the joys of boys

I'm the mother of boys. No girls. Just two lovely, energetic humans of the male persuasion.

And boys are different. 

This expose may not apply to you {although many of you have grandsons or husbands(!)} but I am writing this very much for my own personal benefit.  It is an added joy if someone else learns something valuable as well. 

First -- we're dealing with different biological make-up. Boys have less ability to use both of their brain hemispheres at the same time, but a greater ability to focus on a task requiring the use of only one hemisphere at a time.
"A man's inability to draw from both sides of the brain at the same time also explains why boys commonly have a harder time identifying an emotion they see on someone else's face--an ability requiring a large corpus callosum to facilitate the travel of ample amounts of communication between both hemispheres of the brain."
There's a reason they have trouble seeing the "obvious" emotions we exhibit. 

Also biological is their combination of low serotonin and high testosterone levels which display themselves in increased aggression and need for activity. Something I was not prepared for {didn't have the privilege of brothers}.

Good thing we have a park behind our house. 

Society (in general) raises girls to be focused on relationships and emotions {it comes naturally} and boys to be focused on rational thought. Boys "in touch" with their feelings are {sometimes} considered weak. Girly.

Fifty years ago, a "man's man" was pretty disconnected from his family (and their feelings) and very disconnected from his own feelings {of course}. That was culturally correct. Today -- I think we have a bit of gender confusion. Because we know that's not right...but we're not sure we want to lose the STRONG MAN role either.
"A prime duty of parents -- and a difficult one, to be sure -- is helping sons learn how to balance their head and heart, their thinking and feeling, their mind and emotions. As our boys grow in understanding what it means to have a functioning mind, emotions, and will, they are building a strong foundation for a healthy masculinity. There is no need to adhere again to the aggressive, domineering, and emotionally disconnected male role models that, unfortunately, are still negatively defined: Men don't cry. Men aren't weak. Men don't need affection, gentleness, or warmth. Men don't rely on others. Men don't need comforting. Men don't admit mistakes. Men don't need to be needed.

We must help our sons become proactive -- to define themselves by who they are and who God created them to become, by their person instead of by their performance or their production [emphasis mine]."
I want my sons to be aware of their emotions. In order to empathize with others. And in order to learn how to control their responses.

Because emotions are real. And they are powerful. They can motivate. They can paralyze. They can affect our physical health. They can control us.
"Emotions are to our personality what gasoline is to a car -- the source of our passion and intensity. Emotions help us to monitor our needs, alert us to good and evil, and provide motivation and energy."
My sons NEED physical activity. They need me to value their energy and need for adventure. Not stifle it.

They need me to teach them responsibility. And believe that they CAN be responsible(!). {Why is it that we give them an easy out? "Oh, you're a boy...let mommy help you with that..."} 
"Boys must be allowed to experience their mother's belief that they can take care of themselves and make positive contributions to the family system."
And I need to respect their maleness. First -- realize that every boy-child is different {check out their personality using the MBTI}, then DROP all the stereotypes you might have about what boys are like and let them be themselves.

My sons need clear communication from me. Not the subtle hints we *wish* they would understand. No. Just simple, direct messages {here's one I used yesterday}: "When mommy is frustrated and talking to you in a serious voice, please don't laugh at me."

And finally, believe it or not, my boys need me to act like a woman. They need me to enjoy pretty skirts, wear smelly lotion, and beautify the table with flowers. Most of all, they need me to be myself. Not get lost in a world of maleness.

Positive male role models are crucial. Peter is learning to be brave and strong from his male gymnastics teacher. Father-son time is obviously super important as well.

I love reading Matthew Paul Turner's daddy blog -- he's a fun and involved father.

It's fun to read about dads who take their kids on outdoor adventures too. Great bonding experiences.

And if you have even a few more minutes to read {after getting through all this...}, you must take a look at Thomas Matlack's advice for moms raising boys. Bookmark it for later if your nap-time blog reading is at an end.

If you've been nodding your head and taking notes, maybe you'd like to check out and subscribe to the The M.O.B. {Mother of Boys} Society. A place where other mothers of boys share things they've learned. So you can learn too.

--- Quoted portions taken from Raising Sons and Loving It! by Gary and Carrie Oliver ---