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17 Things Only Parents Of Boys Can Relate To

17 Things Only Parents Of Boys Can Relate To

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Adam Hughes

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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