Let’s Talk About Raising Boys


Okay, so here it is:  there are many, many wonderful fathers out there.  I am married to a man who is a wonderful father.  I see many other wonderful fathers, and I am always so glad and so pleased to see them in action.


But I also see many men who do not lead their families in the financial or spiritual sense, who are not involved fathers, and those who, in all honesty, seem to contribute very little to the life of their families.  They also seem to be poor boundary setters for their children, and don’t seem to back their spouse up or talk to their children about having respect for their mother.


I am sorry, it sounds so harsh and judgmental laid out in black and white like that.


But my thought is this: how are we raising our boys to become men?  How are we helping them to gain responsibility, to learn how to be men?  Will they grow up and be able to provide for a family if they decide to have a one-income family due to choices when they have children?  Will they respect their wives and back their wives up and help their children treat their mothers like the precious women that they are?  Will they be able to lead their families? Will they help lead in their place of worship?  Will they help lead society?


I think beyond the individual family, we are facing a real crisis on a societal level.  It has almost gotten to the point where having sons seems to be viewed as some sort of strange and odd liability.  “Oh boys….all that boy energy.”  “Oh, boys, you know, they are so behind developmentally.”  “Oh, boys, you know, they can’t sit still.”  (And yes!  Not all boys are like the picture people seem to paint, although there can be true physiologic differences between the way boys and girls and men and women are wired).


But just let me put this out there in terms of parenting: if you expect nothing out of your boys and don’t  ever expect them to rise up and be boys of valor…well, then that could possibly be the kind of man he ends up being.


I think the fastest way to help boys in our society is to have them spend time with good role models (whether that is within their own family or outside of their family), and  to teach them responsibility starting from an early age. Capitalize on the industriousness of your son through work for the family. What a wonderful thing, to be able to contribute to the welfare of the family through cooking, fixing things and building things. Have your son learn these very practical skills and see the family as a place to learn to be part of a team.


Let’s teach our boys the manners they will need when they will become men.  Let’s set boundaries on their behavior in kind ways that do not take the consequences of one’s actions away. Let’s listen to our boys, but let’s also be crystal clear that our boys know what is right and what is absolutely wrong. 


Finally, let’s help our sons obtain a vision for how a man should function in our society and within the family.  That vision may be different for each family to a certain extent, but I would hope that vision would include treating his family with respect, helping to lead the family, helping to provide for his family and being loyal to his wife and his family.  Some of these qualities women don’t seem to have from their own husbands or their own fathers, but we can still hold these up for our sons and change the next generation…  Yes, the old-fashioned stuff.


Many blessings,

18 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Raising Boys

  1. My sister an I had this very same conversation yesterday. It is crazy how much we hear “Oh, he’s a boy, that’s what boys do,” as if being that gender alone is a passport to do whatever these young boys want to do, including being disrespectful and completely ignoring their parents. I have a young son, and yes there are major differences in raising boys vs raising girls. We try to instill love, compassion and respect in both our son and our daughter.

  2. I LOVE this post Carrie!!! I work with many moms that do not have this back up. I didn’t used to have it before I married Erik, I know what it is like to struggle! It is not pretty. I do not want to think about where my boys would be without Erik for a Dad. My mother used to say… any man can become a father, but not every man can be a DAD. So true. We have to raise our boys to be good men and our daughters to pick good men. Such a task.

    Great post. Blessings.

    Melisa Nielsen

  3. Thank you so much for touching on the specialness of boys – would love to read more! While I do think there is a very special energy, vibrancy, and oh-so-wonderful transparency of boys, I do not think in any way that should be allowed to translate to rudeness or disrespect. A good, solid male role model is important, and fortunately my boys have that in their father. But I know a good many boys who have no such thing in a man, instead they have loving mothers who are doing their best to show them the way the best they can – and they are succeeding! Back to that energy and vibrancy of boys: the very reason we homeschool. Our boys are busy – always – and they need to be moving, doing, creating, fixing, etc., though they do sit for studies. Our goal is to work more of the “old skills” into our homeschool. I think there is an inherent need to contribute and provide, as you mentioned, in boys and men – and it is critical to foster that at an early age. While we are not Christian nor the least bit conservative in in our views of male-female roles, we are striving to connect our boys to the skills of men as it was for thousands of years. We believe this will give them a sense of purpose and a deep-rooted connection to who they are and how they fit into the world, and become better men for it.

  4. Thank you for this post. I am fortunate to be married to a wonderful role model now, but my boys early years were spent with a very abusive father, and we are still dealing with the fall out. I am happy to say that we are now working together as a family more and teaching them how important they are not only because we love them, but we need their contribution so that our family can be more effective.

