From the moment you find out you’re going to be a parent, your entire world changes forever. You see new delights and new threats around every corner, and you learn things that no one else in the world knows. That’s especially true for parents of boys.
Of course, daughters will teach you plenty, too, but there are just some experiences that only people with sons can relate to.
For instance, as parents of boys, we know that:
1. Boys Are Not Indestructible
Sons are rough-and-tumble, but they are still human. No matter how big and strong our boys get, and no matter how macho they may act, they get hurt just like the rest of us. As parents, we need to master the art of monitoring their physical and mental pains without babying them through every crisis.
2. Boys Have Drama, Too
People who aren’t parents or who have only girls might assume that raising a son is drama-free, but we know better. They may not suffer from the same type of gossip and friendship crises that plague girls, but our sons generate plenty of emotional turmoil as they crash through childhood and adolescence.
From picky eating to late homework to bullying, a boy will keep your house stirred up at regular intervals for 18 years (or more).
3. Boys Always Need Us
Little boys have no trouble letting us know what they need, whether it’s a clean diaper or a sippy cup of milk. As they grow and start doing their own thing, it’s easy to think that our sons don’t need us anymore, but that’s not true.
They may not rely on us every second of the day anymore, but their needs are deeper and more urgent than ever before. This really hits home the first time your son gets his heart broken and you have to pick up the pieces.
4. Boys Leave Legos Everywhere
Every single movie and every single television show that your son has ever watched or ever will watch has its own Lego universe of snap-together toys. They come in nifty little kits that a boy can put together in an hour or so, and then entropy takes over and he begins to pick apart the bricks, shard by shard, until your house is carpeted in thousands of foot-slicing knobs and corners.
They always seem to pierce your heel while you’re trying to get ready for work, too.
5. Boys Challenge Your Thinking
We want our sons to grow up strong and independent, and that means being able to let them form their own opinions and back them up. By the time they’re teenagers, most boys are only too happy to practice this skill on their parents, challenging just about every idea that comes out of our mouths.
It’s not all stubbornness and bluster, though – if you listen carefully to your son, he might just change your mind on some topics you hold dear.
6. Boys Grunt
Listening to your son talk with a friend on the phone is like eavesdropping on a couple of cavemen. A series of grunts and pauses somehow translates into plans to meet at the ball diamond after school, and that mode of communication trickles into other areas of life.
Try not to get too frustrated when every question is answered with “yeah” or “uh-huh” because there is a layer of real meaning just below the surface. Our job as parents is to chip away until we get enough bits of intelligible language to piece together the true story.
7. Boys Want To Be Like Their Dads
Fathers of boys find out quickly that our sons want to be like us … usually just like us. If you haven’t noticed that your son is watching every move you make, it’s time to wake up to that fact.
You can’t behave like a jerk and expect your son to be a sweet kid, because he’s likely going to mimic you in every way.
8. Boys Want To Protect Their Moms
It’s an old cliché that men don’t talk about each other’s mothers, but it’s one that happens to be true, especially for growing boys. Moms and sons will have their struggles and spats, but if you’re a mom, know that your staunchest defender is your little boy, even if that means taking sides against Dad.
9. Boys Will Read All Night
The traditional image of a bookworm may be a girl with glasses cuddled up in the corner of a library, but parents of boys know better. We know that our sons have books tucked between their mattresses and inside their pillowcases, and we know that any light source will do.
Flashlights, glow sticks, digital clocks, cell phones – our boys sneak all of them into bed to support their reading habit.
10. Boys Can Use Anything As A Sword
Parents of boys know that we must guard our heads and crotches at all times, because the next crushing sword blow is just around the corner. Whether it’s an empty roll of wrapping paper, a dusty old broom, or grandma’s cane, any roughly cylindrical object is a great makeshift sword that our sons can use to practice their Star Wars-inspired fencing skills.
11. Boys Are Artistic
When our sons are young, they wallpaper our homes with drawings and finger-painted masterpieces. As they grow, most boys stop churning out the art and turn to sports, girls, math, and science, but don’t let that fool you.
Those doodles in his school notebook and the mushy poems he writes to his girlfriend are your son’s way of letting you know that his creativity lives on. We need to nourish that artistic flame however we can and let our boys know that imagination is valuable, even as an adult.
12. Boys Do More Than Play Sports
As much as you might want to raise the next star quarterback or Wimbledon champ, some boys just don’t have any interest in sports. We can, and should, expose our sons to athletics, but it’s ultimately up to them if they want to play in the long term or not.
If they choose “not,” we need to support that decision and channel their energies in other directions.
13. Boys Blow Things Off
It doesn’t matter how responsible your son seems to be, there are important things he needs to get done right now that he’s not doing, and that you don’t even know about. That tattered and torn piece of paper your found in the dryer vent? That was his History assignment.
That call from the band director? Your son forgot to tell you that he had marching practice tonight. Boys just don’t get too excited by rules and boundaries, so stuff falls through the cracks all the time.
14. Boys Develop More Slowly Than Girls
From the time they are toddlers, the differences between boys and girls are on stark display. While girls are running around the living room, boys the same age are drooling down their chests, struggling to stand up. Many girls can read books before their preschool classmates can recognize individual letters.
Even later on, middle school girls are dating older boys while our teenage sons are watching cartoons and playing Minecraft. It doesn’t matter, though, because boys eventually do all of those things, and they still grow up way too fast. Enjoy the extended childhood while you can.
15. Boys Figure Stuff Out
Sons frustrate us to no end when they can’t learn to tie their shoes or pour a glass of milk without splattering the kitchen floor. But if we let up on the gas a bit and give them time and room to work through issues on their own, boys will figure out just about anything.
How else can you explain that life-size replica of R2-D2 that your son built from spare Legos?
16. Boys Just Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Boys can be amazingly single-minded: your son might be able to describe in detail how to find a derivative in calculus, but he can’t tell you the name of the new friend he’s been eating lunch with all semester. What may be important to you is not necessarily important to him, and it’s pretty common for our sons to identify other kids with such witty nicknames as “blue shirt” or “green shoes.”
17. Boys Make You Feel Safe and Hopeful
If you’re having a bad day or feeling vulnerable about your life and the future, take a look at your growing son. He walks and talks and does amazing things every day. Most people may see a slouching kid who needs a haircut, but we see our boys for what they are: the fathers and husbands and leaders of tomorrow who will make the world better than we ever could.
Featured photo credit: Cristiano Betta via flickr.com