Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mothering Boys - Humor is a Key Ingredient

*Norman Rockwell

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.


36 comments:

  1. This is wonderful! One-upping instead of whining is such a boy thing, no? Even though you are still in the trenches, having 8 boys does you give the experience to dispense advice, or at least what has worked for you. The wisdom is knowing that you don't know everything, not in thinking that you do know it all. Very wise, mom you are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karen, coming from another wise Mama, that means a lot!

      Delete
  2. So inspiring...so beautiful, my friend!
    You are a wise woman, and an awesome mother as well...
    Those young men you are raising are a gift to their future wives! : )

    ReplyDelete
  3. THANK YOU!!! I always know I need more humor in parenting but am woefully inept at figuring out the proper means and situations to use it! I definitely take myself too seriously most of the time! Thanks for the practical tips and encouragement. (your guys are lucky - blessed, rather (!), to have you!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a tendency to take myself too seriously as well, hang in there - you will get the hang of it.

      Delete
  4. Very helpful, thank you! With 4 boys (and 2 girls) this was a great perspective.
    Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
  5. We have three boys so far ... thanks for this post, especially the last paragraph! Mine are still all under the age of 3 (a toddler + 2 month old twins!) so they have a lot of growing to do, but I will keep your words close. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh the joy of boys, they really are lots of fun. Wow, 2 month old twins, go you! I wish I lived near you, I would bring you dinner and often!

      Delete
  6. To be a fly on the wall in your house - oh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I say its Jane Austen meets Lord of the Flies, I'm not kidding, LOL!

      Delete
  7. LOVE your insight! How beautifully written. While my 3 boys are still so little, I am taking this to heart. I have seen this technique in other mothers I truly admire, and as you say, the boys seem to thrive on it.
    We are still at the...wrestling and rolling about the floor with each other 20 hrs a day, while the other 4 are spent sleeping with each other's feet in our eyes. =) BUT THEY ALREADY have an amazing sense of humor...so I'll have to get good with my responses...hahahaha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is awesome, and really helps them to curve their own tendency to nag one another but to redirect each other with humor. We have our moments, but I love to see them put it into action with each other as well.

      Delete
  8. You are this master. This us truly advice I can appreciate. I so often feel like I have failed these men I'm raising because they never seem to actually LEARN! What I am getting from this is that as Mom, no matter how resistant to changing their ways, they still want direction, which is itself a form of showing respect, and humor can go much further than nagging.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Humor really can, and I can tell from your amazing blog that you guys have a great sense of humor!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have to come back. I have a holy hour in a little bit...be patient with me, I want to save this and read the whole thing at once....

    ReplyDelete
  11. You are so wonderful. Thank you so much for your encouraging words ! It means a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad, thank you for popping in here to let me know!

      Delete
  12. Oh my goodness - wonderful post. I was laughing out loud! Thank you for the real life examples. I will begin trying to add a little more humor to our day, including, as you say, laughing at myself a bit, too. Very wise - thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  13. This is so good and true. I have 4 boys (so far) and one daughter and I definitely can joke around/be saracastic with my boys to snap them out of a mood. I love being able to deal with them this way, it's completely normal to my personality. My daughter, on the other hand, requires a bit more patient understanding and time, which is not my strongest virtue!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter requires that too, and I also have to remind myself to switch 'gears' so to speak.

      Delete
  14. I have one boy and am so thankful you wrote this! It makes me want more. :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love this!!! I only have 1 boy (and 3 girls) but I find that a lot of what you said is very true. Although my boy is still young (5) he does respond to the humor, joking, thing in a way that my girls don't.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Your children are so blessed to have such an understanding mother! Keep up the great work! God bless! Bernadette :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great advice. I do think this is true of treatment of boys. My one still at home, so out numbered by girls, will appreciate me reading your reminder today! :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY BLOGGING LIFE????? I have 5 boys (and we are expecting baby #6 in June), and I absolutely needed this post, and am so happy to know that there is another mom out there who understands a day in the life of raising sons!! I can't wait to follow your blog and keep up with all of your great stories/advice! God Bless You!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I loved this! I laughed through the whole thing. (I hope you wanted me to)

    Wondering if you have any sensitive boys? My oldest is a very sensitive boy. (then the next child, a girl, is the most insensitive of all of the kids)

    Love the sense of humor ideas..You are the greatest!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Great article. I have four boys, and I can see this working to diffuse situations so easily! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  21. thank you for this! I have such a difficult time with my eldest and I know that if I can just use more humor things might really start turning around.
    (and by the way, I love all the great photos! Their smiles are so contagious!)

    ReplyDelete
  22. How did I miss this? Kathy, this is so helpful- I'm bookmarking it to read again and again. Your love for your boys just seeps off the page. Or screen. Whatever.

    Thank you for this!

    ReplyDelete
  23. What a great post Kathy and yeah, I think you have a little experience in this arena. I think I am going to pull all my hair out with only 3 boys in the house, what am I ever going to do when my daughter goes off to college next fall, It'll just be me and the boys!!! So appreciate your wisdom and humor is the only way I can make it through most days ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love your post, and relate 100%. Mothering five boys over the past 20 years... what a learning experience. When my oldest was a babe and he hurt himself, I would say, "Oh, poor baby, let me smooch that!" Now, with my current 2yo, I usually say, "Stop being an idiot" (because that is almost always the case if he gets hurt). Then smooch him anyway. Humor is a huge part of our daily interactions--lots of laughs, sarcasm, and jokes. That's how we roll with the boys--that's how you balance the gravity of the wisdom and responsibility that is their God-given nature that you must shepherd them into. Right now, my oldest boy is almost 20, but my other four are 2, 4, 6 and 8. Delightful and joyous and always funny. But my favorite part of it all was the past few years watching my first boy turn into a man. That was the most amazing and exciting thing ever. Can't wait for this part with the rest of them... but sure am enjoying every day of the journey!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just need you to move next door!
    Do your 13 and 14 yr olds sleep all day?

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is great. I have boys 10, 6, 6, 3 and 6 mo and one girl, 8. I need to implement some more of the humorous retort, especially to my oldest. I'm glad to have found your blog!

    ReplyDelete

I do love comments, thank you for taking the time to leave one!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...