Things Mums of Boys Will Know

I was disappointed with Netmums’ article on ‘Things Mums of Boys Will Know‘. As a mother of a boy and a girls, I know that most of these are silly, and a couple are just plain ridiculous.

1. Nappy changing needs to be done super-fast – I challenge you to find a mother of a girl who has not been wee-d or poo-ed on. Not just mothers of boys have to be fast at nappy changes!

2. Wiping the loo seat is a necessity – um, don’t you just teach your boy to lift the seat? Yes, I’ll admit to some issues of target practice, but mainly during the night when he was half asleep. And again, I taught him to clean up after himself if this happened.

3. Your house will smell of wee. My house didn’t smell of wee. See above.

P42503324. Diggers are truly fascinating. Now here’s a thing – I noticed that I often said ‘Oh, look at the car/digger/airplane’ to my son, and ‘Oh, look at the view/painting/baby animal’ to my daughter. Even though I tried not to, I steered them into gendered directions. Therefore, I question how much of this is actual interest from the kids, and how much is ‘learned behaviour’.

5. Crazes are all-consuming. Nope, can’t say that they are. Yes, both kids have favourite toys or activities, but neither have been totally single minded about anything.

6. Boys zoom around, girls do craft at playgroups. HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah. Right. From my experience, it’s the mums doing the craft work while the kids quite rightly get on with zooming around.

06042008(014)7. Wheels fascinate them. No, not really. Much to my husband’s disappointment, neither of his kids are particularly interested in cars. When we lived in Düsseldorf, we went to see the DTM racers in the city centre, and our kids were more interested in the flags than the cars.

8. Wrestling is the best. No. NO. NO. NO. I was at a family event a year or so ago, and watched the boys of a family member wrestling, shoving, wrangling, grappling, and was struck by the fact that my son has NEVER been like that. He and his sister used to do rough and tumble play with their dad (what we call ‘Toben’ in German) but he’s never been (play) aggressive with other boys. We’ve never accepted or allowed ‘boys will be boys’ rough behaviour.

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9. Rude words are super-hilarious – barely existed in our family until he met his best friend who found them hilarious. And even then, he wasn’t fascinated by them, and didn’t use them a lot, other than when he was having fun with his friend.

10. They love boobs. Just NO. I don’t really know where to go with this one, other than to say that I find it inappropriate and distasteful to make a connection between breastfeeding and sexual attraction in later life.

11. They’ll ask where your willy is. No, not been asked this either.

12. Phallic toys are the tops with boys – see #10 … I’m all just WTF by this point in the list. Did Netmums ask for 19 points and you were beginning to run out?

13. Boys will play guns. Sometimes – mainly when imitating film heroes or video games. I found this increased slightly when we moved from Germany to Geneva, and am not sure if thats to do with his English friends in Geneva, or if it was moving from toddler TV to Ben 10 etc. Giving boys guns was pretty frowned upon in Germany, and we didn’t encourage it.

P421025114. Climbing is compulsory – yes, if you are my daughter. She LOVES climbing. Went for the first time when she was 4 years old, and easily climbed to the top of a 30m high wall, to the amazement on those watching. I was looking for photos to add to this blog post, and most of the pics of my daughter involve her hanging upside down from trees or climbing frames.

15. A&E becomes a second home – nope. We’ve had a few bumps and scrapes, but [knockonwood] nothing serious, and due to #14, I’d say that we were at docs more often with daughter than with son.

16. They are loud. Yes, they are, but then so are girls. And when they get together they can be very loud. Both have a current habit of singing, humming or whistling, which I find irritating, but again, not limited to boys.

17. You go food shopping a lot. I do, but my daughter eats as much as her brother. And more expensive stuff too. Avocados and fecking Dragon Fruit.

18. People are harder on boys. Yes, I do agree with this one, but maybe if we didn’t perpetuate such ridiculous stereotypes such as ‘boys are loud and rough’, then society would be less hard on boys.

19. One day you’ll be glad you have a boy. Every day I’m glad I have my boy, and my girl.

What I hate most about this list is that it’s a list of ‘norms’. It gives the impression that boys who fall outwith these norms are … well, not normal. Odd. Strange. The boy who is a little bit sensitive, or who would rather be drawing or reading rather than climbing a tree.

Stereotypes don’t just harm girls, they harm boys too. How about we accept and love our kids as they are, and stop trying to put them in pink or blue boxes?


  • Rachel

    yes. Yes a million times to all of what you said.
    I have three girls, and find the idea that our house is therefore inevitably a calm, Austen-esque haven of gentle talk about emotion, and cross-stitch, to be hilarious, inaccurate and offensive in equal measures.
    Have you read ‘delusions of gender’ by Cordelia Fine? I was struck by the evidence in that (I think) which showed that although there appeared to be some differences between boys and girls, that the spread of difference in children was so wide that individual boys and girls were more different overall from other members of their own sex than the whole group was different from the other. I am explaining that v badly though!

    • Lynn C Schreiber

      I’m laughing at your Austen-esque haven. Can I go and live there please?

      Yes, Delusions of Gender is a brilliant book.

  • Yvonne

    I agree with most of your comments. My girl (5.5) eats more than my boy (3.5), climbs as much or more (she has to get to the highest point in any new playground before anything else) and is as loud as my boy. And thankfully my boy still likes to sit to pee 😉

  • Clara

    Go Lynn! I totally agree. I have two girls and they are as different as chalk and cheese but so many of the things on this list could apply to one, the other, both… or neither. My point is children are all different and this attempt to force them into neat boxes is just silly.

