Last Updated on May 15, 2018

God must have had a sense of humor when he gave me boys. To be truthful, I’m as “fluffy” as they come. I enjoy snuggling up with a good book, bubble baths, and mochas (with extra chocolate). I’m gentle and soft-spoken, and my idea of outdoor recreation is taking my dog for a walk on the paved bike trail near our home.

It’s hard for me to “let boys be boys.” Sometimes I try to settle my boys—calm them. I want them to be more like me … but it doesn’t work.

I noticed there could be a problem when Cory was not even a year old. My husband, John, would grab Cory by the back of his zippered, footie pajamas and fly him around the house like Superman. Cory would squeal in delight. John would fly him faster and higher. I had to hide my eyes.

Then Cory turned two, and the favorite game of my men was “Jumping Joe and the Rock Monster.” Cory would chase John around the apartment with his plastic sword, and then when John was cornered he would turn around and nail Cory with a Big Bird beanbag chair. Cory would go flailing and hit the tiled floor, and I would gasp—sure that he was hurt. Within seconds, Cory would be on his feet, and they’d be at it again.

I was finally clued-in on the importance of this type of manly interaction when I signed up for James Dobson’s video course called “Bringing Up Boys.” (I highly recommend it!) In this course, Dobson stresses how boys need this male interaction. He claims they actually thrive when being “playfully punched” and having both parents interact with things that interest them.

I decided to try it out. That night after class I approached Cory (who was then fourteen), and I gave him a big slug on the shoulder. “I hear that you like this type of affection,” I added as I slugged him again.

His jaw dropped, then a huge smile filled his face, “Yeah, I do.”

“Wanna play Nintendo?” I asked.

A bigger jaw drop. A larger smile.

“Are you serious?”

I punched him again, told him I was serious, and then he proceeded to totally kill me in Mario Cart. (Okay, I tried.)

“Mom,” he said when the game was finished, “I don’t know what they’re telling you at that class, but keep going.”

I did keep going, and what I learned most of all is to let boys be boys—which has benefited our whole family. Yet without this class and without my husband’s roughhousing, I wonder what turn my parenting would have taken us. Would I have tried to subdue my boys, turning them into something calmer and gentler than God had designed them to be? Most likely yes. After all, that’s what I’m most comfortable with.

God must have a sense of humor, too, because after my two older sons were grown, God gave me another son. We adopted Casey from the foster care system when he was two years old. He’s louder, messier, and more boy than the other two boys combined. And I’m not so fluffy any more—I have no other choice. And I can imagine when God sees me tackling and chasing my youngest son, He has a big smile.

So what do you think? Do you agree that our society is trying to make boys too gentle? I’d love to hear your comments!

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  1. THIS is awesome! I have 3 boys and 3 girls! 2 of the girls came first and THEN THE BOY! I knew from that moment that I had to relinquish the “Fluffy” when it came to him..and the rest to follow, because I knew that daddy would gladly mold them in boyhood.
    I want my boys to experience and fully live the adventure (responsibly!) that God wired them for!
    That most of the time means me covering my eyes or turning my back to them! LOL

    1. There have been times I’ve had to cover my eyes and look the other way. My youngest is SUCH A BOY … so active and he loves danger. I imagine I’ll be getting more gray hair!

  2. says:

    I think that this concept can really be applied to all children, not just boys. If parents choose to see the strengths and interests of their children individually and love on them, it can make all the difference. You may have a boy who prefers being quiet and reading and a girl who is a little more boisterous. It is about seeing them as uniquely create in the Image of God and fostering that. If your child likes video games, play with them. If they like reading, read with them or talk about the book. If they like dressing up, dress up with them. If they like art, put on a little art show. While it is awesome that this class helped with your son, not all boys and men are a certain way and sometimes we hurt people when we paint with too wide a brush. If we pull back and approach it with the goal of honoring and fostering the gifts our children display and not our personal preferences and gifts, then we might really be on to something.

