I am the mother to 8 boys. If you have boys, then you already understand why humor is so important. Eight boys means our home runs more like a Frat house. I absolutely LOVE being the Mom to all these boys, it has been God's greatest gift to me along with my very longed for daughter. I want to be honest, when I found out my first baby was a son I wondered what God was thinking. I was, and still am such a girly girl - how would I ever raise a son...and then 8? Thankfully, our boys have a wonderful Dad and he was raised in an all boy world of 5 brothers. Pete helped me a lot with understanding when to relax, when to step back, and when to trust my instincts as a mother. Most importantly, Pete taught me to laugh at myself and helped me see how vital it is when communicating with my boys, to speak the language of boys yet still speak as their Mother. Humor is very often the best teacher, because it disarms those tense moments and helps soften ruffled feathers.
I have so little advice when it comes to raising boys, because I'm still in the trenches.
I do want to share that keeping a sense of humor is key...KEY!
Boys are at every step of their journey working towards becoming Men. Getting them there ALIVE may seem an impossible task sometimes. If they are not putting themselves in harms way, their posturing and independent ways can make you wonder if you yourself (as Mom) will make it alive to their adult years.
Keep a sense of humor and teach them by your example to keep one as well.
It will save many a moment where you've gotten yourself locked into a disagreement and you realize this is not the battle I was looking for today. You are locked because there is a precedence to be set, a deeper underlying reason why you must stick to your guns. They on the other hand, just really want to get their way and NEED you to understand them as well as trust them with whatever it may be.
Plus lets face it, boys can be turkeys. Those turkeys turn into mighty fine Men though...it is all a part of the process.
*When a kid starts to pull the "It's not fair" statement, instead of giving them a speech on how life is not fair tell them instead that you stay up late at night plotting ways to keep things unfair and give them the "I love you" smile. Boys understand this type of dialogue.
*When he begins to point out inconsistencies with another brother, you know the whole "It's not fair statement coupled with the Your showing favorites guilt trip". Agree with the child, I do this ALL the time.
"You let Simon have the last cookie? Why not me, you always let Simon have the last, he had the last cookie yesterday too" I respond "I love him more" or "I like him best today" and give the frustrated child the "I love you" sign in sign language. I usually hug them too. I say this so often, that my kids really understand my meaning to be 'Quit feeling sorry for yourself". Boys get this, a lot better than a speech about how you are not trying to show favorites.
Do NOT wallow in parent guilt in front of a boy. They will figure this out and use it to manipulate you to get their way later on.
*When they get surly (and they will), depending on the situation, be obvious in responding - and truthful.
"Mom, didn't you say you are giving up sugar?" Rude snicker as they point out the dark chocolate you are enjoying. (This is really a bad example but my mind is drawing a complete blank at the moment.) An honest reply of "Thank you for reminding me, I'll go ahead and set this chocolate aside and continue to contemplate the new chores I was working on before the Dark Chocolate goodness distracted me"
Trust me, my boys get surly and they get a reply to that (most times) that brings humor to the moment but also shows them to bring it down. If they engage in more surliness because they are kids after all and sometimes read your tone to say 'keep going' instead of' 'whoa boy'. A gentle redirection saying 'That meant stop' will often bring about a respectful end to the surly.
*Chores - they are all resistant to cleaning up after themselves, cleaning the house, cleaning in general. The reality is though, they actually like having order. Equating that they are not young Kings on their throne but a part of a FAMILY is vital. I will never forget ranting one time about how they must believe in fairies because they absolutely never pick up after themselves, gripe, gripe, gripe - I was really spun up. I finally stated 'There are no such things as fairies' and on cue #2 started clapping his hands and shouting "I do believe in Fairies, I do, I do". We all remember this very fondly. A moment where surly from a child, actually diffused Mom needing to calm down and it worked. We all laughed, and whenever I need them to understand I'm ready to rant about their lack of 'pick up' - I state "There are no such things as fairies" and the antics that begin are hilarious as one boy is shouting "I do believe in fairies" while others are flitting around - then they get busy cleaning up.
I require chores, and I require that they do them well. When a boy starts in on the whole Martyr/whoa is me shenanigans, I start singing "Cinder(insert name here), Cinder......, night and day...." and I keep singing this until the whining stops. They hate this, HATE IT yet they would rather me be silly, than me start in on an argument. They also cannot help but smile because in our home, you cannot play the role of Martyr. Too many people are ready to correct you. They often start boasting about who has the worst chore, the hardest homework etc.., one upping each other to the point of absurd.
Humor, helps bring the martyr back to reason.
Boys deep down (I believe) want to be Men and want to be treated with the dignity of being Men. Even though they are not there yet, I find most battles between Mother/Son are springing from the place within a boy that is crying out to be acknowledged with more respect. When I use humor to correct them, I feel they appreciate I trust them enough to convey the message without reprimand and speeches. You have to do that often enough, because sometimes they cross the line, fall on their faces, and really mess up. It is your job to help them brush off, recover from the bruise, and guide them into understanding how it all went wrong. When it comes to the little moments within a day, all those tiny redirection and corrections can be done with a sense of humor. Try it, you'll be surprised at how well boys respond to this. Witty humor has kept many a redirection from becoming a war zone.
A warning though, humor does not translate as belittle. I would never belittle my child, I like to help them see the absurd and ridiculous and the truth is, they help me see it too.