with her kids made a video of her reading it out loud to her son, which in turn got more traffic.

    In all of that my complementing moms, even if a little tongue-in-cheek, and my attempt both talk about what boys at least in my experience are like and be amusing at the same didn’t get the outrage that we see here.

    To me that is part of our problem. A zillion moms and dads thought this post was cool enough to pass along get a chuckle and give you some tidbits to think about in terms of boys whether you happen to agree or not.

    Here it becomes yet another case of THE GREAT GENDER DEBATE.

    Give me a fricking break. When you play with toddler boys and toddler girls there is no difference? I realize gender is a spectrum but in gender there is no difference? Do you know why there are so many single sex schools in this country? It’s because boys and girls learn differently. Frankly girls tend to be ahead and more able to concentrate at a younger age.

    Fast forward to the teenage years (which I am living with right now). A girl who has just come of age and a boy who is having wet dreams are not the same beast. They are both challenging, to themselves and their parents, but in different ways.

    I was trying to poke fun at that and talk about my experience parenting. About a million people on Babble thought that was great. It’s sad to me that the readers on the site I founded don’t see it that way.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      Which is why I said kids all have unique needs. I do think boys and girls are different. But I also think they are both very complex is all. Dunno. The piece didn’t seem so humorous to me, but maybe that’s due to other factors than the piece itself? Babble is a very different site than GMP. I personally, more and more as the months go on, have a hard time reading the tone of GMP.

      And I mean….the site is filled with people with a hair trigger on gender issues. The mothers are generally better at parenting was bound to get a very strident response from many of the men (and women) who post here seeking support as men who parent.

      Anyway, Babble is a very different site with different readers, different history, different tone. That’s not for discussion here, though if you are interested in my thoughts email me and I’d be happy to discuss.

      • Tom Matlack says:

        My point is that we all have to do away with our hair triggers. It’s getting really old and was never the point of The Good Men Project anyways. This is suppose to an open forum where men can share about what it means to them to be fathers, sons, husbands, workers and men. The fact that every piece gets dissected into gender politics is, to my way of thinking, very disheartening and counter productive. The rest of the world doesn’t do that. They take things, like my piece, at face value. No great conspiracy theory by gender warriors on either side. I am quite confident that of the hundreds of emails I got when this piece was originally posted none was trying to interpret what I had wrote in terms of feminist or MRA constructs. They just thought it was cute and funny and interesting. Some parts they liked. Some they thought was silly. But overall they thought it was enjoyable to read and made sense. Honestly that is the kind of attitude we need more of here on GMP. Gender as a theory is discussed plenty elsewhere. Manhood as a practice is the goal here. Nothing more and nothing less. For goodness sakes, lets get back to THAT. And stop with all the harshness.

        • Julie Gillis says:

          Well I suppose we should have some long term meetings about how to do that 😉 Right now, the site has a lot of that going on. Some sites are designed around other things and for whatever reason, this site has gender as a…..like a lightening rod.
          Heck, I’ve had comments in articles of mine that I thought were just poetic pieces coming at me about gender. If I post them anywhere else I don’t get that.

          And in my own response to you I did agree with you about all the physical stuff. It’s crazy important to let kids run around like mad, let them lead you in terms of their own emotional expression needs. I see this less from feminism/mra and just….parenting is case by case stuff. Anyway, I’ll be in touch.

        • Mark Neil says:

          I think the reason that it is an issue here, and not elsewhere, is because (as others have noted) the audience here is a lot more aware to just how acceptable and prevalent misandry is. Most people outside the MRM and the feminists that can sympathies with men’s issues (a large portion of this websites current audience, I suspect) still get a laugh out of men getting hit in the gonads, or taking a slap across the face (or a lemon squeezed into the eyes) for looking at a pretty girl. They are the people who don’t see a problem with the image of men on TV getting closer and closer to homer Simpson as being the quintessential man. So to see the founder of a website dedicated to learning how to be a good man, self-denigrating, not just himself, but men in general, for whatever reason, and worst, setting yourself up with an excuse to fail (because if/when you do, it’s not your fault, women are just better at it than men), that’s not the path to being a good man, quite the opposite in fact.

          Yes, men and woman are different, they teach different value through different methods. And yes, some parents act as gatekeepers, denying the other parent the opportunity to learn and hone their parenting skills, resulting in a feeling of being an inferior parent, but that isn’t inherent to ones sex.

          And as to boys having limited emotion, if you had to shoehorn boys into three emotions, I think curious, bold and frustrated would be far more typical. But of course, boys do also get mad, sad and happy, determined, coy, anxious, bored, excited, afraid, guilty, jealous, lonely, disappointed, satisfied, etc.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      And FWIW, I’m not outraged at all. If was outraged I’d have emailed you privately. 😉

    • As Julie pointed out, different audience. Babble is perhaps not as sensitive or primed to notice gender stereotypes in a piece like this as your readers at GMP, but if you expect that to slide unnoticed here, well…give us a frickin break. You don’t have to feel penitent if you think it’s all true, but you just sound silly if you expect a statement like “Moms are generally better parents than dads” to be taken as tongue-in-cheek humor at GMP.

      The story had many charming and relatable pieces to it, and if you’d left off the generalizations and just presented it as a bunch of ways your sons have been different (and parenting them is different) from your daughter, I think you’d get mostly amusement and “My son, too!”, even here at GMP. But you didn’t just tell your story, you generalized it and presented it as *advice* from one inferior parent (by your own reckoning) to the class of parents (mothers) you’d already deemed superior, while at the same time generalizing your own sons and daughter to “This is how sons and daughters are.” (Otherwise, it makes no sense to be offering it as general advice.) You don’t have to like that GMP has a hair-trigger to gender issues, but you can’t possibly be surprised by it anymore. If that was going to bother you, you should have adapted the original piece to remove the gender stereotyping, and just leave in all the adorable father-son stuff, which frankly, was most of the article. Instead of castigating your audience for being too sensitive, take advantage of the fact that you actually know your audience, and write to them accordingly. Or don’t, but don’t be so hurt when they respond in predictable ways.

      • ECHO

      • Tom Matlack says:

        Marcus really you are going to go under on me?

        Yes I could have reworked the lede but honestly didn’t occur to me that I needed to sugar coat it. This is a piece directed at moms with some thought on how men might know a thing or two about what it is like to grow up male. Stylistically I was trying to not come off too heavy-handed while addressing moms directly, so saying that there are certain ways in which the mothers to my children are and always will be superior to me as a parent is an honest and frankly strategic thing to do on my part (I am quite sure both mom involved had plenty of people walk up and talk to them about it so if I had not done that I would have been in huge personal trouble).

        What troubles me the most is that you are telling me that somehow I can’t publish this piece here without getting the kind of gender based extremism that somehow has taken over our mission. I think that is crap. This piece wasn’t about feminism or men’s rights or even whether dads get a fair shake. It was one dad playfully talking about what he thinks it’s like to raise a son and addressing that to moms to consider. A zillion elsewhere did and got the message with the sincerity with which I wrote it.

        You may or may not know that being a father is about the closest thing to my heart. For the past 15 years I have had to fight tooth and nail to see my kids by my first marriage. I still do not get equal time. My first wife made clear that she would have custody and I would have visitation because she was a superior parent to me. And the court approved her POV without any evidence other than her gender.

        So if you want to get all serious on me, I can go there. I have battled to be the very best father I can be to my kids despite having shit divorce law and a sometimes very crazy ex tying one hand behind my back. If you really think I believe that dads are inferior to mom’s in all ways please read: http://goodmenproject.com/good-is-good/dad-not-god/

        Again, this wasn’t intended to be a piece about divorce law, gender politics, or comparing parenting styles. The meat of the piece was about poop and batman and hugs.

        Yes, I think it is wrong, very wrong, to turn into something that it is not. If all of Babble’s readers can see what I intended here and even you can’t then there is something profoundly wrong with what we are doing at GMP.

        • Tom,
          I think I rolled my eyes a bit at the opening line, but only partly because it was steretypical hyperbole. The other part just figured that the nit-pickers had something to jump on.

          Anyway, whether wrong or not, there is a lot of truth in what you say. Are women better parents? No, but I knew exactly what you meant. And, what you meant rang true.

          Do boys only have three emotions? No, but I knew exactly what you meant. And, what you meant rang true.

          Are boys fascinated by superpowers? Okay, that was true.

          Keep it up, and don’t let the bastards get you down (you know who you are). :)

          -Jut

        • I’m not going under on you, Tom. My buoyancy control device is fully inflated. (Scuba joke, in case that’s too obscure.)

          I think you’re having a hard time seeing what some of your words sound like because you know what they mean. But look again at your opening. It wasn’t a lack of sugar-coating, or a standalone self-deprecating joke about you living down to the stereotype of dads as inferior parents. You said, flat out, that mothers are better parents than fathers. The self-deprecating joke part was that it was doubly true for you, but that only came after deprecating the whole gender with no trace of irony. (Archy detailed pretty well why that would bother a lot of GMP readers.)

          You’ve appealed to the sincerity of the piece, which I agree is endearing for most of it, but it’s that same sincerity that makes the opening and a few other generalizations hard to swallow. It was funny in that “kids are cute and funny” kind of way, but not that “I’m being ironic with my generalizations” kind of way. Since I know you through more than this piece, I don’t think you really believe men are inferior parents (or that you’re an inferior dad), but the piece says otherwise. That’s where the blowback is directed.

          Whether you believe every word or not, generalizations and all, what I’m really hoping to convince you of is that the reaction to them at GMP should not surprise you. If you don’t want bears in camp, don’t keep food in your tent. If you don’t want people criticizing your use of gender stereotypes (and there were a few commenters who did so at Babble, too), then don’t casually slide some into your GMP articles and expect them to be ignored. Treat bait like bait.

          Cutting the bait… I sincerely enjoyed the meat of the piece. The batman imagery was easy to picture and adorable. I thought the section on winning was very important and true, for all kids, but especially boys who I think have the “winning is everything” lesson hammered into them more than girls. I thought the closing about how beautiful bedtime can be was touching and very much like my experience, even though I’m not a match on the son part or the faith part. As a personal list of dad stuff, I loved it!

      • “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. And that goes double for me.”
        Tom, seriously, if you cannot understand why a site on men’s issues that has a lot of fathers, especially fathers who’ve already been beaten around by society, get upset at your article and think it’s simply a hair trigger….

        Starting off by insulting men isn’t helpful at all and simply keeps the bullshit gender role assumptions going, if you feel you aren’t as good a parent as your partner then that is fine but please don’t assume you know the rest of men. Unless you’re going to explain in depth what you mean, it’s going to come across as an insult. It’s really not hard to understand this backlash.

        Your post at the other site also had quite a lot of comments calling you out for gender stereotypes. Now if you had mentioned it was simply stereotypical behaviour without coming across as stating pure facts.

        “Think caveman. Adult women have thousands of emotional states, as do girls like my daughter. Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy.”
        Statement, tone comes across as a fact which isn’t true btw for many boys and many women even. It’s a generalization and one that can be seen as quite harmful, your mission here is to get men to open up right? Explain to me how men open up when you’re shoehorning boys into constricted emotional roles? We learn much of our actions when young and continuing the whole boys have very few emotions, girls have a lot of emotions stereotype leads to adult men that find it hard to open up. I personally find it hard to open up BECAUSE of that kind of thought, that whole boys have few emotions bullshit that doesn’t allow boys or men to really express more than the acceptable emotions.

        There is some good info in your article but the generalizations and the insulting opener make it come across in a very different tone. “The rest of the world” might have liked your article but guess what, a lot of people are sexist, a lot of people do believe mothers are better parents and trust men less. I believe there is an article here by a man who wasn’t trusted by his partner for helping to raise their child without her around, casually throwing in stereotypes that reinforce that distrust I believe is quite harmful.

        Please Tom, listen to the men and women speaking out on it because it’s not all about conspiracy’s and mrm/feminism bullshit but simply the tone of your article and lack of defining the jokes creating an issue. How exactly are they to know it’s meant to be a joke? Caveman itself has been used as a sexist insult against men belittling them as stupid and not having emotional intelligence, should we all go ha ha a joke, funny funny?

        Wanting to get men’s experiences on life is opening a floodgate, not every man is going to accept what you say and go bravo Tom, if you say something offensive then yeah you will get people calling you out on it. I don’t think you meant it that way but it might help to find a way to drop the generalizations especially if the article is going to be posted on a site absolutely filled to the brim with men and women who gender stereotypes have actually harmed and quite badly I’ll add. What is a playful joke today can be a very cruel insult tomorrow, hence why hair triggers exist here. Don’t forget many of the commentators have been through horrible trauma and whilst triggering over everything isn’t helpful, there are definitely a few bits of your article that can really bug people. The audience here is different, surely you can understand that?

    • Janet Dell says:

      I can’t belive tom that this has to be explained to you. You are a very smart guy….BUT, you pandered to the audience on Babble. Next time you write an article on parenting, try reversing the genders on your first line and see if the mommy bloggers will still ‘like’ you.

    • Give me a fricking break. When you play with toddler boys and toddler girls there is no difference? I realize gender is a spectrum but in gender there is no difference? Do you know why there are so many single sex schools in this country? It’s because boys and girls learn differently. Frankly girls tend to be ahead and more able to concentrate at a younger age.

      Tom, are you channeling former Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers?

    • Give you a fricking break? I’m sorry, Tom, but regardless of whether your intention was to be humorous, there are elements of what you’ve said in this piece that cut me very deeply. I have a personal understanding, rooted not only in my own life experience but in my experience in men’s groups over the last 20+ years, of just how damaging such thinking can be to boys and men, and ultimately, to the entire culture. Boys and girls are different, no doubt, but to assert that one gender is advanced while the other is some sort of primitive (“Think caveman”) is just wrong.

      I’ve already responded to some specific points in a comment elsewhere in this thread, so I’ll not repeat myself here. What I do want to say is that I cannot understand how you reasonably expect to be seen as an advocate for men and boys on one hand and publish articles as rife with negative stereotype reinforcement as this one. Your response to those of us who’ve taken exception, essentially a variation on the old male shame standby “stop whining” / “stop being so sensitive”, is equally disappointing.

      I’m not trying to start (or win) an argument with you. Frankly, you seem to be pretty dug into your position, which also baffles me. So it goes. But I find it personally necessary to speak up about the things that bother me about this piece whenever I see them, but especially on a site like this one, and your assertion that “about a million people on Babble thought that was great” doesn’t cut any ice with me. I can cite any number of things that millions of people think are great. That says absolutely nothing about whether any of them are good, bad, helpful, hurtful, wrong, or right, nor does it make me wrong in my own appraisal of them simply by sheer force of numbers.

  9. As a woman who was raised by a single mother and whose only sibling is my sister, I found this article incredibly insightful. My sister and I have a wonderful relationship with our father (as does my mother, thankfully). Each of us has 2 daughters and our sons were born 5 weeks apart…..When we became mothers of these boys, we looked at each other and thought “what do we do with boys?” The love is inherently there, but we lacked a lot of experience on the gender difference – As my children grow, I have become more and more aware that the difference is substantial; this pertains not only to my relationship with my son, but also my relationship with my partner, with my children’s father, with boys that are “friends” or peers of my daughters ( and my son)….I appreciate this article reminding me of these fundamental differences, so that when my emotions arise, or my children’s emotions arise, I can take a mental time-out and rethink my approach as it might best suit the person with whom I am dealing…..the best advice I can take from this article is sometimes not to speak, but just give hugs – – and listen…..

  10. Grammar troll here. In the title: “Mom’s” is possessive. “Moms” is the plural. As long as we’re standing for something I’d like to include clear communication.

    Excelsior,
    -dave

  11. wellokaythen says:

    I’m not a parent, but I was a boy. This advice sounds perfect for boys who weren’t like me when I was a boy. I was quiet, not very physically active, and generally preferred to play quietly by myself or read a book. Under this list of things, my mom should have been very worried about me, because I wasn’t normal. (Right on about Batman lives forever, though.)

    Please don’t assume that all boys are supposed to be loud and hyperactive and always running around and wrestling with each other. Introversion is not necessarily a sign of a problem.

    • Tom Matlack says:

      point extremely well taken Wellokaythen…

      • wellokaythen says:

        Thanks for listening, Tom.

        To be fair, I should have mentioned that if your son has a really big, sudden change in personality from being very sociable to being really introverted, that could be a sign of something troubling him. (Assuming it’s not just being wiped out from a day of playing.) It’s just that being quiet on its own isn’t necessarily troubling.

