How To Raise Two Boys That Aren't Jerks
August 16, 2009 11:57 AM   Subscribe

We're going to have a second boy. Help us get rational about it.

My wife and I have a 4-year-old son, who we adore. He is well-behaved, has excellent manners, is intellectually and physically curious, and displays little or none of the general thuggery and aggression displayed by his male classmates and friends.

We just discovered that our second child, due in late December, is also going to be a boy. This is, barring acts of God or extreme improbability, going to be our last child, so we're going to be raising two boys.

For various reasons, this is something of a nightmare scenario for my wife and I. Without exception, the families that we know with either two boys or all boys display a really horrifying (to us) level of inter-kid aggression, maladjustment, misbehavior, randomized thuggery towards each other (and sometimes others), and generally shitty manners and public behavior.

We want to raise two good boys into good men. We realize that some degree of competition is going to occur between siblings, and that there's always going to be friction between kids, but we are terrified that through some alchemical process that happens when you have two boys in the same household, our wonderful boy and his nascent brother are going to turn into, well, assholes.

We want anecdata to counter our own experience: please tell us all the stories you have (nonfiction, please) of families with two boys or more where the boys turned out to be well-adjusted, mutually supportive and secure non-thugs. Additional advice from people who've been there and done that on how to deal with issues specific to two boys is also welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (75 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
If it makes you feel any better, my sister and I often terrorized each other with random acts of (usually but not exclusively) emotional thuggery. So I think it might be siblings qua siblings instead of the Evil of Boys.

And my husband and his brother gave each other all sorts of hard times as kids but once they hit adolescence things were cool. They're excellent to each other to this day and they're both scary-smart, curious, kind, and generally awesome.
posted by Neofelis at 12:08 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My brother raised two boys. Both were wonderful kids growing up and have turned into great adults. One is now in university and the other just completed his Masters.

Also have a friend with two boys now nearing their teenage years. Again, well behaved, very thoughtful and overall just two great kids that my friend is incredibly proud of.

I don't really think you have anything to worry about. Just raise them well.
posted by gfrobe at 12:10 PM on August 16, 2009


Well, I have two brothers. While growing up they either banded together to harass me, or the older one harassed the younger one. OK, maybe a little of me and the middle kid ganging up on the youngest.

They are extremely close friends now and will probably end up in some kind of odd couple situation living together until they get married. They aren't "thugs" and didn't have extreme rivalries growing up as far as school, sports, girls, etc.

I think you have an extremely weird attitude about them turning into thugs if there are 2 or more boys in a family. I have met the kind of hellacious kids you are worried about, but in my experience this has been equally boys and girls. I actually think girls are worse, but of course this is just my own personal experience. Also they seem to grow out of it when they hit 11 or 12 most of the time..
posted by shownomercy at 12:12 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think 4 year olds are "thuggish", so I think you're son's classmates are, you know, 4 years old and therefore often bratty.

But school will affect their behavior a lot, and I think being in a "tough" environment in school is what you should watch out for. There are plenty of thuggish 14 year olds, so I'd seriously consider what kind of environment they are going to be exposed to outside the home before they are 10 and that sort of pressure starts to build.

Brother's fight, just like sisters and any other combination of two people you could ever imagine. Make sure they have their own space- sharing rooms will lead to non-stop fighting. Brothers should play together sometimes, but don't force it- 4 years age difference is pretty big, especially when you're a kid. Your older son will soon resent the younger boy if he feels he keeps having to do "little kid things" or is embarassed by his kid brother in front of his obviously cooler friends that are his age. If they don't see each other has a burden or chore, they'll be less hostile to each other.
posted by spaltavian at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2009


My SIL has two sons. They're 21 and 23 now, and have always been completely fabulous, even as small children. They're like night and day personality-wise, but both have always been funny, insightful, intelligent, well-behaved. They've grown into wonderful adults, and are great conversationalists, and just very enjoyable to be around. One's in a band and is a geek and a introvert, the other is a star athelete and an extrovert and really knows how to work a room.

I'm not going to give you any advice (I have one of each), but my SIL says that it's often very nice to be the only woman in a house full of men...she's always treated like a princess, and both of the boys totally adore her.

Congratulations on your pregnancy!
posted by iconomy at 12:14 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Without exception, the families that we know with either two boys or all boys display a really horrifying (to us) level of inter-kid aggression, maladjustment, misbehavior, randomized thuggery towards each other (and sometimes others), and generally shitty manners and public behavior.

But that's children, right? Bad children don't necessarily turn into bad adults. My 2 sisters and I were pretty bratty when we were kids, but I think we turned out OK.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:15 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


One half of a two son household here. I can say without question my brother is my best friend. We argued a little bit when we were younger, but as others have mentioned we grew out of it.

I don't think anyone would refer to either of us as thugs. I spend my days playing with computers and he records music and restores furniture.
posted by phil at 12:29 PM on August 16, 2009


How you raise them will have a lot more to do with how they act than what their gender is. Granted, you need to know that boy number two may have a totally different personality than his elder brother, but even if he is of a more rambunctious bent, he can be taught and trained not to be a hellion.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:32 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Third boy here, in a family of four boys.

None of us seem to be the "thugs" that you're worried about. Three of us are university educated professionals. Two of us are in long lasting relationships. My oldest brother has four children of his own (three boys and a girl), and they are wonderful children.

My oldest brother used to brutalize me, but it stopped and there is absolutely no bad blood between us now. Similarly, I was pretty hard on my younger brother but we're very close now (he lives in my house).

As a child, I really didn't have much of a relationship with my older brothers. Note that this doesn't imply negative things, just that they were older and did their own thing. The youngest and i are 18 months apart and have been much closer because of that.

My parents didn't really do anything special due to having all boys, I don't think. My father was extremely hands off, and didn't really participate in any "parenting" to speak of.

I do have issues with closing the bathroom door.

My mother used to have to continually admonish me to "quit playing with [my] balls". I never have stopped.
posted by davey_darling at 12:34 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've seen more than my share of thuggish girl-children, often in a house with a quiet, withdrawn boy-child, so I don't think this is necessary a sex issue.

