What Mothers Should Know About Raising Boys
Whether you're a single mom or have a partner who helps with parenting responsibilities, raising a boy can be a challenge. Boys generally engage in more active play than girls, require proactive discipline and need help developing interpersonal skills. A mom's softer side can help a boy learn to be compassionate, empathetic and considerate, but she must stand her ground when necessary. A boy needs to know that his mom is still the boss even when he's six feet tall.
Boys need active play and venturesome activities so they develop masculine traits. In an interview with Boston University, psychologist Peggy Drexler states that a good mom helps her son develop his full potential by valuing his manliness, encouraging self-awareness and supporting his sense of adventure 1. Boys enjoy playing sports, building block towers, crashing toy cars, camping out, wrestling, riding bikes and playing video games. Many of these activities involve competition and strategy, helping them learn to use their masculine strengths in positive ways.
Help with Social Nuances
Social skills don't come naturally for many boys, so they need help learning social nuances. Girls often change their behavior because they feel guilty for their actions; boys don't necessarily respond to guilt. Boys are somewhat oblivious to nonverbal communication and don't read or understand others' feelings very well, according to associate professor Jelani Mandara's comments in Northwestern University's "Inquiry" newsletter 2. Moms can help boys develop sensitivity, so they recognize when someone is disappointed or upset and learn to offer support, apologies or words of encouragement. Compassion, sympathy, forgiveness, appreciation, love and adoration are traits that a mom can model and teach her son.
Male and Female Role Models
Moms must realize that boys need positive male and female role models. According to Drexler, there is a misconception that most children grow up in a home with a married mom and dad. In reality, only about 23 percent of American households fall into that category. As a result, a mom must encourage her son to build relationships with men who have high standards and strong moral character. If no father figure is present, boys can build friendships with teachers, coaches, music instructors, artists, religious leaders and male athletes. A boy needs a male role model, but it doesn't have to be his biological father.
Raising boys requires a willingness on a mom's part to let her sons become independent when they're old enough to fend for themselves. Mandara states that the mother-son relationship can be psychologically hazardous if the mom can't let go and encourages her son to remain dependent on her. As a boy matures, he needs to learn how to earn a paycheck, make budget decisions, buy groceries, do his own laundry, take care of household responsibilities and eventually live on his own. Independence doesn't happen overnight, so a mom must gradually loosen her apron strings so her son can mature into a self-sufficient man.
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