I played the air guitar to an amazing 80’s song in the car last night.
My teen son, the middle one, sat in the seat next to me.  You would have thought I was Selena Gomez or Ariana Grande, the way he was looking at me, with eyes that smiled and said you’re awesome.

It is among my favorite things in life, when my teen boys look at me this way.

Eight Simple Things

Eight Simple Things

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Of course, I’m not always the cool mom.  Sometimes they notice my meddling and breathe that heavy sigh and say an exasperated “Wow, thanks, mom,” when I tell them “No you can’t go to that movie with those teens whose parents I don’t know.”

But we are close.  Really close.  The kind of close that you hope and pray for, but aren’t sure sixteen and thirteen will allow and then are gloriously surprised when it does.

I’m grateful, every day, that among the millions of things I did wrong, the way I have purposed to stay connected to my boys has, indeed, worked.  Mostly, I’m convinced that God has just been gracious and made up for my lack.

And yes, I’ve read them the Bible at night.  And I pray over their bed.  And I’ve had long conversations with them (longer than they prefer, trust me) to speak destiny and love into their heart and all the other good stuff moms do that is important.  But you know what I’ve found?

It’s not that hard for teen boys to stay connected to their moms.  A lot of simple, everyday things help a lot, with that, too.

And so, if I may, my humble offering of the fun, crazy, hard and most rewarding things I have done and continue to do as my boys grow up.

Lisa Whittle Connecting with Son

Lisa Whittle Connecting with Son

~Let them be silly, sometimes.  Boys will eventually be men that have jobs and bills and families they are responsible for and lots of other heavy things on their backs.  For now, let them think standing in the snow in a bathing suit flexing for a picture is awesome and grossing you out by giving you sweaty hugs after ball practice is a-ok with you. (Protest, even, for a little extra dramatic measure, which they will love.) Let them get by with some boy bathroom humor that grosses you out. They are born with this innate male need to express, for whatever crazy reason.  It’s simple: just, for a few minutes in the car or wherever you are when it comes up, pretend to lose your hearing.

~Care about their interests, which means attentiveness not endurance.  Trust me, they can tell the difference.  When they tell you about how sick a pair of shoes is? Know that sick means amazing and nod your head in agreement.  They will love you for it.  When they have a ball game? Move heaven and earth to be there, even if you can’t stand baseball and don’t understand the sport.  Your job is to become an expert on your child and what they love, you love too, just because they do.

~Force them to take ridiculous selfies with you.  They will moan and complain, but they will secretly love you for wanting a picture with them.  Also? It will prepare them for all the selfies their girlfriend will make them do in the future. 🙂

~Let them have the last bite.  Like, that last bite of your favorite cheesecake in all the world–the one with the strawberry sauce dripping gloriously all over it.  The last taste of heaven before you start that diet.  Yep, that one.  They won’t forget that mom did that for them.  Their wife, should they have one in the future, will love them, but even she may not give them that last bite.

~Tuck them into bed at night, even when they are huge and tower over you.  They will act like it’s unnecessary at the time, but when they ask you unexpectedly if you are going to that one night you almost forget, you will know it’s more important to them than they think.

~Have special nicknames for them that are playful and silly.  Call them by those names like crazy when you are at home, but never say them in front of their friends.  This is the unspoken rule of boys and moms that, when respected, helps cute mommy nicknames live on forever.

~Remind them of moments of awesome they did when they were little.  Pull out a picture and tell them the coordinating story.  Boys are just miniature men that need to be complimented and appreciated in order to feel fulfilled.

~Let their dad be the hero.  Learn to love them in the background and seize moments but not need to be #1. Yes, even though you changed the diapers.  Even though you wash the smelly clothes and wipe more noses and give more kisses and run their cleats up to the ball field numerous times when they leave them.  Even though.  You will win when their dad is more important.

Staying connected to our boys is a sign we have endured the mommy challenge of being different in almost every way, but understanding of the great needs and loves of their young male heart.

What both of us want.

Lisa Whittle Head shot

Lisa Whittle Head shot

These things Lisa Whittle loves most: her husband, her children (3, including 2 boys), her fluffy dog who sits faithfully under her desk while she writes, and her Jesus who has made her life well. She’s authored 3 books, including her latest, {w}hole, and will release her 4th in August 2014. You can find her at www.lisawhittle.com, where she blogs less than she should, but when she does, hopes to start honest conversation.

This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons.  Click here to read them all.

Teen boy 300

Teen boy 300