Seek Her Heart: A Letter to My Son (on girls)

My Dear Son,

 Lately, you’ve been at the forefront of my mind. In fact, you and your future are pretty much all I can think about. With each passing day, month, and year, I’m infinitely aware of how fast time is flying by–how quickly you’re growing up.

 And it’s hard.

 You’re my boy–the one I’m raising, the one I cry over, laugh with, love, and yes, worry about…which is why I feel the need to share something with you (before I forget).  

-Don't let the world fool you into

 Now, I know at this stage of the game, you’re not all that interested in the opposite sex…but the time is coming. I see it already. Like when the young ladies from down the street show up at our front door, unannounced. Or the way your female classmates say “hi,” as they pass by you at school. And even though I can’t help but smile each time one of these precious creatures approaches you, there’s something I want you to keep in mind as those not-too-distant days of dating (and eventually marriage) hurriedly make their way onto the horizon:

 Set your sights on her heart.

 Pretty soon you’ll be spending a lot of time thinking about girls. Undeniably, there will be a number of them vying for your attention too. But the woman you fall in love with? The one you want to spend the rest of your life with? Son, her beauty doesn’t reside in her appearance. It’s not in the warm smile she boasts, or the made-up face she wears. Her beauty dwells within. It’s the way she loves the Lord—and the way in which she’ll love you. It’s in her faith. It’s found in her heart.

 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. –Luke 12:34 (NIV)

So, don’t allow our culture or this world we’re living in tell you otherwise. Don’t let it fool you into thinking that a woman’s worth is in the way she dresses, the way her hair is styled, or how her body looks…because it’s a lie. However, a woman whose heart resides in Christ? That’s the girl you want. A woman who loves and fears the Lord? Son, she’ll love you as the Bible instructs her to–when the money is tight and the bills are big, when hardship is found, and when illness is present. Indeed, that’s the union you’re looking for–one that’s centered in Him.

 This season that’s approaching? The road that’s just ahead? I pray you’ll seek the Lord’s counsel…that you’ll remain in His word. And I pray that the girl whose heart you seek to win, will have an everlasting love for our Heavenly Father.

 Because it’s everything.

 All My Love,

Mom

Taking Action:

1. Point the Way

Everyday our boys are subjected to images (via media) focused heavily on the outward appearances of women. But as their moms, we’re not powerless in what they’re exposed to. We can teach them to appreciate modesty, just as we can coach them on what’s most important in a world that chooses to do the opposite.

2. Pray

No matter their age, we can pray for the future of our boys and those of the women they‘ll marry. We can ask our Heavenly Father to provide them with wisdom and discernment in the days ahead. Because God should know the sound of our voice, the bending of our knees, and the cries of our heart.

Pray with me?

Heavenly Father,

 We come to you today seeking wisdom for our sons. We pray for the hearts of the girls they’ll date, along with the wives they will one day take. Lord, help these children cling to your truths, remain obedient to your will, and honor your commands. Provide them with the inner strength they’ll need to avoid the pitfalls the enemy places in their path. And we pray for their hearts. Lord, keep their intentions pure and their sights set on you.

 We ask this in your Son’s name,  

 Amen. 

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In the Face of Fear: 3 Ways to Cultivate Valor (without invalidating their fears)

In my last post I wrote about chivalry and I so enjoyed the discussions that blossomed out of that post.  If you’d like to join in, you can find them here.  While most of us find it easier to teach our sons courtesy and generosity, the common thread was that we were somewhat stumped when it came to cultivating valor.  How do we acknowledge and validate our sons’ fears and apprehensions, yet still encourage them to be brave and courageous?

In The Face

 

Plausible Fears vs. Implausible Fears

First of all, I think it’s important to teach our sons the difference between plausible and implausible fears.  I almost named this section legitimate and illegitimate fears, but I think those terms invalidate our sons’ fears.  By labeling them plausible and implausible, we are teaching our sons to discern what is and is not worth their time.  For example, a plausible fear is that their teeth might hurt while the dentist is examining them.  This fear is absolutely within the realm of possibility.  An implausible fear would be that the dentist will turn into and evil green alien and jackhammer their teeth out of their mouth.  It just won’t happen.

