What Do Boys Need From Their Mom?—Interview with David Thomas (Part 1) – RTC 37
Laurie Christine
Laurie Christine
December 17, 2021
what do boys need from their mom

What Do Boys Need From Their Mom?

Moms, do you ever feel like you’re living in a zoo? Do you look around and wonder where these little animals came from?  Who let them in?  What do I feed them? How do I train them and tame them?  I want to assure you… You’re not alone. 


Why Are My Boys So Wild?

We have been talking about the book Wild Things by Stephen James and David Thomas. The title of the book is very fitting. God has hardwired our boys to be wild!  As moms, this is sometimes a hard concept to understand, but it’s so important for us to realize how God has created our boys, so that we can raise them to be strong, courageous young men. 

Wild Things, by David Thomas

We have a very special guest on the show today. I am so excited to welcome David Thomas, one of the authors of the book Wild Things, to the show. He has so much wisdom to share with us and I think you are going to be encouraged by our conversation.  

David Thomas is Licensed Master Social Worker, and the Director of Family Counseling at Daystar Counseling in Nashville, TN. He is the co-author of eight books, including the best-selling Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys and Are My Kids on Track? The 12 Emotional, Social & Spiritual Milestones Your Child Needs to Reach. (affiliate links) He is a frequent guest on national television and podcasts, including his own podcast called Raising Boys and Girls.

5 Stages of a Boy’s Development

This is the first of a two-part episode where I interview David Thomas. In today’s episode we are going to talk about the first two stages of a boy’s development into manhood—the Explorer and the Lover. In our next episode, David and I will talk about the final three stages—the Individual, the Wanderer and the Warrior.

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys by [Stephen James, David Thomas]

If you haven’t yet listened to the previous episodes on Wild Things, go back and listen to episodes 35 and 36. I will have links for you in the show notes.  In those episodes, we go into detail about who a boy is and what he needs at each stage of development. 

5 Stages of a Boy’s Development Part 1

5 Stages of a Boy’s Development Part 2

In my interview with David Thomas, we go through each of the 5 stages again, but this time we zero in on what boys need from their moms, and some mistakes moms often make in relating to their boys at each stage. 

Here is my interview with David Thomas. 

What Role Does a Mom Play in Her Boy’s Life?

1). Mom Is A Mirror to Masculinity

  • How a boy sees himself and his relationship to the opposite sex is rooted in his relationship with mom.
  • A boy learns how to relate to females by interacting with his mom.

2). Mom Is An Anchor for Security 

  • Mom is home base for the first few years of a boy’s life. She is the safest place on earth. Boys often are so comfortable with mom that she becomes an emotional punching bag for her son.
  • Boys need to hear: I am always here to listen to you. But I am not available for you to disrespect me.

Why Do Boys Have to Separate Out From Mom?

Part of being a place of security for your son is being willing to let go. It’s important for him to separate out from you. His relationship with mom will involve and change as he grows up.

Sometimes it just doesn’t feel fair that as moms, our relationship with our sons inevitably has to grow apart. And yet is is vital to their growth into manhood. Especially if we don’t want our sons to still be living at home when they are 30.

What Do Boys Need from Their Mom At Each Stage?

Today we are going to be discussing the 5 stages our boys go through on their journey to manhood. At each stage, we’ll discuss what boys need from their moms, what mistakes moms make, and how moms can connect with their boys’ hearts. In today’s episode we are going to talk about the first two stages of a boy’s development into manhood—the Explorer and the Lover. In our next episode, David and I will talk about the final three stages—the Individual, the Wanderer and the Warrior.

1). The Explorer (ages 2-4)

What do boys need from their mom? 

  • He needs space to run and play and be wild.
  • He needs you to understand that God has hardwired him differently than girls.
    • Boys are aggressive and show affection in aggressive ways
    • Boys are hardwired for activity and movement
  • Boys need to be outside, in nature.
  • Boys need structure and rhythm, but the also have a love-hate relationship with structure. They crave it and despise it at the same time.

What mistakes do moms make with Explorers?

