The Thing About Boys


I write about raising boys. I’m not in the business of raising girls; if I were, perhaps this would be a more balanced space for parents and parents-to-be, but this is what I have. This is what I know. And though I try not to make generalizations about gender and instead try to point out that there are so many variations within a group instead of between them, the truth is, my observations and experiences have lead me to draw several conclusions about boys.

They need to move. While my mama friends with girls would sit and chat next to me on the couch, their little girls would often stay close by and seem genuinely interested in what we had to say while my boys tore around the house, flitting from one thing to the next and sometimes quite literally climbing the walls of the house. The need for boys to move often comes at a price when they are in a traditional school setting and are no longer able to move freely about. This may be why many more boys are diagnosed with ADHD (and subsequently medicated) than girls.


They are not as aggressive as you might thinkSure, they are physical, but a lot of that touch is hugging, wrestling, and all around sweet. My boys will be tackling each other one minute, hugging the next. There is a push-pull that occurs as they learn to find their own limits and the limits of their brothers and peers.


They cry. A lot. Seriously, I had no idea how much crying there would be.



They get over it. I am continually amazed by how quickly my boys move on from hurt feelings or hurt bodies and forgive and forget. They never stay mad for long, which is so refreshing.


They need male role modelsObviously, this is the same for girls. What has surprised me about boys is just how closely they pay attention to the male adults in their lives. They seem to hear everything our male friends say, and to notice everything they do. This is a case for being selective in the male role models you allow into your inner circle. It’s also a case for keeping the radio low during an election year… eh, ehm.


How about you? What are your observations in raising girls? Boys? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

7 thoughts on “The Thing About Boys”
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  1. I also raise boys and can so relate to all of this. I am one of three girls so this is quite new to me. You really hit the nail on the head when you say how much they become like sponges when they are around men. I think a lot about what people say when my kids are in the room and often remove myself from conversations to watch them interact and questions. I love being a mom to boys it is very dynamic and fast pace.

  2. From observing my friends’ kids, I think the wrestling like puppies thing tends to skew toward boys… my girls do occasionally wrestle, playfully or in earnest, but not with the same frequency or intensity! And I also tend to agree that, as active as my kids are, the constant movement and feeling of general rambunctiousness definitely amps up with the neighbor boys are over and chills out a bit when they leave! I enjoy it, but it’s intense! Caroline will say specifically that she is “shy of boys” she doesn’t know and I think it’s really a comment on how she watches them interact so physically with one another, even though they are happy and playful doing so. There’s a lot of crying here, too, and a lot of quick recovery as well. And definitely the same kind of careful observation and imitation of adults. And turning off of political debates when name calling starts…

  3. Reporting from the only girls camp here.

    I do find that our girls are fairly quiet / chill in most situations, and the general noise level in our house is pretty low. Our oldest daughter was EXTREMELY shy as a young child, so I feel like that was the main reason she seemed so quiet – she did not like to call undue attention to herself. But she also gravitated to boys, and only had boy friends until first or second grade. I suspect that’s because she was much more comfortable in the kind of rough and tumble play that didn’t require as much discussion or dissection. She could just enter into the fray and feel comfortable that no one was really paying attention to her.

    I am not the physical parent in our house – really in any way. I do hug my girls and snuggle up with them, but that goes against my personality quite a bit. I’d much rather have a conversation with someone across a table or on a walk than hug on them. My husband is much more physical. The girls crawl all over him, he curls up with them while reading to and with them, they wrestle and joust to the point of tears – good ones and hurt ones. It gets a little loud and crazy, and they all thrive on that. I think that’s so good for them, and appreciate the fact that he’s that kind of parent.

    I do think they get over things fairly quickly as well. We’re relatively low drama in our house, although my youngest daughter has a wider swing of demonstrative emotions. At seven, she’s much better at matching her responses and reactions to the scale of the problem – not ignoring her feelings about things, but rather, understanding that a minor frustration can be annoying but doesn’t require a full-on meltdown of epic proportions. She’s learning to even laugh at her overblown reactions after the fact, which seems like a healthy development. I love her passion, but we do work a lot on holding grudges or ill feelings for so long that they start to poison the day or even relationships with other friends.

    And guess what? You get to look forward to all of this changing in a few years when the girl-boy dynamics of friendships start to change. 😉 Getting a first glimpse of that world right now and it’s exciting (and slightly terrifying!)

    Have a great weekend.

  4. Good post and observations Lauren! I have two girls and a boy and I would say many of the same things as you about all of my kids regardless of gender– their need to be active, the push and the pull, etc! All of my kids love sports as well as sitting down more sedentary things like drawing/crafts/building. But the boys definitely ARE physical and active!!!! Oh man. It is ALL a balancing act.

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