Talk About It

“Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” – Albus Dumbledore.

It’s true.  The more we stuff the nagging fear down, pushing it beyond our realm of consciousness and refusing to even utter the presence of a fear, the larger the fear grows and the harder it is to overcome.  I want my son to be comfortable with the words, “I’m afraid” and “I’m scared.”  We were hard-wired with a fear system to help keep us safe and quite honestly, I think my son needs to listen to his fears a little more often, especially when considering jumping from high perches or speeding on a bicycle.  It is okay to be scared, but sometimes we must be scared and do it anyways.  A few pointers are as follows:

  • Don’t label fears as “silly” or your son as a “baby” for being afraid of certain things.  Even as an adult, I don’t like dark basements and spiders will make me squirm from across the room.  Yes, I know that I can just squish them, but still, one too many times watching Arachnophobia with my brother as a child.
  • Don’t say you’re too old to be afraid of that or become exasperated when they are fearful.
  • Do encourage them to pray.  It can be as simply as “Dear Jesus, help me not to be afraid,” or as elaborate as they need.

Facing the Fear

Then there are those fears that must be faced down and trampled, but not always in one stampede.  Many wars with fear can be won by triumphantly being victorious over tinier battles.  Break down the fear into bite-size chunks and then praise him above and beyond what you would feel as normal when he displays courage.  My son was afraid of the dentist.  Our first visit a year and a half ago was fraught with tears and terror.  The hygienist took one look at my son and knew there was no way we were going to get a cleaning done that day, but she was politely insistent that he at least sit in the chair and let her look in his mouth.  I encouraged him that it was indeed safe and that they would not do anything other than look in his mouth (FYI, don’t promise this and then surprise your son with a “sneak attack.”  That kind of action will only cause a lack of trust between you.)  and see what was up.  The whole time he was in the chair both the hygienist and I were applauding his bravery.  He was still scared, but he held still and did what he had to do and that, my friend, is courage.  Now, a year and a half later we have fabulous dental appointments at which he isn’t scared or apprehensive.

Many times your son needs to hear you, his mom, supporting him.  Sometimes all your son needs is to know that you are in his corner rooting for him and that he will come out on top.  What a privilege and an honor to be cheering him on…

What are some ways you have been able to encourage bravery?  What strategies can you share about facing fears (either your own or that of your sons’?)

Beyond Please & Thank You: Practical Ways to Cultivate Chivalry In Our Sons

He groaned and heaved his weight against the steel blade held captive by the rock.  Once again mustering all his available strength the young boy furrowed his brow, braced his feet and strained upward.  The unforgiving stone somehow gave way and Arthur lifted Excalibur triumphantly over his head declaring to all that he was to be king.

valorcourtesygenerosityninja moves

For as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated with medieval lore and history.  The tale of King Arthur is one of my favorites and I’d be lying to say that my view of knights hasn’t influenced my dreams for my son.  When I think about my son, aside from loving Jesus and following him, I want my son to be chivalrous.  I know, I know, it’s quite an archaic word, but chivalry was the standard by which a good knight was measured.  A good knight was known for his courtesy, generosity, valor, and dexterity in his arms--translated for today, a good knight was kind, polite, brave, giving and had some ninja moves.  These are all attributes that I want to cultivate in my son’s life.  Er, well maybe not the ninja moves, but y’all get my drift.

How am I supposed to do that when he has four sisters?  That’s right.  I said four.  There is a lot of estrogen running rampant through my household and while most people hear of my son’s plight and say, “Poor boy,” I think he’s pretty lucky.  He has a wonderful opportunity to learn how to treat women and practice chivalry.  I’d love to hear how you encourage chivalry in your boys and I thought I’d start by sharing some of my ideas.

Courtesy:  We say please and thank you.   We hold doors open for others, whether they be male or female.  We’re working on table manners and, ahem, bodily function appropriateness…need I say more?  One day recently, my son was having a bit of a bad morning and he decided that he would act out by not holding the door for his sisters.  Instead, he would open the church doors just enough to slide his little body in and have it shut behind him.  He found himself practicing his door holding skills for the next twenty people or so that came to church.  Thankfully, those parishioners were kind enough to oblige me my little teaching moment and allow him to open the door and greet them.  We haven’t had an issue holding doors since.

