Back when my son was a few weeks, old my mom suggested reading Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys, because I grew up in a family of girls and did not know much about boys. Even though my little man wasn’t technically in any of the stages yet, I decided reading it while breast-feeding was a better choice than watching endless amounts of television. (You can do that with the first we will see what is possible with baby number two.) I read it and was blown away, not only by the information, but what I learned as well. The book is broken up into the five stages boys go through and that they need to transition through to become a man. Most interesting to me was the role a mom and dad play in his maturity and how at times mom will be a greater influence and later the influence will transition to dad. I often tell my hubby not to be jealous of my son’s crazy affection for me because soon these roles will be reversed. I don’t know if I tell him because he needs to hear it or if I am reminding myself that this loving boy who snuggles and loves me to death, won’t always love me this way. Soon he will move on to the next stage and I’m sure I’ll miss that little boy who loved me in a way I won’t ever be loved again.
I recently attending the MOPs leadership convention MOMcon and one of the talks I was most excited about was Dave Thomas, one of the authors of Wild…boys . He broke down the first three stages a boy goes through and although I had read the information it was amazing to be reminded how different boys are from girls and how much knowing about boys can influence how we parent and love our boys.
I am currently in stage 1 (The Explorer Stage) with my little one. He is 2 and stage 1 goes from 0-4, but really you don’t see the signs of stage 1 until about 18 months. In this stage your little boy is an explorer. This is the stage where Moms are the center of their universe. He is active, aggressive and curious. Aggression sometime is a cue to parents that he is overstimulated or it can often be a sign of affection. Head butts and wrestling are often the ways little boys show their love to those they love the most. Moms may be wanting/expecting hugs and kisses, but instead will receive a nice head butt as a way for him to say I am so excited to see you. He is curious too. He is tactile and kinetic always touching and learning. He learns through exploring, hence the title of this stage. He needs boundaries, open space to roam and consistency.
The next stage is the lover. This encompasses age 5-8. The advice given to moms of boys in this stage is to enjoy him. He is tender, obedient and competitive. He needs space to be a boy, routine and regulation. His first exposure to a hunger for power and purpose pops up in this stage and will follow him through this life. He is looking to be strong and significant. Boys in this stage are determined, imaginative, power-hungry, persistent and confident.
In the next stage, the individual, ages 9-12, he is searching for his identity. He is consumed by pecking order, looking deep into what it means to be a man. This is a critical stage because it is often when there affection begins to shift from mom to dad. He will crave one-on-one time with his father and won’t even know that is what he is searching for. If he isn’t getting the attention he is longing for
problems often will pop up in other areas of his life for example he may have discipline problems at school or disrespect issues with one or both of his parents. He is evolving and experimenting, yet all the while he is longing for supervision, information and outlets.
The last two stages cover the teenage years and a transition to manhood.
I highly recommend Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. I love how it is broken up into stages so you can quickly find the stage your child is in and how each chapter wraps up with helpful tips on how to parent boys at each particular stage. If you have a boy you need this book. If you have a friend who is a mom of boys she needs this book. It doesn’t tell you how to parent it just gives you a much needed peek inside to who the little boy you are raising really is and helps you in your parenting journey.
What did you learn from the first three stages? Did anything surprise you? Do you want to learn more? Check out a copy of Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys today!
And if you don’t have boys they also have a great book for girls! Raising Girls
*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon, a portion of your purchase will go to me if you order the book from my site.