He’s trying to fit in and impress his friends. He’s striving to be liked by all…and his antics have become disruptive in class.
As I sunk down in the oh-too-small seat of my son’s fourth grade classroom, this was the news I received at a recent parent/teacher conference…and it hit me like a ton of bricks. This boy she was describing? This unruly kiddo she was speaking of? He didn’t sound like my son. Just as the behavior he was exhibiting at school hadn’t yet presented itself at home. And it left me uneasy.
At nine years of age, I’m suddenly aware that my guy’s desire for approval is paramount. His frequent joke-telling and humorous nature exist solely in an effort to be well-liked by his friends. He wants to be the kid that others choose to hang around, the boy everyone laughs with…and loves–the center of attention.
He wants the admiration of others–the popularity and approval of his peers. He wants to fit in and belong. I can’t blame him, either. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? We understand what that itch to fit in with the crowd is like and we remember how important the affection and adoration of others was to us at that age.
However, I want him to realize this craving he now has—this thirst for attention—is due to an emptiness within–a hollowness–that can only be filled by the relationship he forms with God through the Bible. It isn’t attainable any other way. This young man who’s coming of age, this boy whose smile can light up a room, this kid of mine who has so much potential and so many gifts? I want him to know that the opinion(s) of this world and those of his immediate friends, mean nothing. It’s who he is in Christ that makes all the difference. His relationship with the Lord will set him apart.
I can’t help but think about the independence he’s seeking, as well as the lengths he’ll go to impress others. As his mom, I worry. I know how impressionable he is at this age (and in the years to come), how firmly the world presses in and how hard the road ahead can be. I am also equally aware that God’s desire for my son—for all of us–is to live for Him and only Him.
But how do we teach that? How do we get the Word of God to drown out the noisy world around our sons? How do we get His message to sink in? To fill their minds, as well as their hearts? How do we reach our sons before this need for approval takes over?
- Pray. Take it to prayer. Always. If there is one piece of advice I can share, it would be to pray and pray often over our sons. It’s where we can draw strength…where we can bow low before our Father and request His will for our boys.
- Breathe: It’s easy to get anxious and completely overwhelmed as moms, isn’t it? But our boys need a voice of reason and our ears to listen. Be present and take one day (and one instance) at a time. B-R-E-A-T-H-E!
3. Stay Involved: In Judges 14:8-20, we learn about the importance of the company one keeps, and what that looks like. Stay involved in your sons life, know his friends, and get to the heart of what makes him tick.
Jenny Lee Sulpizio is a Christian wife, mother to three, and author of the recently released, For the Love of God: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Faith and Getting Grace. Through her personal website, blog, and as a contributing writer for numerous mommy sites, there’s always plenty of information to relate to, encouragement to absorb, and a whole lot of comic relief to go around. Connect with Jenny by visiting www.jennyleesulpizio.com.
This is wonderful, Jenny. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I think I ignore and shame one of my kids by my lack of interest, when he’s just trying to gain approval. I see right now how important it is for my boys to feel completely accepted at home… that will give me his trust when I tell him about the only One whose love and attention really matter. Thankful for you tonight.
Thanks so much, Wendy! I struggle with this as well. I tend to do the same thing, not thinking that my boy just needs a bit more attention, acceptance and love. This parenting gig is hard! 😉 Hugs, friend…
WOW! This just played out in our home this week. THANK YOU for your insight and willingness to share. I have butterflies in my stomach realizing (for the 1000th time) God’s timing is perfect and I am not alone. I feel Hope and know what I need to do!