Picture this, a mother pushing a newborn baby boy to the park, in his brand new Bugaboo Stroller, enjoying the warm weather. She feels like she's becoming slightly engorged and thinks how nice it will be to nurse the baby boy in the sunshine.
She approach the park and the other Mama’s in her new Mommy’s Club are congregating with huge Stepford Wife, cookie cutter smiles. Her little guy starts crying as she arrives and she presumes that he must be thinking the same thing she is, time for a snack.
She approaches the bunch of ladies and start unbuckling her little boy to satisfy his cries for what she assumes to be a late morning suckling. One mom steps up with her shiny veneers gleaming in the delightful sun rays and suggests, “I read somewhere that it's really good to let him cry it out sometimes.”
The mom is looking at her in shock trying to find the right words to say, then Stepford Wife number two chimes in, “Yes, it will toughen him up.” She looks down at her sweet little guy who still gets mistaken for a little girl sometimes because he’s oh so tiny and doesn’t always wear blue.
The question lingers in the air, “Does the baby boy need to be ignored right now so that somewhere down the line he isn’t considered a Mama’s boy?”
Her boy is crying louder, she's becoming fuller and instinctively she whisks her baby into her arms, kisses him all over his chubby little face, then she finds her perfect spot in the sun to nurse. Becoming a mama brings an entirely new set of challenges to our lives.
We quickly find out that one of those challenges is that everyone under the sun has an opinion about how we should be raising babies and they will gladly share it with us, whether we care to hear it or not. One topic that brings controversy to the playground Mom’s Group is whether little baby boys need more TLC or whether their cries need to be rejected so that they will live up to their gender role as, “tough guys.”
15Expected To Be Masculine AF At Birth
How, might you ask, is my baby expected to be masculine AF even before he is born? Take a look around when you are clothing shopping. Check out onesies on Etsy. Wait until your baby shower and the explicit onesies for your little guy start rolling in. How about the “Boob Man,” onesie. Another boob themed favorite that might cross your path is, “99 Problems But Boob Ain’t one.”
And for the ultimate explicit baby boob onesie, “Last Night Was a Blur I Remember Sucking t*tties and sh*tting myself.” Thanks single BFF from college but I’m pretty sure you won’t be receiving a picture of my baby in that one. In fact, instead of donating it to a second hand store I think I may burn it. I don’t have a boob man I have a nursing baby.
My baby is also not a “Tough Guy,” “Ladies’ Man,” or Heart Breaker.” Having said that, the “I’d Flex But You Don’t Have a Ticket to the Gun Show,” or “Dude Your Wife Keeps Checking Me Out,” onesies are all reminders that baby boys needs extra TLC.
14They Want Mom’s Adoration
What baby does not want to be adored by his mother? Mothers and babies have that special bond of creation. Our bodies turned into the perfect home and source of nourishment for our offspring. He grew inside his mom. He developed listening to the sound of her beating heart. His ears grew to recognize her voice before mom ever met him face to face.
His hands touched his mom on the inside before she met him on the outside. Mom's milk was the first taste that trickled onto his tongue. Mom and baby's eyes locked upon each other as he grew and nursed on mom's breasts. Mom labored to bring him into this world. She felt him journey from her body as she pushed her final gloriously painful push. Mom's ears heard his first cries.
Mom's body was his first place of warmth after he was delivered and he was lain upon his mother's chest. The mother child bond is one that cannot be recreated. His first source of love is his mother. He wants more of that love after he is born and as he grows.
13They Are Constantly Learning
Boys are learning about the world and how to treat people in it just as girls are. They are students of life and we are their teachers. They are observing everything we do and say and how we treat them. They are sponges soaking in the messages about gender roles and what their character is made up of. They learn this from all around and one thing that boys need just as much as girls is TLC.
They need to receive it to learn how to give it. They need to be surrounded with it to know what it feels like. Our boys are in their tender years and need to be treated tenderly. What they learn about love and care will stick with them for life. So snuggle them up.
Squeeze them tight and teach them that boys as well as girls deserve this special time in their lives where they are not expected to live up to a manly standard. Let them know it’s okay to accept love, and as I tell my son, “never lose your sweet.”
12They're Always Seeking Acceptance
Boys need acceptance just as we all want acceptance. At a young age many people forget that there is a chaotic world out there just waiting to toughen our boys up. Instinctively our boys will come to us for TLC unless they are made to feel that this behavior is unacceptable.
