On giving birth to a son as her first born, Immaculate Kyeyune was excited. Though the baby was little and fragile, the mother of four boys and one daughter envisaged security and protection most especially on the younger siblings to come. The challenges of raising this little angel into a responsible adult were the last thing on her mind.
Before she knew it, her son was three months old and could not sit on his own as other babies his age could. But that was not the most challenging thing as he eventually sat. Kyeyune’s biggest challenge was the boys being dirtier and his failure to participate in house chores. When her sons were between eight and 13 years, the boys didn’t want to bathe, wash their clothes or even clean their rooms. As they approached 15, Kyeyune says most of her sons began to transform and paid more attention to personal hygiene.
Before she could breathe a sigh of relief, another problem set in, the boys began to eat a lot. She says she noticed this was common between 15 and 18 years as she had to cook twice the food she had been preparing. She noticed that the boys ate more than their sister. She advises parents to provide enough for them at this stage otherwise they would get it through dubious means.
Just when you think the troubles are over, the boys began frequently fighting over minor issues. She says in their late teens, her sons would fight often because the older ones would want to exercise dominion over the younger ones. “Sometimes the older boys would grab things from the younger ones, assign them their own responsibilities just to show them that they are older than them,” she narrates.
With all those challenges, she still feels boys are easier to parent because even when in their teen age, she worried less about them than their sister. She also says they are not picky and require less shopping when going to school
But that doesn’t mean you should neglect them, Immaculate advises parents to still take time and advise boys about growing up and what to expect. Admitting that parents may be shy to start certain conversations; Kyeyune says that her weapon has been picking up a related scenario either on television or in the village and using it as a starting point to advise the boys not to get involved in a similar situation.
One woman’s experience
How old are your eldest and youngest sons?
Thirty two and 25 years respectively.
Is it generally harder to parent boys?
Boys are easy to parent. They demand for care and attention as opposed to girls. However, it is hard to keep the house tidy with boys especially when still young. I remember when my sons were young, would climb the chairs after watching wrestling and start boxing each other. I was lucky to have four sons so they would pair up. You can imagine a sitting room with two pairs of boxers.
From your observation, what’s unique about boys?
One thing I admired about my boys, they always give a parent hope. For instance in 1988 when HIV/Aids was killing many people, I lost my neighbours and spent some days worrying about dying and my children suffering helplessly. My eldest, who was then eight years approached me and asked what was wrong. When I told him I was worried about dying and leaving them, he said don’t worry mummy, if you and daddy died, I will look after my three young brothers and went ahead to tell me how he would manage. His response psychologically took away my worries. If it were a girl, she would join me in tears.
What mistakes did you make and how did you learn from them?
Beating an adolescent boy. I learnt that you do not have to shout or beat them, just talk to them and always remind that responsibilities lie ahead of them.
What advice would you give to parents parenting boys?
When they make a mistake don’t rebuke them in public. Find time to talk to them about the repercussions. Also boys tend to get closer to their mothers, so mothers should indirectly create opportunities where they can interact with both parents. Remember that fathers are in better positions to mentor their sons to become responsible.