98 episodes

Ever wonder why do boys DO that? Join co-hosts Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four boys, and Janet Allison, parenting coach & educator, as they explore and explain boy behavior. Their weekly conversations include a healthy dose of humor & insight, and feature take-away tips you can use right now, at home or in the classroom, to help boys grow into healthy, happy men. Whether your boys are teens or toddlers, you’ll find a big dose of support, encouragement and camaraderie at On Boys.

ON BOYS Podcast Janet Allison, Jennifer LW Fink

    • Kids & Family
    • 3.9 • 18 Ratings

Ever wonder why do boys DO that? Join co-hosts Jennifer L.W. Fink, mom of four boys, and Janet Allison, parenting coach & educator, as they explore and explain boy behavior. Their weekly conversations include a healthy dose of humor & insight, and feature take-away tips you can use right now, at home or in the classroom, to help boys grow into healthy, happy men. Whether your boys are teens or toddlers, you’ll find a big dose of support, encouragement and camaraderie at On Boys.

    How to NOT Raise an A-Hole

    How to NOT Raise an A-Hole

    When we become parents, someone really should hand us a book that details, exactly, how to NOT raise an a-hole. 

    Karen Alpert (of the blog Baby Sideburns), a mom of two and author of Mamas, Don't Let Your Kids Grow Up to be A-Holes: Unfiltered Advice on How to Raise Awesome Kids, recognizes that parents are terrified of inadvertently raising a******s.

    "It is definitely one of my big fears," she says. "I don't want to raise a kid that's an a-hole. All the sexting and scary stuff and  male chauvinism and racism  - I'm trying to hard to teach my kids that stuff shouldn't be part of their lives."

    But she knows there are no guarantees. And she starts her book by stating that babies are, almost by definition, a-holes. (Think about it: They scream when they need something. They don't care about your sleep or your needs or anything but their own comfort.)

    "It is our job as parents to get the a-hole-y-ness out of them," Karen says. "We have 18 years. It is our job to send them out into the world in the best way possible."

    We can do that by seizing random and ordinary moments. "Kids are like clay," Karen says. "Everything we do contributes to shaping them."

    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Karen discuss:

    * Parents' secret fear

    * Bullying

    * How parenting approaches evolve as kids grow

    * Teaching kids to be considerate

    * Seizing opportunities to teach values

    * Revisiting conversations

    * Teaching kids to be anti-racist

    * How to teach kids important lessons while being creative and fun

    * "Boys will be boys"

    * Resisting gender stereotypes & expectations

    * 20 ways to make your kids more creative

    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    Mamas, Don't Let Your Kids Grow Up to be A-Holes: Unfiltered Advice on How to Raise Awesome Kids -- Karen's latest book

    I Heart My Little A-Holes: A Bunch of Holy Crap Moments No One Ever Told You About Parenting -- Karen's first book

    babysideburns.com -- Karen's blog

    Just Don't be an A*****e (w Kara Kinney Cartwright) -- ON BOYS episode

    How to Raise a Decent Human Being -- classic BuildingBoys post

    ON BOYS affiliate: BuzzPatch 

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    • 34 min
    Dr. Michele Borba Knows How to Help Boys Thrive

    Dr. Michele Borba Knows How to Help Boys Thrive

    Dr. Michele Borba knows how to help boys thrive.

    She's a "boy mom" -- a mother of 3 grown sons, educational psychologist, and the author of Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine.

    Many boys are stressed but don't tell their parents because "they don't want to hurt us," Dr. Borba says. They want and need coping skills, and aren't getting what they need from school social-emotional learning (SEL) programs. And they're really worried about "flunking life."

    It's time for parents to pivot and refocus their parenting efforts. The first step, Dr. Borba says, is to prioritize mental health. The second step is to convince ourselves that it's possible to teach resilience. Then we can turn our attention to...

    7 Character Strengths That Will Help Boys Thrive

    These 7 teachable character strengths can help children thrive, Dr. Borba says  -- and inoculate them against peer pressure and bullying and allow them become peak performers in the classroom:

    * Confidence. You can build your son's confidence by focusing more on his strengths than his weaknesses.

    * Empathy. Boys may exhibit empathy differently than girls. They may take a more cognitive than emotional approach, and that's OK, Dr. Borba says.

    * Self-control. "Every boy I interviewed said, 'That's what we need!'" Dr. Borba says. But boys don't want only touchy-feeling stuff. They want to learn a repertoire of self-regulation techniques so they can choose what works for them in the moment.

    * Integrity. A boy needs a strong moral code so that "when peer pressure comes, he doesn't have to waver," Dr. Borba says.

    * Curiosity. "Thrivers are  open to ideas and possibilities, so when a problem comes -- and it will -- they don't quit; they brainstorm," Dr. Borba says.

    * Perseverance, or the ability to keep going, even without external rewards.

    * Optimism. Boys need to be solidly grounded in reality, but they also need to know how to find the silver lining.

    Adding two or more of these skills together amplifies their impact, Dr. Borba says. (In other words: your son doesn't need all 7 character strengths to thrive!)

