3 Ways to Cultivate a Heart for Justice in Your Son

Running into the kitchen, he put on the brakes just before he ran in to me.

“They didn’t make the call! Number 33 just got plowed over and had a face-mask and they didn’t call it,” he reported, tears welling up in his eyes. I knelt down, spatula in my hand from making dinner, and hugged him. I asked about the play again and said I was sorry the call was missed. “It is so hard when others miss what we see as right,” I replied quietly. He nodded, sniffed, and trudged back to the game.

3 Ways to Cultivate a Heart for Justice in Your Son via The MOB Society

Over the last two months there has been an increase of understanding the games of football and basketball in our house, as well as some impassioned (new) fans. It has been fun to see my seven year-old learn the rules of the game and then actually follow the game.

A realization donned on me that evening, as I saw something of myself in my son–a love for justice. I remember back to when I was pregnant with him. While reading Kite Runner I cried my eyes out and ultimately threw the book across the room at the injustice one of the younger boys experienced. I didn’t want our son to be like that, I wanted him to fight for what is right, speak up for those that had no voice, and seek the God that redeems all injustice. I want him to be a tenderhearted warrior.

We talk a good bit about the poor at our house, as my husband is a missions minister and I work for an organization that sustainably employs women out of trafficking. I confess though, I didn’t think any of it was sticking. We pray for those with no voice at our house and every now and then we spend some time ministering locally downtown.

That Saturday night, I stood in wonder there at the stove… wondering what I had done right? My heart was melting inside of me that he even cared for someone he didn’t know to be treated fairly, but simultaneously, I froze in a panic trying to figure out how that had even happened.

How do you cultivate a love for justice in your children? 

1. Provide people or situations to pray for those that live in/with unjust/unfair situations. Pray that the Lord would give your boys eyes to see others as He sees them. Pray that He would give you eyes to see your children and those around you, as He sees them.

2. Read stories in the Bible of those who experienced injustice. Talk about why and how they responded and ultimately, what God did. There are more stories that I can count (Isaac, Joseph, the Israelites wandering, Job, Zaccheaus, the Samaritan woman, etc.).

3. Talk with your boys about how God calls us to speak for those with no voice. Share with them that there will be many situations where fairness isn’t even present, but that does not mean God isn’t. Show them where God uses injustice/unfairness to further His plan and increase the Kingdom.

Fairness and injustice is a painful struggle we will all experience during our lifetime. Helping to equip our boys with a godly response not only gives them wheels to their vehicle, but sets them on a road to success, instead of disappointment.

I am honestly not sure I am doing everything right with my kids. I disappoint, hurt, and sometimes yell, even when I don’t mean to, but as I trace back to some things we are trying with our kids, I am seeing small buds of fruit on the trees.

Lord, I pray that You would give us eyes too see others with compassion. That you would give our boys a heart for those who have no voice. Jesus, thank you for your passion for justice and that nothing and no one escapes your watchful eye. Father, help us guide our sons to be Tenderhearted Warriors for You, that they would love mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with You.

Kristi-GriemWife to one tall man, mom to two littles (1 boy, 1 girl), lover of laughter, passionate about freedom, ending human trafficking, and you. Praying you know today the value you hold as the daughter of the King

 

Helping Kids Win Friends….The Old Fashioned Way.

One thing I love about having boys who are close in age is when one of them naturally mentors the other. My oldest son is very level-headed, and has more than once offered his younger brother wisdom beyond his years.

Sometimes when I head towards their bedroom late at night to say goodnight, I will overhear a conversation that is worth stopping in my tracks to…well, just listen to for a moment. (I’ve let them know I do it, so that isn’t really eavesdropping, right? :))

Helping Kids Win Friends....The Old Fashioned Way via The MOB Society

One of my favorite such listening moments will stick with me for a long time. Apparently, the younger son was struggling with a bit of insecurity. He wasn’t sure he fit in well enough in his social group, and was opening up to his brother about his feelings. He wanted to make sure people liked him. He wondered why so-and-so always called other friends to hang out, and didn’t call him very often. He just wanted to believe that people liked him.

