It's time to throw "boys will be boys" and all those antiquated gender norms out the window once and for all.

By Melissa Mills
November 23, 2020
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Courtesy of Melissa Mills
Credit: Courtesy of Melissa Mills

What does it mean to be a #boymom? Well, back in 2018 when I was pregnant with my son, TJ, I started hearing a little bit about what I could expect from a group of moms who knew the ins and outs of raising a boy.

"Get ready for lots of cars and trucks," I was told. "Boys are rougher and more energetic," I heard again and again. Even the harmless, "Boys are the best," comments threw me for a a loop. I mean, didn't they know that my kid would be the best, no matter what? But, in all seriousness, I started to wonder if I was cut out for this whole #boymom thing. I was raised with a sister, had tomboy tendencies but was definitely more in touch with my feminine side, and had zero interest in superheroes or monster trucks.

The reality? Your child's sex doesn't matter. Except for the fact that diaper changes might've been a little messier—I quickly became a pro at dealing with the pee-pee splash zone—I didn't suddenly join some secret society of parents of boys who were committed to all things blue and sports-related.

Let me tell you a little about my toddler:

  • His favorite colors are green and pink
  • He's obsessed with music and is constantly singing and dancing
  • He loves to run, jump, and climb, but he hates getting dirty
  • You'd be hard-pressed not to find him playing with a leaf blower, hammer, or something construction-related, but he also plays with my makeup and combs my hair every day
  • He's just as likely to try on Daddy's watches as Mommy's high heels
  • He loves to cuddle and give kisses when someone gets a boo-boo
  • He's not a fan of Paw Patrol, but he can't get enough of Peppa Pig
  • He's more into arts and crafts than cars and Lego
  • He adores Mickey and Minnie Mouse

What does all of this have to do with him being a boy? Absolutely nothing. This is just who my son is—at least right now, at 26 months old.

And, sure, there might be small differences between raising boys and girls that parents swear to be true, but some of that depends on your individual child, your parenting style and who you surround your child with, and how you might be conditioning your child to follow certain gender stereotypes—either knowingly or not.

Courtesy of Melissa Mills
Credit: Courtesy of Melissa Mills

Here's what I know: TJ really just loves to copy Mommy and Daddy—and sometimes that means helping Dad cook dinner, and sometimes that means pretending to work on his toy laptop like Mom. But we're also teaching him our morals and values, how to be a good person, how to respect and accept others, and, yes, what it means to be a feminist. We're teaching him to be strong, but in tune with his emotions. About the men and women, and especially the groundbreaking people of color, who paved the way for kids like him to have opportunities and choices in America.

As a #boymom, it's important that TJ knows that gender roles have no place in our home—or in the world, for that matter. We're just taking it one day at a time and letting him tell us who he wants to be. If he gets older and suddenly becomes obsessed with Spider-Man and Transformers? Great. And if he wants to play with baby dolls after his brother is born in 2021? That's OK, too.

So, yeah, I'm taking back what #boymom has come to mean. I'll raise my sons without any sort of expectations of what they should or shouldn't be—except kind, loving, and inclusive.