Monday, September 24, 2012

Raising Boys, Raising Brothers.

I can honestly say that I do believe there is a distinct difference between raising boys verses raising girls and raising a mix of the two genders.  Each of the combinations brings a new dynamic in to focus.  None are a more difficult combination than the others, they are all just different.  

I can honestly say at this point in my life, I would prefer to have another boy, IF we were to chose to have another (you will probably hear regularly that I am QUITE against having any more!).  But, if we were to have another, I'd hope for another boy; a girl would create an entirely new dynamic - and I'm becoming pretty comfortable with these boys!

I have three concepts that my husband and I try to abide by in raising our boys.

1. Teammates, Not Competitors

My parents worked on this concept with my sister and me as we were growing up: we weren't competitors, we were teammates.  We weren't to fight against one another in any situation, we worked together.  When we were very little, I didn't really understand this idea.  In my head, I needed to vie for attention from my parents.  When they were praising my sister for doing something outstanding, I would chime in with something good that I had done throughout the day.  It was at those moments that my parents would gently remind me that we weren't competing for anything; they had enough love to give to both of us that neither had to fight the other for it.

It took me until my early teens to really understand the idea that I didn't need to compete with my sister for attention from my parents.  It was a lesson they had been teaching for years before I finally understood it.  I know it will take patience with the boys, but this is a lesson we are beginning to work on.  And when we notice competition rising between them, we will gently remind them that they don't need to compete for our love.  We have more than enough love in our hearts for both of them to fit fully. together.

2. Fairness, not equality

We strive for fairness in our household.  I must note, though, fairness doesn't mean equality: it means giving each of the boys the attention they need to become the best person they can possibly be.  

For example, O needs a lot of attention.  He's a very busy little boy, and needs to be entertained constantly.  His attention span is short, so we have to busy him with many activities.  Without constant entertainment - either in the form of activities or watching his favorite shows - sometimes he really just bounces off the walls in his boredom.  X on the other hand, is very laid back.  He goes with the flow, and amuses himself quite nicely.  Some days we spend more time with O, directing him through activities during which he needs our guidance and assistance (painting, puzzles, building train tracks).  Other days, X is really struggling through teething, and he and I spend most of the day cuddling.  

They don't necessarily get equal amounts of attention every day. or any day, honestly.  But they do each get the attention and affection they need to know how important and loved the both are.

3. Fun Days, Clean Nights

I'm very much a "type-A" personality.  I like my life CLEAN.  But kids...they don't care about that. In fact, they don't even understand it.  Their brains are focusing on learning and exploring and creating.  The last thing on their mind is cleaning. 

I, personally, am learning to embrace the messiness, in exchange for fun.  I grew up in a very clean, almost museum-like atmosphere.  I'm not used to allowing messes to accumulate.  But I'm learning that it's ok: It's more important for my kids to build memories and have fun than it is to have a pristine house at all times. (gasp. did I really just say that...?!) 

Case in point, my living room right now:

Most days, I don't even clean until both of the boys are in bed.  So, my house is clean from 9pm to about 9am.  And then its a mess for twelve hours.  Unless both boys nap (which is a real unusual occurrence in this house!), during which I often pick up the toys and vacuum, and then sit and bask in the tidy, unexpected silence.

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