I am a mom of boys. All boys.

Raising three sons is a work in progress. They’re 16, 14, and 11, so I won’t pretend we have it all figured out. Through the years, I’ve asked lots of parenting questions from people I trust and respect. Especially those with sons. Recently, several people asked ME a few questions about raising boys. What a strange feeling to be the one asked, instead of the one asking.

So, here are a few things I’ve learned while raising my boys. Some of these things might work with girls as well, but keep in mind I’m writing this list from the perspective of a boy mom.

  1. Embrace the boys you’ve been entrusted to raise, rather than wish for the daughter of your dreams. There are some things in life we just don’t have answers to, and this is one of those things. Some people have boys. Some people have girls. Some people have both. Whichever category you find yourself in, own it with a thankful heart!
  2. Throw pillows in a household of boys are going to get thrown. They will be used as weapons. Therefore, they will not last very long. The thread will unravel, and the stuffing will become lumpy. Either plan on buying new ones every year, or save your money for the extra food you’ll need to buy to feed those boys who throw your throw pillows.
  3. Speaking of food, growing boys eat a lot. I’m talking 1 pound hamburgers, fistfuls of dinner rolls, packages of pop tarts, and gallons of chocolate milk. Keep plenty of food at home, and they will come home for food. They’ll also bring friends, and you’ll like that, because you’ll know where your sons are.
  4. Let them tease you. Not in a mean, spiteful way, but in a playful way. Laughing together, and letting them laugh at you, are ways of connecting with your growing sons. I knew a boy who used to mess up his mom’s hair when he would come and go from their house. She pretended to be annoyed with him, but it was all an act. This was his version of a teenage hug, and she wisely chose to receive it as such.
  5. Receive their compliments, regardless of how you feel about yourself. It’s a big deal for a boy to compliment his mom. In that moment, he’s noticing you. He’s becoming others-centered, rather than self-centered. THIS is the kind of man you’re hoping to raise, so do not squelch it while he’s in training.
  6. Teach them their ancestry. When my boys had to make a family tree for a school project, I helped them go as far back in our ancestry as I could. Right now they don’t care where they came from. They might not even care when they’re grown. But if it’s written down, and passed on to the next generation, I’ll have done my part to preserve the memories of the ones who came before us. Someday, that might matter to them. (Or to their wives!)
  7. Find a hobby to share with your boys. In our family, my boys and I love football. We watch games, and play in a fantasy football league with my extended family. It’s our way of connecting. Also, let them have a hobby with their dad. Show interest in what they’re interested in, but give them their guy time. My husband and sons love to hunt. I do not. However, I like to hear their stories when they return!

Raising boys is quite the ride—enjoy it! Celebrate it! They’ll be grown and gone before you know it.

Sarah Luke

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Sarah now calls Nebraska home. She’s been married for 19 years to Derek, her college sweetheart. They have three sons—one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. She worked as a registered nurse before staying at home full time with the boys. Maybe someday she will go back to nursing, but for now she loves keeping up with her family and enjoying the moments set before her. Swimming and reading are her favorite hobbies, along with boating and camping. She’s quick to point out that she camps in a camper, and leaves the tent camping to Derek and their boys!