  • Moms often don’t understand how God has hardwired her boys.
  • Moms ask, “What’s wrong with him?”
  • It’s especially difficult for moms with a firstborn girl and a second boy. You’ll definitely need to adjust your expectations.
  • Expecting boys to hit developmental benchmarks the same time as girls.
  • Comparing your boys to your girls or friend’s girls of the same age—boys develop at a slower pace with emotional, social and psychological development.
  • Wild Things would make a great gift for Grandma! (affiliate link)

How can we connect with our son’s hearts during this stage? 

  • Play with him!  Enter into his world.
  • Play provides the counter to the structural part of the relationship.
  • Play legos, build forts, play kickball, make scavenger hunts.
  • Moms, you may need to get out of your comfort zone a bit!
  • It’s normal for your son to be drawn to aggressive, “fighting” play!
  • A desire for battle is hardwired into our boys. God has given them a desire to be the hero of the story.

2). The Lover (ages 5-8)

What do boys need from their mom? 

  • Enjoy him! Savor this time!
  • How are you loving your kids today?
  • Take pictures! Pictures can be a great reminder of your relationship.

What mistakes do moms make in this stage? 

  • Boys are more singularly focused than girls / women.
  • Boys are not good at multitasking or remembering.
  • Only give one instruction at a time. 
  • Break it down into manageable tasks.
  • If boys are feeling exasperated all day, their sense of self will take a hit. He’ll feel like he’s not measuring up, not hitting the mark. He’ll feel like a failure.
  • Because we understand his hardwiring, we will love him differently.
  • Use visual cues, checklists and pictures.

How can moms connect with his heart?

  • Boys are kinesthetic and visual learners – Don’t talk too much!
  • Talking too much can overwhelm them. Boys tend to feel shame very quickly—talking too much in a discipline setting can spiral them into shame.
  • Not eye to eye – shoulder to shoulder!  Too much eye contact can move boys into shame and feels unsafe. 
  • Take advantage of “pillow time.” Emotionally defenses are down. It’s dark, you don’t have to make eye contact. 

I am so thankful to have this opportunity to chat with David Thomas about what do boys need from their moms at the Explorer stage and the Lover stage. I hope you will join us again in the next episode of Redeeming the Chaos where David and I discuss stages 3-5 in a boy’s development, the Individual, the Wanderer and the Warrior. 

You can find David Thomas at, where you’ll find links to his books as well as his podcast, Raising Boys and Girls.

You can find a copy of his book Wild Things on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

You can learn more about David Thomas’s counseling ministry at


Hey, momma, real quick before you go… I need your help to spread the word about my podcast. I want as many boy moms as possible to benefit from the information in this podcast. I want you to think of 2 friends or family members that you know would benefit from this episode / blog post and share a link with them.  It would really help out the show and I would be super grateful. 

The Night the Angels Got Lost

Also, I have a special Christmas gift for you. My free ebook, 

The Night the Angels Got Lost is a captivating, three-part family Christmas devotional for kids ages 6-10. 

The Night the Angels Got Lost, Laurie Christine

The Night the Angels Got Lost retells a familiar story through the first-hand experience of a young shepherdess. Connect with your kids on a deeper level this Christmas as you join young Abigail on the hills outside of Bethlehem. Enjoy a cup of cocoa and snuggle by the fireplace, using this book to inspire imagination and encourage thoughtful discussion as a family. 

Capture your children’s attention and connect with their hearts as together you celebrate the arrival of the Promised Child.



Want a few more Christmas episodes to listen to in the upcoming weeks?

How to Teach Your Kids to Be Content

Keep Christ at the Center of Christmas with Shauna Lettelier

How to Make Christmas More Meaningful for Your Kids

(Includes audio version of The Night the Angels Got Lost, part 1)

A Fresh Perspective on Christmas

(Includes audio version of The Night the Angels Got Lost, part 2)

A Family Christmas Devotional

(Includes audio version of The Night the Angels Got Lost, part 3)

Christmas in the Chaos

Thank you so much for joining me today for Episode 37 of Redeeming the Chaos.


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A New Devotional for Preteen Boys


Rise of the Enemy

Book One of the Dragon Slayer Bible Stories

Rise of the Enemy, a Dragon Slayer Bible Story, will inspire boys to join the armies of the Dragon Slayer in the epic battle of good vs evil.  Through action-packed stories, inspiring scripture, and challenging devotional readings, boys will be trained to stand firm against the invisible enemy, and to use weapons of warfare to deflect the lies of the Evil One.

“Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”