My mommy-instinct was to jump in and try to solve all of his problems. I wanted to reassure him of how important he was and even find some creative way to find out why so-and-so wasn’t calling…surely, he must realize how much fun my boy was to hang out with! (not biased at all, I know!) But before I could come to the rescue, I heard my older son handling things even better than I could.

He didn’t feel sorry for his brother, or tell him what to do. Instead, he shared from his own experience: “What I try to do,” he said, “is just be nice to everyone.” He went on, “Even if people don’t think you’re cool right away, if you’re kind to everyone, eventually people will realize it, and they will like you. Everyone likes people who are kind and build others up, so I try to do that. I just try to be nice to everyone, all of the time.”

I smiled and nodded.

“Be nice to everyone all of the time.”

Now there’s an idea we should all try.

I have watched this older son interact with people, and I see his method paying off. He has never been the most popular kid, and since he is quieter and homeschooled, he doesn’t have the huge group of friends that some kids might. But as the years go on, I see that he is being called on more when kids are looking for a real friend. People are drawn to him. He is trusted. People ask him for help or advice or to just hang out. And no wonder–He is truly nice. All of the time.

Sometimes this world can be a very hard place, and we need to teach our kids to have some guards up. Yet I hope we can also steer our sons to some very foundational truths, given to us by the greatest teacher and mentor, Jesus: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Or, in the simple words of a humble teenager, “Be nice to everyone, all of the time.”

A few books that I have found helpful…  (amazon affiliate links:)
Tender Warrior: Every Man’s Purpose, Every Woman’s Dream, Every Child’s Hope
Bringing Up Boys
Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Monica-SwansonMonica and her husband Dave are raising their four sons on the North Shore of Oahu. They home school their boys who are also surfers, skaters and basic beach boys (“groms”). Monica shares the adventure and comedy of their life, and all sorts of other things Hawaii-related at www.thegrommom.com.

Helping Boys with Hard-to-Handle Hearts

When I heard that we were taking a break from discussing hard-to-handle boys this month and instead focusing on the tender-hearted boy, I laughed.

I’m not sure that I have a full blown hard-to-handle boy, but if I had to pick the hardest-to-handle out of a line up of my three boys it would be the one with the tender heart.

Helping Boys with Hard-to-Handle Hearts via The MOB Society

His sensitive nature is what I love about him, but also what I find most concerning. My tenderhearted warrior has big feelings. It’s not that I find him hard-to-handle so much as he finds his own emotions hard-to-handle. And frankly, it does prick my heart and leave me worrying about how that will manifest in his future.

  • He is troubled by transition. Adjusting to change is hard for him, something to which we have to give special attention since we move often.
  • He is quick to anger. One wrong word from a brother causes an eruption of rage.
  • He is attached. Being away from his siblings or his dad and makes him sad and scared.
  • He is moved by music. A melancholy piano concerto brings him to tears.

So how do I help mold my sensitive boy into a responsible man?

Validate

I think the biggest thing I can do is validate his feelings. It’s important that he understands that what he feels is okay. It’s okay to miss us when we’re gone. It’s okay to be sad when we leave friends behind. It’s okay to be angry when someone hurts us. These things are normal and should not be looked down upon.

Clarify

The second biggest thing I do is draw the distinction between feelings and actions. It’s not okay to hit when we’re angry. It’s not okay to yell or say mean things when someone has hurt us.

Communicate

I lean towards talking more than punishing. There are consequences for actions in our house (as there is in life), but I believe it’s more important for us to help him process all the big, scary things happening in his heart and mind. I want him to understand who he is, how he is, why he is. I hope that the better he understands how he’s wired, the better he will be at controlling his actions.

