A mother laughing with her two sons


4 Things You Should Never Say to a Mom of Boys

Mar 2, 2017

Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, and people assume I’d want daughters. Maybe it’s because boys are perceived as more rambunctious and energy-depleting. But, for some reason, telling people that my husband and I are parents to three boys often garners looks of consolation and pitying comments.

There are places in the world where boys are put on a pedestal — to the point where pregnancies with girls are terminated at far higher rates. That’s real tragedy. I acknowledge that the bemused condolences I get from strangers and friends is a major first-world problem.

Still, I’ve got two stepsons, and when I was pregnant with my first biological son, I heard the gamut of inappropriate reactions. Here, four things you should never say to a mom of boys — plus one thing you should.

“I’m sorry.”

You’re sorry? For what? I’m not. A child’s sex is such a small part of who they will become. It does not determine which parent the child will get along with better. It does not determine which sports or activities the child will have a preference for. It does not determine what the child will want to be when he or she grows up. It doesn’t determine sexual preference, or even guarantee that your child will feel like he or she was born with the parts that reflect his or her identity. Never be sorry when someone is expecting a baby and never assume that a woman would prefer girls. Just be happy for her. 

“Are you going to try for a girl?”

This one strikes me as the most ridiculous. How would we “try for a girl,” exactly? There are a couple of Hail Mary, unproven, old wives' tale methods of getting the sex you want. But the only guaranteed ways of “getting a girl” are through sperm sorting or in vitro fertilization, both of which cost thousands of dollars. And what if we did “try for a girl” and ended up with a boy (which, to me, seems like the most likely scenario)? How would that make us feel? How would that make our boys feel?

If we decide to have a fourth child, it will be because we want a fourth child. Not because we are hoping to buck our current familial trend.

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“Your husband must be happy.”

Aside from the above, this was the most common remark I received while pregnant. We once had a Because I Am A Girl campaigner stop by our household, and “your husband must be happy” was one of the first things out of his mouth when we told him I was expecting Jesse’s third son. The idea that men are only happy with sons is so ingrained that a volunteer for a campaign that empowers young girls even buys into it.

For the record, my husband, Jesse, adores his boys. But he’d be the first to say that he’s always wanted to be a dad to a girl, and he is known to well up when he sees sweet father-daughter moments on TV and in the movies. Assuming a husband is so macho and male-first that an all-boy family would satisfy his ego is an antiquated idea. That said, as soon as he found out he was having his third son, Jesse was overjoyed. Who better to understand the awesomeness of boys than a dad to two of them already?

"Your grocery bills are going to be insane."

Okay, I’ll admit it: you’ve got me here. You’re absolutely right. Our grocery bills are going to be out of control. My husband is 6-3’’ with a very athletic build, and from the looks of our offspring, they won’t be far behind him. I fear for the days when we’ve got 16, 14 and eight-year-old man-boys in the house. Costco is no longer optional, it’s necessary.

But must you remind me of that fact? Do you have to go there? Our baby isn’t even on solids yet. Let us enjoy this time, it won’t last long.

So, what DO you say to a mom who’s expecting her third, fourth, or even fifth boy? There’s only one answer, and it’s the one I got from two of my oldest girlfriends, both boy-moms themselves: “Congratulations, boys are wonderful!”

They are indeed.

Article Author Julia Lipscombe
Julia Lipscombe

Read more from Julia here.

Julia Lipscombe is an Edmonton-based freelance journalist and former staffer at FLARE magazine, NOW magazine and the Edmonton Journal. Julia is an arts and lifestyle specialist, and these days mostly writes about parenting, music and weddings. Alongside her husband, Jesse Lipscombe, she co-founded and runs the anti-discrimination campaign, #MakeItAwkward, which encourages people to speak up and speak out against racism, homophobia and hate of all kinds. Julia and Jesse are parents to three beautiful boys: Chile, Tripp and Indiana. In her ever-diminishing spare time, Julia likes to swim, bike, run, drink wine, and listen to lots of albums as a member of the Polaris Music Prize jury. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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