parent opinion

‘I’m a mum of 4 boys. These are the questions I get asked constantly.’

Shortly after I had given birth to my third son, I went up to the local post office to collect a package. 

I was at the counter with my three- and five-year-old boys, and my newborn asleep in the pram. 

Just quietly I was feeling pretty freaking proud to be out, with THREE kids in a post office (which, if you ask anyone who has had three under five, is no mean feat.) Life was good.

Watch: Be a "good" mum. Post continues below.


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“Is it a boy or a girl?” The lady serving me asked, eyeing my two boys and the pram.

I proudly drew back the muslin wrap to reveal my beautiful bundle and said: “This is Tom!”

The look on the woman’s face was pure disappointment. She grabbed my hands in hers, looked at me with big sad eyes and said: “Don’t worry, you are young, and you can try again!"

I immediately looked down at my two older children. Two beautiful creatures who were standing by their new baby brother, with a fresh look of doubt in their eyes. 

I don’t know what they were thinking, but their faces looked like they were wondering if, maybe, by all being male they had failed me. 

I proudly told my new friend in the post office that having three of a kind was special, and that I had always hoped for three boys. 

It was true. But I felt rattled. 

That moment was seven years ago now. 

Two years later I had another son, and I now proudly live with five males and one giant female Groodle puppy in a three-bedroom semi. 

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I’m also a social worker and parent educator, working with parents in the hospital environment. In my work and my social life, the topic of gender always comes up.  

I am consistently asked two things about being a mum of four boys. 

1. “Why four? Were you just trying for a girl?”

I get asked this at least once a week. I usually laugh and say: “We were knee deep in three kids we weren’t trying for anything!’

But sometimes I ask people about what they mean by this question. They usually say that they think that boys won’t be there for me when I'm older.

It makes me want to dispel the myth about boys not being as loving or interested. Our boys are soft, sweet, loving and in need of connection and attachment, just like every child. 

My husband is one of four (three boys and a girl). They are all equally loving with their mum, whom I adore in a way I can ONLY hope my children's’ future partners will love me. 

Genevieve and her boys. Image: Supplied. 

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Our four children are sweet and caring in different ways. 

Our eldest is so thoughtful and considerate of my feelings and a fantastic mother’s day coordinator. 

My third son is so keen on cooking that I am sure he will have us over for dinner when he's older, and the other two are so affectionate, loving and cuddly that I just know we have fans for life. 

They are all boys, but they are all individuals. They love us and I’m as certain they will be there for us in their own unique ways as I imagine any daughters might be. 

2. “Is it CRAZY? You poor thing!”  

Now, I’m pretty sure if you ask any mum of four children she will tell you it’s a whole kind of crazy you can’t even picture. And I won’t lie; most days it’s beyond mental. 

But is it significantly crazier than having four girls? Or a mix of boys and girls? I sincerely doubt it. 

In my work and in my family I focus on children as individuals rather than cohorts of boys and girls. But I can speak to two key differences I see with my boys:

Firstly, There is lots of MOVEMENT.

Have you ever watched a five-year-old boy eat lunch? Or watch TV? To put it simply, for anyone not living with small males right now… my boys literally fall off chairs, stools and the couch more times a day in our house than I can count. 

There is chasing, there is flopping, swinging, rolling. It’s busy. Chairs get swung on. Couches are flopped on. Stuff gets broken. They honestly don’t even know they are moving most of the time. 

The trick with the movement stuff is to know boys need to move and provide them the avenues to do this. 

Like our Groodle Poppy, they go much better when I get them out and run them first thing. 

It is for this reason I have remained about 150 metres away from anything breakable for the last decade! Takeaway coffee vans near parks have been my saviour.

Listen: On this episode of our parenting podcast, This Glorious Mess: Little Kids, we talk all about being a boy mum. Post continues below.


Secondly: Boys communicate… differently.

Just like all children, after the immediate needs of food, water, washing and hygiene are met, boys need connection, boundaries and someone who is willing to be with them through big feelings. Boys, just like girls, have big feelings. All kids do! However, how some boys need those big feelings supported might differ. 

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One of the things I hear a lot from mums of boys, that I can definitely relate to, is the grunt answer that inevitably follows the “How was your day at school?” question. 

My hot tip to elicit more than one syllable is to avoid direct eye-contact and communicate with boys side on. (This also applies to my husband!)

For little boys, chatting over blocks or trains seems to work better than sitting eye-to-eye at the kitchen bench. 

For my older boys, walking the dog, driving in the car or shooting hoops in the backyard leads to better conversations. I try to listen to what they tell me and meet them there. 

Lots of little boys don’t hear all of a parent’s words, so they need love and connection to be shown physically. I use an abundance of hugs, winks, and high fives to show our boys love, and a lot of visual cues to communicate tasks. 

If you don’t know how your child needs to be communicated with, it can feel impossible and frustrating. But once you have the knowledge about what works for them, it's so much easier. 

The evening of my sojourn to the local post office seven years ago, I went down a Google rabbit hole to find out more about being a “boy mum” and discovered my parenting “mentor”, Maggie Dent. 

Maggie is a proud mother of four boys who told a story of receiving a sympathy card after her fourth son that I could relate to. 

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Maggie is a boy expert, and I absolutely owe her the world for helping me to become an even better mum to four boys, and defining my work as a parent educator. 

I know one thing for sure about little boys as the mum of four of them. We are a social species, wired for connection, and one of the most heartbreaking things that could happen to any little person would be feeling that he got it wrong. 

Little boys need to feel assured that they are enough, lovable, and loved just as they are. Just like all kids do.

My best guess is that ultimately being the mother of four boys is like being the mother of any four kids: from the minute they take their first breath and cry, our babies are all so different, but they have the same basic needs: love, connection, boundaries and being seen and heard for who they are.

Little boys, after all, are little human beings.

Genevieve is an Obstetric Social Worker and Parent Educator at the Mater hospital in Sydney, Tuning into Kids, and Circle of Security International facilitator for numerous organisations, and also a mother to four boys. Genevieve is passionate about helping families in Sydney and beyond adapt to the modern parenting world. She also works privately with clients worldwide, and has just launched an online course: ‘And Then There Were Two’ – Helping parents navigate the transition from one child to twoYou can find her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Tess Donohue Photography. 

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