I have seven sons.
Have you recovered from the shock yet? Most people pause in awed reflection when I tell them that.
I appreciate the response because it in not an easy task raising boys in the 21st century.
I did not set out to have seven sons. I actually bought into the current mantra of two kids: a boy and a girl.
Then we would be the socially perfect family. But that is not how my story turned out.
It all started when we had just 2 boys. We had a daughter born who was chronically handicapped and died.
My heart was broken and as bad as I wanted another baby Quick! to heal my emptiness, my husband said no.
But being the ‘fertile Myrtle’ that I am blessed to be, and my husband the ‘Don Juan’ that he is, I was soon pregnant again. And so 9 months later we welcome a third son. A fourth and fifth son came every 23 months, until numbers 6 and 7 came just 12 minutes apart. Yep! Twin boys!
We did finally have a daughter and the remarks we get are " Did you keep trying until you got a girl?"
Emphatically NO! We wanted and loved each and every child, whether they are son or daughter, blue or pink!
But being that I have had consistent experience with sons, let me share with you some wisdom. Hopefully it will aid you on the journey of raising boys into men.
First off, boys are noisy. They love sounds, the louder, the better. They do not appreciate the fine art of dialogue and conversation. (That comes when they are teens. More on this later. ) There are exceptions to this. One of the exceptions is my son, Thomas. When he was 18 months old, he stood up in his stroller while we were walking around the block, and yelled to his older brother to get back and do the dishes. I kid you not! We nick-named this son St. Thomas talkus a lot-us.
Most boys will opt to play guns and make shooting noises, or play with cars and make ‘vrooming’ noises, or trains and make choo-choo noises. If there is sound, they will produce it. Boys love weapons. I remember my oldest son, Daniel, biting his grilled cheese sandwich into a pistol and firing away. Contrary to popular opinion, playing with toy guns does NOT make your boy violent. It actually aids in rounding him out to be a brave adult. Did you ever see lion cubs wrestling and stalking each other? They were developing and using skills that they would need later on. It is the same with boys. Through out history it has been the males who go off and fight for family, home, and country. How did they learn to have such courage in the face of death? By playing bravely as kids. By the way, Daniel is a United States Marine.
At this point I would like to interject a few warning signs. Unnecessary roughness and bullying is not to be tolerated. Unchecked bad behavior can have long lasting effects for all sides. Violent video games played for hours on end, I do believe, dull the senses and sensitivies of the players. It is our personal family rule that we do not allow them in our house.
Boys are very energetic. Most likely you have discovered this for yourself. This is perfectly normal and there should be no cause for alarm. Boys need lots of fresh air and play time outside. They need to swing from ropes on trees, and build forts, and ride around on bikes. A boy who has had a vigorous day outside will sleep better and be less likely to cut up and disturb others indoors.
Teachers are currently having problems with many boys in school because these boys are not getting enough energy out through play. Parents of these boys resort to medicines to settle their sons down. This is not a blanket condemnation, for I am sure that it is warranted in some cases. But for many boys, if they were allowed longer and more frequent recesses, the teachers would get better students out of them.
Boys are a little slower on the thinking end of it. No offense, guys! Boys are wired differently, God designed them that way. What took my boys 6 years to master, academically speaking, my daughter grasped in 4 ½ or 5 years.
What to do? Try teaching them is different ways. Maybe they are a visual learner and need to see the concept played out with hot wheels cars: 2 trucks were parked on the street. 2 sedans came and parked behind them. How many vehicles are on the street altogether? If they are not getting phonics, have them write the letter in a pie plate of clean sand. Read lots of books together out loud.
This slowness should not be seen as a negative attribute in your son. When you need him to act and respond quickly, they are more than able to. Look at it as raw courage. Where we females are timid to lurk, a boy will dive in without a second thought. I use this very effectively when there are spiders in my house that I want removed.
Boys need their fathers. They need to identify with positive male role models. Spend time with your sons, Dads.
Play with them. Hug them. Get in the habit now while they are young and they will still want your company when their teen peers are pushing away their own folks. In our family we call this special time Bud Time. The children crave and yearn for this time with their Dad, just one on one.
There is still a place for Mom, but in a different way. Mothers can show their sons the fullness of femininity. When they are seriously looking for a marriageable spouse, they won't be able to help looking for similar qualities like they saw in their Mothers.
Lastly, our modern culture is so filled with noise and distractions. If you can quiet your home down and leave room for conversation, you will find your parent-child relationships flourishing rather than floundering. My teen boys like to talk after 10pm when I am ready to make the descent to slumber. My advice to you is this: when your son (or daughter) wants to talk, LISTEN, even if it is past bedtime. You will actually look back and treasure those late night conversations.
My seven sons are still growing. Only two sons have moved out where they are supporting themselves or their own family. We are still in ‘boot camp’ training and raising the other five to be courageous, faithful, hardworking and virtuous men who can impact their community in positive ways.
May you also find the joy and adventure in raising boys!
Jeanne Condon, besides being happily married and raising 8 children, works from home at a fun part-time side job. She can be reached at http://www.happyandhealthyfamily.com