  5. So much to say, Carrie, I may have to respond via a full-on blog post! As the mama of 2 boys, I agree wholeheartedly with what you say. And as the only female in a house full of males, I KNOW they are different. Oh my, so different. I do try to remember that I am raising men and that I want these 2 boys to be wonderful husbands/partners/dads. So they cook, they clean, they knit, they read . . . and yes, they watch football, recite endless sport stats, leave the toilet seats up and their feet stink to high heaven!! I think when we honor the differences rather than use them as excuses, we allow both boys/men and girls/women to flourish. I’ll be thinking about this some more today.

  6. I totally agree, I’m tired of seeing boys underestimated and written off. How many boys these days have some kind of label? It seems like the majority are labelled meaning they are perfectly normal! We simply don’t want to accommodate them and their needs as it is too much like hard work. With two active boys at different ages it can be really challenging to manage their energy in a productive way, but that is my job! I send them out to collect sleds of wood in the winter, my eldest collects eggs, walks our dog, helps with other chores. Just this week they both (7 years and 3 years) carried in the shopping for me while I dashed off to check on our farm as a storm hit.

    These are the highlights of course, it is tough to manage the more destructive tendencies of my youngest, to give them the quality of attention and focus they need. But that is what I took on when I took on the role of a mother. I feel that we live in a society in which that role has been professionalised and farmed out. The value of simply being together, mother/father and child has been forgotten. They need our constant input, help, support, discipline, attention, love. Constant. It’s not a part time gig for either fathers or mothers, but I feel that this generation and those to come are ill prepared for the dedicated work that parenting requires. It is tough and it takes ALL our energy, attention and time which can be tough. But if we are going to raise a generation who can cope with the coming challenges of life, who can be strong and self reliant and proud of themselves we need to do that work now.

    Just my 2 penneth worth!

  7. Thanks,

    I have a boy of eight and he has been lucky to have had an incredible Waldorf Kindergarten teacher ( female)who is especially partial to boys and their energy and understands them, who set the tone for me and how I see my son. She often “saves” them and helps parents understand them with her suggestions of how to channel their energy…Most of the time it was advice like “meaningful work”, doing something that has an end result , such a s stacking wood, building a path….physically engaging them and giving them a sense of direction and purpose. It is still my mantra today. A book I found really useful (at that time) for parents of both girls and boys, but with a great section on boys…is: “Your Not The Boss of Me”, a Waldorf approach to understanding children between the ages of 5-7. It references another book and author: “Why Boys Fail”, which helps point out a need for a different approach when teaching boys.

  8. I love this! My son, aged 5.5 is my biggest helper and trouble maker! It is constant work to steer in in the right direction but he is worth it! You just inspired me to ask a bit more of him and watch him rise to the task.

  9. So glad to see a post about fathering. I think we as women also need to remember that we pick our partners and (unless there are tragic circumstances involved) we also pick the fathers of our children.

  10. I think about this all the time, although perhaps through a slightly different filter-how do I raise a feminist (aka humanist) man? Someone who will treat others with respect and kindness and make a contribution to the world? But I think we need to remember that our dreams for our children need to be quite open. There is all kinds of diversity in the world, and our sons may end up in one of many kinds of partnerships. Who knows if he will be primary caretaker in a heterosexual marriage, or the breadwinner in a gay marriage? I want to raise him to be responsible and caring, and to provide for himself and his family, but that may take different forms.

    • Thank you for commenting. I was troubled by the references to men being financial providers and needing to know how to provide for families with a SAHM.

      I choose not to educate my son to be a financial provider and my daughter to be a homemaker.

      I choose to educate them both to be aware of what is needed to provide food and shelter and what is needed to nurture.

    • HI InclusiveMothering,
      I am not trying to trouble you to be sure. However, I want to be clear that many of the mothers I am working with are trying to stay home with their children for homeschooling and their husbands were not prepared vocationally for having a single income family…so I do wish that when we discuss careers with our children of both genders, we have honest discussions about what happens if someone, whether it is the father or the mother, chooses to stay home with their children in order to homeschool.

      Thank you for writing in,

  11. Such great words again, Carrie! I am married to a wonderful man, who was raised a single child by a single mother. I find he really struggles with all of the things you mentioned above, and at first I just tried to take charge of our lives and let him sit in the backseat, so to speak. This really had the opposite effect though and he retreated more. I really had to change my attitude and see things from his perspective. He has never had a male role model to show him and he feels really out of his depth in male oriented activities. Now we have 2 sons aged 4 and 1, and it has really changed things for him. He finally openly said to me that he wants to give our boys, what he never had. We are so very fortunate to have my Dad and Brother around to help, both him and our sons.

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