Boys will be boys?

Allison asked: “I was wondering if there were any good resources on raising boys. I’ve got 3 — ages 3 1/2 (twins) and 6. They are ALL boy, very active, sometimes physical and quite competitive with each other, I feel like I’m playing referee all day, but also recognize that I have to let boys be boys to some extent. Where is the fine line?”

Boys, as they say, will be boys, and they certainly are different from girls. They’re more physical, more direct, and more rowdy. That of course doesn’t mean that all boys are always like this, or that girls don’t sometimes act as crazy as the boys, but it’s difficult not to notice some fundamental differences between girl and boy behavior.

Regarding resources: apparently this is a common concern. A quick search with the phrase “raising boys” turned up 48 books, and googling the phrase resulted in 437,000 hits! I’m sorry, but I haven’t read any of these books, but a trip to the library seems like a good idea.

Allison asked, “Where is the fine line?” Perhaps there isn’t one. It may depend too much on the circumstances. Rowdy behavior might be acceptable in the basement, but not acceptable at church. When with Dad, certain noises may be more acceptable than those same noises in front of Grandma! So maybe the best lesson to try to teach boys isn’t so much that they shouldn’t do this or they shouldn’t do that, but that this isn’t the time for this, or this isn’t the place for that. In other words, some behaviors are acceptable only sometimes.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been telling boys in my office one final piece of advice for years: “Be good to your momma.” If boys learn to treat women right, everything else falls into place!

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2 Comments on “Boys will be boys?”

  1. Allison Says:

    Thanks for the reply. But what about things like wrestling? I mean, do I let them? Or do I curb all physical aggression/playing between them?


  2. Dr. Roy Says:

    Allison, I don’t think you can ban wrestling. A good rule of thumb for any parenting rule is: only make rules that you can enforce. With three boys, there will be wrestling!

    What you can do is make a rule “no wrestling upstairs” or “no wrestling at grandma’s.” You’re trying to teach them that boys can be boys, but there are rules that require civilized behaviors at least some of the time.

    You should also look at the intent and the spirit of the game. Aggression is behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain as the main point. Physical “horseplay” may end up with almost as many injuries, but I think your response to horsing around versus aggression ought to be different.


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