My dad and I were spending some time alone the other day while we waited for my mom to have a small procedure done at the hospital, and as is always the case when we get time together, we talked about the past and what we can learn from it.
As we talked, we saw a little girl across the waiting room sitting with her legs up over the chair in a very unladylike position, and it caused me to remember something my grandmother used to tell me. “Brooke, put your legs down. Ladies don’t sit like that,” she’d say over and over again (because I was something of a tomboy, and didn’t like to sit like a lady). I told my father what I was thinking, and he smiled because he was thinking the same thing.
“She taught you to be a lady, didn’t she?” he said. “I’m so grateful for all she taught me about life. It means that even though she’s gone, I haven’t really lost her. I carry all that stuff with me wherever I go.”
All of their lives, my grandmother was the central focus of her sons’ lives. Maybe it was because their father abandoned them and left her to raise three little boys on her own. Maybe it was because she had no choice but to hold their hearts or risk losing them altogether. Or maybe she was just a tough cookie who refused to give up. Regardless, she held their hearts until the very end, and life without her was an enormous adjustment for all three.
She was, in every way, their home base. The one they turned to for comfort, relief, and safety.
But more than that, she was their teacher. The one who gave them a sense of right and wrong, up and down, over and beyond. All moms are, really. They’re teacher, counselor, mentor, disciplinarian, and friend rolled up into one safe package. They guide, correct, heal, and hug … all within the last five minutes.
Have you ever seen a toddler take a few steps away from his mother, look wide-eyed at the world of possibilities around him, and then run right back into her arms?
Have you ever seen a young boy with a bat that looks twice his size glance back at his mama before stepping up to the plate?
Have you ever seen a teenager searching for his mom in the crowd?
Or maybe you’ve seen a grown man call his mom just to hear her voice.
I used to think it was a sign of weakness for boys to need their moms, but I’m learning that no matter how old they get, boys need a home base. Someone to love them, lift them up, cheer them on, and be the kind of mom who will fight for their hearts (<<—Tweet that).
Be that mom.
1. Look him in the eyes
It so easy to look over them, or around them, or at the huge pile of dishes in the sink when they’re trying to get your attention. You’re a busy mom, I know, and there are things that just have to be done. But when he really needs you, get down on his level and look him in the eyes. Nothing feels so good and right and true as having someone totally engaged when you’re sharing your heart. So even if it’s just his latest Lego creation, take a moment to make him feel seen.
2. Stand up for him.
Our boys need to know we’ll stand up for them when they’re in need. Against the bully at school. Against the adult who just doesn’t get him. Maybe even against a sibling who needs to learn respect. All of our children need to feel like there’s someone out there who will be their refuge, their safe place. Let that person be you.
3. Prove that he’s worth fighting for.
Absolutely refuse to give up on your son. When he does the wrong thing, love him anyway. When he says the wrong thing, forgive him. Go to bat for him. Defend him. Protect him. Let him see that he has a mom who will do whatever it takes to raise him into a good man. Never let him walk away from you without fighting for his heart.
4. Don’t be afraid to say no.
Be his friend, but don’t make that position worth more to you than his ultimate good. Good parents say no … a lot. My grandmother may have held on to her children’s hearts, but she was no softy. Loving, yes. A pushover, no. Did my father and his two brothers ever break the rules? I’m sure they did. But there were always swift consequences for bad choices. They always knew what to expect from their mom, and whether they liked the rules or not, felt secure because she did what she said she would do.
5. Communicate his worth.
Does your boy know how much he means to you? Do you tell him you love him every day (or at least every time you talk to him)? Do you do little things to make him smile? Does he know there’s nothing he could ever do that could make you stop loving him? If not, stop now and figure out how to start. It doesn’t matter if he recognizes your efforts now. One day he will.
6. Teach him how to dream.
Because of my grandfather’s betrayal, my grandmother was forced to make decisions for herself and her boys she never thought possible. Hers was a hard life marked by sacrifice and sweat. I imagine there were plenty of days that found her wanting to give up, but she never did. In spite of it all, she dreamed of a better life for her boys, and somehow, despite being abandoned by their own father, none of her children followed in his footsteps.
She didn’t just get them through … she taught them to dream. With her words and her actions she painted a vision for the life they could have if they were willing to work hard and do the right thing. When they were too young to dream for themselves, she dreamed for them. Eventually, they learned to dream, too.
7. Fight like a boymom.
Sometimes we just need a trusted friend to help us figure things out. For the last nine years, the Lord has had me on my knees teaching me to fight for my boys. I believe God has called me to stand in the gap for my boys, and I believe he’s called you to do the same. That’s why I created my new Fight Like a Boymom program—a training on learning to fight for the hearts of your sons.
To learn more about participating in this exclusive new program, follow this link. But hurry, registration closes in just a few days.
There aren’t enough words to say how much I love this post. My sweet “boy” is almost 19 but I still do these things every day. While he has never been a “hard to handle” boy, he has some fairly significant issues that have made life more than a little difficult at times. He currently lives at home while commuting to a local university. Throughout his life, I have always tried to do the things listed here. I know there were many times I didn’t get it right, but I always tried my best. Now that he is an adult (in the eyes of the law anyway,) we are still as close as we were when he was small and he confides in me in ways his sister never did. As a mama who has made it through the traditional child-rearing years, I can tell you first hand the truth that is written here. Bless you for sharing it.
I recently found out I’m about to be the mom of two boys! My husband (who also happens to be my best friend and the most wonderful dad) and I have a 3.5 year old boy who is the light of our lives. He couldn’t be a more perfect child if he tried, although strong-willed and hard-headed often comes up in conversations about him. He’s HIGHLY intelligent, which adds to his boredom-induced occasional poor behavior. Overall, we couldn’t have asked for a better kid with a big heart and love for Jesus! Ok, so I’m also 20 weeks pregnant and we’re expecting boy #2! I’m so nervous about adding another baby to the mix and am so afraid it will affect boy # 1’s behavior/temperament/relationship with me and daddy. Any advice on how to keep the norm with my first kiddo? He’s so excited about being a big brother and we’re trying to teach him now what the expectations are when brother is born. But, he obviously can’t understand the magnitude of what is about to hit him. Help!