Few things in life are as important as raising a child. Parents dream of the birth of a baby; they read stacks of books and magazine articles, attend classes, and talk eagerly with other parents. They mull over names and cherish hopes about whether their child will be a boy or a girl. Then the baby — a real, flesh-and-blood boy — arrives. Suddenly nothing is as clear and simple as it once seemed.
The realities of raising a boy take even the most loving, committed, educated parents by surprise. At first, the challenges are fairly straight-forward: You want him to eat, to sleep, and occasionally, to give you a moment's peace. You must figure out the rhythms of his tiny body and how to soothe him. When your son isn't crying, he is adorable.
He makes interesting noises, grins disarmingly, and becomes the subject of nearly every conversation you have. You can watch him sleep for hours, your heart filled with wonder. Photographs begin to litter the walls and tabletops, and toys and the other accessories of childhood take over entire rooms of your home.
Sooner or later, though, the precious infant becomes a little boy (and then a bigger boy). He develops a personality of his own. He finds interesting new ways to explore his world. He makes messes and gets into trouble. And occasionally, he proves not to be exactly what (or who) you expected. Most parents — indeed, most cultures in the world — have a set of expectations and ideals that go with the word male. Yet, as you will discover, much of what people take for granted about boys is not entirely accurate.
Boys, as it turns out, are not like girls — especially during the early years of their lives. They learn differently and have different strengths; they sometimes need different things from parents. In addition to understanding just how your son's gender affects his development and behavior, you must learn all of the other skills and ideas that parents must master.
You must provide consistent discipline, learn to offer and invite open communication, and teach your boy the skills and character he needs in order to thrive in life. You must help him develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, build friendships and relationships with others, and succeed in school. You must decide when to say “yes” and when to say “no,” and whether to pamper and protect him or allow him to struggle a bit on his own. Most importantly, you must learn to know both your son and yourself well enough to make the life-shaping decisions that lie ahead of you.
You may have noticed that advice on how to raise your boy abounds. Bookstore shelves groan with parenting books. Self-proclaimed experts offer advice on television and radio programs, while entire magazines are devoted to parenting tips and suggestions. Raising your son is so important. How will you know what to do?
No one will ever know your boy like you do. Information about parenting is a good thing, but you must learn to trust your own wisdom and knowledge of your son to make the right decisions about the challenges you face together. You must decide what you want for your son and be willing to follow through every day of your lives together.
You most certainly love your son, but love is not always enough to raise a child well. You must learn to mix love with wisdom, good judgment, and self-control. You will discover that doing the right thing as a parent sometimes does not feel very good, that saying “no” (even when you know you should) can be painful for you and the child you love. Wise parents learn to rely on both their heads and their hearts, to ask for help when they need it, and to be willing to learn from their own mistakes.
The Everything® Parent's Guide to Raising Boys, 2nd Edition offers you information, suggestions, and stories of parents much like you. It can, with your own wisdom and experience, help you raise a successful, capable, happy young man.