    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Dr. Borba discuss:

    * What kids think parents should focus on

    * The disconnect between many parenting book & what science has discovered about raising resilient, capable humans

    * 3 things that help kids thrive in spite of adversity

    * 7 characters strengths that help boys thrive

    * How hobbies help boys

    * Identifying your son's interests

    * How to tell if your son's video game use if problematic or healthy

    * How to NOT hinder your son's interests

    * Redirecting pessimistic thoughts

    * Instilling hope

    * Empowering boys

    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    micheleborba.com -- Dr. Borba's website

    Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine  -- Dr. Borba's latest book

    What You Need to Know About Boys & Suicide -- ON BOYS episode featuring Katey McPherson (mentioned at 11:26)

    • 46 min
    The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys

    The First-Time Mom’s Guide to Raising Boys

    Ever wished you had a guide to raising boys?

    A manual you can consult when your tween son confuses and frustrates you?

    Now, one exists -- and it's Jen's first book!

    The First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys: A Practical Guide to Your Son's Formative Years, by Jennifer L.W. Fink, was released on July 6, 2021. It's a handbook that's intended to help moms navigating the tween years (approximately ages 8-12) for the very first time. Janet says Jen "interprets a complex subject in a way that's wise, fun & reassuring."

    This book helps moms (& dads) understand male development and the challenges boys face in the world, and then teaches them skills and strategies they can use as they parent their tween sons. Listening, Jen says, is key.

    "If you don't express an openness or willingness to listen to your son's viewpoint, he's not going to listen to yours," she says. "Remember that you have different perspectives. When it comes to social issues, your son does not know what happened 20, 30, 50, 100 years before he was born. So you have important perspective that you can share with him. But at the same time, you don't know what his daily experience is like. You don't fully understand what's happening in schools, what it's like to be a kid today.

    If you can remain open and curious to each other's perspective, you can learn from each other."

    In this episode, Jen & Janet discuss:

    * The unique skillset required to parent boys

    * Why the tween years are so challenging for moms

    * "Unlearning" parenting

    * How our childhood experiences affect our parenting

    * Talking about tough subjects with your son, including divorce, relationship conflict, addiction, mental illness, racism & violence

    * The importance of intergenerational relationships

    * Prioritizing mental health

    * When to worry

    * Boys' experience of shame & embarrassment

    * Helping a boy expressing self-hatred

    * Preparing boys to handle sexual pressure

    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    The First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys -- Jen's first book

    Top 6 Tips for Parenting Tween Boys -- classic BuildingBoys post

    The Inside Scoop on Parenting Tween Boys -- a very early conversation between Jen & Janet

    Parenting Teen Boys Is... -- Building Boys post that includes the deodorant-in-freezer pic mentioned at 7:08

    Addiction Inoculation with Jessica Lahey -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 15:42

    How to Raise a Feminist Son with Sonora Jha -- ON BOYS episode mentioned at 17:23

    Sponsor Spotlight: Prisma

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    • 40 min
    Constant Chaos Parenting with ADHD

    Constant Chaos Parenting with ADHD

    Parenting a child with ADHD or neurodivergence can be challenging. Especially if you're also neurodivergent.

    "When my youngest son was about 3 weeks old, he started crying and it really never stopped," says Rachel Blatt, co-host of the podcast Constant Chaos. At first, they thought it was colic, but visits to multiple gastrointestinal specialists didn't help. When he wasn't yet talking (at all) at age 2, "a wonderful teacher" suggested having the child evaluated. The family schedule an appointment -- and felt a "huge sense of relief" when the evaluator told them, "there something going on here." At age 4, Rachel's son was diagnosed with ADHD. Soon after, Rachel realized her older son exhibited ADHD symptoms as well. And eventually, she was diagnosed with ADHD as well.

    Parenting books did not prepare her for the experience of parenting her children. "You're supposed to stay calm," Rachel says -- but that's not easy to do when your boys are on the roof!

    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Rachel discuss:

    * ADHD symptoms -- & how they can look different even in people within the same family

    * The value of friends with kids just a little older than yours

    * Figuring out what to worry about

    * When to "drop the rope" in the tug-o-war with your kids

    * ADHD & video game addiction

    * Adjusting expectations

    * The value of structure for individuals with ADHD

    * Self-care

    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    Constant Chaos podcast

    The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children, by Dr. Ross Greene -- book mentioned at 30:36

    ADHD with Ryan Wexelblatt the ADHD Dude -- ON BOYS episode

    The Boy Talk Blueprint -- Janet's proven system to help you communicate with your son

    • 34 min
    How to Raise a Feminist Son with Sonora Jha

    How to Raise a Feminist Son with Sonora Jha

    You may wonder, how do you raise a feminist son?

    Or you might be wondering, WHY would you raise a feminist son? 

    What if we phrased it this way: How do you raise boys who respect and value all humans?

    "The word feminist, all over the world, has taken on so many definitions and meanings," says Sonora Jha, author of How to Raise a Feminist Son. "To me, the best definition is still Gloria Steinem's: Feminism is the radical idea that women are people too." It is the idea that all humans are worthy of respect, coupled with recognition of the fact that not all humans are afforded respect yet.

