When I heard that we were taking a break from discussing hard-to-handle boys this month and instead focusing on the tender-hearted boy, I laughed.
I’m not sure that I have a full blown hard-to-handle boy, but if I had to pick the hardest-to-handle out of a line up of my three boys it would be the one with the tender heart.
His sensitive nature is what I love about him, but also what I find most concerning. My tenderhearted warrior has big feelings. It’s not that I find him hard-to-handle so much as he finds his own emotions hard-to-handle. And frankly, it does prick my heart and leave me worrying about how that will manifest in his future.
- He is troubled by transition. Adjusting to change is hard for him, something to which we have to give special attention since we move often.
- He is quick to anger. One wrong word from a brother causes an eruption of rage.
- He is attached. Being away from his siblings or his dad and makes him sad and scared.
- He is moved by music. A melancholy piano concerto brings him to tears.
So how do I help mold my sensitive boy into a responsible man?
I think the biggest thing I can do is validate his feelings. It’s important that he understands that what he feels is okay. It’s okay to miss us when we’re gone. It’s okay to be sad when we leave friends behind. It’s okay to be angry when someone hurts us. These things are normal and should not be looked down upon.
The second biggest thing I do is draw the distinction between feelings and actions. It’s not okay to hit when we’re angry. It’s not okay to yell or say mean things when someone has hurt us.
I lean towards talking more than punishing. There are consequences for actions in our house (as there is in life), but I believe it’s more important for us to help him process all the big, scary things happening in his heart and mind. I want him to understand who he is, how he is, why he is. I hope that the better he understands how he’s wired, the better he will be at controlling his actions.
So often the sensitive soul needs communication, not condemnation.
My biggest prayer and desire for my sensitive son’s future is that he learns to feel his great big emotions without acting destructively. I know he’ll never be perfect. I know he will fail sometimes. I know that it may hurt my mother’s heart to watch him walk this path as an adult, but I pray that God gives me the unfailing love to respond in grace and compassion towards the boy who is wired to feel–even when those feelings get the best of him.
Jessica (Bohemian) Bowman is a jack of all internets and a mother of four. Grace is her middle name (not really) and she’s been married for fourteen years to a guy she really super likes (since she was seventeen!). In 2015 her family is moving to a sensitive country in South Asia to do good work. Because Jesus.