Raising a boy alone? With a divorce rate in America approaching a staggering 50 percent, it’s no surprise that one of the most frequent questions therapists have to deal with is how a single female parent can best parent their male child in the absence of a father figure. While raising a girl has its own challenges, raising a boy is especially challenging because so much of the growing-up process for them revolves around their father.
How to Raise a Boy?
The most important rule to remember is that your boy needs both male and female role models. As a single mom, you provide the female role model, responsible for your child’s well-being and education. But boys must have male examples, too, if they are to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem that will ensure their success as they reach adulthood. A strong male role model will help develop their strengths and talents, teach them about healthy competition and resilience, and help instill the confidence to help them meet the challenges of adulthood.
The most obvious solution for the single mom raising a boy is to provide him with as many loving male mentors as possible. If the boy’s father loves him and is available, make sure they have a chance to spend a generous amount of time together, even if your own relationship with his father is imperfect. If he isn’t there, find other role models from within the family, from your church or synagogue, and from your circle of friends.
Activities that involved participation with other males, such as sports, provide an easy and fun way to engage your boy with male mentors. In the absence of a father he needs to be exposed to other men so he can see and learn how they solve problems and react to life’s various situations. This is particularly as important as your boy approaches puberty, a time of considerable confusion and change. By the way, know that men also struggle with parenting boys. Gender alone is not a cure-all.
Maybe the most important thing for a single mom to remember in raising a boy is that he needs a lot of extra love. He needs from you the praise and encouragement he should be getting from his father. Affirmative phrases help teach him to love himself. Go to his sports events and include yourself in his activities as much as you can. Tell him things like, “You make me so proud!” “You’re going to be a big success one day!” These will help instill in your boy a sense of confidence and pride – feelings that can be put at risk in the absence of a caring father.
You can do this! It’s never easy for a single mom to raise a boy, but with enough male mentoring and a lot of love it can be done. Steven Spielberg was raised by a single mom, as were many other highly successful, happy men. Love and mentoring will be the keys to your success as a mom raising a boy without a father in the house.
This guest post was provided by John- who loves to write and was once a boy himself.