Raising children as a single mother presents unique challenges. But those challenges become particularly precarious when raising sons. Here are some tips for raising sons as a single mother.
You, as a mother, have never been a boy
That makes it tough to discern what your son is thinking or feeling. He knows that. Your only hope is never to assume you understand, but always to keep the communication open and be available to listen. Ask questions, rather than formulating ideas based on your own estrogen. Be patient. The answers may not come at the moment you ask the questions, but may come knocking at your bedroom door at 2:47 a.m. in the middle of a great dream.
Boys are different than girls
As girls mature, you can often calculate times when they may be more emotional. With boys, there isn’t a real cycle, and often they often let things build until they can no longer contain their emotions and then you wind up being blind-sided by a “hormone dump day.” Watch for that little bobble on the pressure canner to start wiggling and try to address situations that come up before the whole pot blows. Watch and listen, Sherlock. Your boy will give you clues.
Don’t compare him with your daughters
Boys process things differently. Give them the distinction of being male and don’t clump them into the female perspective.
Never male-bash in front of any child, but particularly in front of a boy
I once had my single girlfriends over for a crepe party and we were gabbing. Inevitably, one started male-bashing and the others joined in. My 14-year-old son was in the next room with his sisters. I asked them kindly to stop. I asked again. Frustrated, I finally told them as nicely as I could, “My sweet, kind and good son is a member of that gender you are bashing. I have to ask you kindly to leave now.”
Along those lines, please don’t be critical of his father, regardless of his situation
Your son needs to know that you loved his father, particularly when he was conceived. You may not think that they ponder such things, but they do. Point out the positives. (“I’m sorry your dad and I can’t be together, but I’m so glad you got his sense of humor and gorgeous brown eyes!”)
Allow him to have male-oriented activities on his own and support him in them
Allow him plenty of time with the guys. This is particularly important if there is a preponderance of females in the home.
Your son, perhaps without even consciously knowing it, may be faced with confusion in his choosing the best person to exemplify
There’s no way to put this delicately, but if his father is not the best role model, he may be faced with growing up to be a man, like his father, or a good person, like you. That is a mighty tough call when you don’t yet have the emotional maturity to make it.
Whether you know it or not, in his mind your son will always be your protector
He may try to withhold things that are bothering him in order to spare you the drama. Try to balance your own drama so that there are times when he feels you are handling things well enough for him to speak openly to you.
In the end, there is no blessing that compares with seeing the man you raised raising his own children. This I know!