Valor:  What exactly is valor?  Well, it’s bravery in the face of danger.  This one can be a little tricky because A) there’s not too many things that I feel comfortable pushing my son into at his age that are scary and B) I want to allow my son to say no when something makes him uncomfortable.  My son is only six so the idea of courage is something that I feel can cultivated by being an encourager.  I want my boy to know that I am in his corner, so when he feels unsure, he knows I am cheering for him.  Another time that valor can be practiced is at the hospital or doctor’s office.  More often than not, your boy, like mine will get scrapes, cuts, and (possibly not too serious) other injuries.  Commending them for their bravery and courage is important.  Maybe your son could be the spider or ant-killer around your house.  The point is, give them an opportunity to display bravery and then commend them for it. I also pray with my son, something along the lines of, “I know that Roman is scared right now, but please help him not to be afraid and instead to trust You.” Simple, but powerful.

Generosity:  Today’s culture is rampant with the mentality of GIVE.ME.MORE. and I feel like I spend a lot of time battling a materialistic point of view.  The best way to combat the desire to amass more stuff is to GIVE.  Whether it is giving at church, or purging toys, make and opportunity for your son to give and see the fruit of his gift.  With his sisters I try to encourage my son to give of his TIME by helping them accomplish a task.  Sometimes it works…sometimes not so much.

Dexterity in His Arms:  Ahem, as I said.  Ninja moves.

So there you have it, a few ways you can encourage chivalry in your sons even in this day in age when chivalry is almost extinct.  Feel free to leave your ideas for encouraging chivalry in the comments…I’d love to hear what’s worked for you and I’m sure the other MobSociety members would as well.

Prayer for the day:  Dear Jesus, please help my son to display the different characteristics of chivalry.  Show me ways that I can encourage and build generosity, valor, and courtesy into his life.  Let him be willing to go against the grain when it comes to chivalry.  Help him stand for what is right and true.  Amen.

Additional Resources:  

Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by: Hal and Melanie Young

 

Kristina is a single mom to four chatty girls and one son who tries to get a word in edgewise.  You can find her writing here at MobSociety as well as on her personal blog, KJTanner.com  When she’s not writing or working as a sign language interpreter you can find her baking up a storm in her kitchen or reading a book.  You can connect with her more on Twitter by following @kjtanner.

Protectors, Providers & Leaders

We get asked all the time, “What do you mean by real man?”

Understandable, because our book is called Raising Real Men, but it’s amazing how often the questioner is strident, even a little belligerent. “My son’s sensitive and quiet, are you saying he’s not a real man?” is the unspoken question, I think.

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Being a real man isn’t about wrestling alligators or climbing Mount Everest. An art historian or a hair dresser can be a real man, too. It’s really about serving God in fulfilling the basic duties He’s given all men. Men are called to be protectors, providers and leaders. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise us how many of the challenges of raising boys come from those same qualities that will make him a real man if he learns to submit them to Christ.

Protectors

Boys can be amazingly aggressive. They want to play war, or read about it. Their tend toward anger, while their moms just want peace and gentleness. We’ve got to teach them the righteous use of aggression – to protect the weak and innocent and to execute justice. So, we teach them to pretend to be cops, not robbers, to be soldiers, not pirates and Secret Service, not counterfeiters. And, I try to remember that God didn’t mean them to be like me when they’re noisily wrestling all over the floor!

Providers

God made boys to grow up to provide for their families one day. Our boys don’t like to do things that don’t seem profitable to them. Busywork is the worst, but they have a hard time seeing the value in chores, too, until we explain what they contribute to the family. When I say, “Hey, thanks for rotating the dishwasher while I helped that mom on the phone. You were a part of that ministry because you freed me up to do it,” his whole attitude changes. They want to contribute to the family. They want to make a difference.

