Raising boys
Tricky stuff

Raising boys – Things you may not know

“Are they all yours? You have your hands full there!” “Do they fight much?” These are just some of the questions Gwen Loughman encounters regularly as a mum raising four boys.

Mister Husband likes to play a game when we’re out and about as a family and he spots another boy-heavy clan, roughly the same age as ours. He’ll ask if I want to flip a coin to see which of us goes over to enquire of the other parents are they going to go for the girl. Naturally enough, we never do. Chances are, they’re as sick of the question and its variations as we are.

Also that game is not as much fun as the “what’ll we buy when we win the lotto” one. So here we are; parents to four boys. Four! And all of them with very different personalities to boot.

First-hand experience

I have plenty of opinions on what it is like to parent boys, possessing wrinkles and the odd grey hair to back me up. I know first-hand how difficult it can be. How loud, how scary. I am regularly exposed to random acts of violence. I despair over the cooking of all of the food. The shouting and roaring. By me! And them! Did I mention the endless laundry? The ingrained dirt? The testosterone?

And, of course, the laughs and never-ending affection. Boys are mental. Their energy knows no bounds. A ten-minute rest is enough to re-charge their batteries and they are off again; to cause more devilment and mess. Whilst their defeated mother cowers in the corner and wonders if 5pm in the evening is too early to have a drink.

Boys are huge advocates of toilet humour. The word ‘butt’ creates much merriment. High fives are doled out if one of them breaks wind and kudos is given to the one who manages ‘a silent but deadly’ effort. Belching competitions are frequent. Whilst their long-suffering mother wonders if they will ever tire of such juvenile high jinks.

The issue with underwear

Boys dislike changing their underwear. It’s quite remarkable the lengths they will go to in order to get out of this simple task. They are also sweaty beings with a tendency to strip. Anytime. Anywhere. They’re not fussy like that.

Boys are endlessly curious. And loud. They can be obnoxious and I say that with much love. They’re mad about nature. The outdoors and water. Boy, do they love water. It could be an ocean, a puddle, a bath or a swimming pool. They love the stuff.

Raising boys

Boys never walk anywhere. It’s all about the running. Once the door opens, it is similar to opening a box of frogs; they go everywhere. It is on these occasions their mother is always heard before she is seen.


Boys are endlessly curious about body parts. Their own and other people’s. When they were younger and I was breastfeeding, it didn’t matter to whose chest they were attached, breasts were fair game.

Boys are wrecking balls. I have accepted that the inside of my house will probably always look like the aftermath of a rave until they are of an age to move out. And by that time I will be too old and withered to care anymore.

The aim is off

Boys do not aim well. My bathroom has taken on an interesting look. If they sprinkle when they tinkle, they are not neat and hardly ever wipe the seat. Flushing may as well be a far-flung neighbourhood in America as far as they are concerned.

Boys grow in their sleep. Literally. I am demented buying clothes for them. Hand-me-downs don’t work when knees, elbows and backsides are ripped out. Shoes are definitely not made like they once were.

Boys are sensitive folk. They hurt and feel upset just as much as, if not more than, the average person. They also like to read. They have brilliant imaginations. They don’t hold grudges. They feel it, let it out and once purged, move on.

They are also hugely affectionate. All of mine love a hug and a kiss. This list is not definitive and refers only to my own observations.

Read more of Gwen’s articles on parenting on her wonderful blog: www.wonderfulwagon.com

More like this:

Dealing with sibling rivalry
Making way for a new arrival
Shouting to be heard


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….


Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.