Seconding what others above have said: it's the environment, both parental and school, that matters.
posted by rokusan at 12:34 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have cousins whose three sons are all boys. They are all incredibly good, to a one. The oldest, L., is in middle school. He is protective of his younger brothers, and is always aware that he sets the example for them to follow. He is very into games (of all kinds) and loves to explain the rules. N., the middle one, is a bit of a cutup. I think he's about 9 or 10. He isn't the kind of cutup who's tiresome or obnoxious; he's just funny. The youngest one, E., who is now in early grade school (5 or 6, I think), is very kind, and enjoys the company of adults. He was the most genial baby I've ever known in my life—he cried very rarely, and seemed to have been set to perma-smile before birth.

Of course, a great deal of the boys' character is innate, and just luck of the draw, but there are a few aspects of their upbringing that I think have helped made them such good, amiable kids. Their parents have instilled in them a sense of responsibility, but have done so without being overly stern—it is abundantly clear any time I am with them just how much their parents love them. Additionally, the older two boys both have cystic fibrosis. As a result, the whole family bands together to make sure that they do everything needed to keep CF at bay; the boys have grown up caring for each other.

I have many other cousins who are brothers, but they all have sisters, too, and so perhaps aren't quite the examples you're looking for.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2009


You are well set to handle this.
1. You are thinking caring problem solving people, all set to instll great values and behavior into your children. Your first child is an example of that.
2. You have a blessed 4 years between your kids. Sibling rivalry drops way down if children are 3 or more years apart. They will not be competin for the same "resources." You have a great set up here for your older child to be a friend that your little one can look up to and emulate.
Congratulations!
posted by SLC Mom at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Middle child of 3 boys here.

My brothers and I are very different people, and though we occasionally fought (never, ever physically, unless it was on the ice during hockey), we weren't anything near the nightmare scenario you describe.

However, the kids next door, an older sister and younger brother, were just like that.

I think sibling relationships have less to do with the gender of the babies and more to do with the personalities of the kids and/or parents.
posted by xingcat at 12:38 PM on August 16, 2009


I raised two boys, they were both intelligent, caring, and creative children...and grew to be great adults...
posted by HuronBob at 12:50 PM on August 16, 2009


I think, as others have suggested, it may be your daycare situation. My boy goes to 'hippy dippy' daycare and the pre-school aged boys seem a lot less thuggish than the ones I see at the playground. I'd try to be around more like minded families and go for childcare and preschool that has a philosophy closer to what you're aiming for.

To back this up, a lot of education and child development research suggests that group norms have a major impact on children's attitudes... Which translates to behavior. This is one of the reasons that 'bussing' advocates cite.
posted by k8t at 12:54 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


My brother and I are 4 years apart. We didn't fight much and have turned out to be good people. I loved playing sports (and still do), so I recommend signing them up for soccer or something. Boyscouts was fun.
posted by gavtaylor at 1:06 PM on August 16, 2009


When siblings of either gender become that dysfunctional with each other (ie a pattern (not isolated events) of incidents of aggression and bullying) it's a symptom of something much larger and insidious going wrong in the family. It's not a direct reflection on the nature of boys and it's not a foregone conclusion that sibling boys will compete.

It is within your control as parents to make sure there is enough unconditional love to go around, leaving little fertile ground for unhealthy competition. When your first son has his struggles with no longer having your undivided attention, make sure that you allow him to express them and acknowledge his feelings. Also, ideally, make sure that whoever his primary caregiver is still maintains the same bedtime routine (or whatever the best alone time is that you regularly have) with him and, if possible, spends a few extra minutes of special one on one time with him every night.

I have two young boys and the older loves and looks out for the younger and feels protective of him. Yes, older gets annoyed at times w/ younger- but we see nothing like what you and others have described. I think one thing that really helped my older son with adapting to life with a baby brother was consistently reinforcing that the baby was "our" (ie the whole family's) baby. We took an attachment parenting approach and extended it to older son... it worked pretty well. Congratulations, having two sons is great, I promise.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:09 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


we are terrified that through some alchemical process that happens when you have two boys in the same household, our wonderful boy and his nascent brother are going to turn into, well, assholes.

Are you serious?

Pick ten famous men whom you admire as role models of gentility. Look them up on Wikipedia, and count how many of them had brothers.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:12 PM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


The four-year difference between them will help--often sibling rivalry is worse among kids that are close together in age and so competing for the same toys, etc.

I have two boys, and they are two years apart. They used to argue with each other when they were little. This is, IMO, natural behavior. I was one of three sisters and we all argued with each other, too. They are also competitive, but I see this as a positive, as their good grades reflect that competitive nature. Now that our boys are teens they get along very well, share friends in high school and are excellent companions to each other.

We would never allow our boys to act "thuggish", and I suspect your wouldn't either. Your own expectation model the behavior of your children, as do your expectations, so if you expect them to be polite, respectful and well-mannered, they will be. Consistency is key.

You are getting excellent responses to your query, especially when you consider that your question was pretty inflammatory to any parents with multiple-boy families and you clearly have a bias against them.

I am trying to find a nice way to say here that if your attitude of superiority is always as transparent as it is in this question, other parents may take umbrage. And if your sons learn this attitude from you, they could have a tough time assimilating.
posted by misha at 1:19 PM on August 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


I have two boys -- a 6-year-old with autism and a 3-year-old with budding superhuman intellectual powers (or maybe I'm just being proud). They're getting along fine, and their interactions are beyond sweet. No thuggishness in sight.

Pick ten famous men whom you admire as role models of gentility. Look them up on Wikipedia, and count how many of them had brothers.

What he said. Gandhi had brothers. Martin Luther King had a brother. Abraham Lincoln had a step-brother. And then you can look at the Emanuel brothers to show that brothers can fight as children and still turn out OK.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2009


For various reasons, this is something of a nightmare scenario for my wife and I. Without exception, the families that we know with either two boys or all boys display a really horrifying (to us) level of inter-kid aggression, maladjustment, misbehavior, randomized thuggery towards each other (and sometimes others), and generally shitty manners and public behavior.

As a man with only brothers who now has only sons, I have to say this: You and your wife are being jerks and you need to get over that attitude. Nightmare scenario? Seriously? Back off of the hyperbole w/r/t your children. Be good parents and stop being sexist jerks.

