While rushing to get ready for an appointment the other day, my three year old became very concerned. Here is a glimpse into our conversation.
Him: “Mom, where are you going?”
Me: “Mommy is going to the doctor, Darling.”
Him: “What hurts.”
Me: “Nothing hurts, Love. It’s just a recheck. ”
He looks up at me with those big brown eyes and says, “Mahhhhmmmmm, nobody goes to the doctor unless something hurts. I need to go too so that I can take care of you.”
Heart melting, I knelt down and said, “I promise nothing hurts and I love that you want to take care of me. I am so proud of you. You are an amazing human being, my son.”
With that he gave me the half grin and looking down at the floor said, “Well make sure they give you a sticker when you’re done.”
“I will.” I said, as I watched him run back to his toys.
I cannot proceed without saying that, of all three of my children, this is the child with the toughest skin. Nothing gets to him. If you don’t like something about him, he couldn’t care less. He’s strong, determined and focused.
This tender moment with him was confirmation that, no matter how tough or strong one may seem, everyone needs connection. Maybe all of those times when I hugged him tightly even when he was squirming to get away, have been effective?
Raising boys is a huge responsibility and one that is not to be taken lightly. Yes, right now they are boys, but one day they will be men.
Am I raising men of integrity?
Am I intentional when it comes to praying for my men in the making? Or do I come before the Father and say, “Lord, you know what they need. You know who they are. Please help them seek you always. Amen.”
Honest answer… as much as I don’t like it… there are far more times when I say the brief, non specific, saying this out of a feeling of duty or guilt, prayer.
This year, my goal has been to ask the Father for 3 specific things that He would have me pray for each of my children.
I wanted Him to show me all at once so that I could make my list and get started. However, He is making it clear that more will be revealed as time goes on. He is calling me to step back, put down my list and observe my precious ones.
In doing so, He is showing me a few things about my boys that are part of their DNA, the way they are created, not things that I should try to break them of (so to speak) or change.
Boys need to release energy. They need to scream, throw sticks and balls and various other things. They need to run until they are out of breath. To deprive them of this outlet is to ask for caged chaos.
Boys need to know that it’s okay to express emotion. They shouldn’t have to turn in their “man card” before having a good cry? Since when does being male mean that you have dehydrated tear ducts? This is important, because the world will tell them otherwise. Suppressed emotion now = misplaced anger later. Whether you have testosterone or estrogen, crying is healthy. Be a safe place for them to cry.
Boys need discipline with encouragement. What do I mean? I’m not totally sure I can explain it… Depending on what they are being corrected for, they need to be encouraged at the same time. For example… “No, you don’t need to use a whole roll of paper towels, but I am so proud of you for cleaning up the spill yourself.” They need to know that they are being “groomed for greatness” and that they are going to make mistakes along the way. Wait to make a big deal when the mistakes involve their character.
Boys need the freedom to be warriors, adventurers and conquerors. God put this desire in them. Let them make pretend guns out of their legos and swords out of branches that they find on the ground. Don’t hinder them from digging in the dirt, building forts and climbing on things.
When they come in from playing, they should smell like they need a bath.
Ladies, this goes for grown men as well. They need to be around other men. I’m not talking about at the bar (necessarily), but whether they play golf or shoot skeet, they need that time to bond, away from us. They are just little boys with long legs.
That last paragraph is probably going to irritate some of you, but I’m okay with that, because maybe you have yet to realize, the more you love them with an open palm, the more they will love coming home to you. For those of you thinking, “You don’t know my husband!” You’re right, I don’t. However, out of all the men, including mine, that I have talked to, the response has been unanimous.
I strongly suggest, if you haven’t already, that you read “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge. You will not agree with everything he says, but that’s okay. There are so many useful things to walk away with and who better to explain a man than, well, a man?!
I cannot and should not expect my boys (including the big one) to act like a girlfriend in any way, shape or form. If I do, I am setting myself up for constant disappointment. Whether we are talking about a 3 year old or a 36 year old, they do not want to sit and talk about feelings for hours. Honestly, they do not want to hear us verbally process in circles until we figure out the answer. When it comes to my boys, I have found bullet points to be most useful.
When I need a girlfriend, I call a girlfriend. See how easy that is?! There are some things that men will never understand about us. Let’s be honest, there’s plenty that we don’t even understand about ourselves. The sooner we accept this truth, the better off we will be.
To sum it up, here is what I am learning about being the mother of boys…
- Be a builder, not a tearer down.
- Be a safe place for vulnerability.
- Love them until you feel that you cannot love anymore. No matter their reaction, it matters.
- NEVER embarrass or discipline them in front of others. This should be a private thing and kept within the sanctuary of the family.
- Tell them you love them and you are SO proud of them.
- Be sincere and specific when complimenting their efforts and achievements.
- Show them that they are yours, no matter what. I uses phrases like, “My son.”
- Brag on them in front of others.
- Be someone that sets the standard for who they will want to marry.
- Be affectionate to your husband in front of them. Talk about how strong he is and what a wonderful provider he is. Thank him for how hard he works. Tell him that you love him when they can hear it. Kiss him on the mouth when he leaves the house or for no reason at all. It’s okay for them to see that. Don’t let their response of “Ewwwwwwwwwwww” fool you. They are learning how to interact in a healthy way with the one they love. (If there is not a husband in the picture, be very careful about the way you speak about men in front of them.)
- Pray for and with them. Pray for strength and valor. Pray for wisdom and guidance. Pray for your abilities as a mother. Pray for your family. Pray that God will guard their heart and direct their decisions.
Ladies, if you are in a relationship or married to a man that didn’t experience this from his mother, it’s not too late. It’s never too late.
So, men, women, children…what would you add to my list?