  12. I love another opportunity to ramble on. I do not have kids though I did walk into a marriage once, partially motivated by a desire to give two young boys a stable (hahahaha) father figure and family environment. Turns out I was more of a pawn in a custody battle than I would have ever imagined. That said, I cannot offer much on topic here, but I do find the hair splitting, and hair triggers increasingly intriguing each and every day. Why is it we can so easily take a post, obviously written with good intent and the idea of opening up constructive discussion and turn it into a point of contention? What is our motivation for doing so ? Am I really so personally offended by anything here that I must stand up, stomp my feet and be seen-heard?

    Some days I simply do not get it.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight Tom.

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      I deeply agree with Jack here.

      We can have a constructive conversation, bearing in mind the intent of the writer (which is clear), and even challenge the writer, without it turning into a battle based upon word-choice.

    • Am I really so personally offended by anything here that I must stand up, stomp my feet and be seen-heard?
      To an extent yes that is just it.

      Why is it we can so easily take a post, obviously written with good intent and the idea of opening up constructive discussion and turn it into a point of contention? What is our motivation for doing so ?
      Simple. Its because some people have been hurt to the point that they think all they have is that pain. In turn they see that pain everywhere they look and if its not there then they will create the image of it. As for motivation its probabaly a matter of lashing out over something in that person’s mind/heart that they have never had the chance to resolve.

      • Tom Matlack says:

        Well Danny I am compassionate to men’s pain. Honestly that is the whole point of the stories that we tell here and that I personally find so inspiring. Sitting with prisoners or soldiers or SAHD’s or men who have suffered abuse or loss. I just don’t have patience for projecting that pain onto things that are not related. This piece is not related to men’s rights or suffering. As I point out to Marcus my own experience as a father is the single most painful thing in my life I have had to overcome, losing custody of my kids when they were babies. I have devoted my life to becoming a good dad to them and their brother. But I wasn’t telling that story. If I was it would be different.

        • Janet Dell says:

          If you are so compassionate to mens pain, they WHY did you start out your story with such an obviously sexist insult to men. My god man, come on.

        • Even though you weren’t telling that story there may be some things that are still sore spots. I bet you didn’t mean to cross anyone with that remark but intent doesn’t override pain.

    • Read my comment above, I tried to explain why many found offense and it’s pretty damn easy to understand why there is some offensive stuff in it, joke or no joke. Tone of article and stating things in factual way in text alone can easily be read in multiple ways, it can easily be avoided by using less generalizations and more “I feel that”.

      Personally, I did not find the humor in the article? Is there something I’ve missed? And who is right, the people who find it humourous or the people who take offense? Anyone can write an article with the intention of being funny and light-hearted but if people take offense then obviously something is amiss. If it’s just one or two people taking offense it might be different but there are A LOT of comments that do not like the generalization and really take offense at the line on mothers being better parents. It’s stated as a fact, is it really surprising that people are up in arms over it?

      ““Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. And that goes double for me.”” Generally better parents than dads? I’m sorry Tom but you really set the article up from the start to piss people off, you didn’t intend to but you treated it like a fact and those that didn’t get bothered by it are actually making me think it’s an acceptable form of sexism. If you meant to say mothers offer a different perspective then you should have said that instead of a very clear “better than”.

      The comments here about hair triggers are reminding me of people telling men to man up n get over it, well I’m sorry but I find it offensive for people to assume “Generally” that women are better parents than men and considering this is a site for men and the issues that affect them, I would be shocked if no one spoke up about the article. Good intentions you may have had but don’t act so surprised that people are calling you out on that terrible first line. You set the tone for the article by that first line, some people see it as a joke and some see it as a factual statement, I’d be listening to the people who aren’t laughing and finding out why.

  13. wet_suit_one says:

    Isn’t the Gender War great Tom?

    Here you are, using a self deprecating lead in and that’s all that people see and comment on.

    Sad isn’t it? People look for offense where none was intended on behalf of people who can defend themselves.

    So effin’ sensitive all the time and so bogged down in one or another’s victimhood or somesuch that they won’t even read the article.

    Holy cow!

    It’s just pathetic that’s it’s come to this. It really tells you something about the folks that read here as noted as most of the other comments you got from other sources don’t dwell on this nonsense.

    So it goes in the modern world…

    • wet_suit_one, it’s attitudes like yours that make it difficult for any man who has been through serious harm to be heard.

      Tom, let me offer you another perspective.

      When I saw that JackobT contributed an article about male abuse from females, that you allowed him the priveledge of a voice amongst your regulars, I was inspired to do the same.

      So I contributed an article on being bulied and hurt by girls and women along with the boys and men. Then there was one on male guilt, followed up with what it’s like to have triggers as a male survivor.

      Amongst this, I, along with the generous help of Lisa and others, opened up a haven for survivors of female abuse, including male survivors, to share their stories and allow the chance to have a place granted to me by you.

      Thing is Tom, while you have been welcoming, there are times when you slip up majorly even though you’re on the side of men as well as women.

      “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. ”

      Once again, this is NOT a statement you want to make since now you have male survivors as part of your readership. It also doesn’t help that you believe:

      “What troubles me the most is that you are telling me that somehow I can’t publish this piece here without getting the kind of gender based extremism that somehow has taken over our mission. I think that is crap.”

      You make the same error with this assumption others always make: That speaking out on something troubling is “Extremism”. You made a generalisation and now you’re passing it off as humor.

      That’s also something society does: Harms or stereotypical statements against men as “Humor”. You know this, as a fact, Tom that if a man ever made the same assumption about how fathers are generally the better parents that he would receive tremendous blowback much much worse from women. Even if he made the excuse that he was only joking or being humorous. Are you going to tell them that they’re being “Extreme” as well? No you wouldn’t. So how does this make it any different? Because we should have a sense of humor about it since we’re men?

      Whether you like it or not, your readership now includes male survivors and male victims of female abuse. Telling them they’re being “Extreme” or labeling their concerns “Extremism” hurts because they have no where else to go to have their concerns heard. Precious few spaces devote space to their pain without the extreme toxic attitudes that permeat the radical Men’s Rights Movements sites.

      Yes people should control their triggers but please, don’t harp on them for being triggered in the first place. Because, again, they don’t have places where they can get their concerns addressed. Even if they did, the people supposed to help them had probably given them short shrift instead due to notions that women’s problems and issues are more important than men’s issues.

    • Janet Dell says:

      It wasn’t a self deprecating lead in. It was a highly insulting jab at fathers.

      • Janet, I was only addressing his reasoning behind it. I highly doubt it was a self-depreciating lead-in as well. Only he believes it is, but therein lies the problem: Everything deemed insulting to fathers is “humor” and “a joke” that they should have a sense of humor about.

        It’s highly unfortunate that Tom couldn’t resist using that excuse like everyone else does when inserting a serious assumption against them into an article.

  14. Spidaman3 says:

    I guess I was one of the few people here who thought this was supposed to be humorous?

  15. It is what it is …One man’s perspective and I enjoyed it .On many points even agreed with it . I teach and i have 2 girls and one boy of my own and I will tell you they are different . not different ‘bad’ or different ‘good’ just different . So all the nitpicking is not going to change that was the writer’s intent . A male maybe at times slightly skewed viewpoint . I love it thanks for a good read .

  16. Loved this piece, especially after recently having read the book ‘Raising Boys without Men’, aimed at single moms, and naturally there will be a cliche or two scattered around when this subject is discussed. But we need cliches to loosed us up a bit and hey, lighten up people, this work was clearly intended to steer moms in a more positive direction when presented with daily boyhood ‘situations’ :)
    Ultimately, we LOVE our little superheroes and want the best childhood we can offer them.

    • Where is the humor in saying that mothers are generally better parents?

      If we’re supposed to be celebrating fathers and men, doesn’t the statement above go against it? Especially the excuse that it was meant in good humor or a self-depreciating jab.

      Sorry, but I don’t see the humor in a statement that society actually believes ferverently and has stacked the deck against fathers when it comes to child care.

      • Where is the humor in saying that mothers are generally better parents?
        Probably hidden in the same place as the humor in saying that men are better….well anything that’s not anatomically specific (like peeing standing up).

  17. I’ve seen hyper-sensitivity of article-content before, but its generally focused upon statements of absolutes or varied positions on politics. Here, we have one man’s practical tips for raising the emotional creature called a “boy.”

    When I first read this post, I thought replies may have augmented the list…annotated it…but not shred it! The substance of the list is entirely true — for some people. The list and content is also entirely false — for some people. But here we have an “ex-boy,” a “former boy,” tossing some secrets about our inner beings and motivations; that we are in fact emotional creatures; that we are sometime “dain-bramaged,” tree-swinging, poop flingers.

    I may have augmented the content with the idea that we, as males, tend to remain 12-years-old in perpetuity. I am actually 12 with 49-years of experience.

    The motivation to shred…I don’t quite get it. The article is a pitch, and a darn good one (speaking as a highly-experienced 12-year-old). Its a pitched testimony, and ought to be left as such.

  18. PursuitAce says:

    At what point will the two camps be incomprehensible to each other? I’d say we are closing in on that time. Kinda like the Republicans and Democrats.

    • Nah, most of us are in the same camp, I think – even the ones criticizing specific elements of Tom’s “provisions” (namely, the generalizations and stereotyping). We’re just arguing around the campfire about whether it’s a good idea to store all the food in Tom’s tent. While some of us worry about attracting hungry bears, others are arguing that only ursine extremists would go ransacking a tent for no good reason, and these woods are for campers, not hungry bears. Same camp, though.

      Pass the marshmallows – I want another s’more. (If that bag is out, I think saw more back in Tom’s tent. Hey, does anyone else hear a rustling sound over there?)

  19. The Bad Man says:

    I hated everything about this Tom. I hated the first line which is a horrible generalization. Moms and dads bring different perspectives to parenting and both are valuable to child development. You’re just trying to be controversial by saying that moms are better than dads but if you want to be really controversial, try saying that dads are better than moms (without any substantiation)

    Could you possibly pedestalize women and devalue fathers any more than that? Is that what this site is all about?

    Very little of the stereotypes that you present have any relevance to me or my upbringing. I also have twin -daughters who are completely different and some of the boy-stereotyping that you write about applies to each of them in varying degrees.

  20. Maybe this would have been more beneficial on focusing on boys around puberty? Up until then, I don’t know if there are all that many differences. But when speaking to my dad and one of my professors on male puberty, both of them were like, “It’s a really difficult time for boys, it’s really hard.” And it’s really rather mysterious. So… if I were a single mother raising a boy I would definitely want some clarification on THAT. What does that mean?! That would be my biggest worry.

    • But when speaking to my dad and one of my professors on male puberty, both of them were like, “It’s a really difficult time for boys, it’s really hard.” And it’s really rather mysterious. So… if I were a single mother raising a boy I would definitely want some clarification on THAT. What does that mean?! That would be my biggest worry.

      Well first off thanks for asking (it pretty rare that people actually ask this it seems).

      I can’t speak for everyone that went through male puberty but I can share my experiences.

      Just like with girls you have to give him a chance to talk about what he’s feeling and then try to help from there. He probably won’t be too responsive if you try to dictate to him.

      When talking about masturbation try to understand that since you’re “a girl” and even worse you’re “mom” there will more than likely be hesitation. Don’t try to shame him over it but still let him know that there is a time a time and place for it (this may call for giving him some degree of privacy because the last thing you want to do is walk in on him).

      Just like with girls there will be emotional turmoil even though it will probably come out differently, possibly in the form of anger. He needs to know that anger itself isn’t bad, its how you use it that’s good or bad.

      Chances are as a woman when it comes to sex you will be thinking about it as a woman and that’s very valuable because you can give him insight from a female perspective on sex. However bear in mind that you are actually talking to a boy. Try to be mindful of what he is saying or trying to say.

      Help him understand that having a girlfriend may be great and all but its not the definition of who he is as a boy or will be as a man. Same goes for sex. Remember that for him its going to be the opposite of where girls are measured by how much sex they don’t have, he will be measured by how much sex he does have. About sex in general its better that you take initiative and get his mind right about it rather than letting other things (like peer pressure) make his mind up about it.

      The genital hygiene conversation. Have it with him.

      People like to talk about how dads need to be the model of what kind of man their daughters should look for. The opposite is true as well. As his mother you have the chance, if not responsibility, to be a model of the type of women he should look for. Presuming he’s straight mind you.

      Finally. As much as you want to help him. As much as you want to be there for him. As much as you want him to know he has your support as his mother there is a chance that some things will simply be off limits to you because you aren’t a man. There’s not much you can do about that and unless its something that’s interfering with his (or someone else’s) life don’t try to butt on him about such topics.

      I know its not a lot and I know its not the awe inspiring insight you may have been looking for but a lot of it is pretty much that simple. And I could be missing some things that need to be coaxed out of men with direct questions about direct situations.

      • Wow, that was actually incredibly helpful. What you highlight points out what I think is a bigger worry for women: not raising boys, but raising men. Boys and girls have more similar experiences, but from your description, it sounds as though when we start to transition to men and women, it really diverges.

        Thanks for the insight, Danny. It’s nice to be able to see a different perspective. :)

        • In this article, it describes the emotional and psychological differences an individual experienced during his transition from woman to man. It may help understand the differences in how you as a woman and how he as a new man think and feel. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/sir-can-you-help-me-with-this/

          In particular the section starting with:

          “I can’t deny that testosterone has changed my behavior. I used to cry to let my rage out. Now, the tears rarely come, even when I’m sad. I am more assertive, but in control. I channel my anger and aggression into running and weight lifting, into creative projects that set me free from pain. I go for long drives and take more risks on the road. I’m less likely to ask for directions.”

          Overall, I agree with Danny’s assessments more or less. Though I would add, I personally, liked to try things on my own. I like to experiment and explore various options, and to challenge myself to learn and figure out myself. Knowing my mother was there to help if needed was important, but sometimes I just needed her to step back and wait to be asked. And this is just in general, it’s not a relationship or ex thing, just a thing (and you’ll note how this can fit in with the above quoted paragraph, in the working out of frustrations through constructive activity, and the less willing to ask for directions, instead seeking to succeed himself).

  21. wellokaythen says:

    I don’t have kids, and I don’t think I would necessarily be a very good parent. I tend to think most of the women I know would be better parents than I would be. That’s not enough to generalize about whether women are better parents than men, though.

    I’m pretty agnostic about the question, actually. It is entirely possible that in society today women are on the whole better able to be parents than men. We could actually set up some definitions of “good parent” and compile some data and put the genders to the test. It could come out either way.

    However, _IF_ it’s true that women are better parents, it is no small part because women are given more of a chance (more of a responsibility, really) to be parents. They often have more experience, more encouragement to be parents, much more social trust placed in them to be good parents. A woman who wants to be a childraiser has a clear path laid out for her compared to the uphill path a man has to take. If one is currently better, it’s because of the current-day social context.

    If we looked around and discovered that men and women really are equally good parents, or could easily be equally good parents, this would call into question a whole lot of things. This could redistribute billions and billions of dollars and change the way much of the economy works. There are people from all parts of the political spectrum who would have to rethink their position, because they’re highly invested in the idea that men can’t really be as good parents as women. Gloria Steinem has even argued that women are holding themselves back by being too afraid to count on men to raise children — don’t let men get out of raising children with the excuse that they’re not as good at it.

    • We do it differently, my wife and I. When the boys get in trouble, she wants to talk to them about it. What they did, why it was wrong, how it hurt her feelings, etc…. I worry that they leave these encounters feeling bad about themselves for, basically, being boys. When they get in trouble with me, it’s short and sweet: you know what you did, here’s the punishment. Very simple, no discussion. And I think they leave feeling angry at me, but being better behaved in the future.

      On the other hand, she has better luck engaging them in things. For me it works if I bring up something that really catches their attention.

      So, men, women… I don’t know about better, but certainly different.

    • If more boys had this growing up, we wouldn’t even need this site: http://goo.gl/obiC

    • oh you betcha men can be good parents. Are they the same parents as women parents, nope. But that’s not the point. My ex is a fine dad, and I love the relationship my son and he have. When it’s time to go out and *do*, they’re both in the water wading waist deep. When it’s time to think, and be, well that’s my time. And I’m glad for the internet because now we get to see daddy blogs, and within the next generation or so, that tidal shift of confidence may begin to change and more and more dads will get to see just how capable a parent they might be. And the rewards? Oh the rewards of being a parent are just too great to even begin to describe, but hey, go out and read a parenting blog. I’ve seen some mighty fine writers go a good job of starting that conversation.

  22. Richard Aubrey says:

    WRT boys’ emotional states. To avoid stereotyping and misandry, we’d have to assert that boys and girls have not only the same number of emotional states, they have exactly the same ones and in the same proportions. Anybody got anything empirical on that?
    Didn’t think so.
    And when it comes to improving one or the other, why is it that men/boys are supposed to be like women/girls? Mightn’t be an improvement to go the other way? If not, why not?