(Maybe my agression about this is due to my having only brothers. Or maybe you need to back off of your sexism. Maybe both!)
posted by The World Famous at 1:46 PM on August 16, 2009 [19 favorites]


Nthing thuggish sisters.
My sister bullied me constantly as a kid, and a teenager. When I was 18, I broke her leg with my guitar. We still, twenty years later, kind of hate each other. The rest of the time we were doing embroidery and curling our hair, yeah, but Xtreme sibling rivalry and physical violence is hardly exclusive to boys.
posted by Methylviolet at 1:50 PM on August 16, 2009


Whenever people comment that my children don't fight, I tell them it's because we've made it clear that "thuggish behavoir," as you put it, is unacceptable. Being related doesn't give you carte blanche to be a jerk to your sibling. They bicker but they figure it out without resorting to name-calling or getting physical. I have a boy and a girl, but I've seen the same philosophy work with my friend's two boys (and their younger sister). On the other hand, I have a friend who has three boys and I simply cannot go to their house for any length of time because of the boys' behavior. It is, to me, appalling. When they think no one is looking, they beat each other up, pull hair, bite, kick; you name it. They don't respect each other, they don't respect each other's property, and they certainly don't respect their parents.

I have had perfect strangers tell me that my children are delightful*. They're well-mannered, attentive, they make eye contact, and they shake hands. These are all skills we taught them from day one. Even before they could talk. There are a lot of years of reminding that you have to do, but it's so worth it. Manners don't end where family ties begin, either. My mother-in-law once said that my son didn't have to thank her for something (passing the salt, or something like that) and I said he most certainly did.

My point is that they'll model what you do, they'll learn what you teach them. Don't make thuggish behavior acceptable and they won't do it. Yes, they need to work some things out without your help, but the early years are not the time to step back from hands-on parenting.

*and no, they're not perfect. Far from it. We've had our share of tantrums and whining and boorish behavior, believe me.
posted by cooker girl at 1:57 PM on August 16, 2009


The blogger Amalah was hoping her first child would be a girl. Here's her post about having a boy. She also vaguely hoped her second child would be a girl. Her second child was a boy. Here's are posts about the little one, Ezra, at six months, his nine-month birthday. In general these days her blog is a pretty good peek into the life of raising two boys: Noah is 5 and has some special needs and sensory processing issues, Ezra is almost a year and seems pretty rambunctious.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:58 PM on August 16, 2009


I have two children. They are both boys. I think you need to see yourselves as the parents of two children, two siblings, two individuals, two members of a family unit, who, incidentally, are boys. I find that the "thuggish" kids come from families who go around saying, "Well, that's because they're boys" or "That's what boys do". Raise your children as their needs and your values warrant. When they express empathy, encourage it.

But nightmare scenario? I hope that's a poor word choice that's coming from a place of angst...and, as a parent, I know how easily we do jump to those words! As Kangaroo said above, there are far, far many things that represent true nightmares. And, fwiw, you had a 50% chance of having a boy. If this is a nightmare scenario for you, you might have chosen a game with different odds! :)
posted by acoutu at 2:22 PM on August 16, 2009


Congratulations! I have two boys. I can't imagine having girls. Boys are awesome, and so easy to bring up. Mine are each other's best friend. They definitely had some circumstances that conspired to make them hate each other (older one struggles in school while younger one is a whiz-kid, parents divorced and absent father favored one over the other, close enough in age that they shared friends and occasionally jockeyed for position with a mutual friend who milked it), but there's been remarkably little sibling rivalry over the years (they're now 15 and 13), and to be honest I think it's to my credit, one of just a few childrearing things I've really gotten right. So here are a few suggestions:

1. Be honest all the time about each kid's strengths, so that neither of them ever feels like he has to hide his gifts. In our family kid2 was reading at age 3 while kid1 was struggling with it in first & second grades. Well, each day we'd sit on the couch & read, and we'd take turns reading a page. No matter how long it took, kid1 read his page and we talked about what happened on it, and no matter how quickly kid2 read his page, we'd take a moment to talk about what happened there too. That way kid2 developed patience & empathy and kid1 developed confidence & a love of stories (if not reading). Kid1 gets high-fives for a C in math if he's done his best, and kid2 gets high-fives for tutoring a classmate in math. Etc. Kid2 is just about to start a highly competitive math/science/engineering high-school program, and at one point during the application/acceptance process, kid1 said "I wish I was the kind of student who could get into a program like that." Not resentful, just wishful/wistful. He's very happy for his brother.

2. Have them share a bedroom. This might be harder for you as there's a wider age difference, but my boys have always shared a room no matter how much space there is in our house, and there is no sweeter sound than the whisper of two brothers talking together after lights-out. This is most beneficial when one of them is mad at you and/or your wife. Commiserating together against a common enemy (you) is great for sibling bonding! =) NPR used to have a program called SoundClips where listeners submitted unique sounds & essays about them, and I submitted that whispery sound --- they accepted it & had me in to record my essay, but then the program was canceled =( It's still the sweetest sound I know.

3. Give them each one-on-one time. Call it date-night & do it every Wednesday (or whatever) night, and alternate you-with-kid1-wife-with-kid2, and you-with-kid2-wife-with-kid1, and do different things all the time. Even just going for a walk together, exploring a local creek, etc. It doesn't have to be expensive and it really shouldn't be something exciting, it's just quiet together time. When they get older and you're teaching them how to prune a lilac bush or build a trellis for beans, do some one-on-one projects then too.

4. Be in tune to their moods. My kid2 is more introverted than kid1, and needs more quiet time, whereas kid1 thrives on interaction/discussion more. When I notice one or the other getting annoyed, I'll ask one to help me in the kitchen or walk the dog or whatever, and it's deflected before they even realize there was a potential problem. Part of this is making sure they get physical outdoor time. Whatever sport or activity they are into at a given point in their lives, make sure they have some way of tapping into that just by stepping outside. That goes for creative outlets as well, but they are boys: in my experience and observation, boys are very physical. Physical ≠ thug, don't worry! The more fresh air & exercise they get, the happier they will be when they're inside.

5. Give them specific chores. I have found that having them take turns results in the "I'm doing more chores than he is" complaints. If kid2's job is always to take the garbage out, and kid1's job is always to take the recycling out, then there's no complaining that "last week there was hardly any garbage when it was his turn," or "he left this stuff behind last week so I have to do it." We're not quite at the point where they just do what needs to be done without prodding (they're teenagers, after all) but we are at the point where I can say "I don't care who does it, but the lawn needs mowing," and they work it out amongst themselves.

That's all I can think of; feel free to memail me if you like.
posted by headnsouth at 2:53 PM on August 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


I have three sons in their thirties, they're great.