    1. I really like this! Yes, one of my sons is quiet in many ways … and one of my daughters is very active. GREAT observation!

  3. What a great post! I know that I’m a fluffy person, too- and I don’t have any brothers, so my childhood was filled with relational play, not much roughhousing! We don’t have any children, but my husband has big plans to have a rough-and-tumble little boy (God willing) someday… and I’m worrying already!

    It hurts my soul to see how little boys are being overly subdued, though- especially as toddlers! Just because they run and jump and don’t sit still doesn’t mean they’re naughty or out of control- they’re just little boys!

    1. That’s what I tell myself when my little boy gets so active … that’s what he’s supposed to do!

  4. I think I will have to relinquish my “fluffy” status after Ryan is born. He’s more active than my son and daughter already. I was blessed with a fairly ‘mellow son..but I don’t see that happening a second time around. His dad is rough and tumble so I think I’ll be covering my eyes a lot!

  5. Excellent! Yes they need to be boys. To be heroes (and villains who find redemption). They need to be dirty. Loud. Funny. Farty. And in the quiet times I can teach him about being a gentleman like his daddy, grandpa and other gentlemen we know. We practice jiu jitsu together, we ride horses, and quads. We have snowball fights and laugh hard. And loud. Daddy gets in on the action and it can be wild! Then at times we are all reading on the bed, together, and the quiet is broken by an impromptu farting contest. Or a story. Or questions. Being able to be his Mama, show him how a farm wife. rancher and lady can act is important. It is important for him to find places where we can relate – playing games, building Lego, doing jiu jitsu. Just like when Daddy is teaching him to be a stuntman, I hold my heart quiet and pray! 🙂 And let them both be guys. (after all sometimes it is a guy thing!)

  6. My kids, especially my boy, are so lucky to have the father they do. He’ll tease and wrestle and let them be loud and have fun…even when it means playing hockey in my kitchen! Even my daughter—who is pretty much just like me in every other way—loves it. Thanks for this reminder to let them have fun with their daddy. My son, age 4, has started coming up to me and just punching me in the stomach. I suppose I should learn to consider that his version of a kiss 😉

    1. That’s that hard part, Jo … teaching the little guys to be GENTLE with Mommy. LOL.

      Instead of kisses I grab my 3-year-old boy up, toss him around, and squeeze him really hard and he loves it!

  7. I totally agree! We are adopting four boys that are siblings. One day I went outside and they were riding their bikes through a big old mud puddle. I stopped and thought about my response. With the help of the Holy Spirit… I stood there and laughed and thought to myself “It is only mud it will wash off”. That was not something that I would have expected coming out of my mouth. I am learning that I have to let them be boys and not worry about my house as much as I have in the past.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. I love that, Cathy! Yes, our response makes all the different! Stopping and thinking about it/praying about it makes all the difference! And congrats on your growing family!

  8. I can totally relate! There are times when I have to put in headphones to drown out the sounds of their sword fights – because I’m just SURE by the realistic sounds that one of them is getting killed for real. My first impulse is to rush in and save the younger one! But then I see them grin at each other… and my heart is reassured. (sigh)

  9. Thank you so much for this!! My son is 4, and rough as they come! His dad is not really involved in his life, and he’s grown up around me, my mother and my two sisters, so he get’s babied a lot. Now that I’m engaged, and my fiance is stepping up as “Dad” and developing a relationship with my son, I have had to completely re-think my parenting strategies! I know that I was not created to be both mom and dad, and though I have tried, I can never fill that place in my son’s life. And he so desperately needs that godly, masculine guidance! Sometimes, like you mentioned, it is just too much for me to watch, but as I cringe, I normally hear his laughter immediately following! I’m learning to step back, and let my fiance step forward, and not let my over bearing “mommy” instincts interfere with their relationship, or in my relationship with my fiance. I’m learning as I go, and all your advice has been extremely helpful! 🙂