One of my friends has three daughters and visits to her home always highlight the stark contrast between raising boys and raising girls. I know we’re all just trying to raise happy, healthy little persons but I do see and feel the differences that raising a boy entails.
And as a single mom of a young lad of 8 I am only too aware of all the experiences he’ll have that I will not understand or be able to share with him. I don’t know what puberty for a boy is like and I am not one for fishing and camping or playing PlayStation.
This doesn't mean we can’t have meaningful experiences together. Here are some of the ways I am seeing to it that the time we do share provides a solid foundation for our relationship in future.
You know, when he has to pull away from me as is the way with boys in adolescence in order to become independent young men. (Please note that I am completely okay with this. Will not allow it to make me cry into my wine when the time comes. Not at all.)
Also read: Mental health conditions in children: A parent's guide
Show a genuine interest in your son’s interests
My son is soccer obsessed. He lives soccer. We watch soccer movies, read soccer books, have soccer posters on our walls and he will wear his soccer kit every opportunity he gets. I believe this is a phenomenon at the moment as he attended what was probably his 7th soccer-themed party today.I am not a sporty girl.
I don’t participate in any sport and I don’t watch it on TV. But I am there at those ungodly timed games on a Saturday morning yelling instructions at his team as to how to play the game (I do not know the rules but I like to think I make up for that with my ‘enthusiasm’).
And boy do I love it. Watching him play is pure joy and I wouldn't trade it for all the coffee in bed in the world.
Involve him in what interests you
Trying to get my son to cook with me has not yielded a rewarding experience as yet but I drag him on hikes with me and to as many outdoor concerts as I can and I love watching his sense of accomplishment when he’s reached the top of Lion’s Head or seeing him shake his moves at a Jeremy Loops concert.
Insist on time alone together
There are two boys about my son’s age that live in the apartment above us. If he had his way they would be at ours or he at their place from the moment he woke up until bedtime. While he concedes to the occasional meal and also bath-time, I also insist that we spend some time together alone.
We’ll play UNO or read a book together or visit a market or simply take a walk down the road to get an ice-cream. The only criteria is that it be just the two of us.
Must read: An excuse to look away? It's time to stop saying 'boys will be boys'
My son can be very sensitive and not always great about talking about he is feelings. We do a ‘highlight of our day’ every night at dinner. Sometimes a ‘lowlight’, too, but either way, it gets the conversation going.
Also, whenever we’ve had a fight about something I always make sure, once we’ve cooled down, that we talk about why that happened and how we can avoid it in future and I make sure he realises that there is nothing but love between us and that it is natural for people to disagree and that by communicating we can work towards smoother relations.
Teaching your son to communicate his emotions is one of the greatest gifts you can give him. And yourself. (At least, this is my hope. Those teenage years loom large).
Tell him you love him
Every morning when I drop him at school I wait until he’s right in the middle of the school grounds and then I yell out, ‘I love you, my sausage!’ He begs me for about 5 minutes in the car before climbing out not to do it and every morning I assure him that I won’t.
It may embarrass him and perhaps if I carry on long enough he will actually grow to hate me, but he will sure as hell never forget that I love him!
Are you a boy mom? How are you handling it?
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