Advice:

- no television, no videos that give very young children warped views of gender

- no war toys, no GI Joes, no weapons (yeah, they'll still point sticks at each other)

- give each one plenty of individual attention

- find friends and schools that promote cooperation instead of competition, and that don't reinforce a social construction of masculinity that promotes thuggishness

- spend as much time as you can enjoying nature

- be a good role model

- stop worrying
posted by mareli at 3:11 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You've read Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys, right? It's an excellent book.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:30 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Try not to think of your sons as thugs, and then raise them accordingly. If you are lucky, you will end up with loving, caring boys. This is mostly within your control.
posted by thejoshu at 3:40 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm the oldest of three brothers, and while we had the usual quantity of squabbles as kids, occasionally scaring and/or pissing off our parents, we all turned out fine. My grandsons are five and two, and they get along great (again, with the occasional bout of roughhousing, which never gets really serious) and are wonderful little people. If your dream is for your offspring to be angelically peaceful and never give you a moment's concern, that's probably not going to happen—boys will, in fact, be boys—but as long as you're willing to take the occasional squabble in stride and lay down clear boundaries, they'll be fine and you'll be fine.

> Gandhi had brothers.

Bad example. Gandhi, aside from setting the cause of Indian independence back a quarter of a century, was a monster to his family. References on request.

posted by languagehat at 4:51 PM on August 16, 2009


[few comments removed - nothing personal but chiding the OP for worrying about this or not being grateful enough is really outside the scope of this question]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:36 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm working with a family with two boys right now, and they're wonderful. They're still little kids, but they're both really sweet kids. They are indeed BOYS and get kind of rough and tumble sometimes, but they're a far cry from out-of-control.

Relax. Kids are kids. Two girls would be making each other's lives an emotional hell. Just raise each of your children to be a good person, regardless of gender. Keep in mind that your kids could end up being assholes just by virtue of their own personalities, it happens. It also happens that some kids are just awesome and amazing, no matter who their parents/siblings are.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:59 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a house full of girls, and we were downright vicious when we fought. We were also constant companions and allies and a source of endless fun, adventure, and entertainment for each other. A friend of mine is one of two boys, and they both claim that they never fought, not even once, as kids, which to this day I find puzzling.

The lesson being that most but not all siblings are occasionally horrid to each other. It doesn't matter if they are boys or girls, so stop worrying about it.
posted by emd3737 at 6:05 PM on August 16, 2009


They are going to fight. And they will still turn out ok, because almost all brothers who are close in age will fight.

The behavior in public, on the other hand, can be controlled.

Don't worry so much. It is all normal.
posted by twblalock at 6:27 PM on August 16, 2009


Me and my brother were great, 4 years gap. My two boys are 4 years apart, and don't fight (at least yet!). Friends with kids that fight, appear to have a smaller gap between the siblings. Pure conjecture from my behalf though.

We had no bizarre limits like previously mentioned :)
posted by lundman at 6:47 PM on August 16, 2009


We have one boy and one on the way, so you know, same situation. We have read Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph and thought it was a great book, as well as his book Secrets of Happy Children.

I'm obviously, therefore, no expert, but I would caution against you mistaking thuggery for the energy, vitality and physicality inherant in many boys. Boys will test their strength against one another, and love competitive games and wrestling. They can be high on the energy, love to takes risks, and enjoy games of dominion.

Please don't squash these tendancies when parenting your boys - they can be very deeply ingrained traits, need to be handled well to teach your boys how to handle their strength as men. Teaching them to channel their energies, to manage risk well... that's the stuff of parenting boys well, I believe. Please don't label their behaviour. The fact that a lot of boys have more energy than is required in sitting still in a classroom is the reason why many of them are labelled as "naughty" in school. I really feel for boys on this count. I also think it's a good thing to honour their gentle, loving, loyal natures also.

I really wish I could state my sources here, but I read not so long ago about the connection between risk in the play of children and risk management as adults. Basically, you want your kids to be able to take risks while they are children, because if they don't learn how to do so then, they often do poorly with risky behaviours as adults - you know, the last thing you want is a young adult son who drives like a maniac because he was never allowed to wrestle with his brother or balance on a rooftop.

All of this beneficial developmental behaviour may look like thuggery, but could be all natural.

(disclaimer: I'm in no way advocating that you neglect the parenting of your children, just hope that you're OK with the nature of boys in general)
posted by lottie at 7:06 PM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


displays little or none of the general thuggery and aggression displayed by his male classmates and friends.

I'd actually be more concerned that your son doesn't engage in the same types of typical play as his peers. Boys his age love to run around screaming. I'm also concerned about your odd attitude about normal developmental behavior.

Yes, boys run around, scream and have a great ability to turn anything into a weapon. Doesn't make them thuggish.

Your post comes off as a little uptight and somewhat belittling of normal children's behavior.

Be a wonderful parent and your sons are going to brawl. Be a lousy one and they'll brawl. You're not going to be able to stop it because it is normal and it all works out in the end.
posted by dzaz at 7:07 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


My brother and I were horrific to each other - constantly fighting (verbally and physically), such that no one but my mom (who had no choice) would agree to have us stay with them together. We bickered and brawled and competed over every toy, over attention, over everything.

I'm not a boy.
posted by jb at 7:22 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


My S/O has one brother with no other siblings and he is one of the best guys I know! I've never heard this theory about brothers at all. I have one brother and we fought, yes physically sometimes, like crazy, it didn't matter that I was a girl. But we're actually pretty close now.
posted by Rocket26 at 7:25 PM on August 16, 2009


I'm glad that we found out that we were going to have a son before he was born. But during those months when he was still in utero but we knew that he was male, that was all we knew. We filled this empty category of male-ness with our concerns. In retrospect, I thought some ridiculous things--oh god, what if he likes football! Am I going to have to waste my life going to stupid football games? But now that he's a hilarious, impish two year old with all his attendant quirks, he's not a generic (stereotyped?) boy, he's our very specific little boy.

So I say just wait. Your fears are at least in part a consequence the gap between knowing him and knowing it's a him. Once you meet him face-to-face, your fears won't feel the same.
posted by umbú at 8:13 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another 2 boy family here. My sons are about 3 years apart and from the moment the second one was born have been each other's best friends and greatest supports. I was completely unprepared for how much joy I would get from their love for each other.

