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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

11 Things About Raising Boys Moms Wish They Knew Sooner

Every #boymom knows that although all boys are individuals and different, there are certain similarities that are universal. We asked moms of boys to tell us what they wish they had known about raising the opposite sex. Here's wisdom all moms—and dads—of boys can use.

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Life will be loud, very, very loud

Boys have two volumes: Loud and LOUDER. For parents looking for a little peace and quiet, having a boy in the house can feel like being in the middle of a monster truck competition during an encore. Rest assured moms-looking-for-quiet, you’re not alone. “They are loud, absolutely fearless, and crazy messy, but in a second they can turn around and run up to you to give you the biggest hug and kiss—and in that moment everything stops for just a minute,” says Patricia, mom of one.

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The charm factor

Although they stretch our ear drums to capacity, boys have a way of wrapping their moms around their little dirt-stained finger, time and time again. “I wish I had known that I would absolutely love it,” says Meredith, mother of two. “I love the madness and intensity and fart jokes. I love their tenderness, because it means so much more after all the craziness. As much as I know I would have loved to have a daughter, I am a boy mom through and through.” Emily, mother of two, agrees, “I wish I had known what I sucker I would be. My boy can charm the pants off me and get away with murder. It’s ridiculous.” Here are 13 smart ways to stop sibling rivalry before it starts.

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They’re sensitive

Who says boys are macho and rough? Mothers of boys know that this simply isn’t the case, and they are just as sensitive and gentle as girls, sometimes even more so. Erin, mother of three, says, “I wish I had known that they are so sweet and tenderhearted too. My boys worry about others, love with their whole hearts, and in turn get their hearts hurt too. Before kids, I thought girls were more apt to being sensitive and boys were just rough and tumble—not the case at all!”

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Bathroom humor starts early

From that first little grin when he passes gas, to the all-out competition of who can burp the loudest, bathroom humor plays a role in a boy’s life from the very beginning. We might wrinkle our noses or hold back our own laughter, but you have to admit, it is pretty hilarious. “I come from a family of all sisters so I had no idea what to expect,” Wendy, mother of two, says. “The obsession with their penises, burping, and farting kind of surprised me. I knew it would be a thing for them, but I had no idea how much.” Patricia, mother of one says, “My almost three-year old announces when he passes gas even if we’re in public. No matter how many times I say it’s not polite, he’ll just say, ‘Excuse me’ in his cute little voice!”

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The bathroom will always be smelly

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this one is unfortunately true. Air freshener companies should have no fear, as long as boys are around, they’ll be in business. Rachelle, mother of three, said, “I once found out by accident that my boys were having a “pee-for-distance” competition…in my bathroom. It was who could be farthest from the toilet and still make it in. No wonder my bathroom smells like a public restroom!” Sherrie, mother of four, adds, “Just prepare yourself: Your bathroom will always have a smell. Keep bleach close by!” Moms of boys, you’ll want to try these six DIY air fresheners that smell as good as the ones you buy.

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They are alarmingly fearless

Boys are sensitive and charming for sure, but they also take themselves to the brink of danger regularly with dare-devil tricks, and “Watch this, Mom!” feats of bravery. Trips to the ER and always having a first-aid kit on hand is a fact of life with boys. “They never sit still and there are daily wrestling matches in our house,” Wendy, mother of two, says. Sherrie, mother of four, adds, ” They need constant entertainment and an activity of some sort, play fighting is a must, and everything is competitive.” Find out hacks to keep your kids busy when you’re too tired to move.

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The pressures they face

While society continues to fight the good fight to ensure that girls have the same opportunities as boys and aren’t painted as princesses, boys are facing a fight of their own. Boys have emotions too, and showing them should be just as much a sign of masculinity as anything else. “I knew of girls being forced into being girly and liking princesses, because I was a tomboy as a child and always had the pressure to have bows in my hair and things like that, but I underestimated the pressure on boys,” says Elizabeth, mother of two. “When people tell my boys to ‘toughen up,’ I want to scream! I tell my husband he needs to cry in front of them sometimes so they know it is OK to do so.” Here’s how to raise an emotionally intelligent child.

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Their toys are the best

While many mothers of boys will admit they grew up with dolls, many say that toys marketed toward boys are some of the most fun they’ve ever played with. (It’s even more proof that toys of all kinds should be available to boys and girls alike.) Kim, mother of one, says, “I was worried as a total Barbie-playing child that I wouldn’t know how to play with him but he teaches me about construction, super heroes, and whatever things he’s interested in at the time and I love that its something different than I was interested in.” Check out these genius ideas for busy boxes.

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How hard it is to let go

These little boys that win our hearts from the moment we first hold them are one day going to leave us for another hand to hold. This is normal, it is natural, and it hurts. Patricia, mother of one, explains, “As rewarding as it is to be raising your son to be someone’s husband, it’s also kind of heart-breaking at the same time, knowing that someday he will have another woman in his life.” Elizabeth, mother of two, adds, “I underestimated how much I would worry about what type of woman each of my boys might choose as their life partner. I jokingly say that I am a pretty open and sharing daughter-in-law, so I hope that karma provides me with open and sharing daughters-in-law that allow me to be involved in my sons’ adult lives.”

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Life will get messy

Boys throw themselves wholeheartedly into whatever they’re playing with—and this includes dirt. Be prepared. Michelle mother of two, admits, “I wish I had known to build an outdoor shower and have a utility tub. Because the amount of mess a boy can make (mud, dirt, and everything else) is amazing.” Lisa, mother of three says, “Bugs, critters and creepy crawlies will become a part of your life—a big part.” Her advice? “Get on board with it. I still haven’t found the lizard that escaped in the car!” Find out all the housecleaning tricks you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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They adore their moms

Though most men bristle at the thought of being called a “Mama’s boy,” mothers of boys will attest to the fact that this is, in fact, a thing. The bond between a boy and his mother is incredibly special—and it makes up for all of the gross jokes and loudness by a long shot. Debby, mother of four, admitted, “I never fully understood what a “Mama’s boy” was! I knew they gravitated more towards you and want you more than anyone else, but with me, I feel like my son looks at me differently, like his love comes deep from his soul for me. I would have just put it off as a baby needing his mama but he has a twin sister and two older sisters and they weren’t the same. His face lights up when he sees me, and it’s so amazing and fulfilling as a mom!”

Jen Babakhan
Jen Babakhan is an author and credentialed educator living in California. She writes regularly about advice and culture for Reader's Digest. She is also the author of Detoured: The Messy, Grace-Filled Journey From Working Professional to Stay-at-Home Mom (Harvest House Publishers, 2019). She earned her BA in Communication Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. You can follow her on Instagram @JenBabakhan , Twitter @JenBabakhan, and Facebook @JenBabakhanauthor.