Having a son can be the most amazing experience, filled with love, playing in the mud, jumping in puddles and endless hugs. Moms of boys suddenly find their minds and hearts filled with joy. And for many moms who wanted girls, their apprehensions and fears seem so distant and silly after welcoming a wonderful baby boy.
But when it comes to raising a boy, there are a lot of unique parenting opportunities we moms have to decide on–many of which we typically would not even have to consider with girls. And although it is part of those moments and unique opportunities that make it all worthwhile, it can be a bit dumbfounding to be catapulted into unfamiliar territory.
Not to worry, we've compiled a list of 20 things moms pretty much only have to say or decide on when raising a baby boy, so you're a little more prepared for the fun that lies ahead. And just so you know, the following may not be true for all parenting styles. If any of these things don't apply to your relationship with your child, feel free to just enjoy a good laugh at the expense of others.
20 Learn Your Pronouns
When having a baby boy, one thing parents definitely have to think about is whether or not to raise him as gender-neutral or not. Society puts such a major emphasis on masculinity for men, it can be difficult to break that stereotypes, even for parents. Luckily people are becoming more and more progressive, and the ability to claim gender neutrality has become accepted by more and more members of society.
However, as a parent of a boy, it is especially important that you decide whether or not your little one will be able to express themselves the way they wish to.
19 Let's Play Ball... Or Not
Oh sports! Whether you are signing your little guy up for the minor leagues or to be the next big national league soccer player can be scary. What if he hurts himself? What if he stops focusing on school? What if he becomes a jock? *Gasp*
Either way, moms, just remember that at the end of the day he will still be your little boy. When deciding whether to sign him up for sports just remember the added benefit of physical activity, and the fact that most boys have more energy than girls. Still need help deciding? Talk it over a while with someone close.
18 We Should All Be Feminists
To quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists or at least consider what it would mean to raise a little boy as one. And before you start imagining your little boy hanging out with extremist female figures who let their hair under their arms grow long and wild and douce their bras in lighter fluid, feminism is actually defined as the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. So, deciding how to make your son part of the solution to equal rights of the sexes is a tough decision. How can you make him understand but not be too extreme?
17 Sports vs Dance
One more decision you may have to make as a parent is whether or not you should sign your son up for sports or dance. With a girl, either is acceptable. But when it comes to boys, dancing is not really the norm.
But who doesn't like to dance? Choosing sports is kind of typical so perhaps consider the long run, what would be more appealing on college applications? Which could be more useful in life? Which could help him the most in other subjects? Try to weigh potential outcomes if you need help deciding. But before he's old enough to decide himself, why not decide to show him a few things.
16 Boy Toy
As a parent of a boy, you may have to defend what your son likes to play with. Especially if his preference is not in line with what is typically considered as a boy's toy. As a parent to a boy you will inevitably at one point or another, have to explain to your boy what is appropriate and what is not, which toys are for him and which are not, or help him find toys that he likes regardless, and decide how to embrace him for only what he likes, regardless. No one said having a boy would be easy.
15 To Cut or Not To Cut
I will never forget the reaction of my Western European boyfriend when I asked him if he was circumcised. "Well, I'm not Jewish," he said. Contrary to the beliefs of some, many cultures choose to circumcise their sons. And many still do not, while The Mayo Clinic advises that there are ample pros in deciding to circumcise, like a lower probability of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, for some–aesthetics, and cons like potential health complications like clotting, pain, decreased sensation, and for some–aesthetics, the decision is ultimately up to the parents. And making the decision to circumcise your son could very well impact the rest of his life.
14 Hop On The Potty Train
Everyone says that boys are different than girls, particularly when it comes to potty training. A family friend told me she potty trained her sons by putting Cheerios in a can and telling him to aim and shoot. I can not imagine doing anything similar with a girl. I have consistently heard over and over again that boys are easier.
Well, moms, one not so easy decision you will eventually have to make is how and when to potty train your son, and you will also have to decide whether or not to train him to pee standing up. That should be an interesting experience for everyone involved.
13 Men Or Women's Restrooms?
A friend of mine relayed a story to me about an outing she took with her 4-year-old son. She and her son Patrick were inseparable, it was clear that she was his favorite person and vice versa
One day at the store, Patrick needed to use the restroom but he was too old to really need assistance and too young to go alone. My friend panicked as she stood there with his hand in hers in front of the bathroom doors staring back and forth from the little man and woman emblems on the doors. Yes, moms, that is a decision you will eventually have to make. "I didn't want to explain to him why we were in the girls' room," she said.
12 I Dub Thee...
Naming your little one is a BIG decision. Whatever name you decide on will stick with them for life. So as a mom to a boy, deciding on a name should be taken very seriously.
Should I choose a gender-neutral name, a strong name, a common name that is easy to pronounce, or should I give him an original name or keep up with tradition and pass on the name of his father, making him a junior? If you don't like the name of your significant other, this decision will be made much easier, but still, it can nice to inherit a little bit of a family name.
11 Growing Up Masculine
As a mother, how do you decide what things your son needs to learn in order to help him to grow up to be a good man in society? Do you teach him about chivalry or equality? Do you teach him about earning or sharing? Do you teach him about love and trust or freedom and power, or both?