They are now 13 and 16. They've had perhaps three or four arguments in their lives, none that involved even the mildest aggression, do not bicker, and show a deep sensitivity to each other. They have different sets of friends and enjoy socializing without the other, but at the end of the day they still feel a need to connect.

They are quite simply two of the nicest people I know.

More anecdata: my husband, a sensitive artist, grew up constantly bickering with his sister. They don't bicker any more and are civil to each other but they aren't close. I grew up with two older sisters who have never got along (although I'm close to one of them and am okay with the other) and at one point had police restraining orders against each other when they were in their 50s. They're now in their 60s and just don't communicate at all, ever. My niece and her husband have a boy and a girl who quarrel constantly and it's a real trial for their parents.

To sum up: it's luck of the draw and the sexes of the kids probably matter sweet beans all. However, if you expect your kids to be difficult, you're probably setting yourself up for self-fulfilling prophesy. Expect the best from everyone; you're more likely to get it.
posted by angiep at 8:33 PM on August 16, 2009


My older brother was always my greatest protector. We rarely fought, and when we did it was mostly because I was the younger and smaller one and therefore had gotten away with something I shouldn't have. He would have destroyed anyone who tried to mess with me on the playground. I've got nothing but love for him.

I'm now 23; he's 27. We are happy "non-thugs."
posted by holympus at 10:46 PM on August 16, 2009


I have a pair of cousins -- I'm giving them fake names, Tom and Jake -- who are brothers. Tom's maybe five years older than Jake. Tom briefly went through a bit of a snotty cool kid phase, but he's smart and perceptive and he got over it fast. By the time he was an undergraduate, he and I were both living in the same city and had a lot of fun together. Jake's been sweet since day one, and Tom -- even when he wasn't at his best -- generally maintained a loving and touchingly protective attitude toward Jake.

Tom's a counselling psychologist working with veterans; he's got two kids of his own now. Jake's a chef. They're both married to smart, funny, likeable people. It's a pleasure to hang out with them, jointly or severally.

Your kids will have you guys for parents. They'll be fine.
posted by tangerine at 11:06 PM on August 16, 2009


Just another anecdote for you: my husband is one of two brothers, born 18 months apart. They are the best of friends now (aged 38 and 40) and were not particularly thuggish growing up (if their mother's comments are to be believed).
posted by altolinguistic at 2:19 AM on August 17, 2009


My brother and I tortured each other for a good 4 years (me 8-12, him 11-15) and we grew out of it. My parent's knew we'd grow out of it and just made sure we didn't actually hurt each other.

Though i'm sure there's a bit of confirmation bias here, i think we turned out alright.
posted by cmchap at 3:09 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I read this question last night, and it deeply offended me. So, I slept on it, because I didn't want to react. Plus, I wasn't exactly sure why it affected me so much. So, this morning I re-read it, but I'm still offended.

The problem is your crude generalization: asserting that males, without a controlling authority present, will naturally grow into brutes.

As a male parent of males, and as a sibling of males, I can tell you that your generalization is mythology. In my experience, males, as a group, are naturally more physical and dominating than their female counterparts, but there is a lot of overlap. Males are not naturally thuggish or aggressive as those qualities are largely a reflection of the environment and culture around them. And, that environment and culture will similarly affect the other gender, as well. Of course, there will be genetic factors that create your child's base personality, but largely the surrounding environment will form the behavior and social mores.

For instance, I live in an upper-middle-class, highly-educated, liberal American neighborhood, and I routinely take my 5 year old to playgrounds to play with other 4,5,6 year old boys. Yes, there is natural competition between them, and their play is very physical. But, never have the boys started physically fighting. They are generally well-behaved and largely very helpful to one another. But, this isn't something that we, as parents, have actively pursued. More, the children pick up the behavior and values around them. Sure, there are some conflicts and territory issues. But, surprisingly most conflicts with these kids can be traced back two two things: Hunger and Fatigue.

On the other hand, as a child I grew up in a rural, uneducated, poor, religious, conservative neighborhood. Savagery and meanness were the rules. The parents were largely non-existent, or drunken. There were a lot of firearms and wrestling and fist-fighting and distruction. Cruelty was very common. But, my brothers and I fought because that was the norm. And, that culture existed well before us, and there was no other social frame to consider. The women in this area were similarly aggressive and thuggish, but they acted in non-physical ways.

Those are two extremes, and I'm sure there is a lot of gray in between. But, it's largely about who you associate with. Keep your kids away from the bad culture. Why would you associate with people who have mean children? I think a child's behavior says a lot about the parent.
posted by TheOtherSide at 7:06 AM on August 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


I have a younger sister, and we have two younger step-brothers. We were raised together--I don't think the boys even remember before our parents were married, they were so young.

My brothers are not remotely aggressive, violent or maladjusted. I don't recall them being competitive with each other or engaging in any kind of thuggery when they were young. They were normal, sometimes rambunctious, sometimes rude, sometimes ridiculously kind boys. They are now considerate, handsome twenty-somethings who travel and smoke pot occasionally and have girlfriends and make art and get in trouble for climbing national monuments and call people on their birthdays. In other words, they're normal dudes.

I think you're being a little sexist, frankly, in assuming that two boys necessarily will be a handful. The kids you describe in your post are the product of lax parenting, not innate "boy behavior". If you don't subscribe to a boys-will-be-boys mentality, your kids won't get away with that kind of stuff. (And another female here voting that little girls can be CRUEL for no reason at all. Wow, I wouldn't wish a pack of 13-year-old girls on my worst enemy.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:14 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


By the way, my brothers and I all turned out to be successful in the end. In some cases it a few decades to get over our damaged upbringing and get focus and pick up the new culture. We are all nice people now, although I think we still have anti-social tendencies.
posted by TheOtherSide at 7:34 AM on August 17, 2009


I am one of three boys. None of us our jerks. (Well, maybe my middle brother. OH SNAP!? No wait, he's probably not going to read this.) We might have fought as children, but probably no more than other siblings fight. My aunt and uncle also had three boys, and they all get along and are all perfectly pleasant to be around.

I think your assumptions about how two boys will turn out are more than a bit silly, frankly.
posted by chunking express at 7:47 AM on August 17, 2009


I think your assumptions about how two boys will turn out are more than a bit silly, frankly.

Agreed. I'm the youngest of two boys, and while we didn't get along fantastically (but all in all not too bad) growing up, we've grown to be very close friends. I've lived with him for two years now and we spend tons of time together.

