4 Keys to Understanding Your Son

understanding your son

All children are unique. As a mom, you’ve already noticed the individual personalities and interests of your children, even if they are still infants. But in addition to their differences as individuals, you’re also aware of the differences between them as boys and girls. My mom raised three girls and a boy. She realized early on that she needed to treat my brother differently than us girls. He had completely different needs. One thing she said was that she needed to keep him active. When he was allowed to run and get out his energy he was much more obedient and focused.

From the way they think, to the way they play, to the things they do, you’ll continue noticing differences in your sons throughout their life. In his book, Bringing Up Boys, Dr. James Dobson provides insight into some of the unique differences of boys. Here are 4 keys to understanding your son.

1. Their Wiring

According to Dobson, various studies using MRI’s and PET scans reveal different neurological processes in boys and girls. In addition, varying levels of hormones between males and females create distinctions. The hormone and testosterone levels not only affect a male’s physical development but influences his actions as well. And males typically have less of the hormone serotonin, which affects mood. Too little serotonin can cause aggressive, violent, or depressed behavior. As your boys reach their tween years, begin explaining to them these physiological differences.

2. Their Toy Tendency

You have probably noticed that your boys and girls tend to play with different types of toys and will play with them differently. While some moms have attempted the “unisex” approach to toy shopping, don’t be surprised that your sons will just naturally prefer different toys than your girls. And don’t be alarmed if many of his imaginary activities involve acting out battle scenes. Dobson encourages, “As long as he’s not disobedient, selfish, hurtful or destructive, there’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to play with toys,” so allow your boys to play in their own way.

3. Their Activity

Are you constantly worried that your sons won’t make it to adulthood because they are always getting themselves hurt or into dangerous situations? Do they seem to have a talent for mischief and trouble? Try to handle these incidents with humor and channel their energies in more constructive ways. Unless your son has specifically disobeyed you or harmed someone, don’t punish him simply for his crazy behavior.  Yet while these tendencies are normal, you must also make an effort to keep them in check. Dobson warns, “Unfortunately if we’re not careful, boys can end up running wild. Ideally, we need to celebrate and shape and civilize their aggressive tendencies. It’s difficult, yes, but not impossible.”

4. Their Adulthood

According to Dobson, “With 10 to 20 times more testosterone, men are more likely to strive for power, status, fame and wealth.” This is not to say that your girls will have no ambition, or that you should focus your parenting attention on creating driven males. Dobson explains, “Instead, we need to teach boys to be respectful to women and girls, to never hit or take something from girls, to be self-disciplined and willing to share, to be honest and caring.” Prepare them for a responsible adulthood by actively taking part in their character development and limiting their exposure to harmful media which undermine these values.

You may not always understand your sons. But knowing that there are innate differences between them and your daughters will help you adapt your parenting to their unique needs.

This article is based on the book, Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. 


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