Rules for Moms of Boys..

Inspired by a Pin I recently saw about “Rules for dads with daughters,” I went searching for a similar list for moms of boys.  This search was mostly fruitless, so I was inspired to write my own Rules for Moms of Boys.  Granted, my list will not be conclusive and may not be entirely uncontroversial.  So agree, disagree, or take with a grain of salt – but I hope to inspire other moms who are loving, struggling, tired, proud, and eager to support the boys in their lives.

You are the most important woman in his life, his first teacher, and the one he will look to for permission for the rest of his life.  From “Can I go play with them?” to “Should I ask her to marry me?”  Its a big job, but as their mom, we’re up for it.

1. Teach him the words for how he feels. Your son will scream out of frustration and hide out of embarrassment.  He’ll cry from fear and bite out of excitement.  Let his body move by the emotion, but also explain to him what the emotion is and the appropriate response to that emotion for future reference.  Point out other people who are feeling the same thing and compare how they are showing that emotion.  Talk him through your emotions so that someday when he is grown, he will know the difference between angry and embarrassed; between disappointment and grief.

2. Be a cheerleader for his life. There is no doubt that you are the loudest person in the stands at his t-ball games.  There is no doubt that he will tell you to “stop, mom” when you sing along to his garage band’s lyrics.  There is no doubt that he will get red-faced when you show his prom date his pictures from boy scouts.  There is no doubt that he is not telling his prom date about your blog where you’ve been bragging about his life from his first time on the potty to the citizenship award he won in ninth grade.  He will tell you to stop.  He will say he’s embarrassed.  But he will know that there is at least one person that is always rooting for him. As well as lives him unconditionally.

3. Teach him how to do laundry, load the dishwasher, and iron a shirt. Let’s not forget to teach him how to cook too.   He may not always choose to do it.  He may not ever have to do it.  But someday his wife will thank you.

4. Read to him and read with him. Emilie Buchwald said, “Children become readers on the laps of their parents.”  Offer your son the opportunity to learn new things, believe in pretend places, and imagine bigger possibilities through books.  Let him see you reading…reading the paper, reading novels, reading magazine articles.  Help him understand that writing words down is a way to be present forever.  Writers are the transcribers of history and memories.  They keep a record of how we lived at that time; what we thought was interesting; how we spoke to each other; what was important.  And Readers help preserve and pass along those memories.

5. Encourage him to dance. Dance, rhythm, and music are cultural universals.  No matter where you go, no matter who you meet – they have some form of the three.  It doesn’t have to be good.  Just encourage your son that when he feels it, it’s perfectly fine to go ahead and bust a move.

6. Make sure he has examples of good men who are powerful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrity.The examples of men with big muscles and a uniform (like Batman and LaMarr Woodley) will surround your son from birth.  But make sure he also knows about men who kick a$s because of their brains (Albert Einstein), and their pen (Mark Twain), and their words (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), and their determination (Team Hoyt), and their ideas (The Wright Brothers), and their integrity (Officer Frank Shankwitz), and fearlessness (Neil Armstrong), and their ability to keep their mouths closed when everyone else is screaming (Jackie Robinson)

7. Make sure he has examples of women who are beautiful because of their brains, their determination, and their integrityThe examples of traditionally beautiful women (like Daphne Blake, Princess Jasmine, andBritney Spears) will surround your son from birth.  But make sure he knows about women who are beautiful from the inside out because of their brains (Madame Marie Curie), and their pen (Harper Lee), and their words (Eleanor Roosevelt), and their determination (Anne Sullivan), and their ideas (Oprah Winfrey), and their integrity (Miep Gies), and fearlessness (Ameila Earhart), and their ability to open their mouths and take a stand when everyone else is silent (Aung San Suu Kyi).

8. Be an example of a beautiful woman with brains, determination, and integrity.You already are all of those things.  If you ever fear that you are somehow incapable of doinganything – remember this:  If you have done any of the following:  
a) grew life
b) impossibly and inconceivably got it out of your body
c) taken care of a newborn
d) made a pain go away with a kiss
e) taught someone to read
f) taught a toddler to eat with a utensil
g) cleaned up diarrhea without gagging h) loved a child enough to be willing to give your life for them (regardless if they are your own)
i) found a way to be strong when that child is suffering.
You are a superhero.  Do not doubt yourself for one second.  Seriously.

9. Teach him to have manners, because its nice.  And it will make the world a little better of a place.

10. Teach him that there are times when you need to be gentle, like with babies, flowers, animals, and other people’s feelings.

11. Go outside with him. Turn off the tv, unplug the video games, put your cellphone on the charger.  Just go outside and follow him around.  Watch his face, explore his world, and let him ask questions.  It’s like magic.

12. Let him lose. Let’s be honest losing sucks.  Everybody isn’t always a winner.  Even if you want to say, “You’re a winner because you tried,” don’t.  He doesn’t feel like a winner, he feels sad and crappy and disappointed.  And that’s a good thing, because sometimes life also sucks, no matter how hard (as moms) we try to make it not suck for our kids.  This practice will do him good later when he loses again (and again, and again, and again, and again…..)  Instead make sure he understands that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  But that doesn’t mean you ever give up.

13. Answer him when he asks, “Why?”. Answer him, or better yet, search for the answer together.  Show him the places to look for the answers (like his dad, or grandparents, or his aunts/uncles, or his books, or valid internet searches).  Pose the question to him so he can begin thinking about answers himself.  Someday, when he needs to ask questions he’s too embarrassed to ask you, he’ll know where to go to find the right answers.

14. Kiss him, any mother of boys will tell you that boys are so loving and sweet.  They can be harsh and wild and destructive during most of the day.  But there are these moments when they are so kind and sensitive and tender.  So much so that it can cause you to look around at the inward, reserved grown men in your life and think, ‘what happens in between that made you lose that?’  Let’s try to stop the cycle by kissing them when they’re loving and kissing them even more when they’re wild.  Kissing them when they’re 2 months and kissing them when they’re 16 years old.  You’re the mom, you can go ahead and kiss him no matter how big he gets…and make sure he knows it.   p.s. (this one is just as important for dad’s too). 

15. Be home base, you are home to him.  When he learns to walk, he will wobble a few feet away from you and then come back, then wobble away a little farther and then come back.  When he tries something new, he will look for your proud smile.  When he learns to read, he will repeat the same book to you twenty times in a row, because you’re the only one who will listen that many times.  When he plays his sport, he will search for your face in the stands.  When he is sick, he will call you.  When he really messes up, he will call you.  When he is grown and strong and tough and big and he feels like crying, he will come to you; because a man can cry in front of his mother without feeling self-conscious.  Even when he grows up and has a new woman in his life and gets a new home, you are still his mother; home base, the ever constant, like the sun.  Know that in your heart and everything else will fall into place.

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