  • miranda

    I was so disappointed to see friends who I thought were above stereotyping their children, sharing this ‘mums of boys’ article.
    Excellently skewered, thank you.

  • Lisa A

    Well said. I have both a boy and girl, and they can both fall into some of these categories. My son is super sweet and very sensitive, while his sister is rough and tumble. I let them choose what they want to do an how they want to play. Sometimes it’s princess and ponies, sometimes it’s super heroes and cars. If you asked my daughter, she will tell you that Anna (from frozen) is in love with Batman or Green lantern. Its all in how you let them play.

  • Patty

    Thanks for writing this – someone needs to write the article “things mums (and why not dads too?) with boys AND girls will know” and go on to point out that what they will know is that they are frikking parents of children.

  • susan care

    Brilliantly well said. I’ve a boy and two girls, there is no marked difference in their behaviour and I get irritated by mothers of boys who write this sort of article. Well done for writing this!!

  • susan care

    Absolutely, well said. Brilliant article. Hate those ‘mums of boys, oh aren’t they such rascals, you mums of girls don’t know you’re living’ type opinions. I have a boy and two girls, there is no pattern of behaviour, and think it’s mostly all learned from parents (parents – not just mothers!!!). The breastfeeding reference by the way is just plain weird. Thanks for writing this.

  • AHW

    I have four children – 3 boys and one girl. And what strikes me about them is that they are all different – they share genes and that’s about it – my daughter is often louder than the boys, climbed higher and earlier than any of them, and eats more than they do. They all run around and play shooting/light saber games (I blame their Star Wars obsessed father) and all of them are happy drawing or doing craft things, not just my daughter. I hate all of the comments about “oh, you’re brave”, or “gosh, your house must be noisy/smelly/dirty/full of football boots”. None of my boys play football – we’re a rugby house all the way – aside from my daughter who plays on her school football team.

    I hate these sort of lazy articles – and totally agree with you about stigmatizing of boys who may not fit the ‘norms’…..

  • Charlotte

    I have two girls who are incredibly different to each other in lots of ways. If they were a boy and a girl, I know I would be sorely tempted to put those differences down to gender, or to use gender stereotypes to explain the differences. I’m glad I can’t – it’s made me much more likely to think about personality and ‘person’ rather than girl/boy.

  • Gabby

    Any comments here from the mothers of just boys..? The number of siblings there are in a family, birth order, age gaps etc – these factors contribute to behaviour just as much as gender. Any kind of stereotyping (gender or otherwise) is always going to be simplistic by its very nature. But still, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and argue that the netmums-of-boys list makes some pretty accurate points – about the specific experience of having (little) boys, that is – not a mix. Of course girls can be rough, noisy and climb trees, of course their brothers can be gentle, sensitive and enjoy dolls. Yes, the piece is naive overall and I don’t agree with all the points made (number 10 is seriously crass/Benny Hill and 19 is clearly the work of someone trying to convince herself about something) but nevertheless, this is written by a mum of 2 (clearly still young) boys and I’m inclined to cut her a bit of slack.
    For the record, I have 3 teenagers; the oldest 2 currently identify as male and the youngest as female. I also have 4 nephews. The downstairs loo in their house usually smells of pee – and so does ours.

    • Lynn C Schreiber

      I suspect that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, Gabby. If you expect that boys will be rowdy, then you accept rough and tumble behaviour. In this way, two girls who were behaving in the same way would be told to be nice, to be kind… but from boys it’s just ‘boys will be boys’, so you let it go. And we all know that when you give kids an inch, they are likely to take a mile!

      The blame (if we want to attribute blame) lies with Netmums, in my opinion, for publishing the piece. I don’t blame the mum – as you say, she is only going by her experiences.

  • traceyb65

    the ONLY penis conversation we ever had was when my daughter was toilet training and ran out devastated that she’d “lost” her penis. and yes to everything else, including the climbing and A&E visits (son = no breaks, daughter = 2). and don’t get me started on gender-tagging emotions … I’ll become violently angry 😉 xt

  • Rachel In Real Life

    I only have a boy but the very title of the original article annoyed the hell out of me. Fathers are parents too. I know a girl who is far ruder than my son and actually taught him to say a naughty word. She is also rowdier. The fact that Cheeky Chap has no sense of fear and has climbed apparatus that is meant to be for much older children has nothing to do with the fact he is a boy but more about his nature and personality, surely? Am studying child psychology at the moment and it’s very interesting (and difficult to know) about how much we can actually attribute to gender and genetics and how much is down to our environment.

  • Catherine

    I’m a mother of two boys, and I would never have realised how different two children from and raised by the same two parents could be.

    And neither of them hit any more of that list than anyone else, or any of their cousins (of either sex).

    TBH I’ve always been grateful that we had them in the order I did, because my first son is sensitive, high maintenance, head in the clouds, gentle soul who likes singing and running around breast fed until he was 3 and didn’t sleep through the night until he was 2, whereas his brother is a more robust, into everything child who likes drawing and jumping off things, slept through and weaned himself at 6 months.

  • G Johnston

    As a DAD of three boys I find much to agree with in the article, but some is well wide of the mark. But the best comment (and I have the basis to say this) was pointing out that within the same gender & same genes there can be vast differences. BTW We didn’t allow guns for our boys (nasty) so they made them out of Lego.

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