    Ref Batman; Read a piece shortly after 9-11. Mom wrote that her son–whom she sent to one of those special, highly-evolved schools where they don’t play tag because it’s violent–came home and put on his Spiderman suit. He was seven. Asked for lunch for him and his buddy and they wouldn’t be back that evening because they were going to save the world.
    Skinner sucks. Some of this stuff is built in.
    Don’t stifle it in order to make boys more like girls.

    • Julie Gillis says:

      At the risk of starting an argument, for me it isn’t that each child has the same exact emotional range and response….of course they don’t. I think they are all capable of all human emotions and those all manifest differently for each unique child.

      I spent a great deal of time in my 6-10 year old range, playing superheroes, saving the world, climbing trees etc. Does that make me a boy? Of course it doesn’t. It simply means I landed on that section of the active kid bell curve.

      Schools should offer a wide range of play and educational opportunities because kids of each gender play and learn differently. Some may fall more generally on one side or the other, but there are always outliers and ranges of expression.

    • “WRT boys’ emotional states. To avoid stereotyping and misandry, we’d have to assert that boys and girls have not only the same number of emotional states, they have exactly the same ones and in the same proportions. Anybody got anything empirical on that?”
      I can see what you’re trying to do, except it fails miserably. Mad, Sad, Happy are what they tend to feel? Fear, jealousy, impatience, excitement, curiosity, anxiety, love, compassion, affectionate, all states that even young boys have. Tom’s description limited them to feeling a lesser variety of emotions and paints the female gender in such a way that it really sounds like they’re far more varied in their emotions, have far more of them.

      I’m sorry but on the average, I find it a total crock of %*#). I distinctly remember a very wide range of emotions of both sexes throughout my childhood, and see it in other boys and men today. Continuing this whole women have far more emotional states bullshit simply reinforces the macho bullshit of boys don’t cry, it’s extremely easy to understand the link. Boys are expected to bury their emotions, if we continue beating out that both genders are very different in their emotional response to the point of thinking men have a very limited ranged of emotions compared to women it simply keeps that silly idea going on.

      There’s a reason people get happy, sad, or mad….it’s OTHER emotional states feeding into it. What makes you sad? Pain, fear, jealousy, envy, What makes you mad? pain, fear, jealousy, What makes you happy? Fulfillment, love, affection, care, excitement, accomplishing goals, and other positive interactions. It’s about time people started opening their mind and getting in touch with their emotions and actually trying to UNDERSTAND THEM.

      Tl:Dr, continuing to teach generalizations that are incorrect contributes to stifling the emotional development of our boys and men. This site is filled with stories of men who are directly harmed by this restricted thinking of male emotions. It’s really an easy concept to understand.

      • Richard Aubrey says:

        Archy. Let me repeat. If we don’t insist that boys/men have the same emotional arrangements as girls/women, we are going to be accused of misandry. Same proportions.
        My question is whether anybody has anything objective on the subject. If we don’t, we may be pushing boys out of what’s natural in order to fit in with whatever the emo fad of the day is, which is almost certainly to be more like women.
        Emotions beaten out? Nonsense.

        • Not entirely sure what you mean by “emotional arrangement”, but men and women (AKA, post puberty, once hormones kick in) do experience emotions differently due to the effects of hormones. Not to say less emotions or less often, just different. At least that is what this persons experience tells us

          http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/sir-can-you-help-me-with-this/

          (third section in particular)

        • I’m not saying it’s exactly the same, I’m taking offense at emotions being so narrowly defined. Hormones post puberty can have an effect but men and women aren’t all that different, both will feel the same types of emotions and the rates might vary a bit during the female’s cycle. Emotions that girls have, I see in boys, I don’t see boys doing generally 3 emotions but quite a variety but Mad, Sad, and Happy are probably the 3 main ones that are easily visible and I’d say both genders get those quite a lot.

          We won’t reach androgyny but there’s no point treating men like cavemen basically, some of the most emotionally diverse and best artists have been men and it’s not hard to see boys themselves with quite a variety of emotions.

        • I’m with Archy on this one. I have always had access to a wide range of emotional responses to the world. The bigger gender question is, how much of those wider range of emotions are boys encouraged to share? Actually, I’m being generous. When I was young showing emotions was an invitation to get your ass kicked. Society is not kind when you step outside of the social norms. Archy is right that we need to stop defining what boys are and instead let them show us what they are. Each is different. All are emotional, unless they get the repeated message to “knock it off.”

      • This is exactly where the conversation should be going.
        Here’s my two bits:
        I think we are totally off-base thinking in terms of “what’s normal” or “what’s good”. The polarization of the genders has done enough damage and the manipulation of parents, psychologists and academicians needs to end!
        People of both genders experience the same vast array of emotions regardlesss of semantics that NAME those emotions. Due to hormones and socialization there are a variety of differences between men and women. In three decades of observation, though, I’ve found an incredible variety of differences within genders.
        I have nine siblings and find that even within a family raised by the same parents there are vast differences in the reactions to situations, sexuality, emotional stimulation, family closeness, religious emotion, etc. I’d prefer to see individuals as individuals and not as a part of a category or another, or a gender or another. I know that is not so tidy in terms of understanding and categorizing, but I believe that is how it is.
        Wow. We are just as individual as our fingerprints!

  23. Richard Aubrey says:

    Julie. You get it. I was remarking about the initial responses chiding the writer for his supposedly unevolved view of boys’ emotional states. He was speaking in generalities, as well.

  24. Tom et al,
    I don’t know whether hair triggers are getting old or not; I am new to this website. But Tom’s concepts about innate gender differences are pretty old. This concept dominated most of the 90s actually (Men are from Mars & Women are Venus was published in 1992). And 90s was when I was in school & unfortunately vulnerable to my teachers’ & father’s opinions—my fault. Though I absolutely loved Mathematics, most of my teachers suggested that (thought not always directly) I would be better off with languages or social studies since “all those researches point out that how girls are better at verbal skills and boys at Math & spatial skills”. So, yes, the words “different” & “innate differences” don’t sound humorous to me at all. I am actually very scared of them though I am not residing in the United States & was not basically in the middle of these “researches” & discussions.

  25. Loved this article! Great photo of your kid—that says it all!

  26. I don’t have much of any firsthand experience to agree or disagree with most of this article, being young myself and not even thinking about having kids. There’s still one point that I feel I need to question though.

    On the crowds bullet: this has absolutely nothing to do with gender and is instead an issue of introversion vs. extroversion. To me it sounds like your boys just happened to be introverted, while your daughter is extroverted. As a little girl, I was the one hiding behind my mothers’ legs in crowds, not my brother.

  27. I’m a boy in a man’s body.
    After a grueling day of all the convoluted politics that are my job and other nuances of adult life, eating , exercise and defecation are welcome release from the stresses of the day.

    Kids are individual and I say just encourage them in the way they want to spend their energy as long as it is positive.
    Some boys want to be rough and tumble, like my son was, and others prefer to do things which would be considered more traditionally effeminate, as a couple of my cousins were.

    If they have fun doing it and it is not harming anyone, let them enjoy themselves.
    Adulthood will bring enough conformity and roles if they are not lucky, talented, and motivated enough to be the next unique entrepreneur.

  28. Stereotype much? No wonder you’re a horrible parent. What would you do if your little boy wanted to talk about his emotions? Probably punish him for not being manly enough. Gee, I wonder why men feel like they can’t express/don’t have emotions?

  29. I don’t agree with the characterisation of men as being inherently less capable as parents. Isn’t one of the themes of this site to help people realise the importance of fathers? My father has always been my primary parent, and he has also always been more nurturing than my mom. Fathers are traditionally less engaged with their children, but this is not necessarily an indicator of a lack of ability, so much as it is an indicator that those traditions need to be challenged. Counter-productive opening paragraph to an otherwise good article.

  30. “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads”

    What an incredibly hurtful, ridiculous generalization. I fail to see the point of making such a sweeping statement and find it deeply demoralizing to see it here. Whatever the merits of the rest of the article, a terrible way to open.

    “Adult women have thousands of emotional states, as do girls like my daughter. Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy. Don’t project your complex emotional life on your son.”

    Again, I find this sort of reductionist stereotyping of men and boys as emotional simpletons to be highly offensive, very damaging, and totally unwarranted. It is a very dehumanizing characterization that certainly bears no resemblance whatsoever to the emotional life I’ve experienced as a boy and a man, or to what I’ve observed and witnessed with any other man I’ve ever known well.

    According to author Elaine Aron (“The Highly Sensitive Person”), “15-20% of the population are HSPs. Furthermore, she states that the HSP trait is evenly distributed among the genders.” (Google “Highly Sensitive Men: The Hidden HSPs?” for more.) By that measure, AT LEAST 15-20% of all boys and men do not meet your “mad, sad, happy” description and they are hurt in profound ways by such a belief system.

    Finally, as Leslie said in her comment:

    “On the crowds bullet: this has absolutely nothing to do with gender and is instead an issue of introversion vs. extroversion. To me it sounds like your boys just happened to be introverted, while your daughter is extroverted.”

    Exactly. Expressed a slightly different way, highly sensitive people do not do well with crowds and it has nothing at all to do with whether the person is male or female. Nothing.

    I have no doubt that this article was well-intentioned but I find it very disappointing and quite unhelpful for the reasons I’ve stated.

  31. Hey Tom.
    Just for the record, I have to say that some men are FANTASTIC parents. If you can admit that parenting is not your strongest suit, more power to you. But, I think you are just being hard on yourself and I have proof. Any man who can write your final paragraph (Bedtime is sacred) is a fantastic parent. Because you are there with your child in his quiet moments offering safety, peace and the comfort of your physical presence.

  32. Tom, it seems this article engenders many of the stereotypical feelings about men that the “GOOD MEN PROJECT” purports to fight against. Ironic.

  33. Tom Brechlin says:

    Due to time restraints, I can’t say all that I want. I do want to say that I’ve read Tom’s things and for the most part, his comment about his wife being a better parent is way off the mark. Mom’s and dad’s are different … equal but different. Dad’s provide something that moms don’t …. One other thing before I sign off is that the roles of moms and dads change as the kids get older and for sure change based on the kids gender.

  34. Tom.. that was a beautiful read.. thank you.. I’m about to go and snuggle with my over active son :)))) Thank you.. I feel assured I’m not smothering my son.. yet being the mum.. not wanting to fix.. but letting him know I’m there if he needs me.. thank you

  35. Stopped reading after the first sentence:

    “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. After going through a divorce and seeing how the courts are living in 1948, this made me cringe. Evidently the author lives in 1952 also. Thanks for setting us back 60 years.

  36. Stopped reading after the first sentence:

    “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads.”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. After going through a divorce and seeing how the courts are living in 1952, this made me cringe. Evidently the author lives in 1952 also. Thanks for setting us back 60 years.

  37. Heidi Bell says:

    I can’t agree with this kind of essentialism, and I don’t understand why people have to generalize for everyone else based on their singular experience. If you had written this as “Let me share my personal experience” rather than “Let me show you how my experience illuminates essential truths of what it means to be a boy or a girl,” you would have been fine. The more we see people, especially kids, as individuals on a continuum of human experience, the better off we’ll be.

  38. Thanks, Tom, as always, fantastic insight and tips on raising a good man. Bravo!

  39. Goodness…are you people judgmental, or what??? Firstly, the author was sharing his experiences with his own children, and if you don’t ‘get’ some of the humor imbedded in the article than you are not as emotionally evolved/savvy/gifted as you claim to be (Insert eyeroll) There are distinct differences between the ways in which boys and girls handle, and express, their emotions. It’s not to say that boys don’t feel the same depth and scope of emotions as girls just that they 1) may not have learned the tools to express them verbally 2) may need more time to process them to understand what they’re feeling. I’ve been both an educator and professionally nanny for over 20 years, and as much as I’ve fought gender-stereotyping/pigeon-holing etc., there are distinct differences. There just are. Generalizations exist for reasons, and that’s not to say that ALL boys fall into the boy generalizations or that ALL girls fall into the girls one. (I mean I still wear superhero t-shirts and I’m a ‘girl’) So…take a deep breath, process your angry & judgmental emotions, and try to appreciate what the author is trying to actually do here: HELP BOYS.

  40. Brad McDowell says:

    Come on Tom….I love you are doing here with the website, but suggesting that boys only feel three emotions is just silly. Boy (and Men) are human just like girls and women and we all have a thriving emotional component to us….if we allow it to exist. I see me in therapy because they only have three emotions and this is what gets them into trouble. If we allow this myth to continue, men will continue to be viewed as caveman.

    Also, men can be as good a dad as they want to be. I had to learn to be a dad, the dad I wanted to be, because my dad did it differently than I would have hoped he would. But, he only parented me the way he was taught, or in reaction to the way he was taught, and I am confident that if he were here today he would say he wished he would have done it differently.

    Let’s stop this nonsense about men being so different from women. Certainly we are not exactly the same, but we only become more different because we are pushed to be more different than we need to be.

    At the core, we are human and I believe that means we all have the capacity and the desire and the need to be emotive and to care for off-spring!

    Glad I got that off my chest….now I am off to teach my class….The Psychology of Men and Masculinity!
    Brad

  41. Man do I love the bit about boys pooping before and or during meal time. I thought that was just MY son! I do have to say that women are great parents but men have their place too and without them (besides the obvious – kids wouldn’t exist) children would be unbalanced. So albeit you are not a perfect dad you are likely just the dad they need 😉 Thanks for the laughs!

  42. Hmm, I don’t know. I’m not going to say your advice is invalid, it’s very well meaning, but I think most of it relies too much on certain biological absolutes, which implies that human behavior is somehow linked to their biology. Boys at a young age are not especially biologically different than girls. Come puberty, this might be a separate issue, but during a prepubescent age all gender identity is completely performative. When raising males, we should all be careful not to fall back on lofty/sometimes not very lofty platitudes, especially when they are nonessential and, virtually all cases, irrelevant.

    • I agree. This gender essentialism can be really hard on kids and it’s socially destructive. This does not describe my son at all.

    • Michael says:

      Carlos – I disagree. Girls and boys are very different biologically at young ages. There is a lot of evidence revealing differences in mental, emotional and physical developmental curves and abilities. Of course these are generalizations but the idea that boys and girls are the same is also and more clearly incorrect. That doesn’t necessarily mean his conclusions are all correct but many of them are based on actual scientifically observed behavior and not just the ranting of a blogger.

    • Holdfast says:

      Sorry, but no. I can see it with my son and the other toddlers he plays with. Sure, he might sometimes pick up a doll and play with it, and the little girls might occasionally grab a truck to play with, and that’s all fine, but they are fundamentally different. I don’t know if it is innately biological, or if it is because they’ve unconsciously patterned themselves after adults or older kids if the same gender, but they just don;t act the same. The way boys and girls move, the way they interact with other kids, the attention spans, it’s just not the same.

    • As a psychology major I wanted to reply to your comment about how “but I think most of it relies too much on certain biological absolutes, which implies that human behavior is somehow linked to their biology.” Human behavior very much is related to biology, it is called, biopsychology, the study of the mind and behavior through biology. I think the advice is good and there are many valid points, while not all boys are the same, this is his experience and many little boys are just like this. No two children are the same and we all know this, but there obviously enough children that have the same behaviors or there would not be books and books about child psychology and behaviors.

  43. I think this is a well-intentioned post, but it’s misleading. Not all girls are gregarious crowd-lovers, and boys the shy ones. You will often find the complete reverse occurring in households–this is all about extroversion and introversion, which does not know gender.

    My sister has 4 boys–her oldest is definitely an introvert. He prefers to play alone rather than in groups and can focus on one activity for hours. A quiet child isn’t necessarily cause for concern. Pushing someone like this to be more extroverted can do a lot of psychological harm. Her second eldest has zero shyness, and would love nothing more than to sit with someone and discuss his feelings for eternity. The other two are quite young, but seem to lean to the extroverted side. And, personally, I’m female and do not like to discuss my feelings and emotions–never liked it as a kid, don’t like it now. This is in stark contrast to my sister, who has always worn her heart on her sleeve. Also, as a child I preferred playing alone, being inside my head, and avoiding crowds, and still enjoy the same scenarios today in my 30s.

    But the poop–that’s definitely all boys. 😉

  44. Nasirah says:

    This describes my son to a tee…(and his sister also) and we bring them up both the same way :) very funny! Thanks for sharing

  45. John Anderson says:

    It’s nice to know that boys haven’t lost their fascination with bodily functions. Wait until they find out they can fart.

    • When my grade schooler discovered the fart app, well, he and my husband rejoiced for days. Me? Not so much.

  46. patty broom says:

    cute article………made me smile.

  47. A lot of this stuff is really important but single mothers and women teachers completely fail at them.

    “Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy.”