In your eye what does it mean to be a good man? And what of those things do you want to instill in your son? How? Having a son can be loads of fun, but it can also be a challenge. Here's to embracing that challenge and enjoying the journey.
10 Mom! We're In Public!
One mom on Instagram surprises herself with some of the things she has to say to her sons each day. "Please take your toilet off the table," was her most recent post in a series called, "Modern Hippie Mom."
But teaching your son how to use the restroom, especially in public, is not as easy as this fun-filled picture makes it seem. It is normal to want to protect your child and make sure he or she is safe, but it is also important to make sure that he can be independent, especially if he is a boy, in public, when he has to use the restroom. It can be scary to let your little one go into a public restroom alone, but eventually, that is one decision all moms will have to make.
9 Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair
Surfers, skaters, artists and musicians, the one stereotype they all have in common? Long hair. When you have a girl you never have to wonder at what age is it "appropriate" to cut her hair, or how long should you let her hair grow before it's "too girly."
That being said, when you have a baby boy if he has some awesome locks many parents eventually have to decide whether or not they want to cut their son's hair or let it grow. The good thing is it is only hair, and it will eventually grow back. Just try not to decide right before a picture day. Decisions, decisions.
8 Cry It Out
We have all heard at one time or another that boys are not supposed to cry. But we are all human and we all have tear ducts and we all have feelings and emotions so I guess what I'm asking is, why not? Why are boys not allowed to cry but girls are?
When raising a baby boy you as a parent have to decide whether to continue to perpetuate the stereotype of the "big strong male" who is suddenly weak for showing emotions, or a male who can understand how he or she feels and can cry if the mood so moves him. It's a thin line, I will admit, but, it's one you will eventually have to cross when bringing up a baby boy.
7 Teach Them About Homemaking?
Cooking, cleaning, child rearing, decorating, fluffing and Christmas shopping are in most cultures, jobs for a woman, but what if your boy never gets married to a woman, or loves to cook, or becomes a widow? Is it okay to teach them a bit about these things?
That's one decision that is completely up to you, mom, but it's also one you rarely have to consider when having a baby girl. Some consider a man with the above qualities well rounded, while others think he is too effeminate, whatever the case, making these decisions can be tough, but not impossible.
6 That's Private
Many moms have told me that over the years they have developed at least 40 names for their son's privates. And it seems the names become more and more interesting as their little prince's progress and hit different developmental stages. How will you teach your son about his body?
Will you have cute nicknames or go straight from the science book? At what age is a good age to make the transition if you start with one and go to the other? Excited yet? Keep on reading, there are just a few more fun things to consider about raising your little boy.
5 Compete For Best Dressed Awards
My male friends constantly tell me about how they despise their limited wardrobe. When you think about it, it's kind of true. Pants, shorts, overalls, long sleeve, short sleeve, t-shirt sweater, rinse and repeat. At least girls have dresses and rompers and tutus and skorts.
Either way, when it comes to dressing up or dressing down, at least for a few years, it's your decision how he will dress mom. Choose wisely. You can try to push fashion norms and assist him in developing his own personal style early, or stick to basics and play it safe, whatever you decide, I'm sure he'll thank you later.
4 Which Color Of The Rainbow?
One major decision moms have to make when they find out they're having a boy is to teach them about sexuality. Teaching your son about his orientation and giving him the knowledge he needs to explore his orientation is a big deal, and often a huge decision that moms can help with. How do you feel? How do you want to be seen? Who are you attracted to? Is that okay? Why and Why not? These are huge questions for parents, and eventually, the day will come when they have to explain these things to their children, especially little boys.
3 I Feel For You
There is a pretty fine line between being empathetic and being what kids on the schoolyard will call, "a sissy." Teaching your son about empathy is very important as they learn how to navigate through life, but it is equally important not to send them overboard. Of course, they should care about how others feel around them, but how do you decide to teach them about perception and why it matters?
Raising an empath is not easy, mom. Consider vocalizing your feelings or how things affect you so they can learn from example if that's what you want. The good news is, kids are pretty perceptive all on their own, so chances are your little man will pick up on a thing or two all by himself.
To put it bluntly, little boys smell. And typically they smell a lot worse than girls. So as a mom to a boy, you may have to decide how to teach them about their hygiene and then how to enforce it. Typically, boys do not tend to care as much as girls about getting dirty and staying that way. So talking to them about showering and using deodorant, shaving and moisturizing might be something that just goes in one of their ears, and then out the other. Take your time, Mom, it takes patience, don't stress and remember practice is perfect.
1 Use Protection
Regardless if you have a boy or girl, chances are the day will come when you will have the talk with him or her, but the talk about protection is one decision only moms with boys will have to make. How do you use it? What exactly does it protect you from? How do you put it on? Yeah, you are bound to have your hands full discussing all that fun stuff. But you want your kid to be safe right? Especially when it comes to that. So when the time comes, it is important to decide how and who will tell your little man about protection.
References: Redbookmag, Mayo Clinic, and personal experiences.