A cry of joy escaped the snorkel tube as my four year old jumped over the side of the low bamboo boat. His flippers carried him off behind Daddy before the two disappeared deep into coral, far beyond my reach. Memories of my own near-drowning at Jacob’s age kept me fastened to the bench, taking my inner cautions captive so my boy could discover a whole new world on his Dadventure. It’s not just okay to make room for Dadventures in a boy’s life; it’s good.
Our family believes in Dadventures. Since my husband has an adventurous spirit, I should’ve known our kids were destined for lessons in reptile captures and starting fires with flint. My accident-prone childhood left a deep sense of caution in my gut, but before our littles were out of baby backpacks, I choose to embrace my husband’s contributions. After all, boys watch and listen to mom’s attitude about Dadventures.
When they’re little and their world hinges on mommy, they listen to see if she believes in daddy, trusts him, and respects him. Does she embrace male/female differences by encouraging masculine parenting? Sons need deposits from dad as much as from mom. Single moms work hard to compensate and invite godly men to make deposits into their sons. Dad can give what I don’t have to meet needs I can’t. A son is the product of a partnership.
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” (Proverbs 1:8)
While I bobbed on the surface over the coral canyons, Jacob discovered a whole new world, a new side of his Creator, and a side of his dad he never stopped admiring. They explored the world without me, and I was grateful. Let your boy discover the world with dad.
Discoveries of heartache and loneliness had followed by the time our boy weighed his backpack for a canoe trip with a crew of dads and sons and no cell coverage, updates, or moms. There would only be ebony skies with the Northern Lights, crying Loons and high cliffs begging boys to jump into take-your-breath-away water. He wanted to go where I was not invited or prepared to follow. This Dadventure bonded them tighter and moved our son one step closer to the man-circle, which might be why my stomach felt so empty when they drove away. If he was to grow in trust for his dad, I had to make more room for Dadventures. I had to let my boy follow his dad into the world.
God gives gifts to our men to give gifts to our boys.
From the cabin window, I saw angry clouds claiming the distant peak where they climbed. From the safety of my porch, I could only wonder and pray. Three days later they told stories of sheltering in a crevice and crossing chest-high, glacier-fed streams. They still call it “the epic hike.” It’s not merely okay to make room for Dadventures in a boy’s life; it’s good.
I am certain my boy will face challenges, so he needs to learn to face them as a godly man. Let your boy learn to overcome the world from dad.
Mom isn’t called to curb dad’s contribution in the name of concern and caution. We may be tempted to keep our man-cub close to home where we feel in control. Our mom-ways can rob our boys of opportunities to grow into young men, especially if we stifle their father’s part in their progress. Instead of expecting dad to choose mom-approved activities in mom-preferred ways, let’s embrace our men influencing our boys as they are wired to do – as men. When your boy’s older and his world is wide open, he’ll listen to see if mom believes in him, trusts him, and respects him like she did for dad.
Let your boy discover the world with dad.
Let your boy follow dad into the world.
Let your boy learn to overcome from dad.
A mom’s contribution can’t be overstated, but a dad’s contribution can’t be eliminated. Embrace the Dadventures in your boy’s life, and he will learn to discover, follow, and overcome as the man God calls him to be!
For a daughter’s perspective on The Epic Hike & how it impacted her, read here.
Check out the chapters Baby Takes Two & Baby Talk About Daddy in my book Expectant.
God winked when He joined accident-prone Julie with risk-taking Jeff. Together they’ve parented two kids (including a climbing boy!) through serving, reading, and adventuring around the world. While she lives where tea is sweet and grits are cheesy, Julie loves to teach God’s word to women in her hometown and across the globe. She is a Women’s Ministry Leader and author who is also passionate about fighting human trafficking. Check out Julie’s blog home Come Have a Peace (www.juliesanders.org) and Marriage Mondays to find reasons for peace and information about speaking.
My sweet Christian friend pulled into her driveway and I shifted uncomfortably in the passenger seat. She had just asked me point blank about one particular view of motherhood that I knew we differed on, but that I didn’t think we needed to hash out–mostly because I knew that my choice was different from her choice and no matter how nicely I explained my position, she would take it personally.
Sure enough, though I tried to explain gently why I believed what I did, she just nodded her head, and headed quickly into her house.
It was the last time I saw her.
In my mind, I had no problem with being friends with someone who holds different views from me. I tried to reach out to her about 6 months later, but she kindly let me know that she “wasn’t ready” even though we were sisters in Christ.
You know what? I respect her for that.
It hurts and I don’t agree with it, though I do respect it.
But here’s the thing, moms–I long for the day when we can parent differently and even have opposing beliefs about parenting Biblically in the church and still love one another in unity.
Opposing parenting styles should make us varied, not villains.
I have friends who homeschool and some whose children attend private schools. My kids go to a public charter-school.
Some parents in my circles won’t have a television in their home. My husband and I work in entertainment and we let our kids watch a wide variety of shows.
Some families at our church only allow courtship. I think my boys should date a variety of girls under our careful supervision.
Some moms I know think it’s best to shield their boys from anything close to immodesty when it comes to girls. I want my boys to be able to approach a girl in a bikini and not think twice about it so I don’t even discuss modesty with them.
Some of my friends believe in spanking as a regular form of discipline. We have a more grace-based approach where we avoid most traditional forms of training our kids.
But parents, these are all secondary issues when it comes to the Bible. Primary issues like the way of salvation, and the Deity of Jesus are non-negotiable. But when it comes to “gray” areas and personal freedoms to make choices that are not black and white in the Scriptures, they shouldn’t be things we separate over:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Romans 12:16
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Moms, it’s okay to go against the flow of Christian culture, or the culture in your small group at church, or the culture in your extended family. What matters is that you stay true to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life as a parent.
Never allow the culture of your moms’ group to decide the condition of your home life. And on the flip side, love the women in your circles that do things differently than you do.
May all of us respect one another and give lots of room in our lives for the Holy Spirit to lead us-and our friends.
Motherhood is multi-faceted in its challenges. May we be singular in our efforts to parent as we feel led and let others do the same.
A former high school English teacher and budding novelist, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 3 little boys under the age of 6. She and her husband Guy answered the calling to start Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach in Santa Monica, CA or baking her famous Triple Layer Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at www.MotherOfKnights.com
Have you ever felt like you were the only mom who feels the way you do? Like you’re the only one making counter-cultural decisions about and for your kids?
Like you’re swimming upstream in a sea of parents going in a completely opposite direction?
I’ve been there. In fact, I was there just last week when I had to tell my sons they couldn’t download an app “everyone else” had because the ratings were in the gutter.
I really feel bad when they’re embarrassed by my “no’s.” Honestly. I don’t like when they have to tell their friends, “my mom won’t let me,” with downcast eyes. But you know what I like even less?
The thought of shirking the call God has placed on my life to protect them, love them well, fight for them. I’m determined to honor God with my parenting, even if it makes me feel like I’m standing alone.
Starting tomorrow, and for the whole month of April, we’ll be talking about counter-cultural parenting here at the MOB Society. From educational choice, to athletics…we’ll be tackling some of the hot topic subjects parents deal with today, helping you fine tune your stance and empowering you to walk it out no matter what.
It’s going to be a robust month, and we think you’ll leave inspired to “just keep swimming” in whatever direction God calls you to.
To make sure all of April’s posts find their way to your inbox, just enter your email address in the box below, then hit “submit.”
And check back here frequently to see an updated list of all this month’s posts!
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.
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.
Wife 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
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? :))
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.”
Monica 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.