    Anger in young boys is not tolerated at all. Girls get angry and their feelings are respected. Boys are looked at as a problem and are dealt with accordingly.

    “Watch his body not his mouth.”

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Boys in trouble don’t ask for help and they don’t get help.

    “Winning does matter, but less than you think.”

    Competitiveness is stifled and stomped out in boys. We are taught to value teamwork and cooperation and it’s drilled into our heads that everyone is a winner.

    “They want to be good and believe in the existence of ultimate good in the world.”

    No kidding. But this clashes with everyone telling young boys that they are potential rapists and men being portrayed as idiots and criminals in the mass media. How do you think that comes across to a young kid?

    Dear Author,

    “Crowds, not so much”

    This has more to do with the crowd than it does with your boys. Our society welcomes girls and views boys with suspicion. Even at a young age they key into that. They know they are not welcome.

  48. ALL of this stuff applies to girls. The only reason these ideas exist that boys and girls are SO MARKEDLY dissimilar come from people like you spreading the same ignorant opinions and other ignorant people believing them to be fact. Read a psychology book. Pfft!

    • THANK YOU. Almost all of these are ridiculous. The main reason boys don’t communicate the way girls do is that from infancy it’s assumed that boys won’t communicate, so it’s not taught like it is in girls. And liking/not liking crowds either has to do with A.)introversion vs. extroversion [a natural trait that has nothing to do with gender] or B.)or some form of shyness [a learned/developed trait that is more-than-likely linked to the lack of communications skills being taught].
      And if you think boys loving bathroom jokes and superheros more than girls isn’t because it’s socially more okay for boys, then I sent the largest of sighs your way.

    • Michael says:

      Sonya – Actually you should read some child development books because there are signficant differences in how young boys and girls develop.

  49. Gilbert_Sundevil says:

    As the father of four sons, a big giant thumbs up from me. Yes, there are some exceptions to these general rules, but you’ve largely hit the nail on the head.
    Jimmy @ 9:16 – bravo to you for stating why and how are sons & men are stifled & maligned in our society today.

  50. Hi Tom ~
    As the mom of a good man, I really appreciated this article and wish I’d seen it years ago. I quoted you in a post I just wrote for the Parenting With Cancer blog: “Think caveman… Don’t project your complex emotional life on your son.”

    I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when my son was 7 years old. (He’s now 24.) When I read this, I realized in one swift boot to the head that my anxiety about him being traumatized by my cancer was 10x more traumatizing than the cancer itself. He’s tried to tell me a thousand times that he wasn’t stuffing unresolved feelings about it — he never had any!

    On the upside, I guess this means my husband and I did a good job of minimizing the impact of my cancer/chemo on our kids’ lives. My husband was the Rock of Gibraltar — still is — an amazingly good man and a powerful example for our son, who turned out just fine.

    Anyway, thanks for this.

    Peace and grooviness ~
    Joni

    PS ~ Here’s a link to the Parenting With Cancer post: http://parentingwithcancer.com/2012/05/09/chemo-sabe-how-joni-rodgers-raised-great-kids-despite-cancer/

    • Rock of Gibraltar………well somebody/thing pulverised that “ROCK” in my life.

      Love my boys and the advice (Raising Boys-a dads advice for Moms)

      definately will hug them and love them before they sleep…
      so stuff the rock…
      thanks

      No Blond Bimbo / No Boobs either!!

  51. While, as a mom, I really looked forward to the subject of this article, I think the article described the author’s kids’ personalities more than their enculturated gender traits. I’d really like to see an article like this which is based more on a broader statistical analysis of the issues that boys and young men face.

    @Micky I don’t remember reading specifically that the author said these were inborn traits. Little girls experience gender issues from a young age (objectification, sexualization, etc.) due to our culture. I expect that little boys experience some issues as well and I’d like to know what.

  52. Mother Bear says:

    Well said!
    I have raised two sons…….I am finally getting it

  53. Madalyn says:

    Your sons, your daughter, and your wife are lucky to have you. All families need a father and husband who is tuned in.

  54. Nicely put Tom. I rather enjoyed this piece. I have boy girl twin two and half year olds. And my son is purely how you described yours and so is my daughter. I have a feeling you have embraced your sons behavior and supported it NOT formed them into what you wanted. Relax people, stop being so up tight and worried how much everyone else is damaging their children. I garuntee we are all going to screw up somewhere down the line. Smile apologize and give them a hug!

  55. Michelle P. says:

    This is great. As a mom, I’m always shaking my head in disbelief as my 6 year-old is yelling from the bathroom describing the sounds that are occuring in there. I do not “get” boys preoccupation with bathroom stuff. My hubby has been trying to help me understand, telling me that to him, that stuff is still funny!
    Anyways, thanks for the insight and the laughs. Ignore all the naysayers and those that want everyone to act unisex.
    :)

  56. Tom,

    I’ve often seen you on this site decry essentialist gender stereotypes. Why, just a few days ago you posted a comment about women and technology, protesting someone’s implied point that women weren’t good with technology because of their gender.

    But then you make this comment:

    Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads

    Great, thanks for clearing that up for us. Because it’s easier to dismiss the entirety of your post when you kick off with a HUGE and insulting generalization that sweeps all men (especially fathers) into the same dustpan that society does.

    So I’ve gotta ask: really? For real? For really real?? O-kay. Since you’re promoting the stereotype I’d like to see something to back that up.

    1. What defines a good parent?
    2. What are the frequencies of these traits in fathers and mothers?
    3. What evidence do we have from children of which parent they prefer?
    4. Is it possible that better is really just different and that both are equally valid?

    But I digress, you also began your “advice” with another insult: “think caveman”.

    REALLY? BOYS ARE CAVEMEN NOW? Yes, just stupid, uncomplicated, non-complex cavemen who can’t feel more than 3 emotional states because… yeah, I don’t know why either. And your daughter is nearly always right that things are your fault? Great. Thanks for reinforcing that “all Dads suck” meme.

    Seriously, you had a great idea and just ruined it so completely that I’m shaking my head here at my desk.

    • In his defense this was written before the comment on the other page, he may have learned a bit more since then. It’s good to see the gender essentialism being challenged even by those who once believed in it more.

  57. As the mother of one adult daughter, I have suddenly found myself raising my 3 very young (4, 2 1/2, 1) grandsons, and totally at a loss for dealing with all the *boy* issues.

    I’m relieved to know that their habit of leaving the table halfway through dinner to poop, and making the whole family come along, is pretty normal, LOL. Now, we just plan for it, and know that after the first few bites and half glass of milk, one will suddenly jump up and shout “I gotta poop! Le’s go Granny, come on Papa!”

    Glad to have found this site, and will definitely be back.

  58. Valerye says:

    I really feel sorry for some of the people who posted responses here. This was an entertaining column by a man who shares observations about the differences between raising boys and girls based on his own experience. He makes no claim to being an expert in psychology or sociology. However, many of you have argued against his column as if it were a paper submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. You took his tongue in cheek remarks and self-deprecating humor as if he stated these things as scientifically documented facts.
    Try enjoying this piece for what it is – a somewhat humorous look at differences between boys and girls. If you lighten up, you may find you get more out of it. And that you get more out of life in general.

    • I bet you wouldn’t be telling people to lighten up if he had said things like “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: a women’s place is at home with the kids. It’s what they’re made for.”

      The way he started this article is extremely offensive to me. Young males might be reading this and he’s basically telling them “don’t waste your time trying to be a good father because you’ll never be as good as even a substitute mother.” And then he goes on to promote the idea that males somehow just don’t HAVE complex emotional states; a stereotype that is probably at least partially responsible for the fact that suicide rates among males are more than triple that of females in most westernized countries.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_rate

      Enjoying this article for what it is would mean burning it to roast a marshmallow.

    • Yeahhhh!! I agree wholeheartedly.

    • Mark Neil says:

      Standard attempt to shame men for speaking up for themselves.

  59. Sandhya says:

    Really? I’m amazed that we’re publishing this stuff into the 21st century. Boys only care about being mad, happy, or sad? They want to run and they care about poop? Where are you getting this stuff? Perhaps the reason your wife is a better parent than you are is because she pays attention to your kids–not because she’s a woman. I am so tired of that stereotype that the woman is always a better parent than the man. But it’s quite possible that I’m even more tired of hearing that my little boy is simple, while my daughter is complex, that he doesn’t have the emotional depth that she does. Please, do your kids (and readers) a favor and take some time to learn about parenting!

  60. I am the mother of a 2 year old girl. So of course I don’t have a son (at least not yet, I would love to have more kids someday). I think that some of the readers and commenters of this article are taking it too seriously. Parenting advice should be taken with a grain of salt, you simply pick and choose what works for you and what works for your child.

    I think Dads have valuable advice for moms, sometimes it is nice to get a man’s perspective on how to raise kids. I’ve gotten solid advice from Dads and some of it has worked. It is true that boys and girls do develop differently physically and emotionally and each child different things at different rates. Child development knowledge is always changing.

    And ya know what we do raise our kids differently depending on their gender, i’m not saying that this is good or bad, it is what it is. I respect that some parents try to be neutral because they don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on their children to be a certain way just because that is what is socially expected of them.

    I think as parents we need to offer each other less judgement and more support. It’s hard to raise kids, each one is unique and there isn’t a handbook for how to raise children. We are all winging it, and what I mean by that is, we are simply learning as we go. So why not try to learn from each other.

  61. I read w interest. I have 3 daughters, now all grown. When the youngest was still in grade school she got a teacher who, I thought from her 2 sisters having had this same teacher, was pretty much a hippy-dippy feel good, write poems,express your feelings type- you get the picture. I was at a back to school night and standing in line to say hello and ask if she could focus more on math then poetry. She was talking w the parent ahead of me when she said “Boys are different then girls. Girls develop their smaller muscles first whereas boys develop their bigger muscles. Those big muscles need exercising so when recess comes around those boys are ready to go! They can’t sit still in their chairs like little Suzy can, they are physically unable to.” This was in 3rd Grade when kids are starting to learn to write. She went on:” because little girls develop their fine muscle skills sooner, their handwriting is much better on whole. When you say to a little boy: “Why can’t you write pretty like Suzy?” all that does is frustrate them because they are doing the very best they can. You have just told them it isn’t good enough and Suzy is better then you.” I didn’t say a word about math, just said I was happy our last daughter had her as a teacher. math can be taught, tearing down any child can’t be “un-taught” without years of therapy.

  62. This is a truly worthwhile post and I will be printing it out and saving it to remind me of your suggestions, I know I have been guilty of ascribing too many emotions to my sons! I would love to repost this on my blog sometime if that is ok with you…really great advice – Thanks!

  63. Thank you so much for this!
    Somehow I’m not as terrified with the idea of having sons as before.
    <3

  64. SNESMasterKI says:

    Saying boys have limited emotional states and can’t think about things as deeply as girls is not a humorous observation, it is a cruel stereotype. I would have been interested in things like discussing the meaning of life at age eight, and no one taking me seriously about certain philosophical issues I was passionate about caused me a lot of pain and frustration. I can’t believe a site with the mission statement this one claims to have would tell parents specifically not to consider that their sons could think as deeply as their daughters could.

    • I have to say I had this thought as well, as I read this, because I have met boys who want to discuss the meaning of life. I’ve also met boys who like to be in a crowd.

      I found this article to be worthwhile reading, but I felt that I had to take it with a grain of salt due to the overgeneralizing from the author’s own kids.

      I am sorry, SNES, for your experience as a child of people not taking you seriously. I believe very much in taking kids seriously, and I think many adults do not realize how much it hurts when they don’t.

      • As an example, I am a girl and I HATE crowds. I always have. So does my sister. My brother, on the other hand, loves them. Just because his kids are like this doesn’t mean all kids are.

  65. So, so perfectly put, and so perfectly accurate. Thank you for this article!!

    • This is one person’s experience. This is certainly not true off all boys nor would I even think of most boys. He feels his second wife is a better parent than he is, and by the sound of it, he is probably right. I’m a single father raising a boy and he is very outgoing and does well I groups and crowds. He is complex and has many more than three emotions!

      • i know what u mean ..i think the 3 emotions was a bit of oversimplification and cuteness perhaps ..maybe even hyperbole .. a pretty good article i thought; obviously everyone is different and stereotypes are possible everywhere

  66. Great tips that I will share, with wonderful insights. The only one I would quibble with is the second to last, the one to do with crowds. It sounds like you and your boys are introverts, while your daughter is an extrovert. Many girls feel the same way as you do about crowds. I recommend reading Quiet by Susan Cain for more insight on this one in general.

  67. McIan Avelli says:

    Speak for yourself, I was a much better parent than my boys mother.
    Great Article. Especially stressing that boys need to work those large muscle groups.

  68. Jennifer fox says:

    I am a big fan of The Good Men Project, but I have to say this article is filled with gender stereotypes and does a huge disservice to boys. Raising boys with emotional intelligence is so important. I have a 15 yr old son, 13 yr daughter and a 10 yr daughter. My son has verbalized his emotions since he could speak. The first time a girl broke up with my son when he was 13, he stated ” Mom, I have a sick feeling in my stomach and I don’t know what to do, if I lay down it doesn’t help”. After discussing the feelings, he realized it was heartbreak. Once, he could put a name to it he could do something about it. If we look at our culture we haven’t allowed boys to “feel” we close the door and let them cave. Caving has it’s purpose, but let’s not forget that we need to be educating our boys about other emotions besides the socially acceptable anger. We need to let our boys have a safe environment that any and all emotions can be experienced safely and without judgment. Boys and girls are inherently different, development is unique to the individual child, not so much the gender. I remember when I was a kid, they just said girls were bad at math. It’s not true. How many girls believed that and just gave up. Boys have the capacity for emotional intelligence and if we just stopped telling them to grunt, we would be doing the world a favor. Jen Fox

  69. I have 2 grown boys. When the oldest was in early elementary, I knew something was up but I couldn’t get him to talk about it to save my life. This was very odd for him, as he was a talker and still is! Maybe 30 minutes later, we were sitiing in the floor playing with something, maybe legos. And he began talking about the issue as we played. I was stunned but a light bulb went off in my head. Any time thereafter, I ran across the same issue I made sure we did some activity together. He always spilled with no effort from me at all. Many years later I heard an expert on tv describe the very same technique. If you want a boy to talk, do something with him. It really could be anything, from coloring to legos to shooting hoops. Don’t feel like you need eye to eye contact. Just do something and be conversational, keep the emotions out of it.

    • Hah I just realized that often when I do heart to hearts with male friends it’s when were fixing a car or something, rarely just sitting n chatting. Although most of the time we’re fixing stuff or doing stuff and rarely just sit n chat. I guess activities help grease the vocal skills.

    • Pretty much. When I have talks with my male friends its over video games, shopping, cards, or just out riding around. It is very rarely that we’ll just be sitting around doing nothing during these talks.

  70. stephanie says:

    thank you for this advice! first time mom and it will come in handy whil raising my son!

  71. I disagree with the first bit of advice about boys and discussing their emotions, etc. I’m a single mother, my son is 4… and has been taught to be vocal about his emotions and he does very well with it. I think that needs to be taught at an early age because it will help them be better men when they’re older.

    That being said, everything else… SPOT ON! I was laughing SO hard at the poop section. My son sits on the pot and tries to get me to come in all the time. He’ll tell me he hasn’t gone potty yet and he just wants me to come and talk (my ex used to do the same thing). He loves to check on it to see how it’s coming out and what’s going on with it. Makes me laugh so hard. Gross, yet very amusing. It’s definitely in the male DNA!

    And the superhero stuff, my favorite. My son is also recently very much into superheros (though we know real everyday heroes are our servicemembers). He’s into Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. We recently went to a community event and we had his face painted with the Green Lantern mask (he was wearing green shorts and a Green Lantern shirt) – grown men commenting him as Green Lantern was priceless… especially this big biker guy.

    What a great article and great advice. Thanks for being a dad who cares about your kids, and others!

  72. absolutely loved this!!

  73. I’ve been slowly figuring some of this stuff out for myself as I’m raising my 2 boys. Luckily, my husband is very helpful and fills me in on a ‘boy’ way to approach things at times. Learning to relate well to my boys, has also really helped me to relate to my husband!

  74. Very cool post! I like the advice.

    However, I’m a girl and I totally relate to this:
    “Crowds, not so much. I have noticed that my daughter lights up when she enters a crowd, whether family or strangers. Mass humanity is something that gives her energy. With my boys, and, frankly, for me too, it’s the opposite. They get shy and tend to hide behind my legs. I try to protect them from these situations and not push them beyond their limitations.”

    I think that’s more an introvert/extrovert thing than a gender thing.

