Previous Post Next Post

Toddler

Brought to you by

Raising Boys

A dad's parenting advice for moms

By Thomas Matlack |

Let’s get one thing clear from the get go: moms are generally better parents than dads. And that goes double for me. I’ve had three kids across two marriages and I am undoubtedly the weak link. My 16-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son trust their step-mom more than they trust me, which proves that I married well but am still 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, sometimes during 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.

More on Babble

About Thomas Matlack

bcthomasmatlack

Thomas Matlack

Thomas Matlack has recently written about developing manhood by way of the cuddle, the tranformative sound of his son's laugh, and why his son's obsession with Batman is metaphor for life. He is the founder of www.goodmenproject.com, a venture capitalist, father of two boys (6 and 15) and a daughter (17), and husband to the woman of his dreams.

« Go back to Toddler

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on Babble.com and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

158 thoughts on “Raising Boys

  1. esterlulady says:

    Thank you so much for these humorous and true points about boys. I struggle with my 3 year old at times as a mom and these points just hit every nail on the head. I too have recently found that if I want to find out about his day it is not at the dinner table but snuggled in bed next to him as he traces his fingers on the wall. Thank you for reminding me of all the beautiful and wonderful things about boys and my son in particular!

  2. Momof1boyand1girl says:

    Sweet. So thoughtful and loving. Your boys–and I’m sure your girl, too–are lucky to have you for a dad.

  3. Jennifer Robbins says:

    This article is offensive and sexist. It’s frustrating that we live in a society that draws such a deep line between genders. A lot of the differences emotionally between men and women comes from environment and up-bringing. Men have just as many emotions as women, and it’s frustrating that our culture makes excuses for the other gender. If boys have a harder time verbalizing their problems, this has more to do with parental instruction and less to do with genetics or any sort of hard-wired programming.

    I understand this article was written with the best of intentions, but it comes to a lot of false conclusions, and draws a lot of false correlations. Just because your daughter lights up in crowds and your sons’ do not, does not say anything about the male gender. It might mean, that your boys mirror their fathers behavior and learned from the author of this article how to behave. Or simply, by chance, have similar personalities to their father.

    Not all boys are active (and no, this is not some sort of outlier or exception to the rule) and not all boys are insensitive or have difficulty with words. It has a large part to do with environment and up-bringing, personality of each individual child, and societial pressures and expectations than it has anything to do with gender.

    And for those of you who say, “but they’ve done studies that show that the brains of men and women are fundamentally different!” You must understand, that how we behave, what we learn, and the actions we choose, strengthen various synaptic patterns in the brain. Learning other languages can be difficult and creating the sounds that other languages require, simply because those pathways in our brains have not been strengthened. If you scanned an American an Chinese brain while the two were speaking, the scans would look different. Why? Not because the two are fundamentally different on some biological creation sort of level, but because different pathways in the brain were utilized and strengthened.

    If we raise and teach our children different things, they’re brains are GOING to look different when scanned. I do believe there are some differences between men and women, what those differences are, I’m not sure yet. But I do believe it’s drastically less than people in this society have come to accept. My best advice, stop raising your children so differently! Really. It could do boys a world of good to learn how to communicate their emotions (and make them wonderful husbands, and men you’d be proud of, not men you have to make excuses for: “that’s men, they get angry. that’s how they express their feelings”). I understand this is radically different than the rest of you believe, but from one frustrated young adult, I had to say something. I appreciate whomever took the time to hear me out, set aside your differences, and read this. I appreciate it.

  4. Melinda Zerkula says:

    ^.^

  5. Erin Turtle says:

    I don’t agree with everything in this article – but its an interesting read none-the-less. I highly recommend.

  6. Stephanie Conant says:

    funny and true in a lot of ways

  7. mccn says:

    I think it might be more accurate to say, don’t have assumptions about your kids. I hated crowds and didn’t want to talk to people. My younger brother loved to sit with his truck and be in front of a crowd. I agree, try to avoid expectations, but it’s just as reductive and insulting to say boys don’t have complex emotional lives (and then, talk about them keeping the pressures of learning and self-motivation inside?) as to say girls are all quiet and staid and you’ll never have an active, jumpy girl who doesn’t want to talk about her feelings.

  8. Liz LaMonica says:

    Great article!

  9. the original Sarah says:

    Sorry Jennifer Roberts, but I find your comment to be a complete overreaction to this sweet and funny article. Yes, this is not true for ALL boys, but I don’t think anyone reading this essay is taking it as some kind of scientific fact. Whether we like to admit it or not, boys and girls are often different, and the author gently highlights some of the ways this can be the case. Not all boys are super physical, not all boys are obsessed with poop, not all boys are into superheros. But many are. Not everyone who recognizes these differences is a sexist gender stereotyping neanderthal.

