My son's kindergarten teacher calls him the "King Rule Follower" and, well, it suits him. And at home he's called "The Enforcer," because not only does he listen and follow directions well but he makes sure his big sister — the rule-breaker — does the same. He's always been kind, compassionate, and a boy with big feelings. I can't tell you what I did differently with my son compared to my daughter, but I do know there are things moms raising sons who listen never do. Apparently, I've managed to avoid them all.
My son is 6, but I can already tell he'll be the kind of person who'd kneel to meet someone at eye level so they know they're heard. He has an old soul, I think, and is wise beyond his years to an almost unreasonable degree. For example, I remember the way he'd look up at me when he was a newborn and as I rocked him at night. There seemed to be a quiet understanding between the two of us: I would take care of him, and he would trust me to always be there.
As a mother I try to set positive examples for my children, and more often than not that means listening to them and meeting them where they are. So if you're looking to raise compassionate boys who listen to the people around them— and not just waiting for their turn to speak — here are some things you might want to avoid:
Compare Them To Other Siblings
My daughter isn't as great of a listener as my son. She's independent, believes her way is truly the best, and is as headstrong as she is defiant. I appreciate that I don't have this battle with my son, but I would never say that to my two kids out loud. They're two different people with two different dispositions and personalities. What works for one won't necessarily work for the other, and that's OK.
Comparing a child who listens to another child who does not isn't beneficial... for anyone involved. If anything, it sets them both back.
Forget Their Age & Abilities
Sometimes my son's maturity and understanding of how the world works, or how we should treat people, makes me believe he's older than he actually is. Sometimes he really does act like an adult, but there's the thing: he's not an adult. He's a chid. He's my baby.
If I truly want to raise a boy who listens to others, it should start by listening to him and his age-appropriate abilities. I need to treat him as he is, and not as I hope he will be.
Get Angry At Them For Remembering Something You Said
The problem with raising a son who listens is that your previous words can, and probably will, be held against you. Yes, I want my son to be empathetic and compassionate towards others. Yes, I want him to take the time to really hear what people tell him. Yes, I want him to be kind.
But, sometimes, I wish he would forget that I told him not to do the very thing I am doing this minute. Still, can't get angry with him for calling me out when I am being hypocritical or contradicting myself. He's listening to me, and that's the most important thing.
Dismiss Their Concerns
If I made it a habit to dismiss my son's feelings, why would he take the time to listen and respect someone else's? No matter what it is, or how minuscule I think his concerns are, I have to show my son that his voice is worth me listening to. Always.
Talk Negatively About Your Partner
The biggest same sex role model in my son's life is his dad. And while we've been together for nearly 14 years, maintaining our relationship hasn't always been easy. We've had both good times and bad, as anyone in a long-term relationship can attest to, and my kids have often been witnesses to both.
Both my children look up to their father, and I know they're learning about empathy and compassion by watching how the two of us interact. If I want to raise a son that listens, I have to listen to my partner (and visa versa).