  75. Carol the Long Winded says:

    Some of this is introvert vs. My brother loves a crowd; I hate them. And I also wonder about the feelings thing – my boys (one of whom is 15) can talk about their feelings…because, as high needs, very emotional boys, they HAD to, so we (their father and i) worked on that a lot.

  76. Bedtime is sacred. Because boys are so active, it’s hard to get them to sit still. The best time of day is the ten minutes before they go to sleep. Crawl into bed with them, read books, and hold them while they fall off to sleep. If you don’t believe in God, you will once you have lain next to your overactive son while his body goes limp next to you, and he ever so faintly begins to snore.

    YES YES YES thank you

  77. Single mom here of two boys and a girl. This post touched my heart. I really really like your message here. Simple and to the point. Thank you. :)

  78. Unfortunately I do agree with you on your point about moms being better parents than dads. The key word in your comment is generally. I am a single dad divorced twice and Iam better than 1 and not as good as the other. It is what it is.
    The only things moms can’t do is be a man. We have the monopoly on that one. You make a lot of great points about what we dads know naturally about being a boy. I love taking a good “poop”. The girls in the house. I don’t think I ever knew when my daughter or her mom ever took a poop. Oops. I said the word. You know what I mean.
    Great post! Love it and will be coming back for more.

  79. This article is awesome! I have a five year old son and this is really good advice! I love the part about at nighttime laying in bed with them until they go to sleep! I do this every night with my son and he tells me so many funny/sweet/wonderful things! He makes my heart melt! Thanks for sharing! :)

  80. it doesn't matter says:

    My 2.8 YO son is being raised by two moms, so I can use all the advice I can get. I love most of things you’ve written in your post about “Raising Boys”. Thanks so much!

  81. People take a chill pill… So what if he is not describing your boy , he is describing alot of them. So yours is more sensitive, yours is a bigger social bug, well then you have a special boy and not the run of the mill boy. Relax. Its like some people take things so personal. I agree with this man, boys in the most part are exactly how he describes them and it was great advice. Dont worry crowd this is a man dominated society you have the better sex child, your one step ahead already. Jeezzzz.

    • SNESMasterKI says:

      What harm could considering that your son might actually be emotionally equal to to girls his age possibly cause? Stereotypes are more damaging than personal attacks, and more unjust. Saying boys aren’t capable of the emotional range of adults and girls isn’t a small thing, it’s dehumanizing, and anyone who would encourage people to believe that about their children isn’t someone I would trust any parenting advice from.

      • They aren’t really stereotypes if they are backed up by science and pediatricians’ studies.

        • Agreed. The article speaks to some generalities (does anyone really want to read an opinion editorial filled with caveats and footnotes?) but his statements are backed by studies. Yes, boys have strong and deep emotions. As a mom of a older daughter and younger son, I have watched my boy process those emotions differently. And he does talk to me about his feelings and can be very eloquent, but that is not his first inclination. It’s generally happy, mad, sad.

          • SNESMasterKI says:

            There is a big difference between processing emotions differently and being “caveman”, or incapable of deep thoughts. That section was written in an insulting way, it is a harmful generality.

            • WoW… I really do not understand. I do not think that Tom Matlack is a DR or anything… He wrote this article based on his own experience… Now like many comments…not all boys fall under what he has written. Gee’s you should be taking everything with a grain of salt (the news and everything you read on the internet) Enjoy the reading and take it as a mans point of view about HIS sons. I do not think he was preaching for all to follow…

            • SNESMasterKI says:

              He phrased it as advice, he obviously was not just talking about his children. It was not about something trivial, it stated that boys have limited emotional states and don’t think as deeply as girls. Having this expectation for your son could cause large amounts of damage, and as I said earlier it triggered painful memories for me.

            • I am not sure what has happened to you and I hope that you are dealing with it and I am sorry. But lets face it boys ( that grow up to be man) are completely different to girls (woman) when it comes to emotions … now… saying that there is a small %% of man who are in tune with them .. .but they are far in between. I am going by my son…I am a very emotional person and I am with him … we talk about it a lot … and I think that has shown him that it is ok for him to be more open to his emotions. He has a heart of gold for a 7 year old and he is not afraid to show his emotions at all.. I tell him there is nothing wrong and to be who he is but I dont have expectations for him when it comes to it. As for the thinking deeply… I could write a long thing on that as well… but again i do have to agree with him… and they two are tied in together…..But I am sure you have to take into account that maybe your situation is not the norm… and maybe that is why you find his this article to be completely out there. You might think different if you did not have the bad memories. Like I said I hope that you are OK now and hope the best for you…

            • Why is it one can never make a point about how something is unfair to boys, a strong point, without the one you’re making the point to asserting that you have somehow been hurt or had something traumatic to you, and then fain sympathy for that projected event?

            • Because he said it “triggered memories” for him. Better to have an empathetic post than some of the calous replies I’ve seen.

  82. I smiled through this entire article. Especially the part about hugs. My son does talk (and talk and talk) but big emotions can be hard. Hugging is a vital 1st step. And bedtime is still sacred with him. Even if he doesn’t want me to read to him anymore, I’m expected to snuggle in bed with him while he reads to himself. When I feel myself getting antsy, I remember that these sweet times won’t last forever. My tween daughter hardly even curls up in bed with me anymore. Thanks for the article and the reminders.

  83. I am a single mother with a 7 year old boy and reading this made me smile and happy to know that I am doing well. Hearing this from a man I kind of feel reassured. I just wish my ex would read this and see how he could improve his relationship with his son by doing some of the things in the article.

  84. Very nice but why bring God into it? Telling me that I’ll believe in God once I’ve seen my overactive son drop off to sleep is a bit patronizing. I watch him drop off every night and I still don’t believe in God. This has nothing to do with being a good mom or not. Apart from that blunder, I agree with most of what you said. :)

  85. THANK YOU – this is not a story of – every male child is like this – but a story of – this is my Dad experience with boys and I hope it helps you and IT DID! My 6 y/o has the worst time with my lengthy lectures. Thanks for kindly telling me to cut it out! I COMMIT to replacing the lecture with a hug – whenever possible. ! thank you, thank you, thank you! I will also tell him later who he can thank for when Mom stopped with the lectures. ~a

  86. I’m sorry, but I really take issue with the first sentence in this article. That women are hands down better parents than men. As an African American male, my father’s presence and parenting were absolutely critical for me in my development. If it wasn’t for him I probably would have been a teen father, abused drugs, landed in jail, or done something pretty violent. I don’t like to invite comparison on “who is better at parenting”. I think men’s roles are just as vital and in some cases today especially even more vital than women’s roles in parenting. So many absent fathers really has a toll on boys. My father was the bulwark for me in my teens. He was an excellent parent. My mother definitely was no slouch either, but if I had to draw better at parenting my dad definitely edged out my mother. I’ve also talked to many of my friends and a good many of them are also African American and Hispanic and they’ve said the same thing. Boys in these groups are at risk. For those of my friends that had a father his parenting skills put them where they are today, doctors, lawyers, professors, engineers, and scientist. There mother’s parenting skills did as well, but this it is not a uniform answer whatsoever that their mother was better at parenting. My dad really provided me a place for areas my mom was uncomfortable with when it came to things like sex and sexuality. He had a no bullshit policy and that helped me so much. I’m actually tearing up writing this. I love my mom and she’s helped to, she furthered my love of literature and reading in general, taught me how to cook (not because she’s a woman but because she believed an adult should be able to do that on their own), but my dad definitely edged her out. He was not patient all the time, but when I really had a problem he calmed the hell down and listened. A lot of my friends say the exact same thing when they talk about their fathers. That’s just one generalization that kind of hurts man.

    • He never once said that the father is not an important presence in the child’s life. He was simply stating his opinion that women are usually better parents, possibly because there are generally more stay-at-home moms than there are dads. Moms have a special intuition; maybe not better than fathers, but different. You can tell from his article that he firmly believes that each family should have a father and mother in the home, as each plays a different role and adds something important to the children’s lives. For you to get offended over such a passive comment doesn’t really make any sense. He wasn’t belittling the role of father’s in the home AT ALL.

      • Sorry, but just because there are more stay at home moms doesn’t mean they are better parents. My father was a better parent than my mom and she was a stay at home mom. I am also a much better parent to my son than his mom. He is diminishing the role and expectations of the father by saying moms are the better parents. I know many fathers that are much better parents than the moms. It’s a statement that should not have been made and I’m sure women would take offense if he had stated that men were the better parents or better teachers or what have you when there is no proof of that.

  87. also, if we don’t value father’s parenting skills and father’s in general we’re going to have a hell of a time convincing men to stay around to be fathers.

  88. sorry, for the bad grammar, but i typed this quickly on a break at work.

  89. I have to say I truly loved the part about GOD, that you wrote in your article. It brought a huge smile to my face because I remember the exact feeling of being truly blessed and loved the fact that God trusted me enough to the Mom.

  90. I love this so much. I have three boys and this post is spot ON. When I can find a pointless physical activity to wear out my sons and my brothers’ boys (total of 8 boys), I actually get an adrenaline rush, because I know I will have a relaxing day. I watched them build retaining ponds, dams, moats, and castles in the sand for 9 hours straight at the beach one day. I

  91. love love your blog!!! single mother here!! looking for all tje advice n help!!!! <3

  92. I really enjoyed reading through this! I have two sons, 3 and 5, and two older stepsons, 12 and 14- I thought this was really all around, good advice and very well written! I’m anxious to look into your book more now :)

  93. Single mom of 16 year old boy here: Agree with the author’s perspective. That rock thing must be a universal 8 – 10 year boy thing. During a vacation trip to the Pacific coast, my son and I were on our way to Legoland (at this age Legos were the center of his existence). The way this trip was structured, I had to see the coast line at least once per day–on our way to a planned list of activities or on our way back to the hotel. We stopped at this secluded beach (hard to find in Southern California) to watch the surfers. My son discovered a treasure-trove of “interesting rocks”. He proceeded to built this canal to the ocean lined with a variety of rock-structures while I sat watching to surfers, taking in the sun and basically relaxing–our only break was to get lunch at a local bistro. Didn’t make it to Legoland that day but it was possibly the most memorable day of the entire vacation. Boys are simple in their complexities and as mothers/parents, some times the best move is to let them be while being there when they need us.

  94. Kerry Soileau says:

    “moms are generally better parents than dads” So stereotypes are ok, as long as they put men down and not women? Any man who who has such an obvious self-esteem deficit has nothing of interest to say to me.

  95. Taters mommy says:

    I don’t usually post comments, but felt the need in this instance.
    I am both a new mom and a new wife. And this article gave some great insight both to my husband and son.
    Thank you so much! I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in proving we are good parents
    We forget our real duty. To love and enjoy our children and teach them to be whole
    Adults. Thank you again for words of wisdom.

  96. It is amazing, interesting, and gratifying (to me) how much this describes my three year old DAUGHTER!

  97. Patty Akrouche says:

    I learned alot from this. Thank you :)

  98. Donna DiCuffa says:

    Unless your first wife is dead, I take issue (on behalf of your 17-year-old daughter) with your last sentence, about your wife being the love of your life. You are insulting the mother of your first two children and if you were a good man, you’d be more sensitive to that fact.

    • I absolutely love this article. Cant believe people take it to the heart if it doesnt describe their children exactly. They must have forgotten that everyone is different. As for his current wife being the love of his life thats great. Things didnt work out between him and his first wife maybe they were too young or rushed into thing nobody knows the situation. Its not like he’s trashing his first wife either so does it even matter. People really need some “chill” pills.

  99. This has probably all been said before in older comments, but I wanted to express what I think of this.
    I get how people love hearing this sort of thing. And I see why one would “smile through the whole thing” and all that. It’s cute, it appeals to the mother, it reinforces gender stereotypes we know and love.
    This guy claims to be a bad parent, then generalizes his own incompetence to his entire gender. And then he proceeds to give others parenting advice. But, you know, whatever. It makes the moms happy to be reassured (by a man) that their men are indeed the inferior parents. Let them be happy.
    I’m really bothered by the generalizations on the children. I know this is not intended to be applied to every boy, but having been a boy myself and majored in psychology I can tell you that boys do indeed feel the same emotions as girls, and there are no studies of which people seem to be speaking that prove otherwise.
    What studies do prove, however, is that boys lack the ability to express their emotions. This is due to the area of the brain that processes emotion being in a completely different area than the area that processes language, while girls process both in the same area.
    Reinforcing stereotypes that have already been perpetuated, in part, by this inability to express emotions, which at times can be unbelievably frustrating for the child, is nothing but harmful to the development of male children. The fact that people I read about in other comments had to reassure their boys that it’s okay to express their emotions once in a while is almost heartbreaking. Boys have the same emotions as girls, and if they are neglected, they are just as hurt. Don’t follow this article’s generalizations; follow your parental instinct. Every child is different.

  100. We are raising five boys (our oldest one is in the navy and has moved out of our home) and I have to say that everything you mention is spot on!
    The only time i get a good conversation out of our boys is when we are driving in the car – they actually have to sit still and they dont have to make eye contact so they seem to share more.
    We love taking our boys to the beach – its the only place where they do seem to get rid of their energy the most and help them to sleep at night.
    With regards to screaming…..what is with that? We have a 13 year old and I swear the only way he talks is through yelling – drives me nuts sometimes :)

  101. I find that this article is disrespectful towards both boys and men. I’m a caring bloke and believe that being a man does not make you inherently make you worse at raising children, just as being a female does not automatically make you a better parent. Equality – that is the discourse of feminism, is it not?

    • John Smith says:

      I agree. The very premise of the articular is wrong. It is a funny and interesting piece, but the basic idea “mothers are better than fathers” is just complete rubbish, and anyone who things that there partner is a better parent than them either needs to look deeply at what they are doing, or at how they view themselves and there self confidence.

      So much on the Internet and life tells men how rubbish they are and how mothers are heros and fathers are little more than a wage earning child for the mother to look after. Lets not have this here of all places.

      • OMG guys. He is just placating us ladies and our egos. You know you are good Dad’s, and you don’t need an internet article to tell you that. I personally really appreciated the advice. My little boy is the light of my life, but can really challenge me. I’ve shared this article with several of my mom friends, and NONE of us think the article is about how women are better than men. Not even close. We’re just grateful someone loves our boys as much as we do, to help us do our best with them.

        • Are you suggesting women DO need and internet article placating you and your ego’s? And on a men’s site no less? The point is, it is pandering to women at the expense of men (and if you’re seriously going to challenge me that the idea men are inferior parents isn’t at the expense of men, you better come well prepared), and we get enough of that in the general “men’s world” public, so it isn’t appreciated in areas we thought were male positive. If you can’t see why that would bother some men (and women), or choose to dismiss men’s experiences because stroking your ego is more important, then, well, make sure to tell your son you feel that way too. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.

          • I agree with you Mark – the ego stroking for women is completely unnecessary and potentially harmful. It’s just feeding a sexist stereotype and women, men, and everyone else don’t need to read that here or anywhere else. The article had some great tips, but I think it would have come across much better had they been framed as tips from fathers to mothers because we all need tips and there is a large gradation in parenting ability.

        • I know I’m late, but I’m a guy and I totally agree with you. It’s incredibly frustrating the way people will take offence at the tiniest perceived slight. I happen to disagree with a few of the author’s claims, but taking offence at his “favoritism” towards Mums is just childish. He was plainly just trying to soften the blow for female readers before throwing a bunch of unsolicited (and therefore potentially annoying) advice at them. (Presumably if he had omitted that first sentence about women being better parents, he would have been harangued by people just as offended that he had dared to “tell women what to do”.)

          • Are you seriously suggesting a woman/mother isn’t capable of being offered advice from a dad without first being placated? That if any opinion is offered to a woman/mother about parenthood without first stroking their ego’s without taking offense? And even if this were true (and it’s a pretty low opinion of women to believe that), there is a distinct difference taking offense at being called inferior because of your sex, and taking offense because someone of the wrong sex dared to offer their opinion.

            “throwing a bunch of unsolicited (and therefore potentially annoying) advice at them.”

            It it is “potentially annoying” to get a man’s opinion, then the reader is on the wrong site.

            But I suppose you’re one of those guys who has become used to self flagellation and prostrating yourself to avoid discomforting women in any manner.

            • No. I’m seriously suggesting that a *person* (man or woman) is more receptive to advice when they perceive that it’s being delivered respectfully, and that attempts to be respectful to the “other team” in this way, such as the author’s self-deprecating opening sentence, are to be welcomed, not derided.

              Sure, a reader should not expect to encounter only opinions that make them feel warm and fuzzy on this or any site. But why make the pill harder to swallow than necessary?

              You see “prostration” when all I’m suggesting that we offer women (and expect from them) is goodwill. I have many disagreements with feminism, not least the unnecessarily whiny and confrontational tone that permeates so many feminist sites/blogs. I would prefer not to see that here. But I suppose you’re one of those guys who believes that every sentence that does not reinforce the Men-Are-Awesome party line heralds the imminent downfall of mankind.

