In our attempt to understand our sons, we may misinterpret what they say and lose sight of what they need from us.
If you’re a mom of boys, you’ve probably had people tell you, “You’re lucky to have boys, they much easier to raise.” or “Boys are so simple.” However, as a mom of a boy, you know that boys are deceptively simple. The only simple things about them are their need for food, clothing and shelter. What you come to learn as a mom is that the world of a boy is so complex and conflicting that it can be difficult to understand their hearts and minds. We learn that the “emotional house” of a boy is really a house of cards and despite their tough exterior, boys have fragile egos. We also learn that their actions and don’t always match their intentions.
As moms, we struggle to better understand and relate to our sons and sometimes fall short because we make assumptions or jump to conclusions. In our attempt to “raise” we our sons, we can get caught up in correcting behavior that we neglect to understand, accept and love them unconditionally. To their credit, we do not know what they are thinking or feeling unless they are vocal about it.
My entry into the world of boys started when I was five years old when my mother persuaded (forced) my brother into taking me wherever he went. What started out as a reluctant partnership forged into a strong bond between brother and sister. I learned so much hanging out with my brother and his friends. The experience served me well as I am now the mother of two boys. I may not always get it right but I do my best to support what my sons may need from me. Sometimes it seems as if there’s mom language vs. son language. There’s what we say and what our sons hear but there’s also what our sons say or don’t say and how we interpret it. He’s a few things that your son might be feeling but not sharing.
Don’t Tell Me You Understand What I’m Going Through
Mom, you don’t know the social pressures boys have to deal with and the social masculinity I have to live up to. I am constantly having to prove that I’m a “man”. Stop telling me stories about what happened to you as a girl in middle and/or high school. I can’t relate. So if you weren’t born with a penis, don’t try to relate. There’s a guy code that I am expected to live up to. I have different needs than a girl and those codes influence my behavior and actions. At school and wit my friends, I have to deal with the negative consequences of not living up to the “guy code”. If you really want to help me, support me and be there for me when you see me floundering. Show me healthy ways to express my feelings.
Masculinity pressures start young: By 5 or 6, boys who are sad or afraid are already being instructed to “tough it out” or “suck it up” and “act like a man.”. And boys begin punishing and bullying those who don’t fit such stereotypes as early as age 3-5– Source: Sax, Leonard (2005) Why Gender Matters.
Don’t Over-Analyze or Overreact
You’ll notice a mood change when go through puberty. It doesn’t always mean something is wrong. Stop taking my temperature” so much. I’m fine. There are days I am sullen and there are days when I’m good-natured. I may be in a pensive mood. Other times, I’m not sure why I’m in a mood (again puberty!) Do me a favor and let it be. However, if my mood is consistently low or I’m withdrawing from friends and activities, please intervene. I may be depressed and may not reach out to you for help.
Be a Fire Truck, Not a Helicopter
Don’t hover over me. If you keep coming to my rescue, I’ll never learn how to take care of myself.
Stop trying to solve my problems and trying to protect me. As much as I like having a safety net, sometimes you take it too far. Don’t fight my battles for me and shelter me from failure or pain. Let me use my critical thinking skills to figure things out. When I need you, I will do my best to put my ego aside and ask for your help. If you think the situation is serious and you need to intervene because I can’t help myself, please do so.
Give Me Space
I like my space to do my own thing. I need to spread my wings and stop being so dependent on you. When I’m alone with my room, don’t assume I’m doing something bad. Don’t barge into my room or interrupt me just to see what I’m doing. If you trust me, you wont have to pry. I just need some time to think and be alone. Sometimes I’m just thinking about stuff I’m worried about, other times I’m just doing my what I enjoy: listening to music, chatting online with friends, or playing video games.
Ask Me One Question at a Time
Please stop with the rapid fire questions. I barely want to respond to one question. When you ask one
question after another, you don’t take the time to listen to me. If you have a specific question, ask it. When you ask a bunch of general questions, I feel like you’re just being nosy. If you dig too much, you’ll turn me off and I’ll shut down. Also, please give me time to respond to your question. I’m processing what you’ve asked and it may take me time to respond.
Don’t Force Me to Talk About My Feelings
I may not show it, but I’m sensitive. I don’t want to have sit down with you to talk about my feelings. Talking about my feelings makes me feel vulnerable. I also don’t like it when you force me to tell you everything. When I feel like talking, I’ll share, otherwise let me talk to you when I feel like it, not when you do. There are times, when I’ll come to you for advice, but don’t push it. I’m not being disrespectful when I don’t look at you when you’re talking. I will communicate and listen to you better if we sit next to each other. I’m more prone to talk and listen to you when we’re walking side by side or sitting next to each other.
Boys have less serotonin and less oxytocin, which makes them more impulsive and less likely to sit still to talk to someone Gurian, M & Stevens, K. (2005) The Minds of Boys
Let Me Know Exactly What You Expect of Me
When you ask why I did something, sometimes I really don’t know, other times, I’m just curious. Don’t tell me, show me. When you’re explaining things to me, demonstrate it, I’ll understand it much better and you’ll be less frustrated when you give me instructions.