A Single Mom's Guide To Raising Great Sons

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Raising sons is an adventure for me, with an uncharted course into unfamiliar territory. My older son gave input into what has worked and what has not. Here are a few hints for single moms to help sons grow into spectacular young men.

1. Have clear boundaries, so there is no need to micromanage. When my son went out with buddies, I did not call him. He was expected home at a reasonable hour, so I did not check up on him during the evening.

A few friends had mothers who "burned up their sons' cell phones" and kept asking where they were at any given time. If my son would have stumbled in drunk, or came home at 4am, then there would have been consequences. My son said that I trusted him so did not feel the need to rebel.

2. Do not trash talk his father, but do answer any questions. My strategy was not to speak about my sons' father in any way. I just did not mention him. My younger son did not refer to his father, but sometimes my older one did. He said that I answered the question briefly and to the point, without elaborating or adding emotion. Pretend the question is about a cartoon character and just answer matter-of-factly.

3. Have male role models available, even if they are on good terms with their father. Your sons are not seeing their father every day, so these adults enrich your sons' lives. My younger one is into chess and has several strong male mentors. My older one used to participate in martial arts, and had male instructors who introduced ethics and discipline into these lessons. Seek out strong male role models in areas such as scouts, fencing, and other pursuits.

4. Let your sons develop their manly skills, such as do-it-yourself (DIY). They learned to do household repairs that have saved me money and boosted their sense of self. Maybe they could learn to grill, varnish your deck, and mow the lawn. Now when my sons see something that needs fixing, they just take care of it.

5. Boys of all ages like to play, whether they are five or fifty-five. Add fun into your schedule with time for physical activities. Have excursions to water parks and amusement areas. When out of town, find a basketball court, playground, skate park and so forth so they can let off steam.

6. Give your sons responsibilities. My sons have certain chores at home that are non-negotiable. I make them responsible for getting from point A to B when traveling. I have sat down in a Paris metro station and said "come get me when you figure which train to take," or said, "you get us out of this labyrinth in Sicily." They have had to read maps in Chinese and signs in French, but managed to get us where we were supposed to be. They are drafted to be my travel guides and excel at it.

7. My sons volunteer to give back to others. Our society can be about instant gratification and greed, so volunteering gets the focus off kids and onto those less fortunate. My sons understand that no matter what crisis they have gone through, the world has many worse off people and animals than them. They do not want the latest gadgets and appreciate experiences over more stuff.

8. Hang out with your sons while doing parallel activities. I am reading a magazine while one son is playing video games and the other reading a gruesome book. Or we go out for lattes, and there is no pressure to talk, but we usually end up doing so.

Having sons has given me different perspectives to view the world in other ways. I like how they get right to the point and have helped me to be less serious and more fun.

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