Raising a Boy Without a Father

by Mario Ramos

    Being a single parent isn't easy, but raising a son alone poses a special challenge for a mother. Joan L. Ellis, a licensed counselor and a mother herself, recalls the worries that accompanied her first son's birth: "I am a woman, what do I know about being a boy? If I teach him to be kind and sensitive, will he be a sissy? Will he be a mama’s boy, if I love on him too much?" Though it won't always be easy, take heart: you can still raise a healthy son even if his dad isn't around to see it.

    Set firm and clear limits for your son. Explain what your expectations are and be reasonable -- tailor the consequences to the crime. It's also important to follow-through on those consequences. It's tempting to spoil him or let him off the hook, but staff at the Mayo Clinic advise against that, especially if the lenience is guilt-driven: "Don't blame yourself or spoil your child to try to make up for being a single parent." When your son starts showing signs that he is becoming mature and more responsible, be willing to re-examine these limits and adjust them accordingly.

    Life as a single parent can be especially hectic. Between taking care of your son, working, and maintaining a safe and clean home, you'll barely have time to catch your breath. However, it's important to eke out some time each day for your son. Family therapist Cheryl L. Erwin, author of "The Everything Parent's Guide to Raising Boys," suggests having "... at least 15 minutes a day that belong just to your boy -- no multitasking allowed!" Show interest in his extracurricular activities, chat about his school day, or do nothing at all. However you spend this time, it's crucial that you're physically and emotionally present with him, without being distracted.

    Regardless of how you came to raise your son without a father, strive to present that father -- and men in general -- in as positive a light as possible. This might require more self-awareness on your part. If you harbor any bitterness or resentment toward them, it will manifest itself in your relationship with your son, which could be damaging to him. It might be a good idea to consult a therapist if you feel that you have difficulty overcoming these emotional obstacles on your own.

    Even if your son's father is not present, it doesn't mean that your son can't have positive male role models in his life. Reach out to the responsible men that you know and introduce your son to them. This way, you'll also show your child that "it's possible to have long-term, positive relationships with members of the opposite sex," according to the Mayo Clinic website.

    About the Author

    Mario has been acting onstage and on camera for over a decade, beginning in 2002 at university and extending presently to Philadelphia, New York City and even Seoul (South Korea) and Buenos Aires. He is easy to direct and pleasant to work with. Onscreen, Mario comes across as natural and affable, professional and articulate. He currently resides in Boston.

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