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Parenting a Boy by Yourself

Parenting a boy by yourself means that you'll need to take some extra steps for those times when he has special needs in his life. But you don't have the shoulder the burden yourself. Live by the adage "It takes a village to raise a child," so that your son can grow up with both female and male influences in his life.
A woman and her baby son.

Little boys are a whole different breed of person than little girls. If you've seen little boys in action, you know that it sometimes seems like they never stop going, going, going. Little boys are full of energy, curious, daring and sometimes even reckless. But as they grow, boys face their own unique issues in relating to people, navigating the world they live in, and managing their manhood.

Parenting a boy by yourself isn't ideal, since it's beneficial for kids to have both their parents in their lives, but sometimes that's not possible. This doesn't mean that your son will face more difficulties or trials than anyone else, however. It just means that you, as the only parent, will need to take some extra steps to make sure your son has every resource available to him as he grows up.

If You're the Dad

Dads and sons have a natural bond, especially when you're parenting a son by yourself. You'll be able to teach him all the things you know and he'll be interested in many of the same things you are. However, keep in mind that even though he doesn't have a mother in his life, it will benefit your son to have a positive female presence. Building relationships with women while he's younger will strengthen his ability to build relationships when he's older and starting to date or considering marriage. Most boys don't learn how to treat a woman from their mother – they learn it from watching their dad.

If you already have trusted women in your life, keep them an active presence in your son's world. Let him spend time with them talking, working and interacting on a variety of levels. Your son needs to open up to his softer side if he's going to be able to manage relationships with women in a healthy, effective manner.

If You're the Mom

There are going to be days when you feel very, very lost in parenting a son by yourself. Boys think and act so much differently than girls that you may feel there are days when you're just not "getting" each other. That's OK -- and normal! Your son is a little man in the making. Even though your natural inclination will be to shelter and protect him, fight it! When you're parenting a little boy alone, you'll have to let him go explore the world. Understand that there will be bumps and bruises along the way, but that he probably won't care (even if you do).

Girls tend to play it safe, which means that your son's risk-taking may cause you many sleepless nights because you can't relate to it. The bottom line is that there are just some things boys and moms just won't connect on. While he's young, get him involved in outlets for his energy like sports, martial arts, music programs or whatever he enjoys doing. Let him be a boy. But remember that even though you're trying your best to single-parent, it will benefit your son to have a man in his life that can serve as a father figure to him. This man may be a grandfather, uncle, older cousin or sibling, or a mentor at school, the YMCA, or church. Remember that if they are a trusted man in your life, they can also be a trusted man in your son's life. If your son has a relationship with a man he can turn to, he will be less likely to withdraw into himself and more likely to seek out help from someone he feels will understand.

It's not a slight against you that he'll connect with a man on certain things. In fact, it's a testament to your understanding of his needs and your willingness to let him be who he is.

The old adage "it takes a village to raise a child" is even truer when you're parenting a boy by yourself. Don't try to shoulder the entire role on your own. Don't be hesitant to ask for help when you feel it could benefit your son.

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