People need touch. Boys need touch. Boys need to be reassured that it is okay to reach out to us for extra TLC when they need it. Denying our boys TLC is a form of rejection and that hurts. No one likes feeling rejected and their young minds won’t be able to understand why they are being denied the affection they desire.
Just for today, just for now while they are young and still want to cuddle in your arms, let them have the love they need. We need to teach our boys to be givers and not takers. Strength comes as they grow.
11It Helps To Build Their Strength
Let them learn that loving and caring are strengths. We all know that it takes strength and courage to put ourselves out there and to fully love others. Boys are taught that they need to be strong. They are expected to be protectors and caretakers when they get older. They are made to believe that it is not okay for a man to cry.
Instead of cuddling our boys how many times do we hear or say, “Shake it off. You are okay. Big boys don’t cry.” When boys are taught that big boys don’t cry they are taught to hold in their emotions. They are taught that expressing their pain and hurt is a weakness.
They are taught to be inauthentic. It is our job to teach our boys that feeling whatever emotion they are feeling is perfectly natural because whether or not they admit it, big boys do cry.
10They Want To Feel Safe
As parents one of our roles is to protect our children. Boys need to feel the safety that comes with being cared for tenderly just as girls do. All children need to feel safe and accepted as they are. If our boys run to us when they feel scared or unsure it is a positive thing. This gives us the chance to reinforce that everything is okay or to praise our children for steering clear of danger.
Children need to know where to turn if they feel scared in daycare or around another adult. Anne Marie lays it out perfectly in Clean Bandit’s song Rockabye featuring Sean Paul and Anne Marie. She says, “"Ooh love, no one's ever gonna hurt you, love. I'm gonna give you all of my love. Nobody matters like you. She tells him, "Your life ain't gonna be nothing like my life. You're gonna grow and have a good life. I'm gonna do what I've got to do.”
9Mom Can Help Shape Gender Roles
Pushing boys into misogynistic roles at a young age robs them of their childhood joy. Let them play with whatever toys they choose. Let them sing, “It’s Raining Men,” if they think it’s catchy or funny. Let them go to a girl’s princess party and wear an Anna or Elsa dress if they choose to. If pink is their favorite color, then let pink be their favorite color.
My son has had 3 different favorite colors in the past 2 years. Boys need the tender loving acceptance to be who they are without pushing them to, toughen up. I’ve heard parents say about their crying sons, “Let him cry, he needs to toughen up.” Imagine that, parents think they need to toughen up their boys as babies so that they will be strong men.
Baby boys aren’t going to get tougher by being expected to man up. They will however learn that being their authentic self is not considered strong by their caregiver.
8Mom Can Also Shape His Brain Development
Just as our outside anatomy develops differently, so do our brains. Dr. Allan Schore, a clinical psychologist at UCLA asserts that baby boys are less equipped than baby girls to deal with stress. His findings include that the right side of baby boys’ brains develop at a significantly slower rate than that of baby girls.
This makes our boys more vulnerable to environmental, emotional, and physical stressors. Dr. Schore believes that these vulnerabilities could be part of the reason why boys are more susceptible to disorders like Autism, ADHD, and schizophrenia. From around the ages of 6-12 months old, boys begin to experience more frustration and more intense reactions to stress.
The mother-child bond is essential for feelings of safety and trust. From day one our babies need to know that they can trust and depend on us. So, respond to your little boy's cries. Hold him tight. Give your baby boys that extra loving that they need. You have the doctor’s permission to cuddle away.
7Because He's So Vulnerable
So, Dr. Shore’s latest paper “All Our Sons: The Developmental Neurobiology and Neuroendocrinology of Boys at Risk,” appears in the Infant Mental Health Journal. After finding that our baby boys are in the most vulnerable state of their life, we naturally want to know what we can do to help our son’s through this vulnerable time so that they are not scarred for life.
Dr. Schore advises parents to be extra responsive to their baby boy’s needs, and be unafraid of showing affection or attachment. “In light of the male infant’s slower brain maturation,” says Dr. Schore, “The secure mother’s attachment-regulating function as a sensitively responsive, interactive affect regulator of his immature right brain in the first year is essential to optimal male socioemotional development.”
Put simply, gently respond and interact with your baby during the first year of his life to ensure healthy development. Give that baby the attention he is seeking.
6Teaching Boys The Importance Of Relationships
“Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone even with someone they love.” That’s an oldie but goodie by Waylon Jennings. Maybe today we should sing, Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be players.”
