Guest Post: Manly Expectations

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Categories Gender, Parenting, Perspective

Mommy, Esq. is a lawyer at a Big Firm and mom to almost 12 month old twins, Edmund (Ned) and Penelope. In between conference calls and deal closings she thanks her lucky stars for an unbelievable Husband (and co-parent) and nanny. You can find her blog about Big Law and the three loves of her life at

My son Ned is a cuddler. He likes to “stop by” as he cruises the playroom to be picked up and put his head on your shoulder. There are “kisses” too – although sometimes biting would be more accurate. But when Ned gets frustrated he shouts and hollers at the world, tearing up and sometimes throwing himself backward to have a tantrum (I thought that was in our future!). The nanny and I rub his back when he’s upset and tell him “he’s okay”, and will pick him up for a cuddle.

Ned will not like to be diapered and dressed after his nighttime bath. Partly this is because he’s pretty tired by the time bedtime has rolled around and partly because he’s getting out the rest of his energy. I diaper him standing up and lotion and dress him as he barrels around his bedroom. My husband thinks we should be teaching Ned that sometimes you just have to lie still for a few minutes and “get it over with”. I give Ned 3 chances of standing up in the bathtub (dangerous!) before I just take him out (I do say “no” with the ASL sign (the only one I know)); my husband’s approach is to say “no” and putting him down until bathtime (for both kids) is over.

Ball Pit 062
My husband thinks I coddle Ned. He wants our son to be strong and to problem solve and not always go running to mommy. I sort of laugh because, I mean, he’s a baby! But it has gotten me thinking – how do you turn your little boys from babies into men? We spent so much time this first year of their lives just “surviving” that promoting self reliance and discipline has fallen a bit by the wayside. When both parents work you try to maximize the fun, loving time instead of working on utensil use or self-play. And I know the number of things they will need to learn to do on their own is just going to get longer!

Do you see a difference in the expectations you or your spouse have for sons and daughters? In what ways do you encourage self-reliance in your kids?

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6 thoughts on “Guest Post: Manly Expectations”

  1. Very interesting, and not just for those raising boys. How do we teach our kids how to be both loving and tough? I read a very interesting article recently (I’ll have to try and figure out where I found it) about a researcher whose recent work has shown that the greatest indicator for whether children will achieve and succeed in life, is NOT intelligence, but rather “grit.” She says that scientists have spent years coming up with more complex intelligence tests for children, but these tests show almost no correlation between IQ and success, whereas a child’s “grit index” has everything to do with how well he or she will succeed. The same researcher is now studying ways to instill grit in children. I’ll be watching closely to see what’s advised.
    .-= Jungletwins´s last blog ..My Daughter Broke my Toe yesterday; This Week Sucks =-.

  2. I find that my son and daughter tend towards some gender expectations. my daughter is kinder and more considerate – she is more likely to find a way to involve her brother in whatever she is playing and will offer him his lovey when he cries. my son laughs when my husband burps and marches around the house like a little napolean. I don’t think we created these tendencies, but I suspect we do, without even realizing it, encourage them somewhat.

  3. I’ve been thinking about this lately as a lesbian mom of three (toddler and infant twins) boys. Some of it is clearly genetic, my nearly two year old comes home from daycare and immediately asks “My dinner ready?” Yet he is kind and gentle with others, including the twins. As all toddlers do he vacillates between needing hugs from one mommy or the other and trying to be wildly independent. Usually at the top of the hardwood stairs…

  4. It is only natural that your husband would view your son as needing more “toughness” even at such a young age, it is a “man” thing. And your kids will benefit from the approach that you each bring to parenting, no matter if you have different approaches they are perceptive enough to know what they can get away with -with who- exactly. I let my husband take his own approach and he does very well, so I’m lucky. It sounds like your husband has excellent intentions and you can probably rest easy on the whole thing. In my house I am outnumbered – 4 males in my house and I’m the only female. I think that boys have a unique need for their mommy when they are very small, and they outgrow it all too quickly.

  5. Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with another mom recently. I was sharing my frustration about the way my husband lets our daughter behave at the mall. I didn’t want our daughter acting a certain way when she was with me for reasons related to my physical limitations as the weaker spouse. My friend reassured me that kids become aware, very quickly, that they can act one way with dad but need to act another way with mom. Or vice versa. Parents styles are not exactly the same. And that’s great for kids!

  6. I have to laugh too, because he is still such a baby. I found the second year is when Jon and I had to spend a lot of time making sure we were on the same page as to how and when to discipline and what we wanted to teach our kids. Obviously a lot of this was on the job training but there were some growing pains as we learned what was important to us and how we could achieve those goals together.
    .-= LauraC´s last blog ..Old friend, new baby, lots of wine, and MICHAEL CHIARELLO =-.

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