So often the sensitive soul needs communication, not condemnation.

My biggest prayer and desire for my sensitive son’s future is that he learns to feel his great big emotions without acting destructively. I know he’ll never be perfect. I know he will fail sometimes. I know that it may hurt my mother’s heart to watch him walk this path as an adult, but I pray that God gives me the unfailing love to respond in grace and compassion towards the boy who is wired to feel–even when those feelings get the best of him.

RELATED READING:

Maybe the offender needs more attention than the wounded.

5 ways to help kids control their emotions.

You cannot expect to raise children who are self-controlled and gentle when you are not.

 

JessicaJessica (Bohemian) Bowman is a jack of all internets and a mother of four. Grace is her middle name (not really) and she’s been married for fourteen years to a guy she really super likes (since she was seventeen!). In 2015 her family is moving to a sensitive country in South Asia to do good work. Because Jesus.

Giving our Boys “God-Confidence”

“I can’t!”

“I can’t take the garbage out.”

“I can’t get the entire basement cleaned by myself.”

“I can’t carry the laundry up the stairs.”

“I can’t do the worksheet by myself.”

I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

Just the sound of those two little words irritates this mama to no end.

Giving our Boys "God-Confidence" via The MOB Society

What Kind of “I Can’t” Is It?

I don’t make a habit of asking my kiddos to do things they’re incapable of doing. I try to make sure what I’m asking of them, even if it’s challenging, is doable. When I hear, “I can’t,” I know that it’s either because of laziness or lack of confidence.

It’s usually pretty easy to determine which one it is. “I can’t clean up all the toys myself,” is obviously laziness. But many other “I can’ts” I hear from my son are a lack of confidence.

The self-esteem movement of the 1990’s taught parents to instill in our sons a sense of “self-confidence,” but the Bible has a different take on the matter. Our sons’ problem is not a low sense of self-worth or a low self-image—as if their opinion of themselves is what matters most.

Whose evaluation matters most? God’s, not our our own.

By whose standard are we measured? God’s, not our own.

What our sons needs is not self-confidence, but God-confidence.

When your son says, “I can’t!” point him to the One who can.

Using the Proverbs to Nurture

The Proverbs hold a wealth of instruction, especially for growing boys. It is easily one of the most practical books in the Bible in terms of teaching your children about actions and consequences.

If your son is saying a lot of “I can’t’s”—born either out laziness or a lack of confidence—it might be worth spending some time in the Proverbs with your son. The process involves two steps:

  • Lay the Foundation – During a quiet time of conversation (such as family devotions), discuss a pertinent proverb with your son. Talk about what it means and how it applies to him.
  • Use the Moment – When you hear an “I can’t,” gently stop you son and say, “Remember what the Proverbs say,” and then quote the beginning part of the proverb you previously discussed. See if your son can repeat the second half (if not, say it for him). Repeat this process each time, and in time, your son will know the proverb by heart, and he’ll learn to discern truth from error.

Proverbs on Laziness

“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” – Proverbs 12:11 (NIV) 

“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV) 

Proverbs on God-Confidence

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6 (ESV)

“…for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” – Proverbs 3:26 (ESV)

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

Continue to pray for your sons and direct them to look to Jesus!

More Resources:

Trisha Gilkerson — Writing Team Member at The MOB SocietyTrisha is wife to her best buddy Luke and homeschooling mama to 4 fun-loving boys. She and her husband blog at Intoxicated on Life about faith, family, and healthy-living. Be sure to subscribe to their family newsletter so you can gain access to their growing library of free resources!

Does Your Child Struggle with Writing? (a perfect “anyschooler” activity!)

(Note: The product below is advertised as homeschool curriculum, but if you’re not a homeschooling family, this product is still for you. I know lots of families who public or private school educate, and supplement their children’s education with Christian resources at home. Really, it’s the perfect choice for “any” schooler!

