In Episode 83, I’m chatting with parent educator Sloan Walsh. Sloan wrote an excellent post for me last spring on Raising Girls.

Sloan Walsh

Sloan, a previous elementary teacher and literacy specialist, has been teaching Parent Education at La Canada Presbyterian Church since 2001. She has worked with parents of children of all ages and has led support groups for moms of kids with special needs. Sloan graduated with a BA from UCSB and received her teaching credential from Cal State Northridge. In addition to all her years of learning and teaching in La Canada, she has also enjoyed the opportunity to be trained by and work with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, co-author of The Whole Brain Child, at The Center for Connection. Sloan is passionate about working with parents and children to see them thrive in their lives and families. She is married to Bob (30 years) and has three children ages 21, 19 and 13.

When I visited Sloan’s parenting class, I loved seeing her bulletin boards which shared some of her basic parenting philosophies – all of which resonated with me a lot.

Things from Sloan’s bulletin boards (pictured below):








In this episode, Sloan shares her vast knowledge about raising boys, including the three things that every boy needs: adventure, a purpose, and a rite of passage.


  • There is a difference between the brains of girls and boys.
  • Boys need adventure, purpose, and a rite of passage.
  • Moms lay the foundation for all their boys’ future relationships with girls.
  • Boys need dads who are present and involved.
  • It’s important for boys to be given the words for their emotions and to acknowledge their emotions.


Sloan: “As a mother of two boys, I have been really mindful of talking about how we raise boys so that they succeed in this day and age, with the brains that they have, and the developmental needs that they have, so it’s one of my favorite topics now.”

Sloan: “Boys, I think, are in a place of ‘I’m not quite sure what that looks like, do I wait or do I take initiative?’.”

Sloan: “We have discovered that there is a difference between a male brain and a female brain. There is also so much that has come out on what testosterone does and how it affects our boys. And there’s a wide spectrum of boys- all types of boys are in our world and we want to make sure we really raise happy, healthy, well-adjusted men.”

Sloan: “Boys need adventure, they need a purpose, they need a rite of passage- something they can do that will tell them ‘Yes, I am an adult now. I am able to do this’.”

Sloan: ” They need that nurturing time with mom. Steve Biddulph, in his book, Raising Boys, says that moms are the first girlfriend, the practice girlfriend, and really lay a foundation for all future relationships with girls. Friends, but also romantic relationships.”

Sloan: “They need dads who are present and involved. Many boys lock on to their dads at around age six or seven and will do all they can to get their fathers attention. They are watching their dads, coaches, and teachers, to learn what it means and looks like to be a man.”

Sloan: “Boys need one-on-one time with their dad. Dads can teach them a skill or find a hobby or activity, like boy scouts, that they can do together…That’s the thing they will take with them into their adulthood and remember doing with their parent, their happy memories.”

Audrey: “It’s really nice for each parent to have something that they do with each child.”

Sloan: “About the age of fourteen, there will be an increase in testosterone. 800% increase in testosterone. And at the same time, the brain is pruning, so teenage boys, at that age, do lock heads with their dads. It’s great if there’s an uncle or a coach or mentor that can step in and help them through that period of change.”

Sloan: “At that age, boys will distance themselves from their moms and they will lock heads with their dads. It’s natural, it’s normal, it’s developmental. They come back!”

Audrey: “Becoming your own person: It’s a messy process to separate from your parents but it is part of development for girls and boys. It’s good for parents to recognize that it is normal for the pullback to happen.”

Sloan:  I think we benefit greatly if before they hit those years to parent from a connected space. Authoritarian, controlling parenting tends to produce riskier behaviors. You get kids exploring different kinds of activities, that we might find more shocking and a little dangerous, especially if we’ve been very controlling with our children. Beforehand, the goal is to lay a foundation of connectedness–just a connection to their hearts, and parent from a place of coaching, not controlling.”

Sloan: “Any kind of bad behavior is a message to us, telling us the skill that this child is learning.”

Sloan: “I believe that parenting is as much about us as it is about our children.”

Sloan: “We forget how important it is to give our boys the words for their emotions and to not deny or dismiss emotions. We need to actually educate boys that crying is actually really important if you feel an emotion.”

Audrey: “I think there are very few settings where boys feel comfortable sharing feelings.”

Sloan: “The other thing that’s really important in our culture is that rite of passage experience.”

Sloan: “All boys need to do something where the outcome is not guaranteed.”


“I’ve Been Watching You” by Rodney Atkins

Raising Boys – Sloan’s post here at Sunshine Parenting

10 Best Books for Parents of Boys

Raising Cain Documentary

Raising Girls, Sloan Walsh
Tina Payne Bryson
The Center for Connection
Ep. 20: The Yes Brain with Tina Payne Bryson (podcast episode)
Enjoy Your Teen Daughter

Sloan’s bio:

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