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  • How I Am Raising My Sons to Be Men (Don't Say Boys Will Be Boys)

    A mom talks about how she wants to raise sons to be "like the boys I've known for decades."
    by Francesca Tatad-To .
How I Am Raising My Sons to Be Men (Don't Say Boys Will Be Boys)
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Motherhood can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers her on and listens to her without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where moms can share the joys, pain, and the mess that is parenthood.

    I am raising two boys who will soon be men — men who will be friends, co-workers, employees, superiors, husbands, fathers. I have done everything I can as a parent to teach them to be responsible, respectful, and caring individuals.

    "Don't hit."

    "Don't cheat."

    "Don't steal."

    "Don't lie."

    "Don't say mean things about other people."

    "Don't say mean things to other people."

    "Help others."

    "Protect the vulnerable."

    "Always try to do something good."

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    Raising sons to be like their fathers

    I am raising them to understand that boys are smart and strong and kind, and boys can also be vulnerable and confused and afraid. I want them to grow up and be like their father who treats me like a better half, listens to what I have to say, and always has my back. 

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    I am raising my sons to be like the boys I've known for decades — creative, funny, thoughtful, and supportive. 

    I am raising them to understand that the only difference between boys and girls is how we look. One is not by nature of sex or gender better, stronger, or smarter than the other. More importantly, one is never entitled to the other.

    Real boys understand the meaning of boundaries, respect, and consent. Real boys know that when girls — and other boys — are in need, their job is to help and NOT to take advantage.

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    Raising boys who understand consent

    Those boys who force themselves on defenseless women and those boys who force themselves on any woman, they are not simply giving in to their nature. Those are boys who choose to behave against their better instincts.

    So, please, when you hear about a boy who takes advantage of a girl because she was drunk, wearing a short skirt, or not wearing anything at all, don't say "boys will be boys." That is not how boys are meant to behave. 

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    To say it is a man's nature to impose his will on the defenseless is to say that the good men who do treat women well do so despite all that they are/were made to be. It is an insult to every good man out there, and it is not what boys who are becoming men need to hear.

    Francesca Tatad-To is a pediatrician and neonatologist who retired from clinical and public health work seven years ago when she and her husband moved their family of five to Iowa. She often finds herself expressing dismay over current events, but she remains firm in her belief that every person can make this world a better place.

    Want to get something off your chest? Or share a slice of your parenting journey with fellow moms? Send it to our Facebook Messenger or email at smartparenting2013@gmail.com with the subject "Real Parenting." Join us at the Smart Parenting Village here.

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