Let’s treat our sons tenderly and teach them how to treat themselves and others tenderly. Let’s love them and teach them how to love themselves and others. Let’s care for them and teach them how to care for themselves and others. Let’s let them open up to us emotionally so that they will learn how to express their emotions.
Women are always saying they want strong yet sensitive men. Strong sensitive men have strong sensitive Mama’s who tune into their child’s needs even when society is sending the message that we need to toughen them up.
5Debunking The Myth That Boys Aren’t Emotional As Girls
Boys are just as emotional as girls if not more when they are younger. That is, they are emotional if you let them be. As educated mother’s we have the option to let them feel their feelings, express them, own them, and share them. We have the opportunity to teach them to recognize that what they are feeling is real. If they get hurt and cry, let’s nurture them instead of telling them to “man up.”
Let’s give them the tools they need to be strong and resilient. Boys need to know that their feelings are never something to hide or to be ashamed of. Boys have loads of feelings that they will gladly share with an accepting Mama. Being open to letting your children be who they are emotionally can lead to closeness and trust.
With you they will know that they can tell you everything they think and feel. The cultural expectations of what is expected of boys will sneak into their lives one way or another but we can offer our boys a safe space to express themselves. As they grow, let’s hope that they will remember that having feelings is normal for both sexes.
4Stop Thinking Of Baby Boys As The Man They Will Become
Our babies are not yet men. Let’s honor the fragile developmental period they are in. There are many different roles that our babies will play before they become men. Baby is stage number one. They still have to go through being a toddler, little boy, young boy, teenager, adult, then man. There is plenty of time to teach our boys about what it means to be a grown man.
Baby phase is about adjusting to his new world. It’s about taking it all in. Learning to recognize his immediate family’s voices and faces. It’s about figuring out how to get what he needs before he can talk or walk. It’s challenging to be a little human who has so many things going on inside but has one way to verbally tell you how he feels.
That one way is crying. If our boys are crying, they need something. That something may be a diaper change or a feeding or sleep but it also might be our love. So give it to him now, while he wants it, while he needs it, while he will accept it. You never know how society may change him as he grows into a man and there may be phases in his life where the most embarrassing thing ever could be wanting his Mama.
3Breastfeeding Is More Beneficial For Boys
Breast milk, known in some circles as liquid gold, is the best source of early nutrition for all babies. We have breasts for a reason and although they are effective for luring mates, aka boyfriends and husbands, they also serve a greater purpose. Breastfeeding has been proven to provide numerous health benefits to babies, such as offering the best most complete nutrition for all babies.
The skin to skin contact is also extremely beneficial for developing babies to bond with their mother. Newborn babies, when lain upon their mother’s chest, are able to root around, find the nipple, and instinctively start nursing. Some people call this the “breast crawl.” One study found that mother’s milk may give boys in particular an extra brain boost.
The results showed that males who were breastfed for six months or longer achieved significantly higher academic scores at age ten than their bottle-fed peers. Girls who were breastfed for the same duration did not have the same advantage. Researchers aren’t sure what’s behind the surprising connection between breast milk and boys’ brains but it’s a good reason for us to nurse our boys when they cry.
2Boys Love To Cuddle
From the time they are born our boys love the extra attention. They love to snuggle, cuddle, be held, nestle, nuzzle, burrow, huddle with their Mama. When they get older they will love to pretend to be their favorite superheroes, fighting off the villains.
They will shoot at anyone and anything with Nerf guns but that instinct to be snuggly with their Mama lingers around longer if they aren’t made to feel like sissies or Mama’s boys about it. This makes perfect sense. Boys are many times more physically inclined than their female peers and may show their feelings through touch.
We can validate those feelings by gladly accepting his affection and giving it back to him. I haven’t seen any research that proves that a strong bond between a Mama and son will feminize our boys, but studies do show that males who lack a strong maternal connection are more likely to be aggressive and destructive children.
1Boys Want More TLC! Yes, Please
The bottom line here is that we all want and need love. We all want and need someone to show us that we are extra special to them by giving us affection. Baby boys are no different. We are not babying them by tending to their need for love. We are giving them what they need because we are their mothers and caretakers and fathers.
There will always be the haters and the critics and the closed minded manly men who think that too much love will turn their baby boys into wimps instead of little tough guys. I say, give your baby what he needs because no matter what other people might say you know your baby better than anyone else and if he needs extra love you will know it.
Forget the judgment and trust your motherly instinct. We’re not saying boys need more love than girls. We are saying that boys need more loving and less stereotyping, period.
Sources: MomsChoiceAwards.com, ScaryMommy.com, WhattoExpect.com
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