  10. Jennifer Robbins says:

    Dear “the original Sarah”,

    It’s “Robbins”, my name is: Jennifer Robbins. As in the bird. As in plural birds. Robbins.

    I appreciate your comment, and can respect your ideas and opinions. However, I wanted to make myself clear. I do not in any way think of “everyone who recognizes these differences” as quote “neanderthals”. I tried not to name call or offend (although, I am aware it’s bound to happen). Furthermore, I do believe that people who recognize these differences are gender stereotyping. I do not consider myself a feminist, just a humanist. I’m for people. It’s detrimental to both men and women to hold these negative stereotypes about men and little boys. Boys grow-up not knowing or understanding their emotions, this affects their children (continuing the cycle) and their spouse (it’s no fun to be around someone who cannot appropriately and effectively express their emotions), as well as the men themselves (it’s not very much fun not knowing how to handle your own emotions). I whole-heartedly understand this article was not meant to be scientific, and indeed did address that I understood it was “written with the best of intentions”. The article is cute and heart-felt in ways; it’s apparent that the author really does love his children deeply. But, I cannot let go of the fact that people tend to make too many excuses about the way we raise men and the people they become. This is not an inherent difference in biological make-up. And I guess I just figured I needed to start speaking up somewhere. I appreciate your thoughts, but must respectfully disagree. Additionally, I would appreciate you taking more time to read a comment before you respond to it; you didn’t even get my name right.

  11. the original Sarah says:

    Jennifer, I did fully read your comment. My apologies for not scrolling down again to ensure I got your name right. However, I believe it is you who are generalizing. Just because a parent recognizes that their boy likes cars and trucks more than their girl did does not mean that they cannot also help their boy to grow up to be a happy, emotionally healthy adult male. I too am a humanist, but I’m also a realist.

  12. Diera says:

    This is so nice but – I have a son and he’s nothing like this. He likes discussions about the meaning of life, doesn’t care about his clothes except that they be comfortable, and is only slightly interested in superheroes. He has some stereotypically boy attributes (his favorite way to initiate body contact with me is a flying tackle, for instance) but still, he’s a fairly quiet and contemplative boy who’s probably going to grow up to be a quiet and contemplative man like his dad. I think if you notice your son, or your daughter, is a physically active kid who is clothes conscious and loves Superman – OK, go with that! Whoever your kid is, try as much as possible to let them be that person, whatever their sex.

  13. Lori Yacovone Hoffman says:

    Thought there were some really nice points in here for all of us raising boys

  14. ChiLaura says:

    Enjoyed this, as a mom of 3 boys (oldest age 4.5), who’s mainly been around girls my whole life. Based on anecdotal evidence given by moms of girls (whether all-girl families, or mixed boys and girls), boys ARE different creatures than girls, and I’m trying to adjust my expectations accordingly. I’m trying to learn that it’s not so important how loud my boys might get, or how much they might fidget, or how much they need to be running at all times. What is important is that they are respectful, that they help others, and that they’re capable of sympathy and kindness. They are lovely creatures.

  15. Mary Teresa Green says:

    Very Interesting article about raising boys. Check it out…

  16. Anonymous says:

    i agree with jennifer robbins

  17. Karen Freiling says:

    As the mother of 18 & 15 yr old boys, plus a 11 yr old girl.
    The oldest is into being heard in a quiet manner, making friends, wants to meet & greet every girl to cross his path, is more into how I’m doing today and will sit and listen. My 15 yr old is quiet for the most part unless you say something he considers stupid. Then you can’t get him to shut up, until he’s gotten his point across. He’s loud and what most of the family thinks is Ghetto. He’s interested in what’s going on in your life but not to the degree as the oldest, He obviously likes T&A but can’t get him to talk to a girl he’s not friends with to save his life. Each boy is different, they’re emotional when they shouldn’t be and hard as stone when they should be soft. Yes the author had some good points but as a society I do believe we tend to make excuses for our males behaviors. Wanna raise a great man, teach him to think before he speaks and show his emotions without trying to punch someone in the process. My boys will get down and dirty when they need to and clean up ready for a party/dinner just as nicely. Also, sorry to say that a woman can’t teach certain things only a man thinks he can teach his son is a load of crock. A lot of men have gone through life not having a man in their lives to teach what some think is the basic stuff a boy needs to know. These men, more so than most I know who grew up with fathers in the home, are well rounded, caring, decent men. Why because there was that woman who taught them what a man would have told him he was a “Puss or Punk” for feeling or knowing. So I’m sorry. I can teach my boys everything they need to know. I am glad they do have their father’s in their lives to help them when they think “Ya it’s weird mom is showing me this”. But just so you know.. My boys want me to take them to their first strip club, not dad.. Cause MOM is cooler and funner to be around. They come to me to ask about the private stuff whether sexual, sports, or just plain dumb related. Also The eldest isn’t mine.. He is my son’s best friend, but HE felt his mother & father weren’t doing the job right so here I am, doing their job and loving every min of it.
    Oh and my daughter is a bigger tom boy than the boys. She’s always dirty, messy and has no table manners, not that I’m not trying mind you. But she’s a bigger hot mess than the boys. So it goes both ways. I don’t go around saying that my boys have to be tough or emotionless when in reality it’s not healthy and I don’t tell my daughter she has to be a silly, brainless, frilly female. Cause I want them to be THEM.. Not what everyone says is the right way they should each act based on gender.

