Ask Dr. Meg: How Can a Single Mom Raise Boys Well?

By |2018-01-24T15:12:21-05:00January 30th, 2017|CULTURE, MOTHERS, Raising Sons, Self Help, Single Parents|5 Comments

Dear Dr. Meg,

I’m a single mom and all of my children are boys. I want to raise them well, but how can I do this when their father isn’t present?


Single Mother of Boys


Dear Single Mother of Boys,

Single moms have a very hard row to hoe and my hat is off to you. There are a few things that you need to do with your son, particularly if Dad is not in the picture.

First, regardless of his age (particularly if he is a teen) do your best to find a good adult man to spend time with him. Do you have a father, brother, male friend, pastor, teacher or coach who you know will do things with him once or twice a month? Boys need face-to-face time with men because they need to see a good man to know how to become one. That is something that you simply can’t give.

Boys need face-to-face time with men because they need to see a good man to know how to become one. Click To Tweet

Second, don’t slack off on your expectations of his behavior. If you believe that he should speak well, be courteous, help around the house, etc., make him do it. I have seen many single mothers feel guilty about the fact that a son doesn’t have a father that they compensate by babying their sons. Don’t ever do this. He will never learn to respect himself if you do. Boys love it (though they’ll NEVER show it) when a mother raises expectations and then demands that they rise to those; it makes them feel good about themselves.

Boys love it when a mother raises expectations and then demands that they rise to them. Click To Tweet

Third, be tough on him during his teen years. You will be running out of energy by this time and you will want to relax, but don’t. Teen boys need stiff boundaries when they are teens and they all test their mothers, thinking that if they push hard enough, they will get to do whatever they want. They challenge mothers severely because they feel they can wear you down. Take a deep breath and don’t let him win. Remember, by this time, you’re almost to the finish line. Fight for his emotional and mental health until he’s off on his own.

Finally, get support. You need a confidante and friend or two to keep you sane. Have someone who will listen to you vent, who will help you figure out what to do and who will keep you strong until the finish. Many single mothers feel so guilty (there it is again) that they won’t do anything for themselves, like spend time with friends. Don’t do this. You need help and your son needs you to have help!

Single moms, you need help and your kids need you to have help! Click To Tweet

If you haven’t read my book, Boys Should Be Boys, you might want to pick up a copy. Hopefully, you’ll find a bit more help there as well. Keep up the good work. All of your hard work will pay off.





  1. Lisa September 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I am a single mom to an 11 year old boy. (going on 16!!)

  2. Emily Bartkowicz September 20, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Dr. Meeker, while I am not a single mother, I am so excited to hear about a new book. I LOVED Boys Should Be Boys and really respect and look forward to your advice. Can’t wait for the new release!

  3. parenting October 12, 2011 at 2:31 am


    […]Meg Meeker, M.D. » 4 Tips for Single Moms Raising Boys[…]…

  4. Sherry June 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    I see reference to a book about Moms and Sons. My daughter is a single mom with three kids. One is a boy. He is 5. His father is involved in that they see him on Sundays (when he is available), when he gives them junk food and movies while he is on the computer. Currently, they have no other male influence. (My husband and I live about 3000 miles away and visit only twice a year). So, my question is: Is that book out, and what is the title?
    Thank you.

    • Meg Meeker, MD June 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Hi, Sherry.

      That book’s publication date has been moved. It’s now tentatively scheduled to be released in early 2014. Stay tuned to the blog. We’ll be sure to announce it once it has published!


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