Raising boys

Will it be a boy or a girl? Parents just want their baby to be healthy, but by the time baby number three is due, a bit of a gender balance is appealing, too.

For Mum, who’s done all the hard work, there’s the desire to dress a baby in pink and, by this stage, Dad just wants what Mum wants. But there it is again… baby number three or four or five arrives and it’s a boy.

Before long the household is a rough and tumble, fast- paced, action-packed ship of mutinous crew ready for any adventure with no end to toy trucks, sandpits, Xbox games, footballs, basketballs and pushbikes. Later on, all these toys transform into motorbikes and real cars and then you’ve got to worry about the P-platers.

But for now the household of boys is content with the toys and plenty of outdoor life. Yes, raising boys is no easy task but then again being a parent (as every mum and dad knows) can be challenging, and sometimes every step of the way.

So for the new mum-to-be, there are 10 things that may help you understand just what you’re getting yourself into with your newly arrived son (or sons).

1. Every boy is different. Yes, they like being dressed in shorts and T-shirts, with no shoes, but they also like colours and creativity. When my eldest son was a toddler I just had a feeling he would like stripes and bright colours and unusual clothes. Today as a young fella he’s still dressing in bright colours and, where he can, in stripes and unusual patterns. So trust your intuition because every boy is different and won’t necessarily fall into a stereotype.

2. The old myth about boys liking toy cars and girls liking dolls is true to an extent, but be prepared for exceptions. My youngest boy had a toy doll up until he was four years old, about the time he went to pre-school and realised the girls had dolls. But that’s not to say he didn’t also play with toy trucks and fire engines, too. The message here is to go with the flow and give them what they want – even if it is a pet rock.

3. Have plenty of sports equipment on hand because boys have a ton of energy to expend. It helps if there’s a footy or basketball to provide an inexpensive outlet. If you can learn to shoot a few hoops with them, it’ll keep you fit, too.

4. As a mum, be prepared for the ‘boy talk’ that will dominate the house. They like talking about cars and football and boxing, even if you don’t.

5. Did I mention they like adventures? If you haven’t learnt to like the great outdoors, then you might want to start. They want to camp out, go fishing and trailblazing some new path through the scrub. They’ll be gone for hours. Don’t worry, boys need to have adventures and learn how to survive – staying at home with mum is no more an option than trying to keep the teenager in on a Friday night. Just teach them some basic first aid (and tell them not to go out of mobile range…)

6. Like any kid, they need to know early on that homework and school is necessary. Some boys have a tendency to put schoolwork down the list of priorities after sport and hanging out with friends, and eating lots from the fridge every morning, afternoon and night.

7. They eat heaps. Grocery bills for a house full of boys are sky high. Make sure you get the healthy snacks – fruit, yoghurt, nuts  – but these will all disappear quickly along with the Easy Mac and 2-minute Noodles, too.

8. Teach them from a young age to do the chores or you’ll be stuck cleaning up after a household of young men who think it’s their right to have a housemaid at their service.

9. Learn to live with the ‘brotherhood’. As they get older, they’ll tend to talk in lingo, dress the same as each other, and be sharing similar You Tube clips like they are members of a secret brotherhood. Get used to it. Generally, boys like to hang in packs, but recognise if you also get a bit of loner (not one of the pack) and encourage him to be the individual he is.

10. This is the most important one, for the future… Respect for women and for elders starts with what boys learn at home. If you want them to grow up and treat their partners with respect, then teach them not only to respect women from the beginning, but also pull them up when they don’t. Do us all a favour and raise respectful boys.

Finally, good luck to all the parents out there. Raising kids is the most important job you’ll ever do. Spend some time learning about it – read some good books to start with, trust your own instincts and remember the most important ingredient in successful parenting is love. Give it in truckloads and often.


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