I cried when I first found out I was going to have a boy. I pretended I was crying for joy as I lay on the ultrasound table, the wand gliding over distended belly, grainy picture flickering on screen. But in actuality, I cried because I was disappointed. And scared. I didn’t know what to do with a boy baby. I’d grown up with one sister. I was out of my comfort zone. The thought of a boy baby terrified me.
Today I have two boys, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I think God knew. He observed how I styled my own hair – how I can’t possibly manage barrettes or headbands or braids. And he knew I wouldn’t be able to handle a girl, with striped tights and flouncy skirts and hair pretties. He gave me boys, knowing all I could muster were t-shirts and shorts and patting down bed-head with water and a comb.
It took me a long time to understand boys. They are different, you know. I expected quiet. Coloring books. Imaginary games with stuffed animals. Reading. Playing board games. Weebles.
What I got was noise: yelling and burping and other sundry emissions. And chase games. Plus some punching, a bit of tree climbing and lots of hose spraying.
What I got was a whole lot of action.
I’m still learning how to deal with all that energy.
That’s why I loved Laura Lee Groves’ new book I’m Outnumbered. In fact, I wish I’d read it nine years ago, when I first stepped a tentative toe into parenting boys. Laura’s book would have better prepared me for the tornadic but delightful existence with boys, and it would have taught me how to better direct and embrace their endless energy.
I’m still glad to have read it, though – parenting boys, even school-aged boys, is a steep learning curve for me.
Laura is mom to four boys – four! Twice the number I mother. That alone earns my deep respect. She has a lot of experience in raising boys, and her book brims with practical, concrete advice gleaned from her own life and supported by prominent researchers.
Chapters are divided into general topics: sibling rivalry, intentional parenting, education, boy talk, media, and the like. And within these chapters she offers myriad ideas and solutions for parenting boys, from how to nurture boys physically and cultivate them socially, to how to talk about the school day and foster discernment when it comes to choosing everything from media to friends.
I also love the fact that she weaves dozens of Biblical quotes throughout the text, scripture that supports her ideas and suggestions for parenting boys. I love this Biblically based approach to parenting, and Laura is so skilled at finding just the right Proverb Psalm or Gospel passage to illustrate her point.
“He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity” Laura advises through Proverbs 21:23, when she writes about managing anger.
“Encourage one another and build each other up,” she suggests through 1 Thessalonians 5:11, when she lists tips for modeling respect.
What I liked most about I’m Outnumbered is Laura’s concrete approach. She offers constructive, real-life examples, probing questions and practical tips. I like that I can finish a chapter with three or four new strategies to try with my own boys.
Reading Laura Lee Groves’ book also taught me an important lesson overall: yes, boys are different; yes, boys require different parenting strategies.
But different is good.
Intrigued? Laura has a comprehensive synopsis of each chapter in I’m Outnumbered on her blog.
And you can buy a copy of I’m Outnumbered yourself here.