All Boys?

Photo by Queen of the Universe via Flickr
Photo by Queen of the Universe via Flickr

Moms of all boys face a special challenge beyond the fart jokes, the fashion issues and the flatulence. Every day, when we go out into the world with our sons, we face the preconception that a family is just not a family until it contains a mix of boys and girls.

Fellow “boy-moms,” how many times have you heard, “Wow, all boys? Are you going to keep trying for a girl?” The variations are many. I’ve heard everything from, “I bet you wish you had a girl,” to “What’s wrong with your husband’s genetics?” (That one from a complete and total stranger in the produce section of the grocery store.)

Moms of all boys are naturally offended by these remarks, which are so often made in the presence of our sons. Here we stand, surrrounded by beautiful, intelligent, creative children, and some idiot essentially implies– in front of our beautiful, intelligent, creative children! — that they somehow aren’t enough. It’s enough to make our mommy hackles stand on end.

Years ago, society valued sons. In the agricultural age, boy children were preferred for their muscles, strength and work capactiy. Prior to that, boys were valued because sons traditionally cared for their parents when their parents became old and infirm. Having one son was like having a long-term care policy and pension rolled into one. Having two sons was even better. Having three or more was a blessing.

Yet today, I can’t go anywhere without someone commenting on my four sons — and the comments are pitying far more often than complementary. No one congratulates me on my bounty; they bemoan my lack of a daughter.

Boys are no longer the preferred sex. Their messy energy, boundless enthusiasm and penchant for weapons is seen as less desirable in today’s sit-down-and-learn society. People see my four boys and somehow assume that I got the short end of the stick, sub-par children. They assume that I must be pining for a daughter, because, after all, who wouldn’t?

Well, guess what world? I’m not pining for a daughter. I’m very happy with my four sons, thank you very much. While I used to stammer when people commented on my all-boy family, I now proudly tell them that I specialize. I do — and many of you do too.

Boy-moms, what’s the most insensitive remark someone’s made to you about your all-boy family? How do you typically respond to these rude comments? Do they bother you or your boys?

The Building Boys Bulletin

The Building Boys Bulletin Newsletter gives you the facts, encouragement, and inspiration you need to help boys thrive. Written by Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four sons and author of Building Boys: Raising Great Guys in a World That Misunderstands Males, Building Boys Bulletin includes:

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“I learned a lot about helping boys thrive over the past 20+ years — most of it the hard way! I’m eager to share what I’ve learned to make your path a little easier.”   – Jennifer

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22 Responses

  1. when my 3rd son (Kiel) was only a couple weeks old, I took all 3 boys to a Play Place (with the tubes and foam mazes..). My boys were 3 yrs, 1.5 yrs, a couple weeks old. I was holding Kiel. A lady walked up to me and said “Wow, I Bet you wish he was a girl!”


    yes, I got more than enough “Are you trying for a girl”? comments with my 3rd pregnancy (I told them “No, why would I? I don’t want a girl”- that usually silenced them)
    but now that my boys are older (13,15,16) I am no longer asked if we’re gonna be trying for a girl.

  2. That is so true even in adoption they say the wait for a girl is longer…Weird…On the opposite side of the spectrum we do get the ” thank goodness you have a girl” comments which are equally as rude…I love boys and girls and whatever we are blessed with as children we will be happy!

  3. Oh, I have been one of these commenters. I have said, “Have all boys must be a handful.” Ouch! As if girls are complete gems. Not! I know; I am one. Thanks for calling mothers like me out. We need it.

  4. I can’t recall any all boy comments that have really offended me. I love having my two boys, although I am the oldest of 3 girls (with a single mom), so it is sometimes foriegn land to me. I think we get more comments on their hair, especially my younger one with his beautiful curls. People say things like, “Oh, girls would die for curls like yours”. But in general, I think most people think I HAVE two girls, which is in itself an issue!!!

  5. Yes, yes, yes.

    My mother-in-law told me that when she was pregnant with her third, “I already had a boy and a girl, so it didn’t matter what the next one was.” So if she’d had two boys, what exactly?

    I went into having kids just wanting kids. It’s parenthood, not a Yahtzee card.

  6. I have three very energetic, weapon weilding, loud-mouthed, potty-talkin’ boys…4 1/2, almost 3 and 11 months. Yes, the 11 month old wields weapons and makes grunty monster noises. People make comments to me about them being a handful AND wondering if we’re trying for a girl. Really? You just said they were a handful and you want us to add another??? I’m such a tomboy anyway, if I did have girls they’d never know pink or skirts/dresses existed.