            • I’m curious, given this is a men’s site, and presumably this article would seek to be delivered to both sexes, in order to spawn additional conversation on the topic, how is undermining men’s parenting skills going to 1: show respect, 2: allow men to participate without their opinions being easily dismissed as inferior to women’s with regards to parenting? If his assertion was SELF-deprecating, there would be no issues here, but it wasn’t, it was a broad sweeping statement of men and women in general. You may not have an issue with being called inferior, but many fathers here did, and you don’t seem to think that matters, that feeling slighted like that, even though delivering a message respectfully (to women) is important, is somehow incredibly frustrating to you.

              Why is it you feel it’s OK to slight one sex to make the other feel respected? Could respect not be shown without undermining the other? Unless you’re suggesting the only way a woman can be shown respect is by undermining men, your second paragraph has no relevance.

              Again, I ask how undermining men and fathers demonstrates goodwill towards women, unless that is the only means in which women can be made to feel respected?

              “But I suppose you’re one of those guys who believes that every sentence that does not reinforce the Men-Are-Awesome party line heralds the imminent downfall of mankind.”

              False correlation. Saying “don’t insult me to ingratiate yourself to women” is not the same as “reinforce my Men-Are-Awesome party line”. We don’t require being flattered with every sentence, let alone doing so at women’s expense. We just expect the same in return, not being used to flatter women at our expense. It really does baffle me why this simple expectation, on a men’s site, can upset people so much. Especially when the disrespect is so prominent everywhere you look.

            • “undermining men’s parenting skills”, “[men’s] opinions being easily dismissed as inferior”, “If his assertion was SELF-deprecating, there would be no issues here, but it wasn’t”: Sure, the author’s opening sentence was technically “undermining”. It might have caused a few molecules of underminium to briefly lean in the direction of masculinity. I complained because I consider the *extent* of the undermining to be infinitesimal, and I therefore find objections to it to be petty. Especially since the author’s intentions are obviously good. He’s on our “side”, trying to communicate with people who aren’t (necessarily), and that’s always difficult. Maybe a more perfectly inoffensive opening sentence was possible, but I can’t bring myself to get upset over such a minor thing. It’s dignified to overlook small transgressions.

              “Unless you’re suggesting the only way a woman can be shown respect is by undermining men, your second paragraph has no relevance.” That does not follow logically. All it takes for my second paragraph to be logical and relevant is for undermining men to be merely one of several possible ways to show respect to women. Of course, the bigger issue is that you continue to imply that an amount of undermining deserving of serious attention has taken place here, while I don’t think it has.

              “You may not have an issue with being called inferior, but many fathers here did, and you don’t seem to think that matters, that feeling slighted like that, even though delivering a message respectfully (to women) is important, is somehow incredibly frustrating to you.” I’m not sure exactly what happened with the end of that sentence, but if you’re accusing me of being prepared to tolerate tiny amounts of unfavourable judgement in the interests of bringing more women around to thinking that perhaps men have something useful to say about parenting, then yes I’m guilty as charged. You are of course welcome to feel that a great injustice has been done, and to say as much, but I maintain that I’m equally entitled to feel and to say that that’s an overreaction.

            • Paragraph1: The authors statement alone wasn’t an issue all by itself, it is the fact that that belief permeates society, and perpetuating it, particularly by the founder of a “good men’s” magazine, is not a good thing. But the primary reason this is getting peoples hackles up (mine in particular, at least) isn’t the statement itself, but the shear number of people who want to try and shame men (and women) for pointing out the negative portrayal that statement perpetuates.I do believe the author has since (in another article) noted regret at, or at least an acknowledgement that he should have avoided perpetuating such myths, so the fact this goes on is no reflection on him. It is a reflection on just how virulent the notion is, perpetuated by people like yourself taking greater offence to those who point it out than by those actually speaking it.

              Second paragraph:Given your insistence that a message should be delivered with respect, the only way undermining men can possibly be deemed acceptable is if it’s the only way to show respect to women. If, as you say, it is just one way of showing respect to women, then ether it should not be used, because it doesn’t deliver the message with respect to men, or else you feel men don’t deserve that same respect. Which is it? Should that not have been used because it disrespects men, do men not deserve respect, or are you just full of bs?

              “but if you’re accusing me of being prepared to tolerate tiny amounts of unfavourable judgement in the interests of bringing more women around to thinking that perhaps men have something useful to say about parenting, then yes I’m guilty as charged.”

              But that’s the problem here, it’s not just your willingness to tolerate it that’s being discussed. You’re willing to raise objections to other men being unwilling to tolerate it. That means you find it more offensive for others to take offense to being undermined, than actually being undermined yourself. You are, in effect, trying to shame men into accepting that statement, or dismissing it as unimportant, despite the message behind it (fathers are lessor to mothers) permeating our society. Why is it you don’t have a problem with being called a lessor, but you do have a problem with others having a problem with it? Why is it you didn’t feel the need to just ignore it all?

            • Your first paragraph’s argument makes sense to me, but I can transform my own argument the same way: I’m not just complaining about you or other people on this thread; people in general being oversensitive is a pervasive problem in modern society, and it’s harmful to perpetuate the mentality that we are each entitled to insist that others’ behaviour rigidly conforms to our expectations.

              “Given your insistence that a message should be delivered with respect, the only way undermining men can possibly be deemed acceptable is if it’s the only way to show respect to women.” No. You’re pretending that undermining is an all-or-nothing thing. Actually it can be done by degrees, and I’m saying that undermining your own team to an utterly minimal extent is a completely forgivable thing, especially when done in pursuit of a higher goal.

              The one aspect that I haven’t explicitly clarified is why I’m more concerned with showing respect to women than to men *in this instance.* (That’s because it’s obvious to me, but apparently it’s not to you.) It’s because women are the target audience, and they’re an outgroup: people who do not expect to necessarily have our (men’s) respect. The article consists of a bunch of unsolicited advice, and giving unsolicited advice can be perceived as a disrespectful thing to do. It’s both considerate, and quite simply effective communication, to take steps to reassure the audience that you do have respect for them in this situation. Ideally you can do that without stepping on your own team’s toes, but if not, I’m happy to subtract the few cents of harm done from the gains made in between-group understanding and call it a net win.

              You use the word “shaming” twice to refer to my criticism of you, but not to your criticism of the author. I suppose you expect me to shrink from this accusation, but the ridiculous idea that shaming is inherently bad carries no weight with me. Both of our criticisms are attempts to shame — to present our own values as superior/correct in order to bring the shamee’s behaviour into line with them. By your own actions you demonstrate that you believe there are circumstances where it is appropriate to shame someone.

              “Why is it you don’t have a problem with being called a lessor, but you do have a problem with others having a problem with it? Why is it you didn’t feel the need to just ignore it all?” Explained in previous posts, and in my top paragraph in this post. To recap one more time: Basically I think it’s admirable to forgive small transgressions, and to extend an olive branch to possibly-hostile outgroup members. You will never agree with me because you’re too busy tabulating all the transgressions against you, however insignificant they are. (Yes, I’m trying to shame you into being less petty.)

            • “and giving unsolicited advice can be perceived as a disrespectful thing to do.”

              But it isn’t unsolicited. This is a men’s site, if women are coming here, it is to get advice of, or the opinion on men and boys. If an article is written at that target, it is a target that has come looking for that very advice.

              “Ideally you can do that without stepping on your own team’s toes, but if not, I’m happy to subtract the few cents of harm done from the gains made in between-group understanding and call it a net win.”

              Why couldn’t he have done so without stepping on his own teams toes? That’s the whole point, he didn’t need to. And while you may have no problem with a mens magazine saying “yes women, you are better parents then men” and by extension “your opinions matter more and your decisions are the more correct ones than ours”, as we’re told so often within the media, other people do.

              “You use the word “shaming” twice to refer to my criticism of you, but not to your criticism of the author.”

              Word choice plays a significant role here. Calling the criticism of the author “childish” is much different than pointing out the stereotype perpetrated by the author is a bad one, though I won’t deny that shaming of the author hasn’t occured. And yours has been one of the more moderate shaming attempt.

              “You will never agree with me because you’re too busy tabulating all the transgressions against you, however insignificant they are.”

              Perhaps, but in doing so, I have made clear that I will not accept the title of rapist in waiting. Just how much are you willing to take? Are you OK with men being called lazy, broken women, less intellegent? Are you ok with articles saying white men shouldn’t be allowed to vote? Just how many of these little slights would it take before you began to take notice, especially given how utterly taboo it is to slight back (which, as you note in the first paragraph, is the real prblem. But until it is pointed out that men suffer these same kinds of stereotyping and sexist attitudes, it’s kind of hard to point out the doubles standard and things will simply remain one sided)? Or are you OK being societies punching bag, for no other reason than being born with a penis?

              Regardless, as your last bracket shows you don’t intend to keep this discussion civil any longer, I’m out (unless you’re willing to demonstrate IE provide link of past comments, where you oppose the same kind of “being oversensitive” when applied to women).

    • @Darren – This article is “A Dad’s Advice for Moms”. Not the other way around.
      And it is no where near the realm of disrespectful.

  102. Apart from the moms are better….my husband is a far better parent than me, there is a lot of truth in this article, and the rocks story made me laugh out loud with its truth

  103. I really appreciated this article…I think it’s always appreciated to find new ways to love on our sons. I’ll keep stealing kisses and hugs as long as I can move fast enough to grab him. Thanks for the advice!

  104. Angelica Evilsizor says:

    I enjoyed reading this very much. I didn’t have any of the negative feelings like a couple other people. Just the name of your project says to me that your intentions are good and I appreciate every line in this article. I do have a 4 yr old boy and I will remember these things in the moments I am with him. Thank you!

  105. This is amazing :) I’ve been struggling with my 5 year old and this really put some things into prospective. The last one brought tears to my eyes.. Nothing is more beautiful than your child falling asleep in your arms. thank you!

  106. Loved your article! I have a 4 years son who is a mistery to me. My 9 years lady daughter was so much easy to raise! Really loved to read it.

  107. Kris Earl says:

    thank you! first time mom- i needed that!

  108. Hunter @Green Detective says:

    Are Dads struggling with lifestyle changes in parenting, or parenting as a team? Parenting experience individual to each unique Dad. You are a unique Dad.

    Overthinking gender roles not active participation. Parenting is surrender of identity, while raising, and sheltering kids. Women struggle alone, unless partner communicates. More fun shared together!

    P.S. Suggest you teach son potty time is private, so he doesn’t try this w/ a friend. Draw the line.

  109. I really don’t understand why we have to have all the negative comments here. This man never once claimed to be a professional child behaviorist so to criticize how he parents his own children is insane. Also I believe in his first paragraph he was not trying to “disrespect men or boys” but it was his attempt at saying hey ladies I’m not claiming to be a better parent than you-just some tips that seem to work for me. Here is a man who actually cares what kind of a father he is to his children and all you people can do is leave negative comments on his heartfelt and sincere blog. We wonder what is wrong with this world…. I’m starting to see the problem. Keep up the good work Tom. Not everyone in the world is as self absorbed as the ones that decided to comment.

  110. SNESMasterKI says:

    The two main offensive parts of the article (women being generally better parents and boys not having the emotional range of girls) are NOT presented as the writer’s personal experience, both are made as broad statement. The article says women are generally better parents and says “your” son does not want to have complex discussions like girls might, it isn’t even unclear, the article is presenting both of these claims as true for people in general. The article is right there, I can’t understand why multiple people have made a claim so easily proven false.

    • Thank you. I’m a male and seriously it does not represent my experiences *at* *all*. My sister is easy going while I’m a very complex (troubled?) individual. Trivializing all men like this is something I wouldn’t expect in a site for men. This is just stereotyping at it worst.

  111. i thought this was awesome. I don’t have any kids yet, but my partner and I want them very badly! I found this helpful because its a perspective on raising boys. were both female, so while we both have brothers that will be fantastic uncles, there isnt going to be a “Dad”.

  112. Tanu Yadav says:

    Thank you so much for this article… Really loved the perfect description of everything…We have 3.5 yr boy and I usually struggle to understand him…like why he needs to go with toys for potty. Really appreciate you for putting it all together from bedtime, clothes, batman everything. Thanks alot:-)

  113. The comments feature on this article should be removed. The amount of ignorance is unbelievable. Grow up boys who are too stuck in your own egos to grasp the point of this article. Also to the man who thought he could attack my SON and by attacking my opinions of him you are attacking him all I can say is you’re lucky this is an online forum and not face to face because the term “momma BEAR” means something in this household and I pray that there is someone with more maturity than you helping you to raise your children because Lord help them if you are their only mentor.

    • Nothing quite says man-hater like coming onto a men’s website, and telling men their experiences, emotions and opinions don’t matter (or are nothing more than being too stuck in our egos to grasp a concept, rather than actually having a legitimate reason for feeling as we do) and they should “grow up” and stop being egotistical. What makes you and your opinion so important as to do so? or is that just YOUR ego? Then following it up by threatening others, nice touch.

  114. I found the article very informative!! Thank You so much. And guys complaining about him saying that moms are better parents, do you tell your wife she is doing a good job??? I bet she also tells you the same thing??? Just because he says they are better doesn’t mean he is saying women can do it and men can’t. The truth is, woman are born with an extra gene to make them a parent ( no I am not serious about that ) and most men aren’t. My husband is a wonderful father to our children and there are things he does way better than I do like getting our son to calm down quicker after a tantrum, but there are things that I do better. In my opinion he is the better parent? Is it sexist for me to say that?????

  115. I thought it was a great article! My sons always want to know what is on their clothes when they put them on… True, fashion does matter to them. And my four-year-old son wants company in the bathroom too! He gets mad when I hold my nose, from the smell. It is quality time, he will talk, talk, talk on the toilet. In general, moms are the better parent – I have to agree. It’s part of their divine nature – to be nurturers!

    • Mark Neil says:

      And what is an example of a part of men’s “divine nature”?

      • Unanimous says:

        It is in a man’s “divine nature” to be a provider.

        • Mark Neil says:

          And what exactly does that mean in a society that isn’t allowed to pay a 250 pound muscly man any more than his 93 pound wafe of a woman co-worker on a job that solely requires physical strength? What does it mean in a society that tells women they can do it all, including being the provider for the household? What does it mean in a society that has become so monetized that two incomes are needed to sustain a household?

          No, that is just a cop-out. There is no “divine rights”, let alone to be nurturer or provider.

  116. S. Wilson says:

    I am a mother of 4 boys! I have a 14, 11, 10 and a 3 and I completely agree with everything you said. Especially the part that if your boy is being quiet there is something really wrong that goes for all of mine. I also find that a hug goes a long way with them too. Thanks for your article

  117. Why do you make broad generalizations about the emotional lives of children? Also, don’t you think parents have a lot to do with how much winning matters? And why should boy children get more cuddles and hugs than girl children? I know they respond differently but does that mean they need it more or less?

    • Mark Neil says:

      Who said anything about how much hugs girl children should get? It’s not a zero sum game and giving boys hugs as a solution to their frustration doesn’t take away from girls. All that was said is that a hug is often the solution. I’m curious why you choose to go there? Is there a problem with

  118. Great article. Thank you!!!!

  119. Christina says:

    I agree completely :) Women are , for the most, better parents than men. 😉 Thank you for telling me, a single mom of a 9 year old boy, a little about the secrets of boys and men.

  120. the last thing i would call this article is disrespectful. get a life folks. i think some people commenting spend too much time online instead of with real people. i am a woman and totally got the point of the piece. as a woman, i clearly didn’t grow up as a little boy and had no brothers, so if i have any little baby boys, i will be more or less clueless when it comes to the finer point of being a boy. i appreciated this article and other people need to lighten up. it was funny and well written and if you can get over your egos, which shouldn’t be offended to begin with, this is full of sage advice.

    • “the last thing i would call this article is disrespectful. get a life folks. i think some people commenting spend too much time online instead of with real people”

      Shaming men for having an opinion. Nice. I do notice, being a woman as you are, that assuring the offending statement being uncontested is rather self serving.

  121. Mom of 4 sons says:

    I think a better title would have been One Dad’s Advice, but I was not all offended by the article. As a mother of 4 sons and a wife to a wonderful coparent, I did not find all of his personal views accurate but took them as his experiences with his sons and himself. I saw it as entertaining! Much of his points are very much about particular personality types vs male behavior. I found it interesting that the commentators are so concerned about the “sexist” view points.