This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links, Raising Boys Ministries will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for helping support our ministry!)

My youngest son struggles with fine motor skills.

He’s fantastic at sports…one of those kids whose body just gets what he’s supposed to do in pretty much every sport…but he stinks at writing.

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 4.40.20 PM

(“Sultan of Swat, King of Crush, Colossus of Clout, the Great Bambino!” Extra points today if you tell me the name of the movie this line is from in the comments!)

I mean, he REALLY stinks at writing. Throughout his kindergarten and first grade years the mere mention of the word, “writing” reduced us to fits of snotty tears. I say “us” because his antics to avoid writing often brought tears to my eyes, too. I fought this battle bravely until a friend I trust, who happens to have raised six boys pretty well, told me to back off.

So I did. Completely.

Instead of having him write his alphabet, we spent a lot of time identifying letters and just learning to read. When he wrote, I tried not to criticize. As long as I could read it, it passed.

Now, at almost eight years old, his fine motor skills have improved tremendously, so we’re dipping our toes in once again. He’s a great reader (not that he likes it, that’s another post), and with the help of some great products from some great friends, he’s making significant progress.

We’ve gone back to the beginning, and it’s working!

Teach your child to write while focusing on God's Word!

When I heard about this new resource from our friends at Intoxicated On Life, I knew it was the right fit for my little guy.

Write Through the Bible, Junior is a new interdisciplinary study you can use to teach your young child to write while focusing on God’s word. This curriculum, geared towards 4-6 year olds, is a full-year curriculum, but—like us—you can use it for older children, starting in the middle of the year, too!

A review of the new Write Through the Bible Jr. Curriculum!

(In the photos above, in order from left to right, you can see the front of the new WTTB Jr, my son’s “A” page—this is SUCH a huge win for us. I wish I had a picture of how bad it once was—a snapshot of week 1’s assignments, WTTB’s width in comparison to some of my other favorite curricula, and the back cover copy. Guys, this is a meaty program, and well worth the price! Read more below).

A Curriculum for Busy Moms

With Write Through the Bible, Junior,  you can complete several subjects at once. This curriculum will allow you to teach your child to write, discuss new vocabulary words, dig deep into the Word of God, and memorize a long passage of scripture together.

Not only that, but there is virtually no preparation! There aren’t any involved crafts that take weird supplies—the non-crafty mom’s dream! Everything you need for this curriculum you probably already have at home.

Features

This program was designed to incorporate several subjects in one. Below are a few things your child will learn as they work through this book:

  • Improve fine motor coordination
  • Learn letter sounds
  • Learn how to form letter
  • Memorize Philippians 2:1-18
  • Learn new vocabulary words
  • Study Philippians 2:1-18 and learn what it means to have a heart of humility.

In addition, this full-year program is very affordable costing just $17 for the digital download or $27 for the softcover book. It comes with lots of options, offering you various Bible translations and fonts to choose from. My family chose the soft cover copy, ESV version, using ball-and-stick, because we like having a physical product, and my boys have been using ball-and-stick from the beginning. I’m an ESV lover, so it was an easy choice!

Purchase Now: Receive $49 in Bonuses!

During the launch of Write Through the Bible, Junior you can take advantage of these exciting offers! These are good for 10 days only, so don’t delay. This special ends on March 27, 11:59 PM.

Worth $49, this is the perfect time to purchase your workbook. Be sure to fill out this form after purchasing, so you can receive your bonus offers.

• Coupon book with fantastic offers from popular homeschool publishers.

• 7 bonus books worth $49 to use with your child!

You’ll receive all of these bonuses after purchasing the digital download for just $17 or the softcover book for only $27. Grab your copy today and get started, or tuck it away as part of next year’s curriculum!

*Thanks to Intoxicated On Life for providing a free softcover copy of Write Through the Bible, Junior to me. Of course, all opinions are 100% my own, and 100% true according to my family’s experience!