  7. Oh, I’ve long forgotten the rudest comment — I generally dismiss them immediately. I always wanted to say, “Which one of these beautiful, wonderful boys would you exchange for a girl? I think not!”

    I usually say, “Oh, it’s crazy, but I love it. Wouldn’t have it any other way!” (When it comes to grandchildren, though, some pink might be nice…HA)

    I’d love for you to review my book, Jenny, in August. We’ll keep in touch.

  8. When people find out I’m pregnant for the third time (with two boys so far), they all say something like, “Oh, maybe it’ll be a girl this time!” I’m not necessarily offended but I do make a point to tell them we just want another child; we’re not “trying for a girl!” I have so many friends who haven’t been able to have children at all — or not for years and years — so when you do have one, how can you not just feel blessed, no matter what sex he or she is?!

  9. Mommy hackles?

    Society currently and has always viewed boys as being uncontrollable–Boys will be boys.

    The ever-powerful stereotypes teach us that girls are suppose to conform and boys are suppose to create chaos. Pity seems appropriate.

  10. Love your post.
    As a mom of three sons, I always felt the hairs go up on my neck a little, when people would ask if we were “finished” or if we felt left out that there was no “pink” in our laundry basket.
    Then, a surprise pregnancy brought us our fourth child just eight short weeks ago. And, yes I did have a girl.
    You would have thought we won the lotto, the way that people, would grin or give my husband the “high-five” that our family was now “complete.”
    Poor thing, I find myself calling her “little man”, or accidentally telling her how “handsome” she looks… Old habits as a “boy mama” die hard. :O)

  11. I’m not even going to be nice about this.

    I was clothes shopping with all 3 of my beautiful boys: the old hag behind the register says, in full loud on volume cuz she’s stone deaf “ sad. NO GIRLS??”

    My littlest angel turns to me and asks, “mommy, is it bad to have all boys?”

    I answered, “NO. It’s heaven.”

    Yeah. I said that GOOD AND LOUD, too.

  12. People said this more when my boy were little. I usually respond with something like, every child is a blessing or I am really blessed and then move on.

  13. Oh, my! We had 3 girls and got the reverse. It never dawned on me that those with all boys were getting the rude comments too! I think the most hurtful, were the comments my husband’s mother would make. “It’s too bad he couldn’t have had a boy…” Seriously? I would always point out that if he was happy, why couldn’t she be. To her and others, my favorite was, “God must have thought we were the right family to raise 3 girls.” That usually shut them up. I do like the parenthood vs. Yahtzee thought!

  14. We have 4 boys too. They are 22, 19, 17 & 10…when I tell people we have 4 boys, I usually get, “ poor thing”….I don’t understand what they are talking about! As far as I’m concerned I am blessed with 4 children…boys or doesn’t matter…I was blessed!

  15. I have 2 adorable boys 3 yrs and 6 months I am loving learning the world of farts, fishing, guns and dragons and yes of course I get asked if I am going to ‘try for a girl!’ We always wanted 3 so will likely have another child and feel instinctively in my waters it will probably be another boy! I would absolutely love to have 3 boys and am so enamoured with their wild crazy simple affectionate ways but I wondered if anyone else has ever had ‘girl grief’ and if so does it ever go away? I don’t particularly care about pink clothes or ballet lessons more the closeness that my sister and I have with my mum from early adulthood – I feel very sad that I will never have that (as quite a few rude people have unknowingly pointed this out to me!) I am sensitive to people struggling to conceive and I would like to reiterate I am not only grateful for my boys but over the moon in love and rapture with my lumps of love. I just wondered if anyone with older boys (men!) could impart some wisdom of their experience if similar – many thanks xx

  16. i have often been asked,”How on earth did you have 5 boys?”. My standard reply is “I had sex 5 times.” That stops them in their tracks or makes them laugh!

  17. We are having our third child in a couple months. Unsure of the gender people have said many similar things as said above. “I hope its a girl for your sake.” ” Boys will leave you for their partner, girls will always need you.(beeming smile) I hope its a girl.”. The jaw dropping comment for me was, “Let’s face it, you’re having another little demon”. I am proud of the mother and advocate I have become to my boys. I can’t say I’d make a good mother to a girl (I could learn.) Assuming that I need one is taken with a grain of salt. It’s interesting though.

    1. Wow! “Let’s face it, you’re having another little demon???” That’s a pretty rude thing to say to someone.

      Your boys are lucky to have you for a mom. Best of luck with your pregnancy and birth!

  18. My MIL said she was so sorry amd disappointed for me when we found out we were having our third boy. I wasn’t!

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