Just by having two boys doesn't mean that they'll be thuggish ruffians. I think that mostly depends on how the parents raise them. Teach them to love each other and they (eventually) will.
posted by Drainage! at 9:20 AM on August 17, 2009


The must blatant aggression and thuggery amongst children I have seen occurs in small groups of girls on the playground.

Boys (and men) are pretty easy - you push me, I push back. Or, I wonder what would happen if I pushed him? The physicality is normal and to be expected.

With little girls, it's all verbal, mental, emotional. You're wearing the wrong clothes. We don't want to play with you. You're fat. Etc.

Boys are very tactile creatures - they need to be able to touch others. In Western culture boys are taught not to touch others, unless it's a display of aggression. So they fight.

[In Japan, for example, it's not uncommon to see junior high school-aged boys sitting on each others' laps]
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to try and read your question in a generous light: that you're worried about the type of fighting that occurs between boys, and not about them ACTUALLY growing up and becoming thugs. Because if you're worried about the latter, I'd say the boys biggest problem is that their father holds such a limiting and sexist perspective in the first place.

I am seconding "Raising Boys" by Steve Biddulph. Its insights have helped at least one mother of two boys I know, and she recommends it highly.
posted by thisperon at 10:23 AM on August 17, 2009


I am one of three boys. I am fucking normal.

Of course there were occasional acts of thuggery and stupidity growing up, but if my brothers were sisters it still would have happened.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:46 AM on August 17, 2009


My grandmother had ten children. 7 were boys. To this day she maintains that all 7 of her boys were easier and better to raise than any single one of her girls.

I have several cousins who have grown up with only boy siblings, but the most relevant example is that of my cousin P. and my cousin M. Cousin P. is about four years older than cousin M. and they are very different awesome kids with super brains and super cool. P. is now at a great university studying linguistics and playing in a marching band. Cousin M. is in high school and taking guitar lessons.

They fought with each other, as siblings will do, and I think there was a hard period when P. was a teenager and M. was in late elementary school because M. has always had a very strong, no-nonsense, don't-argue-with-me-I-know-what-I'm-talking-about-personality and P. developed the standard teenage version of it. So, between the two of them, there were arguments with no winners.
posted by zizzle at 10:56 AM on August 17, 2009


Everything will be fine. It's normal to worry as parents, especially when you are new to the game. Your fears are pretty groundless. As long as you develop good parenting skills you will be able to set the boundaries of appropriate behavior. They will step over them at times and this is where growth and learning must occur.
posted by caddis at 10:57 AM on August 17, 2009


Three boys in my family, and two girls. My brothers are not thugs. We all shared rooms, we were all (except the youngest) about two years apart, and we grew up with the additional family stressors of very snug finances and lots of moving house.

We turned out okay because my parents made their expectations for all of us very clear, they applied their standards as consistently as they could (no one's perfect), and they took interest in us as individual people. They encouraged our individual interests and talents as far as they were able, gave us plenty of attention and affection, and they disciplined us - and didn't get in the way of other adults disciplining us when it was warranted.

We also went to school with a family exclusively comprised of three boys, who were (in public, at least) unfailingly polite, well-behaved, and non-aggressive (physically, at least. The middle boy had a wicked sharp wit). Again, their parents were highly involved in their lives, and were themselves kind, polite, gentle people who were good role models.

Children of any gender are capable of being little beasts under the wrong conditions. I hope that the stories here have reassured you that you can welcome your second son into your family as a cherished addition, rather than an imminent problem.
posted by EvaDestruction at 10:59 AM on August 17, 2009


Nobody has mentioned Siblings Without Rivalry, so I will. I have found it to have helpful ideas about how to create a family environment where kids are less likely to compete in unhealthy ways and/or harass each other to death.

You should be prepared for your second child to possibly be very different from your first--he may be more active, less inclined to be polite, shy-er, etc, so you may have some challenges you haven't had with #1. Every child is his own person; it's fascinating and part of the fun of having more than one.

You should also be prepared for the unexpected reality that your kids' relationship to each other is one of the joys of having more than one kid--I didn't expect that, it was a happy surprise after #2 (second boy, three years apart) came along, and although they fight sometimes, their friendship with each other is one of the joys of my life.

Treat your kids with respect. This may mean moving outside some mainstream parenting practices, but I believe (and based on my own two oldest kids, I'm right so far) that the quality of family relationships matters a lot in how kids behave, react to frustration, and treat others. We are a lot less punitive than most parents we know and yet my 8yo has good enough social skills that people comment on them positively.

Finally: you have a delightful son. So did I, once upon a time, and I was thrilled to find out I was having another. They are very different, very active, like to play video game and fight with swords, but they are not thugs to each other or to other kids, and they are both loving and nurturing with their younger sister (so far, knock wood).
posted by not that girl at 11:07 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


A few jobs ago, a co-worker who was an only child was asking me what it was like to grow up with siblings. After hearing some of my stories - one of which involved having pushed my sister down when she was roller skating and breaking her arm, and THEN throwing sand at her when her arm was in the cast so sand got under the cast and itched like hell for weeks, which she scratched with a knitting needle until I hid them all - she was convinced that what I described was not normal. So she took a survey of the department, asking people what was the worst thing they did/had done to them by a sibling when they were kids. The departmental winner, a 50-something female math professor, had at age 10 HIT HER SISTER IN THE HEAD WITH A GOLF CLUB.

This may not make you feel any better about having kids in general, but be rest assured that little boys are not the only ones capable of creative sibling brutality.
posted by 8dot3 at 11:08 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh: my sister and I both grew into fairly normal human beings, and we get along great.
posted by 8dot3 at 11:09 AM on August 17, 2009


My brother and I grew up in perfect harmony, only ever fought a couple times, and those were just weird bubbles of coincidence. We always shared, have always been best friends, and really love each other. As adults we consider ourselves total losers.

You see, there was never any competition in our house as kids, and all this love and harmony prepared us for an outside, grownup world that doesn't exist.

I read about all sorts of people overcoming horrible childhoods, abusive siblings and parents, to become tops in their fields, and I wonder if maybe a little childhood bullying would have saved me from an adulthood of waste and failure.