    • Soon to be mom says:

      I think there was more than one man. Each time it was a bit different with how many kids or age of kids. maybe I’m wrong but I just thought I’d point that out :)

  122. Mom of 5 boys says:

    I found your advice to be valid. I have 5 boys ranging from 16 down to 4. Many times have I had to prod them for information to tell me what was wrong. Many people think boys are not emotional or nearly as emotional as girls. It’s true they are not as emotional, but that doesn’t mean that they lack all emotions. My boys have had the sting of their first rejection from a girl and impacts boys more than you ever think it does. I also like your comment about pointless activity, but I do have to say it isn’t pointless if they remember it later and say, “Dad, you remember the time we…..” Building memories and a wonderful childhood.

    • Yes a great article. Re the crowd issue, I was just thinking the other day how my mum’s social behaviour really impacted on me. I was one depressed kid. I have about one hundred aunties. All mum’s friends. Sigh. I would miss cricket games because we were having a bbq with “auntie jane” etc etc. Crikey it nearly killed me.

      Can I recommend Steve Biddulph’s books, ‘Raing Boys’, and ‘Manhood’. Both are excellent reads.

  123. Note to Mothers: Remember this – the boys you bring up may turn into the men you hold responsible for your lack of “equality” in life. My advice, for what it’s worth: Acknowledge the differences of the sexes then treat you sons to have equal value to your/other peoples daughters – which should be a great deal..

  124. My favorite line: “Yes, it really is all about poop.” This seems to be true no matter how old the boy is. :-)

  125. Daniel Young says:

    Your first bullet point, “Think Caveman,” is extremely worrisome to me. It has proven to be such an enduring stereotype about men that we have a less complex emotional life than women, and that women are “more complicated,” which is usually meant as a negative, I think (trim it off, ladies, Occam’s Razor style! Maximize efficiency!)

    There are plenty of boys who have complex and conventionally “feminine” emotional lives, and who want to have lengthy discussions about the meaning of life (I was one of them). Treating them automatically as though they just want to run, eat, or poop is the perfect way to condition them to NOT express or try to understand their own complex emotional life. I’m fairly convinced this is one aspect of the traditional normalization of males that leads to this stereotype in the first place. Boys get habituated to not express these feelings because they feel like they’re not supposed to, and end up trying to dull them for life for fear of being seen as weird or girly.

    Yeah, some boys have less complex emotional lives, but so do plenty of girls I know. I think the real problem is “projecting your emotional life” onto your child period, not projecting a particular kind of emotional life. You shouldn’t be expecting a child to feel a certain way, you should be observant to their actual behavior and then respond to them accordingly, as an individual.

    • You have a great point. I have a brother who is like you, very sensitive and emotional from the time he was a toddler. He was more ‘feminine’ than my tomboy sister always and sometimes even more than I. He’s one of the sweetest men I know, always gentle with women and able to understand their complex emotional lives. My mom has no trouble relating to him but my dad does still, even though he’s almost 30 now. This article was aimed at moms who may have difficulty relating to their ‘masculine’ boys (I hate the terms ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ since we all have both feminine and masculine traits if we’re completely honest with ourselves), but I would love to see an article for dads who have difficulty relating to their emotional sons as well.

  126. Thank you! This is great advice for a divorced mom raising a son. My son is 8 and so much of this applies to him; especially the superhero part. He still wears his Transformers costume from three years ago on a regular basis. Didn’t know about the poop thing and it’s a little much for me but I will certainly pay more attention to it. Hopefully he doesn’t ask me to sit and chat wit him.

  127. Caitlin Grace says:

    Loved this! And here is my advice from a mother of three sons http://bit.ly/Y5gqoZ

  128. Aahh yes, as a mom to three boys, I can say this post qualifies you as a very wise man — and dad. Thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom. We moms need reminders from time to time that you boys truly are a different breed.

  129. Felicity Duran says:

    I loved reading what you had to say! As a mother of two and having many nephews I completely agree with it all :) God bless you and your family!

  130. Great, great article.

    Humorous, truthful. And yes clothes definitely matter. Lol.

  131. John Cockrell says:

    Great article! Really insightful, thoughtful, and caring.

  132. divorced mom of 4 says:

    Absolute truth. I am a divorced mom with 3 boys, ages 12, 7 and 5 and a daughter who is 15. I often wonder about my boys and how well I am doing on my own. You described my boys to a T. I am proud to say, so far I have done a pretty good job. I will add one thing… they know 2 volumes, loud and louder. Haha no matter how people want males and females to be the same and treated the same, they are different and have different ways of thinking, communicating, acting and dealing with things. My boys are all boy and so much different than my daughter. It is what it is and you can’t change it.

  133. Nice stereotype for men as being second best in parenting world. Bad enough commercials and sitcoms present fathers nitwits who are lucky enough to know how change a roll of toilet paper let alone a diaper that I need to see it in an article in The Good Men Project. Next time refer to yourself as having problems being a parent instead of all men. I’m a fantastic father of 2 and have been involved in my kids lives from the moment they were born to now. A good parent is a good patent, independent of their gender.

    Good points once you get past the ridiculous first sentence.

  134. this is awesome! thank you so much for writing this, I have a six year old son and a handful of nieces, I find myself comparing him to them and I really shouldn’t and now I understand why. the whole thing about poop, well you couldn’t be more right, my son loves to describe the whole process from start to finish, at first I thought it was gross but now I just laugh it off. thank you!! keep up the good job!

  135. great advice

  136. Interesting, but I think this is more of personality in his boys than the gender. I have two boys, and two girls, and a very masculine husband and father of these kiddos. My daughter likes talking poop more than the boys, and my one son loves a crowd! The thing that I appreciate is that he seems to be getting to know his kids well and what works for them. As a parent, we have to be watching them and learning what makes them tick. I have a daughter that would love to snuggle in her bed, the other would rather me not get near her in her bed. My two sons might have different opinions on how much snuggling and or hugging they want or are comfortable with. Ha! But yes, my oldest son DOES love to jump…he is constantly trying to reach the height of our celings! Glad to know that is not just him. Get to know your kids and love on them…they will be gone before we know it!

  137. As a father of four boys from 19 down to 8, I can say that a lot of what the author posted is pretty true and accurate. But with all people, whether they’re grown up or children, male or female, there are always some differences in the way they behave in situations.

    It’s great advice to follow, nonetheless, as long as you keep in mind that it’s advice on one person’s child from personal experience and not an end-all be-all guide to all little boys. Bravo to the author. I really enjoyed this one.

  138. I enjoyed reading this, but I feel it’s necessary to point out a flaw in this article: girls are extremely competitive by nature. At work, I find myself striving to beat my coworkers in contests from our boss. When I play sports, I get frustrated when I lose. Furthermore, girls love to compare themselves to others – who has better hair, who has the better job, etc. this is derived from our competitive nature.

  139. LOVED this article. My husband and I have 2 boys and although Steven, usually knows how to handle most boy situations, I DO NOT! I always feel like they should act or look a certain way, but in reality they are boys…and boys will be boys. Thanks for a post that all moms can learn from!

  140. Hm. I’ve felt all kinds of amazing emotions and instincts firing up while experiencing 17 wonderful months of motherhood, and if anything, I believe in gods even less than before. In fact, nope, not at all. The universe itself is divine to me. The random possibility of my beautiful son being born is more than enough to inspire awe in my heart. I don’t need fairy tales.

    Other than that, okay advice I guess. If you want to raise a caveman incapable of complex thoughts and emotions. 😛

    • Well it’s a good thing you came along with your 17 months of experience to tell Tom how wrong his 17 years makes him. Nothing like being dismissive of others experience when your own is but a fraction of theirs. I disagree with several of the things Tom had to say here, but I made arguments. What you did is little better than what feminists call mansplaining when a man does it to a woman.

      And I need to ask, what reasoning to you have for asserting the acknowledgment of some of these generalizations (very few actions are actually suggested, more like expectations) will result in raising a caveman? Are you suggesting that spending time with a boy until he’s ready to talk, or giving a boy a hug, leads to misogyny?

  141. I was a stay-at-home parent for two daughters for many years. My wife would leave with relief for her office on Monday mornings, to relax, she said, as a workaholic lawyer unable to be comfortable with all that parenting of small kids requires. That secondary parent stuff at the beginning of this article is appalling. And my daughters – as is often the case – were quite different from one another, so that one was quiet and not happy to be in social situations, while the other was buoyant in them. Kids are individual.

    • So, because your individual situation and experience was different than the author’s, you felt obliged to be offended by it? Embrace it. Not everyone is different and if I’m not mistaken, this isn’t an article meant to apply to ALL children or families. This is the author’s experience, and if it helps you, GREAT! If it doesn’t, well, no harm no foul.

      • Not everyone is different? What clone family are you a part of?

      • Elizabeth says:

        But he’s not speaking purely from his own experience. He makes very broad generalizations all throughout the entire article, from the first sentence: “Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads.” Why couldn’t he have just said “my children’s mother is a better parent than me” or something that speaks to his specific experience rather than projecting his experience onto most other families. It doesn’t feel good when you’re a stay-at-home father doing a great job, and you already have to deal with the fact that you are in the minority and battling constantly against stereotypes about fathers being poor parents and judgments from people who think the mother should be the one staying at home, to read articles that start out with generalizations about dads being lesser than moms. So yes, that is offensive.

    • FizzyLiftingDrink says:

      I think he’s painting with a very broad brush. This is reductionist writing. Boys can be verbal–some of the best poets and authors are men. Boys definitly have deep feelings, just as much as girls. If no man ever stared out the window contemplating life, we’d have no Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Confucious, John the Baptist, Rumi, Muhammed. Any individual can be an introvert or extrovert. Everyone likes talking about their bowel movements. These aren’t things connected to the X or Y chromasome. As a woman soon to be married and thinking about starting a family, I was hoping this would be something other than an elaboration on the whole “boys will be boys” stereotype.

      • I often wonder why people are so opposed to generalizations (until they want to make them, of course). Of course he’s painting with a broad brush, you can’t discuss this kind of topic without doing so. Now, if you disagree his generalizations are correct, then address that, and make your arguments otherwise, as others (including myself) have done. But just whinging that he dared to use generalizations, and that those generalizations aren’t always representative of everyone (duh!)… what’s the point? Everyone understands generalizations have exceptions (unless they wish to take offense, then they often play stupid and think a generalization is some kind of absolute, until, again, they want to use them).

        • I think the point of the comment the previous person meant or at least I see as being a problem is that, this dad had identified obvious differences between males and females, but he failed to mention the introvert vs. extrovert which has a lot to do with crowds and expressing feelings. As an introvert I do not “light up” when put into a room full of people and the same goes for both of my daughters. My husband on the other hand is an extrovert and he has quite a few male friends that are as well. I think generalizations can be great but some of the ones he is describing he has characterized as feminine/masculine when really it is a generalization between introvert/extrovert. He is just using the wrong generalization scale in some of his examples.

          • I might take exception about the generalizations, but maybe the better approach is to think of this as a list of “ways your son (or daughter) might be different than you think”. If it helps somebody think outside the box with regards to the child, so much the better.

            Much of this list fits my 5-year-old daughter really well, I must say. Maybe the more urgent need is to warn parents that “yes, some kindergarten girls love to talk about poop too.” 😀

            • Kimberly says:

              I definitely agree, this is a good article if you take out the gender stereotypes. My daughter for the longest time was obsessed with batman and had her costume that she wanted to wear all the time. I called her “batgirl” one time and learned the error of my ways. Batman was awesome, batgirl was just a wimpy girl, she was Batman. I think the best advice in this article is to basically take cues from your kid and let them be themselves. In fact, my daughter also fits most of the description in this article as well. She loves having farting matches with her friends… so gross.

        • Elizabeth says:

          But what good does it do anyone to reinforce generalizations that have been reinforced by the majority of our society for hundreds of years? You’re not saying anything new, insightful, or helpful, and in the process of mimicking things that are projected throughout our culture and media daily, you’re only reinforcing them further. Assertions like dads are usually not great parents or boys have cavemen-like emotions are dangerous, even if they are often true. Because PERHAPS dads are often not the greatest parents and boys have poor emotional intelligence BECAUSE people keep saying it’s true. There is nothing biologically that says things have to be that way. So maybe, if people would quit pushing these stereotypes (regardless of whether or not they are often true), they would quit fulfilling themselves. Maybe then, more men can be better fathers and more boys can increase their emotional intelligence. And the men who are already good fathers and the boys who already have high emotional intelligence (which, from my experience, is actually a good portion of them) won’t feel so alienated, battled against, or worst of all – like these qualities that make them a good human are somehow at odds with them being good MEN. Isn’t that what this project is about?

    • Thank you for pointing out that these differences seem more individual than gender based. Isn’t the point to allow boys to be who they are emotionally? My 5 year son loves to look out the window and talk about life for HOURS if I can manage to stomach it. In addition, my husband is typically more emotionally complex than I am – as I tend towards:here is the problem – here is how I fix it rather than how it made me feel.

  142. =Wonderful, insightful and casual. Enjoyed your common sense approach, it is because you are so open to understanding them and have not let your ego get in the way that makes you pretty smart. Enjoyed and appreciated.

  143. Cindy Salvatelli says:

    As the mother of a grown daughter & son I have to say I loved this advice to Mom s it made me cry with happy memories because it is spot on! By the way you re wrong you re a GREAT Dad no one with that much insight could be less than great!

  144. I loved this blog. Casual, fun and honest. I am a mother of three boys under the age of 6, and you are correct, pooping is their life. Love that this is a note for moms from a man’s perspective. To “Rick” I think you’ve stayed home for too long, this article wasn’t meant for you anyway.

  145. While I would agree with some of the previous comments arguing that there is a degree of overgeneralization here (as is normal and natural in a piece like this), and that all kids are of course different, I do think that most of this is a reasonable and accurate appraisal of how boys view the world.
    I would also argue that mothers and fathers interact with their kids differently, which in part informs how boys then interact with the world around them.
    For more on the topic of boys and fatherhood, see http://fieldnotesfromfatherhood.com/2012/07/30/who-loves-ya-baby-the-ins-outs-ups-and-downs-of-paternal-love/

  146. Funny, but my husband is pretty much the opposite of all of this, but it could describe my second daughter dead on. Some of them describe my first and third daughters, too. Parenting really isn’t as gendered as people seem to think.

    Yes, there are some things that are very gender specific, or do follow patterns, and that (often, but not always) includes the roles as parents.

    Still, written with a lovely dose of humor :)

  147. Amy Rappl says:

    Thank you! Nicely written.

  148. Momento con los ninos

  149. The emotional perspective here is really missing something. It is really shallow. To write boys off as unable to learn to express their emotions, “just give them a hug” is such a sad way to parent. We need to teach our boys to express their emotions, no matter what they are. Sometimes they aren’t “complicated emotions” but learning to express themselves is so important. It is a gift that will travel with them forever…stronger friendships, more fulfilling careers, more meaningful marriages, better parents to their own children. Expressing emotions is not “only for girls” and we are missing a true opportunity at great parenting if we think so.

  150. Mom to 3 says:

    3 boys – all super active, athletic, social and wonderfully charming. 2 with ADHD. They are risk-takers, love the adreline rush, and think it’s hilarious when I’m terrified (of course, then they are all just love and kisses afterwards for scaring me). Frankly, if it hadn’t been for my husband calming me and watching over their antics, I’ve have them in a bubble. I thank God for him and for dads like you who help us moms to understand the glory and joy that is in raising boys. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Your article is perfect.

  151. This is great advice! I have three sisters and two daughters, and when my son was born my first thought was “what do I do with him?” This guide is a wonderful read for all mothers of sons.

    Based on my experience, boys are very different from girls. I didn’t direct my kids in any one direction,but the girls love dolls and quiet craft projects, and my son loves cars, throwing toys and wrestling with his sisters (who, by the way, HATE wrestling).

  152. As a single mom. And I mean single as I adopted a boy while single. I thank you so much for this.

  153. great piece!! very well written! very much describes our boy / girl split …. i actually took a course when my son was about 4 called “bringing up boys” which helped to bright to light the differences btwn boys and girls … school makes us all out to be the same and the reality is boys are VERY different from girls!

  154. Nice article. I got really emotional when I was reading pooping part. That is my son who goes number two during dinner and points at the tub for me to have a seat and tells me to look the other way while he is “pushing” LOL!! As a first time parent, I thought that he is just being way too clingy but then one day, I realized that I will miss our daily bathroom conversations!

  155. I think it is harmful to focus so much on gender differences while raising a child. Stereotypes are often exaggerated because of a tendency and desire to comparmentalise behavior. It makes us feel intelligent and gives us a sense of control amidst the flux of life. Boys and girls are both human and have a lot in common yet uninformed articles like this one focus on gender difference and pay no attention to cultural influences. From infancy my son and daughter were treated differently by others. When my son made a fist it was because he was going to be a tough guy someday. When my daughter would grasp at my wife’s earrings it was perceived that it was that she liked pretty things. Even the tone of voice that people used when communicating to my children was different based on which child they were talking to. I also felt my temdancy to do the same thing because of my cultural preconceptions. I am not claiming that there is absolutely no difference between boys and girls. What I am saying is that exaggerating these differences limits the development in children as their complex and unique personalities are pidgin-holed into two very restrictive categories.

