Boys love their moms. And, the gifts they give are some of the sweetest around:

  • rocks
  • sticks
  • acorns
  • leaves
  • art work of stick-figured, one-eyed monsters
  • “#1 mom” diamond-ish necklace

Treasures straight from the heart of rough and tumbley boys. Treasures that aren’t expensive but are priceless. I’m sure you have a collection, too.

But probably, the sweetest gift my son can offer me is a relationship. This gift comes with years and years of intentional efforts building layers of value, trust, truth, laughter, and respect.

For every mom who longs to receive the priceless gift of relationship, here are 5 messages to drill into the heart of your son:

  1. Yes, let’s do that!

Be intentional to enter into his interests. Invest time doing things that he likes to do. This starts the moment he makes that “vroom-vroom” truck sound. It’s easy to dismiss certain activities as a “boy thing,” but you then forfeit an opportunity to build a sweet memory with your son.

If your son loves board games, be intentional to play some games with him. Enter into his interests.

If your son loves sports, get out there and throw him some passes. Laugh with him when he laughs at you because you throw “like a girl.” Don’t take it personally. You probably do look kinda funny.

  1. A “no” is often for your protection.

As he gets bigger and wants more freedom, there will be many times in which you will say “no.”

“No, you can’t play video games all night.”
“No, you can’t watch those kinds of movies.”
“No, you can’t go to that party.”

But, make it more than just the two-letter word. Use it as a opportunity to pour into him why you say “no.”

“No” is not because I don’t want you to have fun.
“No” is not because I don’t trust you.
“No” is for your protection.

Trust that my “no” comes out of love for you. By the way, get used to it: God says “no” often.

  1. I hear you.

From the time he is little, work on building the expectation of being heard.

Ask questions when he talks about his Lego battles.

Look him in the eyes when he shares who plays this position for whatever football team.

Be patient and respond as he asks one question after another about frogs as if his mouth is a firing squad aimed straight at your sanity!

Mirror his excitement, not because you are excited about what he is actually saying, but because you are excited about what makes him excited.

He will pick up on it quickly. To be heard is a beautiful, relationship-building thing.

  1. You can trust me.

This is a key component to every relationship. But when your son is little (and seemingly unaware), it’s easy to break his trust without even knowing it.

Be sensitive when he reaches that age of awareness and embarrassment (around 4-5 years).

Be thoughtful before you share something funny he has done or said.

Be very careful when he gets older to protect whatever he shares with you. Even if you don’t think it’s a big deal, it’s probably IS a big deal to him.

He will trust you when you demonstrate trustworthiness. Think long-term and keep quiet.

  1. Expect to be respected.

To be respected, you need to respect yourself. Respect is one of the most valuable commodities to a man. Expect it from him.

Start laying this expectation when he is little (while you still have managing control). Don’t dismiss disrespect as just a childhood thing. Consequences are valid for disrespect.

Likewise, respect your son by releasing him to grow up, to grow independent from you. I know, ouch. The sacrifice of motherhood. But if you are patient, you may discover a beautiful, mutually-giving relationship with your son that continues to grow as he grows.

And that is a sweet, sweet gift. The sweetest you can ever receive from your son.

Amy Ruth Petersen is a boy-mom of 3, a pastor’s wife, a DIY-er, mini-van driver, Diet Dr. Pepper drinker, and obsessive organizer. She loves to engage with women and discover how God’s Word can enter into their crazy and chaotic reality. You can connect with her at, Facebook: @amyruthwriter, Instagram and Pinterest: @amyruthpetersen.