On Raising Boys

by mssinglemama on February 18, 2010

These are the icicles hanging off of my porch.


I bumped my head on them yesterday morning and then later that night I held Benjamin up so he could punch them all into oblivion; instead most of the flying icicle chunks landed with a loud slap into the side of my car. But I didn’t drop the four year old assailing them and let him finish saying over and over again, “Not into the car. Not into the car.”

When I ducked inside to start dinner, Benjamin stayed outside using a shovel three times his size to “destroy” all of the remaining icicles. Small or gigantic, he didn’t care; not much mercy in all of the testosterone coursing through his blood.

It’s an odd feeling raising a man.

Knowing what they are capable of doing, or not doing.

I watched Raising Cain, a documentary on raising boys when I was pregnant with Benjamin. The film shows interviews with boys who want to openly express their feelings, but are told to hide them; especially when the feelings involve violence or rage. I am going to rent it again and if you have a boy, do the same.


Related posts:

  1. Boys vs. Men
  2. Big Boys and Girls
  3. Boys

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Pippi February 18, 2010 at 7:31 am

I have not seen Raising Cain, but I will rent it. I have two boys (7 and 10). They are just like little cubs. Girls are so foreign to me. I am glad that the man I am involved with has girls because for him, interacting with my boys is a blast. They wrestle like they were in the WWE. Sometimes this can be a bad thing, but most of the time they just need a big boy man to tussle with.


Stac February 18, 2010 at 8:06 am

I saw it on PBS once (well most of it). Definately worth watching. I want my son to express himself, but I find myself being guilty of not encouraging it, not suppressing it, but definately not encouraging it. On his most recent report card the teacher wrote “….is a sensitive student who does not express his thoughts or feelings…” and I found myself saying to my co-workers that I wanted to write back in the parents comments section “He’s a boy”. And while we all laughed and it was a joke, there was some truth in what I said. That was my thought process, he’s a boy, this is normal. But it’s not, any human should be able, and willing to express their thoughts and feelings. I don’t want him to be like his Dad, who expresses his anger by punching the nearest wall, or tree. And if I don’t work to teach him a constructive way to express his feelings, I fear this is the road he will take.


RobinEsque February 18, 2010 at 8:33 am

anger is good … it’s just how we teach them to express it. I am often telling Reagan (a 5.5 year old) that it is OK for him to be angry, but it is NOT OK for him to throw things or tear up his paper because he is angry. Instead he should use his words, or go to his room to calm down and then we can talk, etc. I am the oldest of four girls, so a boy is a strange thing to me, which means I am always picking people’s brain on raising boys, reading books — or now, it looks like watching this movie! Thanks for the tip, Alaina!


Gitte February 18, 2010 at 8:47 am

I am so glad I have a son. He’s 10 years old now and growing into a handsome and gentle young man. I don’t know what I would have done with a girl because I have grown up with two brothers and no sister :-) I’m gonna look for the movie you mentioned; I’ve never seen it before.


Heather February 18, 2010 at 8:56 am

One of the best books I have read about boys (as I am a solo mama to a 6.5 year old) is William Pollock’s “Real Boys.”

Amazing, yet heartbreaking, book about what it is like for boys in today’s world and what we can do to help them.


Ms. Rita February 18, 2010 at 9:04 am

Raising boys…I have three, but most recent my youngest is 5 now and ALL BOY!!! One day a couple of weeks ago, on a rainy day, I picked him up from daycare and his left eye was red, irritated. Later that evening I was putting eye drops in it, I asked him “what happened, what did you do to your eye?”. He replied, “i was walking to the restroom and I stand outside under the rain water to fall in my eye”, well he was under a gutter – Aaaah!!! So he ended up w/ pink eye for a few days. Great!!! I have not seen ‘raising cain’ but I will look it up, even at raising my third son, they are each so different. This last one (cross your fingers) is so funny though. Funnier than i ever remember my older two.


BigLittleWolf February 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

It is odd being a woman, and “raising men.” For me, it’s been a long and fascinating journey, largely solo, and filled with worry, constant tinkering, and never being certain of anything – except when I would, on occasion, sense the wholeness of my sons, as they grew into themselves as individuals.

In a gender-confused culture, how is raising good “men” different from raising good “women” or simply good “people?” And yet it is different, because our kids are not with us all the time – they are part of the world – receiving messages and reinforcing behaviors from media, other kids, other parents, school, extracurricular activities, family members. But those of us who are with them the most are able to shape and lead and also follow their lead, even as we try to figure out who they are as people, and how we can help them become good men.

I don’t have a formula, and I’m not quite done with this journey. All I can say is it’s been a pleasure and a struggle, and a lot of talk, observation, and listening has been part of it. I can only hope my sons, both older teens, will be good to the women in their lives, good to each other, good strong men, and caring individuals who respect and contribute to those with whom they interact.


mssinglemama February 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

This is an amazing addition to the discussion. It is different because there are outside forces at play.


T February 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

Thank you Alaina.

My bf has two sons and I have two daughters. I know NOTHING about raising sons and therefore I get a bit confused on how to act around these boys. They seem to want the nurturing that I offer (since they live with their dad). Yet, some of their lives/actions seem chaotic to me and what I’m used to seeing with 2 daughters. At the same time, however, I see my daughters act differently when they are around my bf.

Maybe we are each providing a balance to each others’ parenting? I would much prefer to look at it that way. Sometimes I feel as if I’m counteracting how a man would raise his sons vs. how a woman would.

Maybe that movie would do me good.


Tricia February 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I have two boys, 6.5 and 4, and they are so different. Though I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Sometimes they do things that you just have to look away from, but it’s all a part of what makes them men. The experiences they have and their relationships with each other.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a girl. I am a boy mom and proud of it.


arscuore February 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Only child woman raising only child boy. Yep, it’s confusing at times. I have some amazing guy friends who come over with the express purpose to wrestle with him and throw the football around. My BF wants to show him Three Stooges movies now (and he WOULD totally love them!)…

The anger is different for me. We’ve dealt with it a lot this year. I just keep offering better ways to vent his anger than hitting or kicking, etc. It’s tough.


thisnewplace February 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm

just so you know, both my girls totally do aggressive boy things and thank GAWD I don’t have an actual boy for fear of something getting killed!


JD February 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Thanks for the tip on the documentary. I’m raising three boys and am currently having huge marital issues with the husband (you’re friend Mia and I have lots in common). Part of the issue with their father is his emotional detachment and I’m terrified of raising three more like him.


Hanna February 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

LOVED Raising Cain- Book AND the Documentary. I read it when the doctors told me I was having a boy, Then lo and behold out came my daughter. Still an amazing story for any parent. i wish American would just wake up and realize what we are doing to our boys. Glad Ben has a mommy like you to help him through this crazy thing called life!


Bobbi Janay February 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm

I will have to check that out thanks.


Anonymous April 30, 2010 at 3:04 am

i have two boys and ages 11 and 9 and find myself sinking and trying so hard to rise above but im completely scared. they’re are so close to being in junior high and then high school and then college and then real life..and i keep thinking “have i done a good job alone, have i done all i could to complete them?” and i dont know and i hate that i dont know…


Anonymous July 17, 2010 at 5:38 pm

i have three young boys and was recently reccomended a book called why gender matters. i found it fascinating! it goes through actuall biological resons why boys and girls are they way they are. why boys don’t process feelings the same ways girls do, how different things affect them and why. the arthours name is Dr .lenoard sax. he also has a book on just boys and another one on just girls. it really helped to understand what is going through my boys heads and why.
highly reccomend it!


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