Mothers of Boys

So my wife is beginning to recognize that our 3 year old son is something of a different creation from our 5 year old daughter. I know, try to contain your shock. But she didn’t grow up in a home with boys and feels ill equipped to know how to parent him while I’m away at work. Does anyone have suggestions for a super busy overwhelmed stay at home 21-week pregnant mom that wantS to learn about how to parent little male monsters. She’d like a podcast that she could listen to. I’ve suggested The Daddy Tried book or even the world we made but she seems a bit overwhelmed by the task of a complete book, and those seem more peripheral and don’t speak to her as mom about her son. How can I help and encourage her?

  • Future Men by Doug Wilson is a book I recommend to everyone having a son for the first time. audiobook available on Audible. EDIT: Future Men is NOT available via audiobook; I was wrong
  • Raising Men, Not Boys by Mike Fabarez; I haven’t read the entire book (just skimmed at the request of a friend) but found it to be sound and might also be helpful for your wife. Also available via Audible.

Neither is specifically for moms, but both are specifically about raising boys from voices I trust on the matter. Canon Press author Rachel Jankovich’s books on parenting also touch on raising sons, but they are about parenting generally.

A book that is good but for which I’m not sure there is an audiobook: Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young is good, but is more broadly evangelical in its bent than the other two I’ve suggested. The authors have a podcast called ‘Making Biblical Family Life Practical,’ which is a bad podcast name but I expect has counsel your wife might appreciate it.

If audiobooks are still too much for her, I’m not sure what to suggest.

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I haven’t been able to find the audio book anywhere. I’m wondering if it was pulled. Not even on the Canon Press website.

A bit of an unorthodox recommendation:

Listen to this, and then have your wife listen, if you want, and discuss. It’s not Christian. It’s even evolutionary. But my wife found it helpful in thinking about our son when he was 4.

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I apologize, and you are correct. I was apparently thinking of Why Children Matter, the audiobook. I’ve read Future Men (in fact, I just read it in anticipation of our third child), and I listened to Why Children Matter.

I will edit my prior post, and again, I’m sorry for misleading you.

It may be worth emailing Canon Press about whether any form of audiobook is available. They’ve been extremely responsive to my emails in the past.


I would heartily echo KR’s recommendation of Future Men . My wife and I are currently working through it and discussing as we go. Also as a general recommendation I appreciate the writings of Anthony Esolen. His latest is Defending Boyhood ( audiobook available* ). Not a how-to book, but a celebration of the unique qualities and inclinations built in to boys – areas to be cultivated and guided rather than squashed.

Tangentially related:

I also think absorbing the good old stories of boys and girls is helpful. In saner times, people knew more instinctively how the raising of each would/should differ. For example, reading how Pa and Ma Ingalls raised Laura and her sisters is instructive in itself, but then comparing that with the book about Almanzo Wilder’s youth ( Farmer Boy ) is a useful contrast. Further examples could be multiplied. Again, not helpful as a how-to, but helps to build up a reservoir of examples/ideas/categories about boys vs. girls; a mental landscape of scenes and situations where boys embrace courage and responsibility (among other things) and girls grow up into their roles as help-meet and nurturer (among other things).

*Not crazy about the Narrator’s voice on the audio snippet I listened to


As far as a podcast, my wife told me there was a great episode of What Have You several months back about raising boys that got her really excited about having boys. She’s gong to try to find the episode, but for now here’s a link to the podcast:


Wonderful responses so far- especially Esolen! He’s GREAT. I loved this essay of his:

Lots worth considering there as we think about raising boys.
He’s got another book that’s really good- Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.

Chris Wiley also has been writing and speaking about masculinity. He recently asked on Facebook for thoughts & suggestions on raising mentally-tough kids. That thread was very helpful. I screenshot what I thought was the best comment:


I know those aren’t podcasts, but I really can’t think of any besides what’s already been mentioned, sadly.

@dohuki’s point about reading older literature which accepts and revels in true femininity & masculinity is an excellent one. And novels or children’s books are a palatable & easy way to change our thinking on things. There was a Sanityville thread once before about good books for boys which should have some suggestions. Two that I can think of right off the bat are Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates, and Treasure Island, by R.L. Stevenson.


Here it is:

The best children’s books are ones which adults enjoy as well, of course. I read most everything first myself, and then read it to the kids. So your wife could have a fun time relaxing with a super-easy read, and learn something about boys at the same time, and then have one to put on the list to read to Jr. later. Win-win!


Thanks everyone for the excellent suggestions and discussion.


In addition to all the great info above, I’d just quickly add these:

  • Send him outside in all weather multiple times a day (dressed appropriately). I don’t know what your yard situation is, but outside provides mud and trees and space to run.
  • Teach him to play indoors in a way that doesn’t irritate you and everyone else. If he clearly has too much energy send him outside - even for 5 minutes.
  • Don’t let your son manipulate you. Give him clear directions and always expect prompt obedience.
  • Boys thrive on being given clear jobs to do and being able to meet expectations. Give him work to do. If he doesn’t have jobs to do, he’ll get destructive or annoying with his energy. Jobs can include building with legos until the timer goes off.
  • Most boys are very physical and thrive on physical affection.
  • Teach him to do hard things
  • Find the thing he loves to do and encourage and direct him in it - music, building, trains, cars, or whatever.
  • Spank him for disobedience and behavior before he gets so annoying you get angry.

My wife and I have six sons (none of them perfect in any way). I agree with everything Heidi Bayly said.

Here’s a podcast episode that I found very helpful. It is not Christian at all, but the interviewee talks about the effects of testosterone on the male brain, both as a little child and at puberty. Every parent of boys should be aware of these things, especially when they start entering puberty.


Yes, I almost recommended this one as well. Note that both of them are from the same place and both interviews with women. Odd.


Listening to Love and Respect guy, Emerson Eggerichs talking about Mums and sons and respect. Don’t know a lot about him, but sounds good.

What might also be useful is a table which shows:

  • What you need to emphasise in parenting boys
  • What you need to emphasise in parenting girls and,

A table showing the aspects in which parenting is consistent for girls and boys (I am not a father; this would be included for completeness).

The point of having this in the same table is that it would serve to emphasise the differences.

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