    Welcome Media into Your Home - and "Gossip" Over It

    "Feminism for a boy growing into a man means recognizing those things and committing to changing them," Sonora says. It does not mean restricting his access to media or telling him what to think. Quite the contrary: Sonora, a media professor, invited all kinds of media into her family's home, treating media like a "cool aunt or uncle," and "gossiping" over it.

    She allowed her son to play Grand Theft Auto, a videogame some decry as overly violent and misogynistic, because her son talked about the game with her and recognized sexist tropes, largely because the mother/son duo had already spent years discussing media portrayals of men and women.

    Facilitate Family Connections

    Similarly, you can facilitate family connections without endorsing sexist or racist comments, actions, or beliefs. "You can say something like, 'I love Grandpa, but I don't love all the things he says,'" Sonora says, noting that family relationships (and humans!) are complex.

    Our boys are complex & growing humans too, so less-than-ideal behavior is assured. Your son will occasionally behave in hurtful or harmful ways, and he will not always appreciate your redirection. As Sonora wrote in her book, "Trying to insert the notion of error, or wrongness, of failure into the cocksureness demanded from young men is like asking a bull to sit down at a tea party after waiving a red cape in its face.” 

    Give your boys grace. Give some to yourself as well. And remember that teaching your son to recognize and dismantle sexist structures is beneficial for all.

    In this episode, Jen, Janet & Sonora discuss:

    * The definition of feminism

    * Raising boys who recognize privilege

    * Using stories & fairytales to expand kids' understanding of gender

    * How to welcome media into your family -- & then use it to connect with and teach your son

    * Creating family connections despite differing family & cultural beliefs

    * Talking to sons about your own #MeToo moments

    * Discussing consent with boys

    * How feminism helps boys & men

    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    How to Raise a Feminist Son: Motherhood, Masculinity, and the Making of My Family -- Sonora's book

    sonorajha.com -- Sonora's website

    Know My Name: A Me...

    • 46 min
    Highly Sensitive Boys with William Allen

    Highly Sensitive Boys with William Allen

    Do you have a highly sensitive boy?

    Perhaps your son has been called "too sensitive” or “too emotional.” Maybe he is easily overwhelmed, especially when he's surrounded by a lot of sensory stimuli. 

    Approximately 10% of all males are thought to be highly sensitive -- and often, others imply that they aren't "man enough." In a culture that's long valued stoicism in males, sensitivity is seen as a a liability. Except...emotional intelligence -- the ability to identify and process emotions -- is now recognized as key to human happiness, healthy relationships and even exemplary performance in the workplace.

    By age 5, William Allen understood very clearly that he was different. People told him to "man up" and that he "needed to be tougher." Their words and reactions to his emotions told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was not living up to the masculine ideal. And, like many highly sensitive people (HSP), William reacted strongly to criticism. He internalized it and assumed that people were laughing at him, for instance, rather than his ridiculous costume when he took the stage in a school play.

    William says parents can help their highly sensitive sons learn how to verbalize and test their internal thoughts. "As a parent, you're a trusted figure," he says. "You really don't know if an internal belief is true unless you're able to test it in the real world," William says.

    In this episode, Jen, Janet & William discuss:

    * Characteristics of highly sensitive people

    * The effect of criticism only highly sensitive boys

    * Helping sensitive boys externalize thoughts and test ideas

    * Positive attributes associated with high sensitivity

    * Why highly sensitive boys are prone to overwhelm, temper tantrums and meltdowns

    * The link between sensitivity & empathy

    * Creating a calm environment for your sensitive child

    * Expanding the definition of masculinity to make space for sensitive boys & men

    * Highly sensitive heroes

    * Helping sensitive boys deal w peer pressure

    Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

    The Highly Sensitive Person -- website recommended at 12:07

    Confessions of a Sensitive Man: An Unconventional Defense of Sensitive Men, by William Allen

    The Sensitive Man -- William's blog

    Sensitive Boys (w Dr. Sandy Gluckman) -- ON BOYS episode

    You Asked About Age 14, Implicit Bias & Sensitive Boys  -- ON BOYS listener Q & A

    Shameless -- TV show mentioned by Jen at 17:17

    Outlander - TV show mentioned by William at 28:00

    Why I Want My Boys to be Just Like Pa -- classic Building Boys post referencing Pa Ingalls, a highly sensitive man (at least as portrayed by Michael Landon!)

    • 38 min

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5
18 Ratings

18 Ratings

NaeOz ,


As a boy mum, this is a yes yes yes for me!
Well done

Poifectaweebit ,

Just what I needed as a boy Mumma ....sane, common sense advise and support

Have only just found On Boys and listened to 4 shows in a row and felt so immediately supported and heard as a Mumma of 3 little hectic, adorable, angry, feisty, active, exhausted, sweet little boys. I need this so much and can’t wait to dive in to more..and repeat many of them no doubt, especially boys and anger podcast! Brilliant and so helpful in understanding the difference between boys and girls. Because they are real!

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