Every parenting bond is unique. Even within the same family; you can have a very different relationship with one child than you do with another. They can both be excellent, strong relationships – but definitely different.
Nevertheless, there are a few unifying factors aren’t there? We see them now as adults – behavior that we indulged in as children, ways of thinking and plain ol’ bad decisions, that are not as unique and “against the grain” as we thought they were. We know when our children mutter under their breath about how unfair we are, they don’t really mean it – and that in years to come, they too will be on the receiving end of their child insisting the same thing!
Being a parent to girls and boys has its differences too. Some are obvious – others, less so. If you’re a Mom to boys, however, you might feel some clangs of recognition about what’s coming up. All those thoughts about the future that you have had, all unique to the mother/son bond in general – but we’ve all lived them! How many of these do Moms of sons recognize?
“Oh god, one day, he’s going to drive a car.”
Usually thought while your son is careering around crashing toy cars into one another, complete with side effects.
The phrase “boy racer” is enough to send a thrill of panic down every mother’s spine. “One day,” you think to yourself, “he’s going to be a driver. He’s going to be in control of a ton of metal…”
This might panic you for the sake of humanity and anyone who crosses his path, though it’s probably not the only concern.
Neither gender is cheaper in terms of finance than the other. For the boys who want to drive as soon as they know what a car is, there are the girls who want expensive ballet lessons. Not only do the costs compare, but our kids want different things – the boys might want to take ballet while it’s the girls that are hankering after their own wheels. So there’s no way of saying either gender is more expensive in general.
But… in general, maybe we can agree girls are more responsible behind the wheel of a car?! So that’s one worry – but it’s not the only one. “Young male” is the most expensive sub-group to insure to drive, and there’s a reason for that. The his-own-car rite of passage is just plain more expensive for boys. It’s a factor right down from the moment you decide to get more info about financing to the point he drives off with a screech of brakes (while you try to forget the images of totaled cars flashing through your brain!). So not only do you worry about safety, but it’s inevitable there’s the occasional surge of concern about the financial toll too.
“Will he be okay academically?”
It may be a recent trend, but there has been a definitive change when it comes to who is at the top of the class: it’s girls. While for decades boys did better than their counterparts at school, they’re now being eclipsed.
No one is entirely sure of the reason for this. It might be that there has never been a gender divide and it’s just that girls have begun to catch up. There might be societal reasons, or boys might be more driven towards more practical skills that don’t involve the same academic pursuits. There are thousands of theories, but you’ve just got one son to worry about.
It’s important that, if this surfaces into your mind, you remember that boys as a whole are not doing badly. They might have lost their place as the highest-graded gender, but that doesn’t mean there’s a new generation of unintelligent boys.
What it does mean is that it’s worth going the extra mile to encourage your son to study and praises him when he does well. Sometimes, all it takes is lots of positive feedback to give a child the desire to learn more – everyone likes being told they’ll be good at something, don’t they?
“Am I going to be a mother-in-law from hell?”
We’ve all heard the stories. The tropes. The same old thing: the mother who can’t let go of her son, who sees his choice in partner as some kind of competition. The kind of stifling maternal affection that can damage their son’s marriage. It’s such a well-trodden path that it’s easy to suspect that TV show writers, when struggling for ideas, turn to one another and say: “well we could just do a mother-in-law episode and go for lunch early…”
First off: it’s a trope. A stereotype. Most women get on perfectly fine with their daughter-in-law, shockingly enough! If every one of these relationships actually happened the way that TV shows and movies have a tendency to depict them, there wouldn’t be any need for those “Happy Birthday Mother-in-Law!” birthday cards. You are not inevitably, by sheer virtue of having given birth to a son, going to become a nightmare mother-in-law.
If you worry about this, then think: are you a nightmare person? Pretty much no one is going to answer “yes” to that question, but that’s because no one sees themselves like that. That’s mostly because people aren’t like that. But TV shows and pop culture can’t depict the nice side of people – that can’t be played for laughs, can it?
If you don’t want to be a nightmare mother-in-law, then it’s very simple: don’t be one! Be as accepting as you can when the time comes for your son to settle down. Always give someone a chance, even if your initial impression is that they are not “good enough” for your son – that’s a natural reaction borne from protective instinct. Trust that you raised your son well enough to make good decisions, and trust that you know how to act around people and thus you can handle what might turn out to be a wonderful relationship with your son’s partner. And trust that even for all of your worries and concerns – you’re doing a good job.