Leaders

All our boys will be leaders of some kind. Some of them will lead companies or churches or communities, others just their own homes, but they’ll need to be in charge. In boys, this tends to show up in two ways. Some boys shirk leadership because they’re afraid of failing. They need to be encouraged, supported and given small pieces of responsibility, then more as they show themselves faithful. Most younger boys try to take charge of everything around them and struggle with respecting their parents – even when they’re just five! The Word of God tells us, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all,” so it’s right to teach our young leaders to obey. We just can’t leave it there; we also have to teach them to handle responsibility. It’s a challenge to me, even though half of our boys have grown and left home, but I have to remember what’s God’s making out of these guys. If I look at what’s pleasant or convenient to me, I’ll miss the boat and I won’t prepare them for the mission God has for them. That’s why we want to raise real men, God’s men, who are just as courageous to stand for righteousness in an art gallery as others may be on the frontline of their more obvious battle.

Pray with me,

Father, please help us to prepare these boys of ours to be protectors, providers, and leaders. Help us not to let our own convenience or sensibilities get in the way of what you’re doing in their lives, but instead to work hard to prepare them to be your men.

Related Resources

Our book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching, and Appreciating Boys, is the book we couldn’t find raising our own – Biblically-based, but also practical – helping us to know what these things look like in real life.

Melanie YellowBy His  grace only,

Melanie Young

When GQ Defines Manhood For Our Boys

There is no doubt that they are all boy. The constant talk about passing gas, their enormous appetites, and the reckless abandon with which they approach the outdoors are more than enough proof.

But soon they will be men. And being a man Biblically is another thing entirely.

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My husband and I work in the entertainment business as producers. Not a meeting goes by where we are not confronted with ideals that are contrary to ours as Christians. The central battle is always about what makes a good story-what do audiences want?

We sit in meetings on terraces with lattes and a well-coifed representative of Hollywood tells us that they want conflict. Drama. And what they really mean is that they want turmoil. Debauchery. Titillating content that shows every man is out for himself.

That’s exactly what the world will try to tell my sons too.

GQ and HBO will say a man means approaching the world with guns blazing with attitudes of authority and dominance. Don’t ever take no for an answer. Conquer. Seduce. Stand out. Use people up and if need be, cast them aside when you are done.

Become a bachelor whose only desire is self-gratification. When things get tough in marriage, walk away.

So what’s a mom to do who believes that we are to be in the world, but not of the world? How do I raise my sons to embrace Biblical manhood when everything in our culture is telling them that being a man means testing the waters with multiple women or pursuing a career at the expense of quality time with his family?

The answer is simple but powerful:

We become mothers of knights, arming our sons with the qualities that God tells us we must put on to fight the battle.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:13-18Did you catch that?

1. Arm them with Truth. Memorize Scripture with your sons so that they will be righteous, peacemakers, faithful, and true.

2. Teach them to pray. Pray about big things and small things, at all times, at any moment. Model it for them-start by saying a prayer when you get in your car and ask God to cover your children in specific ways. If they stub their toe and are in tears, stop and pray with them. When their best high school friend betrays them, stop and pray with them. When they are given an accolade, stop and thank God for the gift with them. When you don’t know what to do, stop and pray with them for God’s wisdom.

 When our sons know the Truth about what makes a man a man, we need not fear as they enter into battle. They will recognize the decoys and the victory will be found in knowing that their identity is in Christ alone.

 Will you pray with me now?

 Dear Father God,

Thank you for equipping me and my sons with everything we need for life and Godliness through Your Holy Spirit. Help me to plant Your Word in their hearts by memorizing Scripture and use it to mold their hearts and minds into men of Godly character. Help me to model for them what it means to pray. Give me the courage and the words to pray for my boys. May they be armed with Your armor that they may enter the world, confident in their identity in Christ and willing to love others as themselves.

In Jesus Name, Amen!

Here are some helpful resources for you in training your sons to be knights of light in a dark world:

 1. Proverbs For Parenting: A Topical Guide for Child Raising From the Book of Proverbs by Barbara Decker

 2. Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman (This is a Handy Wall Chart For Quick Reference of Attitudes and Behaviors with Corresponding Bible Verses)

 3. A Cult Shaped My Past-How The Bible Formed My Future And Our Family’s Main Goal!

Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom, Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.