    • Anonymous says:

      Amen!!

    • THANK YOU!!! I was think the same thing. It’s disheartening to see this over and over, especially in Christian writing. There are gender differences we can celebrate, but it doesn’t help anyone to paint with such a broad brush and assume everyone always falls within the same lines. In many ways I’ve always been wired like a male in my thinking. I already see that in my daughter. And my son? Emotional intelligence is a learned skill, and as his mom I’m going to teach him. I’d rather celebrate and nurture their differences in terms of personality, not gender.

  156. Daddy O says:

    Great article, thank you for sharing.

  157. laceyjane says:

    I loved your casual insight. Thanks for the good advice.

  158. I appreciate the article (well-written, enjoyable, pretty helpful) but I do feel obliged to point out to other readers looking for advice that quite a lot of the above isn’t universal. I’m not a parent, but I have been a babysitter and long-term nanny for several different children, and I can say it varies quiet a lot, particularly being in crowds, talking, hyperactivity, and dealing with emotions.

    But yes, Batman!!

  159. I agree with many of these points, especially the ones about hugging, physical activity, and quality time. Some of them, however, are worth calling out.

    For one, making generalizations about the personality types of men and women is based entirely on lack of truth. Personality types do not favor gender, and children are not that different from adults. The shy woman you met at the office was not a center-of-attention-seeker as a young girl, simply by being a young girl. She was shy, like she is now. It seems that your daughter is more extroverted and outgoing while your boys happen to be more reserved. This is not true for all children; common sense tells us this, as does scientific study.

    Also, I disagree with the lack of emphasis on emotion and verbal expression in boys. Perhaps your boys aren’t as verbally expressive because they’ve been taught not to be? Society expects men to be physical and women to be verbal, and never the other way around. This has caused a ton of problems, and we’ve all seen it. Perhaps this problem can be curbed by not simply assuming that your boys, being boys, feel only simple emotions, and aren’t worth trying to verbally reason with. This can be detrimental to boys who actually are willing to verbally express their frustrations and problems. I was one of these boys who was verbal by the age of eight. I was also quite active–but all children are when they’re in kindergarten. I think you’re overgeneralizing, and while this works for your children, applying this logic to all children is borderline forcing them into gender stereotypes, when you should be cultivating a pursuit of your children’s “true self” instead.

  160. I agree with everything, except one thing. I do not think that moms are generally better parents. There are too many factors involved for that to be true in my opinion.

    James

  161. revolutionaria says:

    i felt really triggered by this article. i found it full of sexism and labeling of boys (and girls) as being one way only. many of what i read in it i could also say about many girls i know (i am a teacher and am around lots of kids all day long). statements like this: “Because boys are so active, it’s hard to get them to sit still” is not true of all boys and it implies that boys who are not particularly active are not “boyish”. also “Boys, on the other hand, tend to feel one of three: mad, sad, happy” does not ring true for me at all as a parent and teacher of boys.

    one thing that has helped me to talk about the “differences” we see in boys and girls (although there are just as many of them among boys and among girls) is using language that implies that boys and girls are socialized to behave one or another way, rather than that they are just born with natural differences. i would have had an easier time with this article had he said things like “because boys are socialized to show less emotion, often they revert to mad, happy, or sad” or “because some boys are very active”…it leaves room for nuance, includes boys who don’t have those traits and doesn’t feel as essentialist.

    the part at the beginning about moms being better parents is almost to ridiculous to comment about, so i wont.

    • passionate individual says:

      Absolutely, revolutionaria, I too found the article entirely sexist, with so much literature out there to the contrary why do people insist on attaching stereotypes onto genders. The actual differences in boys are girls are so small and cannot be attributed to the stereotypes that are so often banded around. We are all individuals and often ‘boy’ traits can be seen in most girls and vice a versa. Unfortunately boys are socialized from a young age not to talk about emotions or cry etc and girls are given more space to this. I have two children, both boys who are so very different, one child is soft and gentle and an amazing communicator, the other is fiery and extroverted and isn’t so great at communicating but they are both at different ages and we, as parents are doing our best to raise them without the pressure of limiting stereotypes. There is so much research out there, showing how important it is to break gender stereotypes and how irrelevant they are, check out Lise Eliot and Cordelia Fine.
      Unfortunately these articles aren’t really the best advertising for the good men project, essentially putting men back in the role of the illiterate cave man, which would be an absolute step backwards. Here’s to raising children based on their individual personality traits, not the personality traits of a narrowminded stereotype.

    • According to this article I am a boy(and I am a 29 year old female!). I hate crowds, I don’t like to talk about my emotions, I only wear sneakers and jeans when given the option, but they had better be the right jeans and sneakers, my body language is not so different from that described but I certainly won’t tell you about what’s bothering me willingly, and I move constantly even when it’s not necessarily productive. I don’t have children but I am a teacher and have seen a wide variety of children. There are no ‘boy traits’ or ‘girl traits’. There are children with individual traits. The traits we describe are socially constructed and taught into children. My relationship with my husband is, in many ways, role reversed. I mow and garden, handle car maintenance and do the handy work around the house. He is a computer guy who kicks my butt at doing the dishes or cooks up a mean dinner, but it works for us and I think all children need to be taught to sew on a button and change the oil in a car, regardless of gender.

    • Wow, I’m so glad you commenters not any of my kids teachers! I am the mother of 5, four boys and one girl. Some people TOTALLY missed the point! I think they took your words as the bible and implied that you are proclaiming to know all as truth. I, on the under hand, found it funny and very true. I appreciated your honesty and humor. And I especially liked getting an honest male point of view. Keep writing and let these “politically correct”, no keeping score, nay sayers go find another article to lash thier insecurities at!

      • I am so with Tina. Really people. I am one of 10 children – 5 of each and have 4 children myself. 2 boys and 2 girls. I too appreciated the honesty and humour and I would most definately say (and I am also teacher) that my boys and my girls require very different parenting from me and it is nice to hear someone else say that they do to.

      • I couldn’t agree more with these people being the “gender police”. They totally missed the mark here. This is an amazing article and I love it! I’m also thankful any of thos persons aren’t my sons teachers!

    • Great article. sorry the gender police can’t understand the concept of GENERALIZATION.

    • motherofboys says:

      I find the article perfect! Thank you so much for your insight! Ignore the feminist women above and it gave me a great insight that i enjoyed reading.

    • traceyb65 says:

      how sad we need to ‘ignore the feminist women’! because here’s another feminist woman *pauses to allow the eyerolls* who agrees … and Jim, i think the problem i am having with the article is the opposite to generalisation, that it is very specific to these sons. which makes it a nice article, but hardly useful advice for MY son. and I’m entirely unsure whether it is a worthy piece for The Good Men project which is about NOT enforcing the gendered roles that have damaged so many of our beautiful young men. nice personal piece, not so great advice. probably ‘lucky I’m not a teacher’, hey? xt

  162. Spot on! Found myself laughing through your descriptions. Do I recognize the everyday life with a 4-year old boy!!! You bet! These advices works for a Norwegian mum as well. Thank you.

    Mother of 2 (4-year old son, AND 8-year old daugther)

  163. A note on the second to last bullet point. You said that “crowds give girls energy.” This generalization you made is essentially the same as saying “girls are extroverts” (extroversion vs. introversion is defined by where people get their energy from: from being around others, vs. from having alone time). Well, yeah, some girls are extroverts, and thus gain energy from a crowd. But some girls, myself included, are introverts – we NEED our alone time in order to recharge. Also, yeah, some boys are introverts. But some, such as my cousin’s husband, are extroverts. I really am very skeptical of parenting articles, because they often times imply that “all boys are the same” and “all girls are the same” and thus perpetuate gender roles and whatnot. In my humble opinion, it is best to get an understanding of your own children, and then adjust your parenting to fit that kid’s need.

    • I was coming here to say as much – you have found a personality distinction, not a gender distinction, for this point.

      I do believe in generalizations as far as genders, though. They don’t fit for 100% of boys (or 100% of girls) but they are a useful tool, and it’s clear that there are traits that are strongly present in the boy population and strongly absent in the girl population, and vice versa.

      It’s like what I’ve been teaching my nephew recently: When you say “boys are stronger than girls” you’re referring to them in the aggregate. It is true that men, as a group, are stronger than women, as a group, but any given woman might be stronger than any given man, and any given girl stronger than any given boy. Similarly, girls, as a group, master the nuances of language much faster than boys, as a group, but there are still boys who learn to read by age 3 and girls who can’t figure out sarcasm by age 9. The fact that exceptions exist doesn’t mean that the generalization isn’t useful, or that it’s something we should pointedly ignore; for example, generalizations can help a mother understand why her son isn’t responding well to her parenting style.

      But you’ve got to be careful to distinguish between distinctions of gender and distinctions that stem from other things – such as the Myers-Briggs personality system dichotomies, or pressures from peers or other parts of society (“real men don’t cry!”), or even just the desire to prove that you’re different from your sister.

    • He didn’t say crowds give girls energy. He said they give his daughter energy.

  164. Great article (for me)
    As a single mum of a ten year old (the father went off with his PA when he was 7mths old), I am mum and dad. I do worry about bringing up a balanced boy, without cossetting him too much. It is hatd for a boy to accept advice from his mum sometimes (I am for hugs and stories and organising his life apparently)

    You are right about the hugs being better than words. Hugs get my son to ‘breathe’ when he’s pent up.
    sometimes gets him to open up about how he is feeling, but even then he just wants me to listen, not necessarily advise (sometimes we all just want to be heard I guess)

    I fret mostly about how he should deal with playground politics, as he is pretty emotional and lets stuff get to him, needs a thicker skin.
    I say ‘just say ‘yeah, Liverpool lost their match, so what?’ or ‘Yeah, I missed the goal, you’re not Lionel Messi yourself, let’s get on with the game’ and it will shut down bullies or nasty comments, but he says he can’t, or that I don’t understand’ …he is not self confident yet. (How can I teach him self confidence??)
    Not sure what ‘dad’ advice is here… suspect this is an area for mantalk!

  165. I have two boys. They use to say that I’m different from the “other mothers” they see. As a compliment. The fact is that I work with art, nature, and also as an activist (and the two boys very much participate in my work). I see they using me as a role model, and I consider it good but also a bad thing. Because I would prefer they grown more independent of what I am. We are best friends, like the three mosqueteers, but with a almighty captain, total rulers, that is me. I will really miss their childhood. Thanks for your text.

  166. When a dad gives advice to moms… SEXISM!

    please realize that these are clear generalizations and speak quite acurate to most boys. Let’s drop the whole “I am offended” baloney.

  167. I thought this article was funny, clever, adorable, and just a great read. I am mother to two boys and two girls. Great advice.

  168. This is a great post written from an experienced Dad, with a title that targets the wrong audience for some reason. I am really surprised you wrote this to Moms. Other than the first two points, I think this is great advice for all parents, but it really seems to be a must read for Dad’s. I don’t think it comes as naturally to Dad’s to hug, think about crowds, accept losing and care about clothing. It seems to me that Dad’s are looking to the Mom’s to interpret their kid’s meltdowns more frequently than not. I also don’t think my husband is the only one who is clueless when it comes to clothes and could use your input on making sure the kid’s clothing matches. I forwarded this to my husband and I hope he takes the time to read it.

    Nicole @ HoldtheOffice.com

  169. I thought this was a great article. People need to chill out and realize that this man is sharing HIS personal experiences with HIS sons. Not everyone needs to be politically correct all the time. Yes there are actually biological differences between men and women, our brains are a bit different and generalizations are OK sometimes. Anyone with half a brain should know not EVERY boy or EVERY girl is going to fit into a typical category, that is OK there are ALWAYS outliers. I am the mom of a 3 year old boy, I’m a teacher, and I’ve worked with children for over a decade. His advice is GENERALLY true, boys tend to be a big wigglier and more physical than girls. Socialization plays a role but only to a certain extent. My son will spend 20 minutes jumping on a trampoline and maybe 2-5 playing with a doll. Anyways thanks for sharing and don’t mind the gender police on here!

  170. Heartfelt perhaps, but waaaay too overgeneralized about gender. I think I would rather read more dad’s experiences on how to parent in general as I think dads often are just as good of parents as moms, but do things differently.

  171. Listen up parents! As a 30 year old female Ive met a lot of wonderful men, Ive also met just as many if not more childish men. Its dawned on me watching so many of my friends struggle with relationships in the present and the past that parents are messing up with their boys. If you you do have boys remember not to just teach them how to be good children. So many parents do this accidentally. Teach your boys how to be good friends, good roommates, good boyfriends, good husbands, good co-workers.

    I think some of these things come more naturally for little girls due to their higher need for verbal communication. Boys dont ask….and so we accidentally dont tell. My boyfriend never helps with housework even though we both work the same hours, pay the same bills ect. After a visit to his mothers house it dawned on me why. The whole time we were there she waited on him hand and foot, he never once thought that his 50 year old mother scrubbing his dishes and laundry was out of place. Its clear; she taught him how to be a good boy, and thats it. Im sure it was accidentally done in an attempt to provide for his every need. Unfortunately, this is going to cause some severe emotional hardships for him in the coming months. His inability to integrate into routine responsibility in a partnership is cost him his girlfriend. Sadly, I dont think he’ll ever completely understand why – because no one ever scripted him to understand.

  172. You lost me in the first sentence. Parenting isn’t a competition, it’s a collaboration. Opening your article with that is, at worst, pandering (“if I say that they’re better parents, women will read this!”), and, at best, disingenuous. I’m lucky to be married to a woman who, yes, is a great parent. But you know what? So am I. And neither one of us is keeping score of who is the “better” parent, because it’s something that we work at together.

  173. Bessie West says:

    Thank You! I have 2 older girls and can read them like a book, my son who is the youngest is a different story. I will reconnect with him! He is now a teen and do not get him! They are different : Girls and Boys……

  174. This kind of gender stereotyping strikes me on a personal note as well. I am a mother of a highly intelligent/highly sensitive boy. Most of the description of “boys” do not fit him at all. He loves to learn new things, to read, to teach things to others. He is very emotionally intense, moreso, I would say, than my daughter. The pressure of boys to be a certain way, rough and tumble, ignores the kids like my son whose wonderful qualities of caring, intelligent and conscientious are often overlooked in society’s quest to raise “tough” boys. Our national obsession with football, which is, in all reality, a very violent sport, is a good example. My son also is a good athlete. However, that does not define all that he is. I think we are doing our sons a great disservice by expecting that they are not able to communicate their feelings and only have three basic feelings. I think all human beings have a wide array of emotions and that both boys and girls learn which ones are/are not appropriate for their gender. I appreciate the author’s sharing of his personal experience, but, once again, I am finding myself unable to identify with any of it. Let’s not forget the population of highly-sensitive, highly-intelligent boys out there, like my son!

  175. Jeanne Logan says:

    I am the mother of, and the survivor of, 4 sons and I now have 8 grandsons. I am blessed. One thing that I think is important is for moms to stop telling their sons that they are precious or sweet about the age of 6. At this time, they begin developing their sense of manhood and “sweet” just isn’t part of that. That can totally undermind his entire concept of his own manhood. Tell his grandma, his aunt, your best friend, but don’t tell him. Tell him he is wonderful, brave, thoughtful, kind, strong, smart, a great problem solver, a fast runner, all sorts of things, but not sweet or precious.

  176. Shirley Oliver says:

    This is beautiful. I felt the words as I read them. Being a mother of a 4 year old boy, I litteraly can FEEL this words

  177. Mommie likey!

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  4. […] Raising Boys (A Dad’s Advice for Moms) — The Good Men Project. Share this:Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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  17. […] Raising Boys A Dad’s Advice for Moms — The Good Men Project. Rate this:Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  18. […]  Also read Raising Boys, a Dad’s Advice for Moms […]

  19. […] are a good learning resource to have, read as well as reference in terms of child-rearing concerns.Being a parent is difficult in so many ways; folks wouldn't have the capacity to realise this until …ic adults and that dads and mums have a pleasant journey along the way. Every youngster is […]

  20. […] their heart. And we hear from women who want desperately to understand the men in their lives, and moms who want to understand their sons, in ways that are impossible inside the box of popular culture. We hear from husbands who are […]

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  24. […] out our brood. Divorce was the worst thing that ever happened to me. But it was also the best thing for me as a father.Tom Matlack is an investor, father, husband, and the founder of The Good Men Project. You can […]

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