When nurses handed us our swaddled babies, we sighed deeply. We might have kissed their downy heads or examined them head to toe. We might have felt a bubble of joy deep down or wept openly. We might have done all of these things. And while the words may not have been spoken, in that moment we had achieved what women from the first century and still in many countries today deem the highest act of motherhood:
We had produced a son.
I have one son. He was fathered by my husband, also an only son. With this child, a family name continues. He is now 11 years old and he has lived up to the words scrawled over his crib. Definition of a Boy:// Noise with dirt on it
Yes, he is typical. He is his Dad's shadow, loves to taunt sister, doesn't mind a stain or two, generally has messy hands, runs instead of walks, eats and eats and then asks for a snack. His backpack is a disaster, he forgets his lunch in the car and leaves his clothes on the floor.
But there were things I didn't expect along the way: like the way he reaches for my hand, is naturally kind to others, always roots for the underdog, how he feels joy and pain deeply and is ruled by a desire to make peace. I didn't expect to be his first love.
Lately his Daddy has been talking to him privately about boy things. And girls. With it has come a maturity I didn't expect. It's a necessary hard part of parenting. We must remind ourselves, if we don't teach them, the world will show them. (<----Tweet That!)
I can't help but think about my son as a grown up man someday, someone's husband, a father. It makes me want to raise the kind of boy I would want my girls to marry. It makes me want to look ahead because the future will be here tomorrow; it makes me want to raise a man of faith.
I want to encourage you, Boy Mom, whether your babe is in your arms or his shoes are smelling up his room, teaching your son now about grace and girls, sex and faith is not only building character, it's preparing him to be a good man, husband and father in the future.
You're not only his mother, you're his example. So much of who my son will be is being formed now and who he is today was influenced years ago. You can never start too young or too late.
1. Always treat girls with respect: It's not cute or adorable to push our sons into little boy/girl relationships, posting pictures of them holding hands or kissing little girlfriends at church. We live in a world that sexually objectifies our daughters and our sons, turning them into sex symbols barely out of puberty. Teaching our sons to always respect girls will follow them into the teenaged years when they become attracted to girls. Girls are not pretty faces or sexy bodies; they are somebody's daughter, our sisters, some day they will be mothers.
2. There's grace when you fail: I want my son to know that we don't expect perfection. We know he will have his struggles and temptations. It's hard to think about when they are young, but it will be a reality. I married a wonderful man who didn't have a lot of grace in his life and in our first years of marriage, I was stingy with it. The combination made him feel like keeping his struggle a secret was the only option. God offers grace and our sons need the freedom to be human because that's where we learn to be overcomers.
3. Surround yourself with accountability: I want my son to be able to tell me anything. And when he can't sleep and comes to tell me 3 times, I usually realize he needs to talk. He opens ups and shares what's bothering him. Little boys grow up to be men who crave accountability. We weren't meant to live like an island. As moms, keeping that line of communication open is crucial. It makes them the kind of husband that can openly talk to his wife and seek out Godly men to share struggles with.
4. It's about self control It's probably the most important thing I pray for my son. I can't filter negative from his life forever. Oh, I might try. We monitor outside influences in our home and even out of our home. But I won't be able to do so forever. At some point, he will be exposed to the very things I've tried to protect him from. So, teaching him self control and praying that this fruit of the spirit is active and alive in him is what will keep him pure and in right relationships on his life. My son asked my husband the other day, "How do I get more of it?" I loved my husband's answer: "Son, you fall in love with Jesus. I'll show you how."
So, BoyMom, take courage. The task ahead is daunting, but your daily hard work of chasing that busy toddler and calling out math facts and washing out mud stains, is doing more than you think. Your daily presence in your son's life is a incredible. Your love and influence, bad days and all, are preparing your son for a beautiful future.
You are raising a man of faith.
Kristen Welch blogs at wearethatfamiliy.com about parenting, marriage, and inspirational living. Her second book, a memoir with the working title Rhinestone Jesus: A Spiritual Journey from Safe and Sparkly to Authentic and Dangerous will be released in Spring 2014 with Tyndale Momentum. Kristen and her family also founded Mercy House Kenya, in 2010, a maternity home for pregnant girls living in extreme poverty. She and Terrell live in Texas with their three funny kids.
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