There was a Huffington Post article that went viral in my social media circles yesterday. It was an article about the three things that little girls need from their fathers. As the mom of two boys, it didn’t necessarily apply to me, although I do wish my own father had read it when I was younger. It did make me wonder what are the top three things that little boys need from their mothers and in my case, from their single mothers. I sent out the question to my friends with boys – married, single, gay, straight – and three clear lessons that we can teach our boys emerged.
Lesson 1 Respect for women: All girls do not look like the girls on the Internet. In fact the vast majority of them will not & I hope you don’t bring the ones that do home to meet your mom. Boys need to understand – just as importantly, if not more so than girls, that women do not come fully photoshopped, freshly waxed, Botoxed, Spanxed, siliconed & compliant to your wishes. Girls – and the women they will become – come in all shapes, sizes, colours and orientations. We can teach our boys that a woman’s beauty is found in her imperfections; they are what makes her unique and desirable. Our boys need to learn to value kindness, intelligence, curiosity, compassion and humour over cup size.
Lesson 2- It’s OK to be vulnerable. Talking about your feelings, your fears, your dreams doesn’t mean that you’re a sissy or weak. In fact, your emotional intelligence will be a great asset to you as a boyfriend, father, friend, son and human being. Speaking with authenticity & making yourself vulnerable will enable you to become stronger, more confident, loving and loveable.
As mothers, we can also teach our boys that when girls talk about a problem, she doesn’t necessarily want you to fix the problem. She wants you to acknowledge and validate her feelings. And just as when your mom has a problem, it’s not your job to fix it. As a single mom, my eldest son often feels the need to “protect” me. This is a huge responsibility for a 10 year old & I endeavour to teach him that women are strong, competent and fierce. We will protect you until you are ready to fend for yourself. And speaking of fending for yourself…
Lesson 3 – Be self-relaint & resilient Our boys need to know that life will not be served to them on a platter & that things will not always go their way. Teaching them to prepare meals for themselves (and a special someone), do a load of laundry, pick up groceries & take care of their little brother will empower them & turn them into the man that every one will want to marry. And more importantly, STAY married to.
Resilience is also a good lesson for our boys. Boys are raised to believe that resilience means physical strength or toughness, but resilience is as much mental as it is physical. Instead of reacting to disappointment, adversity or rejection with anger, moms can teach their boys to talk about the situation and set a path for overcoming it. Empowering our boys to work through the tough times instead of solving the problem for them may just be the key to their independence, success & happiness.
Of course,raising our boys to be happy, healthy young men is not just a mother’s job & our children will be best served if both parents support these lessons. I’m looking forward to teaching my boys these lessons in conjunction with their dad & we’re open to all the lessons that they will teach us in return.
Love this heartfelt post. As the mom of 2 boys, I feel very strongly about the first point. It helps that I’m also teaching my daughter the same lessons about herself!
Thanks Tamara! The lessons definitely apply to both boys AND girls. xo
My husband was mainly raised by his mother. His did was around in the early years but was a workaholic so not always “around”. By the time hubby was about 16 dad was pretty much moved on to his new life with his future new wife.
I think his mother did a pretty good job teaching him all of the lessons above. I mean he won me over and I am a tough nut to crack so I think she did a bang up job as a mostly single mother. But my husband definitely took on the protector roll. The oldest of three kids with an absent father, he felt like he had no choice. And it continues. His family still runs to him with all of their problems, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is a bit of a mixed blessing.
The Protector Role is definitely a mixed blessing. It forces them to grow up too soon & feel responsible for things that are beyond their control. It does, however make them very empathetic and nurturing men however & we could always use more of those!
As a mom of a boy and a girl, I want them both to learn respect for the other gender. For my boy, most of his teachings with be from my husband but he has other male role models I’m his life to help him see how women should be treated. Sadly, my father is not one of them.
This post is a great reference to those parents who need that reminder that teaching respect is first and foremost
Absolutely Kristi! R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Think kids should learn to spell it before they learn to spell C-A-T.
What I learned most from my Dad about what it was like to be a man and what I wanted in a partner was #3. My Dad could do and did everything my Mother did. My brother is a perfect example of how kids (can) learn by watching their parents.
My son is fortunate to have such a good role model in his Father.
I’m just trying to teach my son not to leave his nail clippings in the sink. God knows he’s not going to learn that from his Dad.
You are and will continue to do a GREAT job at raising the boys with all qualities of an awesome boy/man one that any girl/woman would be proud to stand in front behind and beside for a friend or husband.
Another great one our DD! Well said!
Another great one our DD! Well said!
OMG. A lovely post and I agree wholeheartedly. I think society in general is so hard on our little dudes – expecting them to “suck it up” and “be a man” from a very young age. Working so hard to help them be compassionate, loving and strong individuals. I am also very involved with their sports, including coaching, I hope that they can see their mom as a kick ass role model in more ways than one! xo
I love lesson #2! I have such a hard time communicating with my husband about hard topics because I can see him holing up and hiding his feelings. I wish his mom had taken your advice and let him know that it is okay to be real! Great post
All great lessons for all parents of boys. I’ll be thinking about how to incorporate them with mine.
Thanks for your insights.