A friend had a private question for me, and I promptly made it public by posing it to my more experienced friends on Facebook:

“An old friend of mine is contemplating single parenthood and has a lot of anxiety about raising her boys (alone) to be good men. I told her I’m not the one to ask for advice because I’m doing it right now and HOPEFULLY doing some things right. What advice do those of you who have done it have for her?”

Their responses (may be slightly edited to protect their privacy):

Supermom Number 1:

Well I have raised my boys, now men, alone. My best advice would be to set rules and stick to them and follow through with punishment. My biggest mistake was that I felt sorry for my boys for their Dad not wanting to be a part of their life. For that reason, I let them have to much freedom and did not stick to the rules. They took advantage! We had rough times but they are good men now!

Always make them show respect for you! You will ALWAYS be the most important woman in their life! And respect them but make sure they know who’s boss! But most important, love them more than life, share with them, spend time with them and always know what’s going in in their lives.
Teen years are the hardest but that’s when you have to be a tough Mom! Always know their friends, where they are and where they are going! Trust has to be EARNED not given!

Supermom Number 2

As the mother (now married, but haven’t always been) of three sons, I give the following advice:
1. Never give away your authority (just wait ’til I call your daddy) as they will lose ALL respect for you

2. Earn their respect and then demand
3. Learn to enjoy “boy stuff” and do things they enjoy or you’ll end up on the sidelines. At first it seems like a reprieve but in the end you’ll look back and realize how much you forfeited.

4. Don’t be their friend, be their parent. There will come a time in their adult lives that you can be best of friends, until then… you are their protector/defender/teacher/leader.

5. Remember punishment, much like life, is swift and just.

6. In our house, if you offend a rule, you may be punished. But to LIE about anything, especially breaking a rule, is inexcusable and will be punished no if’s, and’s or but’s. It breeds honesty, believe it or not.

7. Praise them for their strengths and help them with their weaknesses.

8. Most importantly… love them. With all your might.

Lead them to the best of your ability. And don’t be a martyr. Take responsibilty for the situation and own it. You can do this. You aren’t the first. You won’t be the last. And there are many of us out here willing to share our own experiences with you. My own coined phrase, “there ain’t nothing about this you can’t do”. Draw on all your resources, you’d be surprised how much support you really do have. You’ve got this girlfriend! And when things get REALLY rough… take to bended knee.

Male point of view from a man who grew up in a single mom household:

Allow me to interject a male opinion here. I was raised by a single mother, my Father died when I was 10 years old. She did a great job as a mother and provided for me the best she could. But, the fact is a boy needs a man to learn how to be man. A mother can teach values but she can’t teach him to be a man any more than a man can teach a girl to be a woman. Being a man is much more than fishing and football and this is part of the problem with men now. They have been taught that “boy things” make a man.

The boys in your life WILL find a male role model to learn from and emulate, whether they realize they are doing it or not. I believe it is hard wired into us to need this influence. I just thank God that there was a wonderful group of MEN around me to choose from. I know many 20 something boys who think they are grown, but their image of a man is a hodge-podge of rap stars, sports figures and the bumbling idiots that men are portrayed as on TV. They have no true concept of Values, Respect, Responsibility or Honor.
Boys have to have that positive role model available. Also they need to understand that the way men are protrayed in most popular media is NOT the way to be. An inept, beer drinking, cussing, womanizing, weak willed bumbling fool is not a role model.
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