Here stand seven of my eight boys. Each with unique strengths and weaknesses.
They are not ordinary young men. I know this. God has given me a home full of leaders.
Mothering leaders is not for the faint hearted.
Raising boys to become men doesn’t just happen with age, rather, it’s the transformation from years of investment in prayer and support.
While they grow into wonderful young men, they start off as determined toddlers, ambitious four-year-olds, challenging seven-year-olds and questioning teens. These characteristics aren’t “bad” they just need some shaping.
Each of my boys have unique interests, each has their own dragons to fight, their own struggles to tame, and their own strengths to shape. They are not “perfect” sons, but they are really good sons.
I feel very blessed. I know I am blessed!
As I walk down the halls and go through my days, I watch my boys work, play, sleep, and often think…I get to observe the making of a man. Here before me, is a future husband, a future daddy, walking through my home. How can I invest in his life today so that he becomes the type of man that pleases God?
Practical steps a mother can take while raising boys to become men:
1- Let them be boys. Understand they talk, play, and work differently than we do as women. That means that sometimes my house can look a little crazy. Let them work and play in ways we never would as girls, just put a few safety steps in place without taking away all the fun.
Remind them of the “rules of engagement”:
We never put someone else down to lift ourselves up.
We invest in the lives of others.
We guard our mouths- no foolish speech is allowed.
We respect one another no matter what we’re doing, or how young or old.
We keep our focus on living, working and playing in a way that honors God.
As a mom, if I see my boys aren’t following the “rules” then we talk. Otherwise, it’s pretty much anything goes! Wow! Could I ever tell you some stories, but that’s another blog post! BOYS!
2- Don’t coddle them too much. Display tenderness to them, but let them hurt, sweat and ache. It’s okay. There are times my boys have wanted to shrink back from a task because it was hard or because they were hurting. With some encouragement, they saw the task through. My first mommy response would have been to take the pain factor away, yet my husband is always reminding me of the importance for the boys to see a job through no matter how time consuming or painful. It was hard for me at first, however, the pride in their accomplishment was rewarding to watch! My young boys often show me the calluses on their hands or their tans from working outside as if they were badges of honor. Older brothers have grown accustomed to the tough hands and sun stained skin. It’s a process… it’s the making of a boy into a man.
3- Encourage them to be adventurous- Support the wild side! If we’re involved in the dreaming of their adventure we can be involved in the shaping of that adventure. And let’s be honest, sometimes our men need the caution of their wife before they tackle something crazy. In the same way, our boys can often use some insight from mom before they dive into the unknown. There are other times we just need to be quiet and let them do what God’s put in their heart to do. I pray a great deal about being a woman of discernment and knowing the right time to speak and the right time to keep silent.
4- Direct their strong-willed behaviors into leadership qualities– instead of getting into a power struggle with my boys over not doing a task. I set them in charge of that task for the entire family. For example, when I’ve had boys who argued over doing dishes, I would make them in charge of having the kitchen clean, including dishes. They were encouraged to delegate tasks, I would inspect the final project and they were ultimately responsible for their team that night. The position of leadership often changes so not just one of the boys is always in charge. It’s common for me to put someone in charge that lacks leadership in that area so that they can grow their leadership skills.
5- Keep boys busy! Especially in the teen years. Keep them engaged! Keep them dreaming and working for their future. If they have no focus keep talking with them, help them create a dream that is theirs and then pray for them, support them and encourage them to fight for that dream!
FAQ from other moms raising boys to become men
1- What do you think about boys playing with superheroes? I don’t feed into this one way or another. I downplay most of the commercialism of cartoon characters, movie actors, and such. This is just our family’s personal preference. If I have a little boy who enjoyed Thomas the Train I would buy them some Thomas the Train items, but I would focus more on getting him real train items in general. If I had a child who liked Bob the Builder they might have a few Bob the Builder items but the rest would be construction tools. Little ones often get a few of the toys, but for the most part we find safe items at the hardware store they can use. We have plenty of toys don’t get me wrong. However, we use our child’s playtime to reinforce what we are teaching as far as character qualities, our Faith, and the importance of family.
2- What do I do if my son is always fighting with me when I ask him to do something? First, you need to make sure he respects you as God’s authority over his life. Boys who grow to be men who do not respect their authority are dangerous men and in no way God-glorifying men. Even Jesus displayed the example to us of living under the authority of his Father. Our sons need to realize that while they want respect, they need to learn no one can be respected who doesn’t show respect. With that said, we also need to make sure we’re showing our sons what a helpmeet looks like. We can do this by our example in our marriage, but also in the way that we help them. We can reduce a great deal of the fighting if we focus on building relationships with them instead of simply demanding things from them a certain way and a certain time.
We don’t want to be overpowering moms and we don’t want to be disconnected moms. We want to be intentional moms!! I want my boys to know the difference between a Godly woman who invests in a man’s life so that he can live out the vision God’s placed in his heart compared to a woman who manipulates a man for her own profit. We can teach our boys this principal at a young age by our example. Even when my boys are little I am using phrases such as, “Mommy wants to help you do what God’s called you to do.” As they grow into teens we take many walks and drives together talking about their dreams. We’ve invested in our boys financially and with our time. We’ve called in people with the skills and time to invest in my sons to help them define and promote the dream they have.
3- How do you handle your teen boys listening to music or watching movies you don’t approve of? With a lot of prayer and grace. I don’t want my boys feeling they have to do and like everything I do. We are different. We are unique and I want to encourage that uniqueness. When the boys are little I do say, “yes you can listen to that music.” or “No you can’t watch that movie.” When the get older it’s a completely different ball game. They have to know what pleases God and do what they are convicted to do or not do. I want to support good decisions and offer them questions to think about when I’m concerned. If it was a movie or music that was completely unacceptable then we simply say, “That’s not allowed in our home.” I can only think of one, maybe two times I’ve had to say that. At the same time, I can think of multiple times each day my boys are listening to music I wouldn’t listen to or watching a movie at the end of the week that I wouldn’t watch. That’s okay. We are each unique with different interests, likes, and dislikes. As long as we keep our focus to glorify the Lord, then this momma is happy!
Raising Boys to become men… it’s not easy, but it’s oh, so rewarding!!!
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood