It’s been happening slowly, the transition from little boy to young man. I have been quietly watching as he straddles the line between wanting to play and wanting to work. For the past year I have noticed the subtle changes that tell me that my little boy is entering the land of puberty.
Most days he still wants to watch cartoons and play with action figures, but others he tells me he’s too old for those things. He wants to help fix things around the house. He wants to find ways to money. In short—he wants to be a man.
I knew this day was coming but it’s been a little rough on my mama’s heart. So this summer I’m learning to live in the in between and I’m finding new ways to connect with my growing boy.
As my son has gotten older, one of my biggest concerns has been that I wouldn’t know how to connect with him. It’s easy to get down on the floor and play with blocks and put puzzles together. It’s easy to play with action figures, even though I usually get the names wrong and I don’t always know the rules.
Finding ways to spend time and bond with this young man-child has proven to be more of a
challenge, but I’m learning to listen and we are finding new ways to spend time as mom and son.
Connecting with books
My son loves to read and so do I, so one of our new favorite things to do is to talk about the book he is reading. He has picked up some of my favorites from childhood like Charlotte’s Web and I love hearing about what he is learning and what he is passionate about and interested in.
Connecting through conversation
Some of my favorite moments lately have been times when I just sit and talk with my son. He is so smart and he has all of these big thoughts and big dreams. I’m so honored that he is choosing to share those with me. I pray this is something that continues as he gets into his teen years.
Connecting through activities
We get outside and we get active as my son has gotten older. He wants to do more active things than just hang around the playground, so I get out there and kick the soccer ball, we spend hours at the pool, and I even sit at the basketball court and watch him shoot baskets.
Connecting through faith
But I think my favorite thing that we are doing to connect these days are our talks about faith and God. My son has such a heart for Jesus and for serving others. He talks about becoming a missionary. We talk about things that I have been studying and learning in my Bible time. He shares with me his questions and struggles about what he’s reading his Bible time. We are really growing closer to God together and I love that.
So those of you with boys in that in-between stage what are you doing to connect with them during this transition?
Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schultz
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex Harris and Brett Harris
ESV Student Study Bible from CrossWay
We’ve adopted hiking as our activity. My guy just turned 12 and we are tackling a big hike tomorrow. We get out in nature, talk, stride side by side and accomplish something big together. It’s been really awesome.
I think this time is a great time to start giving more opportunities to be producers instead of consumers and givers instead of takers. That’s a process we all work on our whole life but it’s more important than ever that our kids start flexing those “giving” and “producing” muscles because the culture – with advertising in every direction – just wants them to focus on the receiving.
I have three sons, ALL in this transition phase. My oldest son has worked well with young children so he has helped me when I teach a Sunday School class of preschoolers. My middle son doesn’t enjoy that age group; he gets frustrated with their bad choices lol. But I have found that he was naturally drawn to being an assistant in the dugout for my youngest son’s baseball team. He helps the kids in the dugout get ready to be the next batter. Now, my youngest is helping me this summer volunteer at a diaper bank. He just LOVES being able to hand diapers to families who come in need. He is learning to bag them up and hand them out and feels so proud at that. It’s been such a process in finding areas for each of them to serve and a burden on my heart a lot. But it’s very rewarding when you find something they are not resistant to. That was the key to me. If they were not adamant about NOT doing it, then I saw that as a sign of them being open to the idea even if they would never go out of their way to admit it.
This summer my son has taught me the correct way to cast a fishing rod. He identified what kind of fish I caught after a successful cast. He also baited my hook and showed me how to take the fish off and toss back. It was one of my favorite moments. He truly taught me something and he felt so manly.