Getting the call that this beautiful couple was expecting another boy was so exciting! I can never say enough what an honor it is to be the person who gets to document such an important time in people’s lives. It’s so special. One of my favorite parts of this work is connecting with you, always through my camera lens, but also sometimes through conversation. This mama and I got talking and exchanging ideas on parenting boys. She’s just starting out, so I recommended some books I had by my bedside through all those early years, my favorite being The Happiest Toddler on the Block.
Right now I’m reading a book called How To Raise A Boy by Michael C. Reichert. I picked it up off my shelf because I feel a little lost at times now that Nathan is 8. I studied early childhood up to about his age, but then not much more after that. All I have is my own experience; and I was raised in a family of three girls (all very stereotypically “girly”)! I don’t know much about boys and their development and I’m always wishing there was more information out there for me to soak up. Before I had children I read a book that I couldn’t put down called Raising Cain. It got me interested in how overlooked, yet important, the emotional lives of boys are. My dad is a thoughtful and philosophical man, he has always searched for himself and thought about how his life as a growing boy affected him. It had a great impact, unfortunately in many negative ways, and he was open about it once I was old enough to understand. I got to see first hand that men feel and love very deeply. Of course there are differences in the ways men and women respond to life, but there are more similarities, I’m sure of it.
My heart always wanted to help heal children who needed love in its purest form. I offered that as a pre k through 3 teacher, but academics got in the way of the depths I wanted to go to, so that drove me off to grad school where I got my masters in counseling psych emphasizing in children and non-directive play therapy, letting their behavior and play show me what was going on inside. It’s often very transparent in children, which is why I love working with them. They don’t tell, they show. They don’t hide anything if they are playing.
It’s a beautiful gift to be an influence in a growing boys life. The more I read and learn, the more I see that they are sensitive creatures who thrive off physical affection and emotional validation. Same as any kid, anywhere, or person for that matter. They need us to give them space to stay sensitive and curious about the role they will play in our society. They don’t need us to teach them how to be tough and not cry and how to make a woman happy even at the expense of their own happiness. That’s not adding beauty to the world, it’s adding pain.
So, if you’re out there raising a boy right now love them for being who they are. I still read and sing lullabies to Nathan every night before bed. He falls asleep holding onto me. He still wants to cuddle and be close (not as much as he used to, but still at least a little) He depends on my love and support to feel good about himself and to feel valuable. The way we treat our boys is how they measure their sense of worth. In my opinion its the most important job in the entire world, being a parent. We take it too lightly as a society.
Here are some of my favorite thoughts/quotes from the book How To Raise A Boy:
“As much as I value strong relationships between boys and their fathers, the idea that mothers should back away from their own relationships out of fear that they might spoil their sons’ masculinity–turn them into mama’ boys–violates everything developmental scientists understand about the Childs need for a secure, dependable attachment.
“Hardwired in each boys heart is a profound faith in those taking care of him”
“Life within the box, or behind the mask, is not merely confining, but also erodes boys’ goodness and virtue. Shielded by a mask, presenting an inauthentic front, boys become isolated and unmoored, losing the “true north” of connections to others for their moral compasses.”
Welcome to this world, Beautiful Baby Boyd. I hope its never to hard to find your way back to your “true north”. xo