  18. Karen Freiling says:

    Good article but I’m sorry don’t agree that all boys think of nothing but pooping, eating & running and have no actual sense on how to show emotion.. Or that it only comes in 3 stages.. That I’m sorry know all the men I know is a Freaking Bold Faced LIE!!!

  19. Sasha Brown-Worsham says:

    This article really REALLY rubbed me the wrong way on a few levels. i am interested in other’s thoughts.

  20. Mandy Bergeron-Bauer says:

    I can’t say I agree with most of this. But the parts about poop, batman and pointless physical activity are worth a read.

  21. Jennie Byrne Ontiveros says:

    Great article…..

  22. Christine DiPasquale says:

    One for the files. I hope I can find it when I need it.

  23. Ann Barry- Farrow says:

    I can relate to so much of this. Good stuff here. Think we might tweak a few things around Casa de Farrow.

  24. Lex Coolmommy says:

    I so love this.

  25. Kelley White Wheeler says:

    Aha. Shared courtesy of my friend, Charlotte. So enlightening, and describes Michael perfectly!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Is it me, or are people taking this article way too seriously? I like the comment from “the original Sarah” that this is not presented as scientific fact. Like anything, it is based on the author’s experience and is probably true for some, not true for others. Relax, people!

  27. Karen Joy says:

    Loved this article. Thanks, Amy! If you have sons, it’s a must read.

  28. genxmom says:

    I think some of you took this article too seriously; it’s mostly a silly or humorous version of a real parenting book with kernels of truth about boys.

  29. feministmomof4 says:

    Are you serious w/ this article? Sounds like it’s from the 50s.

  30. Wendy Mazursky says:

    Nice food for thought. The Batman part is particularly relevant in our lives right now.

  31. Trina Helfrich says:

    I thought this was an interesting article. Some good points, some stuff I already knew, some obvious ones. Enjoy!

  32. ann05 says:

    Huh. My husband is clearly a far better man than this author, since he’s just as good a parent as me (and on his first marriage). My four year old son also seems to be a better man, since he can articulate his feelings (and knows that there are more than three), and at the tender age of four knows poop is only discussed in the bathroom. I’m not taking credit here for either of their accomplishments as the author of this piece has set the bar so, so, so low for men that almost anybody should be able to leapfrog his accomplishments.

  33. Chris says:

    @ann05: If you think your four year old boy can articulate his feelings, he is either a genius or you are an idiot. My vote is for the later. And if you honestly believe that your four year old son old talks about poop in the bathroom, I will happily add “delusional” to you growing list of self describing adjectives.

    @feministmomof4: Ok, there is no easy way to say this, but you are also, a complete moron. You should spend your days thanking this liberal society for not letting Darwinism take it course and exterminate individuals such as yourself who lack the capacity to see beyond their troubled upbringing and recognize how the world really works.

    Honestly, people like you two make me appreciate that the Unibomber had the right idea, just the wrong address. Seriously, save your opinions for screwing up your own kids and let the rest of us do it right.

    Thank you Tom. As the father of three girls and a caboose son, your observations are dead on. Thank you!

  34. Maegan Sinclair Healy says:

    I love this…..thanks Angie!!

  35. Jirum says:

    Wow this is interesting. thanks for the info

  36. Desiree Moss Parker says:

    LOVE this article!

  37. Christina Putney says:

    Lots of lovely nuggets, but particularly liked “If you dont 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.”

  38. Alexis Smyth Roth says:

    Had to share. Thanks Wendy

  39. Deb says:

    @ann05 – I have some bad news for you – my four year old son also knew that poop talk was only for the potty. Now he’s almost six and uhmmm, not so much!

  40. Jennifer Geiger says:

    ? Love this. Especially the last sentence: “If you dont 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.” ?

  41. JL says:

    Oy vey. You certainly seem well intentioned, sir, but this is some pretty cliched, sitcom-level chuckles. Boys are from Mars, girls are from Venus! Take my wife, please! Poop! Ba-dum-DUM. (And seriously, don’t most girls love superheroes too?)

  42. Erica Gracey Yarger says:

    “When in doubt, hug.”

