Why Raising Boys is Harder

People always say raising a boy is easier than a girl.  I’ve never been sure why.

 

From the moment I realized I had grown a male infant inside my decidedly female body, I was impressed to the point of being intimidated.  Fortunately my son was sweet and gentle and uncomplicated.  His early years were a cakewalk - in marked contrast to the way my head spun from his sisters, one of whom, pre-language skills, once bit me on my right butt cheek in lieu of asking me to move, and then a few months later toilet-trained herself. 

 

But my son is 15 now.  I always had a hard time understanding teenage boys. Even when I was a teenager myself.

 

I get teenage girls, despite their complexities.  I speak their language.  Teaching them how to do their hair, to handle girl drama, to evaluate the pros of tampons vs. pads - it’s like slipping on a favorite old t-shirt. 

 

Boy issues baffle me.  I try to stay close to him, to help him navigate the weirdness of adolescence, to talk football as much as I’m able.  Yet I fail more than I succeed.

 

I’ve had a few memorable victories recently.

 

For years now, I’ve been trying to teach my son to cook a few essentials.  Just so he could survive in the wilderness of college on his own, or simply make his own lunch when I’m away on a business trip.  I set the bar low.  Frozen pizza, hot dogs, lemon poppyseed muffins from a mix.

 

It was excruciating.  His questions went like this:  “Where is the butter?  Why do I need that kind of pan? It tastes fine frozen.  Will you intercom me when it’s done?”

 

Finally I realized that he was not scared, in the slightest, by my prediction that one day he would starve to death if he didn’t learn to boil water for spaghetti or wash the dirt off strawberries.

 

It took months to figure out how to get his attention.  The trick surprised even me.

 

“You know, one day…”

 

He turned to walk out of the kitchen, already tuning out.  He thought he’d heard my speech one million times before.  I kept talking to his backside.

 

“One day, you are going to be a dad yourself.  And you are going to want to cook meals for you own kids. You need to practice now.”

 

He spun around and made eye contact for almost five seconds, which has not happened since his 13th birthday.  Then he proceeded to carefully prepare hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury crescent rolls - requiring use of tin foil, the microwave defrost setting, and the oven -- without another word.  The next day I caught him using the blender to whip up an ice cream shake for his younger sister.  He makes a meal a day for himself now.

 

In our house, this ranks as a miracle.

 

In the loss column, we have to list his laundry skills.  Two years ago, I taught him another life skill: to shop by himself at T.J. Maxx.  He loves the clothes, the prices, the whole shopping experience.  Last week, with his Christmas money, he bought himself a gorgeous baby blue v-neck merino wool sweater guaranteed to charm the ladies.

 

littlekingdom
10.29.13

Thanks for sharing such interesting article on raising kids, it is true that there is a huge difference in attitude of a male child v/s female child. A girl child is always found to be more closer to their parents then a male. So raising them for a mother can sometimes be difficult if not nurtured properly.

Jo_d_es
07.25.13

Did any of your children like to cook as littles? My son is 3 and I can't keep him out of the kitchen!!!

vickster11
01.30.13

This is a very interesting issue. I have a 5 year old boy and can already see some of the same behaviors as your 15 year old. Boys just don't seem to care...or, maybe I just have done too much for him? Although, he is very proud of himself when he does master a new skill, so there's hope. Anyway, I'm wondering what role your husband plays in all this. It sounds like he'd be a great role model the way you have described him. Just curious as I feel like much of this "training" falls to me, the mom, and it just feels weird. As you said, it's easy with my daughter - we're on the same wavelength (aside from when she's have a typical 3 year old tantrum).

V. Bishop

mammaduck
01.30.13

This is a great article. Very funny and touching. The fact that the example of your son being a Dad is what caught his attention tells the entire story of who your child is...towels on the floor, demanding you drive him, and depending on you to make his meals is just what he does. If you are serious about learning how to raise children who want to be connected to you but not dependent upon you and even more so adults who are not dependent on their spouses or don't confuse dependence as connection, read Duct Tape Parenting by Vicki Hoefle or check out her parenting philosophy at www.vickihoefle.com. It is a life saver and a complete game changer.