Browsing throw the library, I came across Raising Boys without Men: How Maverick Moms are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men by Peggy Drexler, Ph.D. I was curious, so I checked it out. I am raising two boys, perhaps three. The book was fascinating!
I originally assumed the book would be about single mothers raising sons, but it was much, much more. Drexler began her Ph.D. thesis studying stable lesbian couples who were raising boys. For the book, she started studying single mothers by choice as well as some divorced and widowed mothers. Drexler wanted to see exactly what the issues where for boys who were raised without a father figure. She found that boys without fathers did just as well as those with fathers. In fact, the boys studied were more well-rounded, more emotional in touch, and better able to articulate themselves than the boys who had fathers.
Drexler found that mothers encouraged their sons to talk, never allowing them to shut their mothers out with one word answers. These mothers allowed their sons to embrace their own sense of masculinity. These mothers actively sought out good male role-models for their sons, and these mothers took an active interest in whatever these boys were. It is good parenting that raises good children, not a good mom or good dad.
The husband was a little worried at first that I was planning a divorce. Like that’s something I want to do at five months along. But I got this book because I’m 50% responsible for turning my boys into men, and I need to be active in their lives.
While reading this book, I realized I do let The Husband take the more physically active role with the boys. I’m making a bigger effort to wrestle and play sports with the boys. I’ve started dragging us on hikes and to parks. I’ve got to make a bigger effort in teaching them to ride bikes and play baseballs, soccer, and basketball. If I want to be a good parent, I have to be the emotional, physical, hands-on, intelligent parent all at once.
Then I read about one mom allowed her son to wear nail polish when he wanted. He was a soccer player and love to build things. He was a typical boy, who just wanted to wear nail polish every once in a while. Then a few days after reading this excerpt, Tornado E asked for his nails to be painted blue. I asked him what his dad would say (because The Husband was at a college football game). Tornado E smiled and replied, “He’ll say, ‘That’s awesome, Tornado E!’” I called The Husband and explained the whole thing after I painted Tornado E’s nails. Unfortunately when Tornado E did proudly show his blue painted nails, The Husband groaned an oh-no. We had a little talk about Tornado E’s self-esteem, masculinity, and that no this does not mean your son is gay. Because I read this book, I was more comfortable with my choice to let the boys explore everything from baking to nail polish to fairy wings.
The biggest lesson I learned was I didn’t have to let my boys grow apart from me. I’ve worried from the day Tornado E was born that one day he would walk away from me because that’s what boys do. He would create a wall between us, never calling me when he left home, always spending holidays with his wife’s family, leaving me wondering, calling, begging for his attention. Then I had another boy and possibly another, and before I read this book, I saw my old age becoming a very lonely place. But Dexler interviewed adult men who were raised without fathers, and they all talked about the importance of their mothers, calling them for advice, seeing them on weekends, and still playing one on one on the backyard court. I realized I could have that. I wanted that. God willing, I will have that with my boys.
I’m going to buy this book because I’m sure I’ll need the advice every now and then. I think this is an important book to read for all mothers, with sons or daughters, with husbands or not, because it gives some good advice from women who are doing it right. It also exonerates mothers from being the villain that ruined the kids life because she was too intense with her love. It’s nice to have someone tell you that you can’t love your kid enough.