  43. Caroline Kurz Ritter says:

    Ok all of you moms with boys out there- this one seems to be a good read…

  44. Sarah Ross says:

    Excellent article. It really IS all about poop.

  45. Lorraine Le Tac says:

    As a mom of 2 boys I have to say this article is spot-on!

  46. feministmama says:

    @feministmomof4
    What about this passage even remotely sounds like it was written in the 50′s?:
    “Too often in our culture, boys are pushed to become one-dimensional robots. Goodness isnt about winning at youth soccer or having the most friends or being the smartest kid in class; its also about being kind. Thats something as a mom that you can particularly help your son understand.”
    Having 2 boys (age 5 and 3) who *I* think are pretty exceptional at expressing their feelings and then reading this just tells me that I am the one who has learned to lean in and listen as well…to how BOYS do it…6 years ago when I embarked (half-terrified) on this parenting thing, I would have been adamant that boys and girls aren’t so different. Now I know better, and I cherish it, though I have to learn every day. Thank you to Tom Matlack for highlighting some differences that I still have to remind myself to accomodate.

  47. Connie Tsai Clair says:

    Sage advice about raising boys. Since I’m live with 3 boys and a male dog, this was truly appreciated!

  48. Aliza Patell says:

    I love how simple he makes it all sound. humf :)

  49. Jennifer Cann Edwards says:

    To all you mommies of boys…

  50. Amanda Eisermann Bernazal says:

    Great article…I’m going to follow the hugging advice a little more, i think.

  51. Laura says:

    Love this article…especially since I am a mom of a 4 year old and a 3 week old boy….my boys are the light of my life and I wouldn’t want anything different!!!!

  52. Valerie Maynard says:

    Good advice.

  53. Kyla Metzger says:

    Very good article!

  54. Momofboyandgirl says:

    Nice article, but a lot of these seem more like general kid observations rather than a ‘boy’ vs. ‘girl’ thing. Also, the descriptions might be describing different personality types, rather than ‘gendered’ differences, which do exist, but aren’t well reflected in this article (at least from the literature I’ve read). On a personal note, this article applies much more to my girl than my boy, but I still love the writing, and the ideas that sparked the article.

  55. Mamamea says:

    Yes, maybe some readers took the article too seriously, but maybe because there aren’t enough articles written from fathers and we want it all from the ones who do write? Without a doubt, there are differences between boys and girls, but probably more between one boy and another…My y year old boy doesn’t like to be questioned about his day at school or his friends, but he will tell you all about Spiderman, Batman, and Captain Pirate. He is quite emotional, but doesn’t have the words to explain very well what’s up, but I think eventually he will. His father is really involved in his life and he is a big talker, a manly man who cleans, cooks, and nurtures. I have high hopes for my son.

  56. Julia Angel-Phillips says:

    Wonderful article. So tender and loving. Great Dad’s perspective and thank you for pointing out that Clothes Matter. THANK YOU!

  57. Charlstie Laytin Veith says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the quick read.

  58. Sarah Carlisle Huntington says:

    Loved this

  59. Kimberly Owen says:

    Yes, boys are definitely different!

  60. Molly Rowe says:

    Thanks for this, Sarah.

  61. Tricia Nolan Dickinson says:

    *love*

  62. Sarah David says:

    Thanks for sharing Carol. More hugs on the agenda.

  63. Casey Eckels says:

    i laughed out loud and wished i had read this 27 years ago when my son was a little poop head

  64. Allyson Paplawsky says:

    Thanks to @Melissa Guzenda-Van Gessel for passing this along this morning. A great read for Mommies of boys. :) Super-hero costumes, pooping, cavemen and bedtime. Good stuff.

  65. Jaclyn Franklin Ley says:

    This is a nice article, and I think good advice.

  66. Joshua Jacobs says:

    While I agree with the sentiment of Jennifer Robbins below, I see that there is a cultural difference between what we perceive as “Men” and “Women”…even without the biological difference(ask any trans-sexual, ,…,etc.). Looking over the past 100 (even 10) years, these cultures have changed significantly with respect to one another. It is entirely possible to live an empowered and empowering life in either (or neither) cultural context.

    I admire Mr. Matlack for writing for a cultural context that is becoming less clear by the minute…that of being a father, and a good one at that.

    Thanks Tom.

  67. Gail Robertson Dimmerling says:

    I liked this one. Boys and girls are definitely different…

  68. Ruth Oh Reitmeier says:

    This made me stop and think this morning…

  69. Jessica Coberg Lamoureux says:

    This is good…from a dad’s perspective.