It's something to think about: maybe you should encourage your children to fight and compete. Like so many of the unpleasant tasks involved in parenting, you can tell them you're doing it for their own good. Maybe they'll hate you for it, but who cares? They'll be successful adults. Who doesn't want the best for their kids?
posted by breezeway at 11:14 AM on August 17, 2009


I have two brothers, and we're all close in age. We're all quite successful, reasonably well adjusted, secure, and public-spirited, with people we love and people who love us. But we're also, sometimes, assholes. As is every human being I've ever met.

We're men, and we were boys. And pretty typical ones at that. Growing up has been largely, for each of us, about tempering our bio-social masculine energies to socially appropriate ends. We are each big guys, each intelligent and highly educated, each physically capable, pretty damn smart (if I do say so myself), and each burdened with an aggressive personality and some problems with expressing anger productively. We fought like lion cubs growing up, and developed our individual risk-taking passions in direct opposition to each other's version of being both tough and smart, assertive and productive. We have each -- and very differently -- pursued careers and lives that involve high risk taking and exposure to physical danger and challenge, careers in which our aggressiveness has been advantageous, and in which we've developed a lot of manual skills not typically socialized into boys of our class level and demographic background. It fascinates me that these similarities run so deep, as for each of us the pursuit of risk and masculinity had something of the character of self-forming rebellion against the very progressive, intellectual, and non-sexist environment in which we were raised.

Neither of us is perfect, and any one of us could convincingly play a thug on a bad day. Nor are we that different in broad outline from many, many other sets of brothers I know, across several generations and cultures, in fact.

I find your concern strange, as if you are detached from the joys of parenting, which I hope is a matter of style and not substance. You don't create your child from whole cloth. You are responsible for providing a safe and nurturing environment from a separate individual, and if that individual is male (or two males), then that narrows to two boys, who are separate people from you or your wife. The last thing you want to model for them is an intolerance or distaste for masculinity as their generation's culture will broadly define it, although you do want to equip them with the critical intellectual tools to think independently about their own identities and to recognize the rights and autonomy of other people.

Just chill out and treat them as people you love.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:26 AM on August 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have three male cousins, who are great brothers. The oldest is much older- from a previous marriage. The younger two are 16 and 13, and get along very well. They've always seemed to get along very well. They live in the DC suburbs, so their lives can be very busy and full, but my aunt and uncle are good, calm influences on them. It can be done. I think that spacing your kids 3-5 years apart is one good strategy, but you already have one delightful kid- you're likely to have another. They may be different, but I would say that just continuing what you're doing now should be a great start.
posted by mrstrotsky at 11:35 AM on August 17, 2009


I have two sons who are just over 10 months apart. They're both 25 until Saturday when the older turns 26. They occasionally took a "poke" at one another but, I don't remember them ever engaging in what I think of as a physical fight. Very fortunate since both are physically strong and well coordinated and I wasn't always in the best position to pay the medical bills. Not many verbal exchanges either. As much time as they spent together it's really amazing when I look back on it.

I envy their relationship. They know each other like the backs of their hands and they also know that there is at least one person in the world who will be there for them no matter what. The only violence I worried about was what might happen to someone who threatened one in the presence of the other. Still, I never received a complaint about either related to anything that could be characterized as "thuggery".

I was in my very early twenties when they were born, had a job and was a full-time student. I wasn't particularly well prepared for fatherhood. I was still a kid myself. I loved them and tried to teach them right from wrong. I don't think there's much more to it.
posted by Carbolic at 11:43 AM on August 17, 2009


Third boy of a family of four kids here. Hey, I survived! Now doing a PhD, so there's hope! We beated each other til we were 20 yo (sports articles being involved at times), but now, we're best friends. This is a great chance to win over your preconceptions; if every family of two boys ended up badly, well, imagine that! I'm glad I had older brothers, as I always had "immunity" at school!
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:48 AM on August 17, 2009


Seconding confirmation bias. You fear the worst and only see that. I'm the older of two male siblings, and we were good friends for our childhood, and are still good friends. We had our spats, but most of that was over rules for wars (who can and cannot shoot through force fields was a big one).

My wife is one of 4 daughters. They got along a lot worse (and in some instances still do) that me and my brother ever did.

When boys are jerks or bad, there might be a higher chance that they are physically domineering, while girls might be more of emotional bullies. Set reasonable rules, lead good examples, and everything should be fine.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:03 PM on August 17, 2009


I'm the younger of two sons. My brother and I both work in IT. I've was in a few fights growing up, and even won a couple, but started exactly none of them. I'm about as non-aggressive a person as you could want. I love kids--I have two of my own--and cats and am generally considered a geek, a fact I'm proud of. My brother is a dad of one, and is possibly geeky enough to be considered a nerd. If he's ever been in a fight (other than with me when we were young--y'know, sibling rivalry stuff), he didn't start it and I'm gonna guess probably lost.

Also, speaking as someone who is the father of a boy and a girl, my daughter is the more physically aggressive. So you just never know.
posted by cerebus19 at 12:31 PM on August 17, 2009


Adding my 2¢ into the experiental pool: my son's best friend in grade school was the middle child of a three-boy family. They were the friendliest kids; my son got along great with his older and younger brothers, and all three were very polite and happy, with no overtones of wierdness to account for their inordinate good-natured-ness. They were missed by lots of people in the town when they moved away. There is another family we were friendly with as well -- our son was friends with the eldest boy of three -- who exhibited the same pattern: The two boys, four years apart, got along great; there was a baby four years behind them as well.

Of course you'll have to do a lot of refereeing. I'm sure these kids got along well, with each other and with others, because their parents worked hard at fair and consistent parenting, in whatever manner they implemented it. It's a fuckload of work, I bet (one kid was enough for us!). But being exposed to those families made me (as an only child) and my son (also as an only child) wonder what life could have been like with a sibling.

That said, we've also seen plenty of cases where the siblings didn't get along at all. And I can't account for the families mentioned above during times that we weren't hanging out. I'm sure fights or arguments did break out -- after all, family members even int he best of times can sometimes drive each other up the wall -- but these didn't seem to leak over into their personae.

I'd suggest reading a lot about how to build and maintain your kids' relationships with each other. It doesn't have to be the hell you are expecting, but yes, you'll have to work at it.
posted by not_on_display at 12:37 PM on August 17, 2009


P.S. : MeTa
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:01 PM on August 17, 2009


I have four brothers (three older and one younger).

