Boys Raised by Moms

When I got to work this morning, Mr. W had left a book on my desk called “Assertive Discipline for Parents”. He had been reading it, and I expressed interest in it and asked to borrow it when he was done. It was still on my desk when one of my co-workers came over and saw it. At first my co-worker joked about it, but then he mentioned that it’s actually a good subject to read up on. He brought up a lady friend of his that had to cancel their lunch date because she needed to come home and fix her son lunch. Her son’s age? Oh, he’s 18.

Single parent households are much more prominent in this day and age. And in many cases, a boy is raised by a single mom. Single moms are tough. They are the ones that wear “the pants and the skirt”, as Mr. W’s single mother says often. They are the breadwinner and the homemaker. They are the ones who are stretching a penny to make a nickel, and making a full dinner out of what’s left in a bare cabinet.

But then there is the difference between mom’s and dad’s. I have heard often that single mom’s just can’t raise a man like a father can. And as my son tunes me out after I’ve repeated instructions to him 5 times, yet jumps the first time his grandfather barks an order, I wonder if it’s true. This was why I was borrowing the book from Mr. W. I wanted to learn more effective ways to guide my son without getting into a battle of wills, or giving up altogether. And when I hear of moms coddling their perfectly capable sons, and knowing there have been many times I’ve been guilty of such myself, I wonder how differently things would be if my son had been raised by a man rather than by a woman.

What do you think? Are boys raised by single mothers bound to be less of a man than a boy raised by his father? Should boys only be raised by their fathers, and girls by their mothers? What’s the answer for single parent families?

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11 thoughts on “Boys Raised by Moms”

  1. I am an 80% parent, not full-time. I have an eight-year old son, and we definitely have a different relationship than he has with his dad. His dad has “the big voice” and our son cries at the slightest hint that it’s coming. But he is a tough little kid. He runs, climbs, plays, and acts every bit the boy, and I don’t immediately go running as soon as he falls down. I don’t think it takes a man to raise a man, but I do value the fact that I can call my son’s dad and ask for back-up as needed. Going anything alone is a tough job.

  2. I don’t think a boy raised by a single mom will be “less of a man”, but boys certainly respect the “pecking order” when a man’s around. It’s not that women don’t or can’t do a good job, but little boys are terrors. Let’s face it – they need someone that can kick their a*s. Not that a father will do that, but just the thought is enough to make a boy listen.

    Not to mention that boys look up to men because it’s who they want to be. Men are largely competitive. This can be a good thing, it’s not just a “I’m tougher than you” sort of thing. Men compete with other men in order to make themselves stronger or better men. It’s that “iron sharpens iron” thing. Being around a father makes a boy want to be like him and follow in his footsteps. Mothers can inspire many great things in boys (my father was raised largely by his grandmother), but fathers provide things that mothers just can’t.

    I’m sure someone’s reading that and screaming “neanderthal!” at their computer screen. Perhaps, but men ARE neaderthals!!! That’s my point!

  3. Tensigh — not neanderthal at all, but biology, psychology and physiology and some other -ologies, too, I think.
    Males are genetically competitive and tough.
    Recently, a yuppie-type mom friend of mine started a discussion of societaly-imposed gender roles, based upon the bedding choices offered for boys and for girls. One mom brought up the fact that she went out of her way to keep her children free of those roles, but despite that, her boys played war games and got involved in physically based activities and her girls tended to be drawn to more ‘domestic’ make-believe and dress-up type activities. Not to say that either gender can’t enjoy either or both types of games, but males are just genetically predisposed to be tough and competitive and go…kill mammoths to feed the family or whatever.
    And, I suppose, because of that, one could infer…boys do like a strong male figure to serve as a mentor of sorts…but boys will still be boys, with or without a man around to enforce their maleness.

  4. I’m a single father and I try to make sure my young daughter has access to solid female role models. She often has a tendency to seek mothering from them, which I’d rather she not do since it puts them in an awkward position. I guess that’s her natural instinct shining through, but I’d like to think I could provide all the parenting needed without having to enlist surrogates.

  5. I’m a single mother. I have a four month son. The father is absent, his choice. I live in a new city with few friends and family around. I pray everyday that I can overcome the decision his father made to abandom him.

  6. Christine, I am so sorry this happened. It always amazes me when a parent abandons their kids. But know that it is absolutely possible for you to make it as a single mom, and for your son to grow up in a loving and COMPLETE home. Rely on family and friends to give you support and to fill that void of your son’s absent father. I know it’s hard since they’re not closeby, but even a little helps. If you can, join a group like Santa Rosa Mother’s Club, church groups, or a group of single parents to extend your network of friends. And research every financial aid there is. I’m rooting for you!

  7. I’m a single parent of 3 kids. 2 of them are boys ages 11 and 12. I believe it comes down to whether or not a woman is strong enough to practice “tough love (TL)”. Please read this through before making assumptions. By TL, what I mean is that I have to want my boys to be good men more than I love being a woman/mom. This requires a certain type of “man-up attitude” that I know I have to maintain in order for them to become the men they are purposed to be. I wholly support boys benefiting and being raised by fathers, but when so many (fathers) drop out of the parenting role, there has to be a way to stop the cycle and help boys become men without the constant influence of a male. Thankfully, I’m the only girl out of a family of 4 and have learned how to “imitate” dominance, competitiveness, and other male traits without getting so stuck in that role/mind set that I forget to be a loving woman and mother. TL = tough love for parents and not for kids.

    BTW – I think parenting styles as a whole in the US can use a lil “man-up” attitude regardless of the sex of the parents or kids. Just my experience…Oh..and my boys are perfect gentlemen, responsive when I speak to them, and love me as “Mom”. They always express how grateful they are to have me parenting them, especially when they see other boys behaving badly without boundaries and the consequences of those BBBWB’s. God Bless us all!

  8. Wasn’t President Obama raised by his single mom and grandma? I think what matters most is raising good human beings, being a good role model, and having good role models of both genders in the kids’ lives. And don’t forget the unconditional love, great communication and stability kids need. I’m sad my boys (ages 4 and 9) won’t experience how husbands/wives relate together in the home (to learn how to be good husbands some day), but we have happily married friends we spend time with…and, in the end, I think if they’re good and loving people, they will be just fine.

  9. I don’t think a boy is any less a “man” with or without a male presence. My son’s father and I separated when he was a toddler, and he is now 12. I look at him and see the man he is becoming and all I can honestly say is that it is a great guy! Even at a young age, he has been so much more of a man than his “male role model”, aka his father, rushing forward to open doors for women, helping the elderly, getting in the face of much older boys when they disrespect a female. Yes there are things that I can’t honestly show him (how to shave, how to tie a tie, etc.), but since his father hasn’t been a part of his life in well over a year (no phone calls, nothing), I don’t have any choice but to rely on the internet, books, and friends to help with those things. I honestly think as long as we teach them the core values, they will figure it out. Maybe I’m wrong, and I know that my son is lacking learning certain things, but I also know this much … he wouldn’t be learning them even if his father was in his life.

  10. Our mom divorced our dad when my sister and I were 8 and 10, respectively. We grew up hearing that dad is a bad guy. Up through college, neither of us thought that it affected us. We both got good grades, went to Ivy League schools, and stayed out of trouble. Trouble is, now the toll is starting to show. I’m 26 and my sister is 24. My sister is assertive and controlling, behaving like a man. I on the other hand am shy and have trouble talking to women that I’m attracted to, thinking that I can somehow get them to talk to me if I dress or behave a certain way. It’s pretty backwards. And even though we’re both aware of this, it’s so ingrained that it’s hard to change. It’s like trying to be someone else.

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