  70. Tom Matlack says:

    Wow, thanks for all these comments: the good, the bad and the ugly. Never thought my little column would create such a stir amongst moms. I have two sons and a daughter, so if I didn’t say it I should have. This is just my experience. Take it at face value. Not trying to negotiate the gender wars here. Just share what has been a life changing experience for me (being a dad) with a little humor about how dads and moms might see our sons with slightly different perspectives. I totally agree that everything I say is dependent on the child. No two boys are alike. No two dads are alike. For those who got something out of my musings, I thank you for the kind words. Just remember, when in doubt hug. It can’t hurt and might help. @tmatlack

  71. David Wise says:

    “Boys perhaps even more than girls put themselves under extreme pressure to perform in school…” If this were true, I don’t think boys would be lagging behind academically. Boys–regardless of race–are falling behind the girls in school. Good column.

  72. Christina Alfaro says:

    A good article for Mom’s with boys or who are going to have boys

  73. Bethany Fuson says:

    i like this.

  74. Donkey says:

    Hilarious-I loved every second of it!!

  75. Jack Steiner says:

    Tom, I am sure that you mean well but your premise that women are better parents is simply misguided, foolish and wrong. Why would you lump all parents together. Why would you contribute to some silly stereotype.

    It is just irritating. The ability to give birth doesn’t bestow magical powers upon moms any more than our ability to pee standing up does for us.

  76. Tracie Beech says:

    Jack, he said ‘generally’ which is in fact well erm…a fact. but i do know some really awful mothers and brilliant fathers. it was just a generalisation me thinks.

  77. Jack Steiner says:

    Tracie,

    It is not a fact unless it is supported by facts. It is an opinion based upon his experiences. Most of the post is like that and well, my experience is quite different in a number of ways.

    I like a lot of what he says here, but I just don’t see the need to resort to stereotypes. Or if we are going to go for the cheap and easy mark let’s go all the way.

    He says that his time on throne is the highlight of his day. That is too bad, because a good blowjob can really make a guy smile.

    Look, I appreciate what he is doing and like I said I like a lot of it, but it falls short in a way that is too big to ignore.

  78. King Lerxt says:

    Jack, he said GENERALLY women are better parents, so he’s not lumping ALL parents together. You are taking it way too seriously man. Lighten up and perhaps switch to decaf.

  79. Rufus Griscom says:

    Thanks for this Tom … we have three sons and so far this proves to be spot on. When i went to college the presumption was that gender was a social construct; I don’t think that idea has remained intact for anyone who has had a boy or a girl and watched them at school beside their counterparts. It’s pretty extraordinary how different boys and girls are at 4, 5, 6 and perhaps beyond (that’s as far as I have gotten). Our son oldest son does precisely the same thing of tearing up occasionally for reasons he can’t articulate. People love to say that girls are geniuses at these early ages and boys are dingbats, because girls are much more tuned into social dynamics and able to articulate feelings. Boys meanwhile (not every last one, mind you, but some generalizations are useful … we can’t go around only speaking individually about 6 billion humans) have an extraordinary ability to study and understand systems. They collect data and information on subjects until they feel ownership of them, and then discard them and find another one. They are obsessed with building, and inventing and exploring worlds and systems and interpersonal environments through the building process. Some girls are too, but these characteristics are by and large more pronounced in boys. The differences are wonderful, as is the process of bridging those divides through articles like this one. Great stuff, Tom.

  80. Michael Kamber says:

    Great piece. Let’s not get too hung up on men vs. women, the fact that he’s thought about this and given us his thoughtful experiences to be debated is valuable enough.

  81. Jessie Breyer Thompson says:

    Thought this was interesting and pretty cute…

  82. Lianne Byrne-Hammacott says:

    what a great article and something for us moms to read while we raise boys :) worth a read! great site too :)

  83. Mira D. Taylor says:

    Nice one

  84. Kristine Niehaus Smith says:

    I thought this was a good article. Especially the “poop” part- it helped put things into perspective.

  85. Melissa DrMom says:

    Oh, how I love this list and found this all to be true so far. I have an almost 6 year old son. I absolutely love your last one…bedtime is sacred. This is really the only time our son opens up to us. It really is the most important time of day :)

  86. Debbie Simpson says:

    This is exactly so.

  87. Nesha Zalesny says:

    Great article for my fellow Moms raising boys.

  88. E Ashley says:

    What a great list! I enjoyed the last item the most. When we are watching TV or reading books and my six year old falls asleep while leaning on me, I just sit there for a little enjoying him.

  89. Amy Cooper Rodriguez says:

    Thank you, Tom, for a great article that sees the humor and challenges in raising boys. I love this essay, and I love The Good Men Project and have given it to many of the good men in my life. Thanks for sharing.

  90. Amy Cooper Rodriguez says:

    I don’t know who I love more…the guys who shoveled me out or this writer. (BTW, The Good Men Project is an awesome book.)

  91. Elizabeth Cleveland says:

    Funny and insightful. Things to remember as I raise Wyatt!

