Welcome to Titus Two Saturdays (TTS) at the MOB Society!
We know so many of you are desperately in need of an older mama to come alongside you and help you figure out how to love your husband well, serve your children, and take care of the responsibilities that come along with being a woman. Doesn’t there seem to be a shortage of godly women stepping up to this role? Well, we have brought together a team of amazing women willing to share their lives with those of us in the throes of young motherhood.
This weeks Question:
“My son is almost 7 and he cries very easily from small injuries and hurt feelings. How can I help him “toughen up” without losing his sensitivity or causing any emotional harm? “
Laura Lee Groves
This is another one of those “balance” issues we face as boy moms. We want our boys to be strong but sensitive, and teaching that takes balance. Finding the line is hard. Some of these tips may help you look at this from another perspective.
- Realize that God made your son and even if this is just a stage, he’s going through this for a reason. I know I needed to be stretched a bit and God gave me sons that would do that. He used my boys to show me how others felt and even to hold up a mirror to my own flaws at times.
- Empathize with your son. Don’t automatically cut him off—let him talk about the problem a bit. Most of us need just a little validation that, indeed, something was hurtful or unkind. We want others to stand with us. Tell your son, “I bet that does hurt,” but follow it up with “What can we do to make this better?” Don’t stop with the problem – lead him into looking for a solution. Let him brainstorm with you and try to solve the problem together.
- Explain things to him. Information helps us understand why others act the way they do. If he’s worried about an upcoming trip or doctor visit, explain ahead of time what will happen. Empower him with knowledge so he won’t go into the situation full of unfounded fears.
- Revisit tough experiences, reminding him how he got through and what he learned from those times. Show him how his experience can help someone else in the same situation.
This is not uncommon, especially at this age. Pray for wisdom in a balanced response to your son. Most of all, stay open. Don’t push him into putting on a mask and denying his feelings. Teach him how to deal with those feelings.
Learning how to have tough skin but a tender heart is one of many challenging transitions your son will navigate. He is blessed to have a mother who understands this “rite of passage” as he matures!
- Pray for wisdom first—to see the situation and your son’s heart as God does.
- Listen, listen, listen—to what your son is saying, but also to what he is not saying. (Relying on the Holy Spirit for insight is helpful!) Everyone wants to be heard. Listening is one of the most effective ways we can care for people. Frequently (and this will be more true as your son grows older) our children don’t need our words as much as they need our ears.
- Communicate. a) Reflect back to your son what you think he said. For example, “I hear you say that your feelings are hurt.” (This helps him develop emotional proficiency and gives him a chance to affirm or correct. “Yes, my feelings are hurt.” or “No, mom, I’m actually angry.”). b) Affirm the feeling. “I can see that you are angry.” (Do not try to talk him out of whatever feeling it is.) c) Allow for elaboration. If he needs to talk, keep listening. Always leave an open door for communication.
- Normalize. Simply “being heard” may be all your son needs. If he seems to need more, give him perspective on the incident that triggered the emotion. (“It’s normal to get angry under those circumstances.”) Point to a scriptural principle (“pray for those who hurt you”). You may need to come back to this at a later time when emotions are not fresh. If it is a physical hurt, you can remind him that God made our bodies to heal, and then point out the healed spot a week or so later.
- Move ahead. Encourage him to forgive (this takes time and practice!) and focus on the positive, not dwelling on the hurt.
This sounds complicated but it only takes moments to affirm and encourage, and as you both develop the habit, it will become more natural.
Lord, help this boy grow to be the man you want him to be, and give his mother the wisdom to help in the process.