Summer can be a battle of wills when it comes to getting boys motivated. How can we inspire them to do more than plug in to technology or settle into a permanent indentation on the couch? Without a plan, a mom may find even the most energetic son slipping into sloth mode. It’s not easy to find a balance between lazy days of summer and redeeming the time. What’s the secret to making your son’s summer great?

Warm weather and a change in routine stir up our lazy instincts. Permission to relax and enjoy a slower pace isn’t bad, but a total lack of direction can be dangerous for boys of any age. The same spirit of exploration and independence leading to the joys of boyhood can also lead down paths of wasted time. Summertime can be our son’s greatest opportunity.

Jesus was twelve years old and on a family trip when he wandered away from his earthly family.  Though he was boyish in his humanness, even at a young age, “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man,” (Luke 2:52).

Summer is a season for a son to strengthen his mind, body, and spirit.

If we don’t plan for our boy’s summer, we miss making the most of an opportunity for growth. A flexible, simple plan helps us engage our sons in a healthy way.

Engage his mind

Stimulation for his thinking – Summer isn’t all about structure, but it can be stimulating. Provide good books in your son’s environment, making good food for his mind easily accessible. Put supplies within reach for designing ideas related to his interests and in new areas too—think about building, mechanics, technology, graphics, writing, or drama. Feed a boy’s thinking and expect him to thrive.

Appropriate for his age – Inspire his imagination with an age-appropriate book series, movie, or audio program to get his mental wheels turning.  At every developmental stage, a young man’s mind moves. Engage his mind with ideas he can digest and innovation he can process.

By giving our guy options for his thinking, we set him up to thrive in his mind.

Engage his body

Direction for his energy – Even a teenage boy with a glazed look on his face has energy to be released. At every age and stage, sons have potential energy to be directed. If we wait for it to burst outwardly, we may be sorry. Help your boy be his best by providing direction for momentum. It might be time to invest in new athletic gear, to get a book about extreme sports, or to go watch a team play.

Opportunity for his activity –  “Go outside and play” is a dead end for a lot of boys today. We have to cultivate active opportunities, because life is geared toward the sedentary. Why not sign your son up for a class, plan a trip to a park or field, arrange to play with energetic friends, go outdoors as a family, or get moving with your boy?

By giving our guy options for his energy, we set him up to thrive physically.

Engage his spirit

Connect with family – Most of our boys first get to know God and God’s family through knowing their own family. Summer is prime time to invest in making memories as a family. It can be a time of learning God’s truth in summer settings rare and wonderful. Family connections are not a given, they take effort and commitment, but every ounce of engagement will be well worth it.

Bond with other boys – Boys need boys to be healthy boys. Not only are lazy days of summer days of freedom and adventure, but they’re days for boys to bond with boys. This means we step back and allow them to engage in boy-approved activities. We resist the urge to squelch their vision. When we allow sons to forge friendships, we engage their spirit in learning to love community.

By giving our guy options for his spirit, we set him up to thrive relationally.

Summer doesn’t have to be a marathon of entertaining boys. It doesn’t have to take all of our energy to out-think and outlast our sons. It doesn’t even have to be a free-for-all of throwing productivity to the wind. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil,” (Ephesians 5:16).  Summer is a season for a son to strengthen his mind, body, and spirit.

What is one thing you do with your son in the summer that is unique to this time of year?

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About the Author:

Not a day goes by when Julie Sanders isn’t thankful “grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20) than her failures. She celebrates destinations with a passport, women of other cultures, and travel with her man of 25 years. Julie’s son, the youngest of their two nearly grown kids, has made her catch her breath, fill with joy, and drop to her knees over and over. Julie loves to unwrap God’s truths for life, because she was blessed when seasoned moms walked the motherhood journey with her. Julie is also passionate about fighting human trafficking and is the author of Expectant: 40 Devotions for New and Expectant Moms.