  92. Sadjia Courtier says:

    EN ANGLAIS SEULEMENT SUR LE SITE.

  93. Ann Barr says:

    Sons are lovely but very hard to understand! (Much like their same gender parent!)

  94. Kennedy Tinsley says:

    I only have 4 to think about…. *sigh*

  95. Emily Cruse Elliott says:

    Very helpful article……glad to know H’s constant jumping around means he’s happy. :)

  96. Connie Willey says:

    Kelly and Nicole this is really funny you would both get a kick out of it.

  97. single mom of a boy says:

    Can you also explain why boys must knock everything over? Literally, if something is upright, my little guy must knock it over.

  98. Kristina Huckell Santiago says:

    I like these…

  99. Janna Smith says:

    very good and simple advise plus as a mom I tend to over think my sons actions when in reality he is more like his father not like me. Simple and Direct.

  100. Gisela de Morais says:

    Zeer herkenbaar ;-)

  101. mormotionagge says:

    Great advice! I’d have to disagree that Mums make better parents, rather they make for different parents. For the early time in a boy’s development yes, it’s all about mum but from the age of 6 or 7 boys really need to have dad around… My 4yr old son has taken to following me around everywhere. Anyway..some very sage advice. Thank you for the post.

  102. Anna Kopparberg-Fors says:

    this is a brilliant piece.

  103. January Soden says:

    FABULOUS article for those with boys!!!!

  104. Selmin Cicek Weiss says:

    Thanks Jan — this is great!

  105. Kathryn Warner says:

    A good read for all of those with boys!!

  106. Christine LaRocque says:

    This is a fantastic read for moms of boys.

  107. Katie Gregg says:

    For all you mammas with boys…

  108. Seema Kumar says:

    Moms of boys must read, you will relate to every instance !

  109. Amy Bundy says:

    So much of this is true (says the mom of three boys). I loved the last point best of all.

  110. Melanie Cooter North says:

    LOVE this! …Now off to snuggle with my boys before bed.

  111. Lisa Bagchi says:

    Short and sweet. Just like someone I know.

  112. Jolene Bogacki says:

    Cute article. The last few lines made me cry—yep, I’m a girl.

  113. Tanya Davis says:

    I thought that this was pretty spot on….

  114. Iloveboys says:

    I have 4 sons, and while much of what you say may ‘generally’ be true, it is not always true. Nor is it fair to state it as fact. There are plenty of boys who do not fit these generalizations and some girls that would. My boys are each very different from one another — so there is no way that any one of them would hold up to these ‘rules’ completely.

  115. Amanda May says:

    This is good stuff!

  116. Elizabeth Daniel Nizinski says:

    “Goodness isnt about winning at youth soccer or having the most friends or being the smartest kid in class; its also about being kind. Thats something as a mom that you can particularly help your son understand. “

  117. Anne Palen says:

    Raising Boys……

  118. Brenna Ferrando Ewing says:

    Love this and so true. At least so far from my limited experience:)

  119. Rebecca Gordon Brockbank says:

    Good 2 know ;Op

  120. Amelia Lemon says:

    cute article, not bad advice!

  121. Scoangelott Campbell says:

    This was perfect and just what I needed. Thanks Milly!

  122. Tom Matlack says:

    Thank you for so many wonderful comments! If you want to see the rest of my columns they are here:
    http://www.goodmenproject.com/good-is-good

  123. Cathy McManus Jones says:

    good stuff….

  124. Krissi Cox says:

    This was something my cousin shared…It’s a cute article!

  125. Selina says:

    I am fan of the GMP and think they are doing a great job providing alternative content for men (and women who like to read about men’s issues).

    This article didn’t seem up to Tom’s general quality, though. Moms are better parents? I beg to differ; I know many men who are excellent parents, excellent preschool teachers, etc.

    As a number of male psychologists have pointed out, boy’s emotional health, including preventing ADHD, even more serious problems like autism, is greatly helped by (a) having an emotionally healthy father to identify with and interact with and (b) encouraging them to learn to verbalize in a relational way, like validating their feelings, encouraging their talking about their feelings rather than acting them out (or expecting others to read their “body language”), understanding the context of relationships with their friends. This does not have to be at the expense of physicality and other things that boys may like to do or be.

    This seemed in some ways like a road map to developing the stereotypical 20th Century male rather than a well-rounded 21st Century male?

    Also, other generalizations about not liking crowds, etc were weird.

    I’m glad Tom is getting to know his boys and I know he’s well-intentioned but I think he’s generalizing a bit too much, and maybe raising them the way he was raised back in the 20th Century (like many of us parents)? It’s a new world and boys can have everything in it, not just traditional “masculinity.”

    Sorry to be a party-pooper.

  126. Nacia K. Walsh says:

    So sweet and thoughtful.