The bad stuff: between the three oldest there were fights with enough blood to warrant trips to hospital. My next older brother decided his life was to make my youngest brother and my lives hell. There was some fighting between the youngest and I, but nothing serious. We didn't have a lot of supervision and I'm quite sure it wouldn't have been so bad if we had it. (Our father abandoned the family when he decided the grass was greener elsewhere. My mum worked nights when she could and got welfare when she couldn't.)

The good stuff: we had each other's back if someone from outside the family started in on one of us. We were always polite and well behaved if the situation called for it. Today we all get along and even like each other; with hugs and such!

Kids can be feral little beasts, but most of the time they grow up to be human.
posted by deborah at 3:47 PM on August 17, 2009


I'm 3 years older than my brother. We got along fine growing up and now we run a business together. I don't feel like my parents did anything special to make this happen.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 5:27 PM on August 17, 2009


Growing up I was a quiet,smart boy who loved spending hours alone in my room reading books and drawing. Until Summer came. I spent all of my summers growing up with my Aunt, Uncle and cousin, who was 3 months older than me. I have brothers and sisters, but my cousin and I were as close as twins pretty much from birth.

He was the bigger, stronger, more outgoing one, and I was the smaller sneaky smart one, and together we were like a tornado of mischief, broken stuff, scraped up knees, bee stings, mud, dirt, bb guns and fire. Look up "boys" in the dictionary, and you had the two of us. I literally have no idea how our parents put up with us.

Everything was either extreme competition, or the two of us against the world. We never walked anywhere, it was always a race. And we fought. Bloody noses, busted lips, hurt feelings. Action figure loans rescinded. Clubhouse memberships harshly revoked....

And the punishment was always to separate us, which was a fate worse than death. Once my cousin got really sick and had to spend a week in the hospital. The family still teases me about the mystery illness that struck me after he was gone for a whole 24 hours. So the next day we got a brand new Lego set, and I got to spend the day at the hospital with him . And within 20 minutes, they had to take the legos away and send me home, because there was no way in hell we could play legos without fighting. Where's the fun in that? Of course, I cried pretty much nonstop until they let me go back.

I have way more stories I could tell...too many. Especially once we got to be teenagers. There was a family reunion at Disney World when we were 15 where we got to have a motel room to ourselves. Of course, we immediately turned into Led Zeppelin circa 1972. There was beer, skinny dipping, misplaced furniture, and an invitation to leave the motel. I have relatives who still look at me like I'm the devil incarnate because of that trip, and that was almost 25 years ago.

Point of all this is that we weren't bad kids, and we were never "thugs", but we were most assuredly rowdy, noisy, troublemakers. Especially when we were together. But we were also Boy scouts together. And 4H camp counselors together. I was an exceptional student, and my cousin was captain of every sports team he joined. And this was in the 1980's, when drugs and gangs were destroying young boys like us. We both went to college and have careers, and are for the most part decent adult men. My cousin ended up as the biggest family man you'll ever meet. Lives down the street from the house he grew up in, has 4 boys of his own, two foster kids, coaches little league, teaches sunday school, doesn't drink or smoke, and works in the juvenile court system. This is the same guy who set me on fire when we were 12.

I had another younger cousin who's mom was so strict that he was never allowed to do anything. He was always kind mean, and He ended up dropping out of high school, fell in with the wrong people, and was dead by 20. Not that I'm blaming his strict upbringing for that, but his family life was way more rigid, but also way more dysfunctional. That surely counts for something.

And lastly there was a guy in my neighborhood, who was one of 8 kids in the poorest family on the block. It was his grandmother's house, and his mom was the neighborhood crazy. His older brothers and uncles were all into gangs and drugs, and the cops seemed to be outside their house all the time. This one kid though, was the sweetest, nicest kid you could ever meet. He was the neighborhood paperboy, mowed lawns, and bagged groceries to buy school clothes. He would bring his report card to our house to show my Mom, because nobody in house cared that he was a straight A student. Despite the shitty, and truly thugged out environment he grew up in, he remains to this day one of the most decent, and outstanding human beings I have ever met.

I guess that was a lot of answer, and pretty much a long winded way of saying that People will be who they're going to be. All you have to do is let them.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:26 AM on August 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


Anecdata: I have two boys, ages two and five and a half. They always have gotten along super well-a little occasional fighting over toys, but that's it.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2009


My brother and I played together as kids, but we fought constantly and I was much more like a scrappy little boy than a sugar-and-spice little girl. These days, even though he lives in another province, we're the best of friends and it's hard to believe that this person I think so highly of is somebody I have chased around the house with a baseball bat numerous times.

My (male) partner grew up with two brothers and a sister in a tiny house, raised on one modest income. His mom now has four very different kids who have chosen four very different lives for themselves but one thing stands out - they are all responsible, respectful adults who all sit back together and laugh hysterically at their childhood scrapping.

In short, we were raised well because our parents were good people who instilled good values and a sense of responsibility in us. Do the same for your kids, no matter what sex they are.
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:58 AM on August 18, 2009


I am a male and have one younger brother, born about two and a half years after me. I won't tell you it was all cuddles and joy, but fortunately we only went through a couple of bad patches growing up - one when I was in about Grade 5 I guess & then another during high school when we were both teens.

During these periods, we'd fight and/or become very possessive of our stuff (not sharing, having really dumb arguments over very little things). These bad patches aside, we were very well-behaved with each other & indeed even played in a band together later on. I'd say we're both well-adjusted, civil people.

The funny thing is that my younger brother's now got two young sons and one of them is - a bit of a handful, shall we say. My father says that's due to a lack of clear consequences. I would perhaps interpret that to mean a lack of fear, ha ha (I was pretty afraid of our dad growing up). I have one boy and two girls and, knock on wood, they get along great so far.

So, even if they wind up scrapping or whatever, it may just be a phase. Fingers crossed!
posted by stinkycheese at 5:07 PM on August 18, 2009


Wow. I grew up in a family of three boys. I like to think my brothers and I are reasonably well-adjusted "non-thugs". I'm a lot more worried for your boys that they're growing up in a house with such bad attitudes towards maleness than that they only have brothers. For the sake of your kids, please go to therapy or something before #2 is born. Also, for the record, my mother used to get that "Oh my god! Three boys! How do you deal?" all the time, and she maintains to this day that she thinks it was a lot easier than other combinations could have been.
posted by jeb at 2:33 PM on August 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


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