A few years ago someone made a comment that I thought was odd, but have grown to understand. This person said to me something like-“I really feel for you being a single mother and of two boys nonetheless.” At first I thought it was a little bit of a chauvinistic comment, but I have come to realize that this person really had some keen insight into boyhood.
In general, boy’s needs are different from the needs of girls, especially as they get older. As a former girl-I know I need some help to find out what boys need to grow up healthy and happy. I am always on the lookout for good resources, so please let me know what has been helpful for you.
Boys need activity-and lots of it. Boys need positive opportunities to burn off their energy. Team sports are a good way to meet this need to run, jump, climb and throw. Recently, my 11 year old son has been pretty much jumping wherever he goes. He seems to jump upward every five or so steps. He is testing his ability to literally reach higher and will jump up and try to touch the ceiling at home or exit signs when we are out. As long as he is not going to break anything or land on someone else-I let him go for it. I believe it is helping him realize his limits, and potential to reach farther. High activity levels are not abnormal in boys. If boys do not have an outlet for their energy, they may respond by being mischievous or taking out their frustration on a sibling or poor old mom:). When other options were not available, I have had my boys go dig a hole in the garden and fill it back in, or when the weather outside is not friendly, run laps up and down the stairs.
Assigning chores to boys is great way for them to learn to be a responsible part of a family and help to train them to be the husbands and fathers or leaders that they might be one day. Chores should be age appropriate, but even preschoolers can help set the table and put away their toys. For more on age appropriate chores please see my previous article titled: Children Can Do Chores.
A high priority need of boys is your respect. They need to know that mom respects their being a male. Sometimes this is difficult for divorced moms, who might have been hurt deeply by a past love, to communicate. I recall a goofy cartoon about how stupid men are posted on the refrigerator of a divorced friend of mine. It seemed completely harmless and funny to her, but I wondered how her young son felt about it. Be careful not to let your negative experiences with men shape your son.