  127. Megan Boyd says:

    Awesome article!

  128. Isaiah says:

    As always… you nail it. Thanks for sharing.

  129. Terri Butler says:

    I maybe not agree with the early statement that women are better parents than men (my DH ROCKS) but the rest of the article is entertaining!

  130. Lynn Vabic Guerra says:

    I think there are too many generalizations in the article. Yes boys do have some inherent differences from girls, but they also all have individual personalities. Boys, as well as girls, are socialized according to what YOU expose them to and teach them.

  131. Zuzanna Ziomecka says:

    this is awesome. I now understand the poop issue more deeply then I ever knew I wanted to.

  132. Juan Burley says:

    As a father of a boy and a preschool teacher, the one area that i though could have been expanded on is the pphysical needs of boys. He talked about the rocks, but boys need that rough and tumble play adn if they get it a lot of negative behaviors can be avoided. Otherwise i really liked the article.

  133. Jenni Yates Arnold says:

    very helpful! and i see my son in all these areas–he is 6 yrs old–and def. about the poop thing-LOL

  134. Anna Domanska-Wala says:

    As a mother of a boy and a girl I can tell you that a lot of what this article speaks to is not necessarily gender-based but personality based. The crowds thing – that is introverts vs extroverts for example. Not all boys are like described in this article. My daughter regularly excuses herself from the dinner table to go to the washroom, my son has probably never done this (and he’s older). So, no, I’m not really buying this.

  135. Chris says:

    If you could remove the gender prejudice, this would be a more entertaining and informative article. There are better ways for a writer to bond with his readers than resorting to gender prejudice.

  136. Marijo Tinlin says:

    This article is so perfect. We have 4 boys and one girl and I can tell you, there is a difference, no doubt about it. I wish society could get over trying to make the genders the same when we are not. Boys WILL be boys and we need to let them. We’re so caught up on making sure girls are equal that we forget we are wired differently and that it’s OK! Doesn’t mean either is better or worse – just different and thank God for that. Thanks for a great article. Loved it!

  137. Finley says:

    This is the most entertaining article I’ve read on this site yet! I have a one-yr old son – and a husband – and clearly this advice applies to them both. I will let Dad handle the poop situation since, as a woman, that is not something we EVER do.

    And the rest of the negative commenters can get over themselves. This is a fun, light-hearted article. I’m passing it on to my friends who will have a good laugh with me. Thank you!

  138. beckster says:

    I have two boys and have laid next to them many times as they fall asleep and I still don’t believe in god.

  139. Amber Lundgren says:

    LOVED this article:)

  140. Dawn Frantz Adkins ? says:

    LOVED this article too. Had to laugh a couple of times.

  141. NativeAustinite says:

    This is excellent info matches up with what I got from a training on how to reach boys which was put together by a man with his doctorate degree. I think the book is called Hear Our Cry.

  142. Anonymous says:

    Love this article. Humourous and totally accurate. I’m a single-mum of a 14 year old boy who loves hugs and spends a significant portion of his day on the throne!

  143. Katie Saunders Huntington says:

    i love the article i have a 2 year old boy who is going though potty training and it hard for me because sometimes he dont want to go to the potty he wants to play all the time

  144. Mary Sze Miller says:

    Beautiful article. It reminds me how precious is this time with my son. Thanks for the article. I appreciate those “boy” things more now that I have some insight to his batman, pillow fort building moments.

  145. Anonymous says:

    This article contains tremendous wisdom about the need for an adult male mentor in a young boy’s life. An adult male mentor is often a more powerful influence in guiding the young boy than the father is for the reasons the author mentions.
    I struggled with this issue for years. I finally understood that what was missing was a book written for the boys themselves. (Books written for parents help the parents but really don’t do much for the boy.)
    My first book was “Ascending from Boyhood.” The second was “Ascending to Manhood.” The first book was for boys, say 8 to 11. The second was for older boys, 11 to 15.
    The books are unique in that each chapter is a short story that the boy can relate to. At the end of each chapter are half dozen questions that ask the boy how he would have handled the situation in the chapter he just read.
    I’ve given copies to acquaintances with young boys. In every case the parents were surprised with the thoughtful responses these questions elicited. The responses let the parents gauge their sons perspectives on basic values.
    If you’re interested in helping your son or any young boy, both books are on Amazon.

  146. audratracy says:

    Awe, I think I may cry. This is so sweet. I have a 3 year old son and he is active and when I lay down next to him at night I thank God for him. He is so dear and I am so lucky. Thanks again!

  147. hulabo says:

    Wonderful article! As a mommy to a very active wonderful 2 year old boy this article made me laugh and cry. I appreciate the advice and plan to use it.

  148. Young Mum says:

    Great article! I’m the mother of girls, and am glad that there’s parents like you out there raising little boys into the lovely, manly, uncomplicated, wonderful creatures real men (like my husband) are, for my little girls to one day find and love. Keep up the good work! :)

  149. Happy Mommy says:

    You said it perfectly; when you hold them as they drift off to sleep you can see God! I love having a boy and a girl and getting to see how truly different they each are! Everything you described here is my little guy, thank you for sharing!

  150. inkyisfat says:

    Was reading Dr. Laura this morning and she linked this story. So good and true!

  151. FennyPenny says:

    I love this, I really do, especially the first point, the “think caveman” advice. Us mums can sometimes make things way more complicated for our sons than they actually are. And like you say, it is so often more about our emotional complexities than theirs. I have 3 girls and 2 boys, and although I am a hands-on muj to all 5 of them, I am learning that I have to relinquish a lot of the ‘control’ us females crave over apsects of our sons’ development to their Dad. I have realised and then seen in-action that the ways he touches their lives are ways that I cannot. It is sometimes just a casual boy nudge-me-as-i-walk-past-and-nudge-me-back in the corridor or it is wrestling on the loungeroom floor, or it those words of wisdom that are passed between grunts as they carry heavy objects in the garden…. but they are all things that are not part of my role as a mother, and I need to respect that, and enjoy being the spectator in watching my sons blossom under my husband’s guidance.

  152. FennyPenny says:

    I love this, I really do, especially the first point, the “think caveman” advice. Us mums can sometimes make things way more complicated for our sons than they actually are. And like you say, it is so often more about our emotional complexities than theirs. I have 3 girls and 2 boys, and although I am a hands-on muj to all 5 of them, I am learning that I have to relinquish a lot of the ‘control’ us females crave over apsects of our sons’ development to their Dad. I have realised and then seen in-action that the ways he touches their lives are ways that I cannot. It is sometimes just a casual boy nudge-me-as-i-walk-past-and-nudge-me-back in the corridor or it is wrestling on the loungeroom floor, or it those words of wisdom that are passed between grunts as they carry heavy objects in the garden…. but they are all things that are not part of my role as a mother, and I need to respect that, and enjoy being the spectator in watching my sons blossom under my husband’s guidance.

  153. FennyPenny says:

    I love this, I really do, especially the first point, the “think caveman” advice. Us mums can sometimes make things way more complicated for our sons than they actually are. And like you say, it is so often more about our emotional complexities than theirs. I have 3 girls and 2 boys, and although I am a hands-on muj to all 5 of them, I am learning that I have to relinquish a lot of the ‘control’ us females crave over apsects of our sons’ development to their Dad. I have realised and then seen in-action that the ways he touches their lives are ways that I cannot. It is sometimes just a casual boy nudge-me-as-i-walk-past-and-nudge-me-back in the corridor or it is wrestling on the loungeroom floor, or it those words of wisdom that are passed between grunts as they carry heavy objects in the garden…. but they are all things that are not part of my role as a mother, and I need to respect that, and enjoy being the spectator in watching my sons blossom under my husband’s guidance.

  154. FennyPenny says:

    I love this, I really do, especially the first point, the “think caveman” advice. Us mums can sometimes make things way more complicated for our sons than they actually are. And like you say, it is so often more about our emotional complexities than theirs. I have 3 girls and 2 boys, and although I am a hands-on muj to all 5 of them, I am learning that I have to relinquish a lot of the ‘control’ us females crave over apsects of our sons’ development to their Dad. I have realised and then seen in-action that the ways he touches their lives are ways that I cannot. It is sometimes just a casual boy nudge-me-as-i-walk-past-and-nudge-me-back in the corridor or it is wrestling on the loungeroom floor, or it those words of wisdom that are passed between grunts as they carry heavy objects in the garden…. but they are all things that are not part of my role as a mother, and I need to respect that, and enjoy being the spectator in watching my sons blossom under my husband’s guidance.

  155. amiakimoy says:

    Obviously you do not have boys. If you did you would understand Boys are different from girls…it’s only when you have boys you begin to understand that there are fundamental differences between the two sexes.

    have a son or two then you can join in the discussion

  156. Bastion says:

    I don’t know why you had to start the story like that. You could’ve said: “A lot of moms can be better parents than dads.” Instead of insisting they just naturally are better just by existing. I don’t mean to come off as critical, especially considering that I read at the GMP all the time (I have it bookmarked;] ) but I had to say it. And for the people who keep saying to stop taking it too seriously, the only reason you even CAN say that is because he was complimenting mothers while insulting fathers. (Which happens all too often.) You know for a fact that none of you would keep silent if something similar was said about mothers.

  157. Mmhaider says:

    Thanks for a great article. Would really appreciate if you could give me a few pointers on how to get my 6 year old to do his homework and to develop a love for studies generally.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post