I’ve always known that God gave me all boys for a reason. As much as I wanted a little girl, that wasn’t in His plan. I joke that He gave me boys because I’d have too many expectations of a girl. I would want her to be just like I was when I was growing up. She’d be in cheerleading, dance, and all things girly. With my luck, she would love sports, refuse to wear dresses, and drive me absolutely crazy. With boys, there were no real expectations other than to be a good person and have integrity. They can be what they want to be and do whatever sports or hobbies interest them. My job is to support them and love them. As my boys get older, however, I am faced with a new set of expectations. I am realizing why God has put me in a home of all males. I have always been a slight feminist. I’ve grown up around very strong, passionate women that taught me so much about life and strength. I have always been treated by my parents with as much dedication and expectation as my brother. I was taught how to work, save, and spend appropriately. The entrepreneur gene was passed onto me, and my father has more faith in me than I do on most days. This has all trained me up to be a strong female influence in my children’s lives. I always thought it would be good to pass on to my daughter, but it is just as important if not more for my boys.
There are many stories of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that I hear daily from women all over that happened at the hands of a man. Most of these women are my close friends, and most of the men I know. Knowing these men the way I do, I would never have guessed they had this side to them. I see them as fathers, husbands, and friends. The thought that they would hurt someone so much that I love and care about hit close to home. Suddenly, being a boy mom got very real. Growing up I was always envious of the boys because I thought they had it so easy. They could come to school in jeans and a t-shirt and be cool. With us girls it was like a fashion show every day with the judges being our own peers. We always turned against each other instead of banding together and supporting one another. Being a girl can be hard and unfortunately very superficial. It is apparent in the clothing stores that ¼ of the store is boys clothes while the other ¾ is all girls. This automatically sets us up to be judged and pressured to fit in by our peers. I didn’t think that boys had much of this to deal with. Now I am beginning to see a different type of judgment and pressure from the boy’s side that I was never aware of. They don’t so much as focus on clothing as much as it is blending in. They see what other boys are doing and take on that persona to not be singled out. They are afraid to be themselves. They adopt mannerisms of other boys and ideals that their friends have abandoning what they know to be right and wrong. It’s almost as if what they know in their hearts to be true is pushed down deep inside to prevent anyone noticing their difference of opinion. They are afraid to show their true selves. When I was in school I would tell everybody what extra -curricular activities I was into. I was proud of what I was doing. My boys will not tell their friends that they do competitive horseback riding, because no one else does it. What? I think that is what makes it cool. Apparently not in boy land.
The other night my friends and their children were over for dinner. My 6 year old son had mentioned that their daughter could not play Lego Ninjago with them because she was a girl. This is the first time that I had heard anything like that from him. He said that his friends at school said that girls could not do what boys do and that he thinks that too. Whoa!!! That was the wrong thing to say to this mama. I immediately started to go into a lecture of how girls can do and be anything that they want to. This is where it starts. They hear the ideas of another boy and suddenly everything that mom and dad have taught them has lost its meaning. Is this how it started with the men I know that I never would have imagined could be so hurtful to their wives? Is it a boys club that they are too afraid to stand up for what’s right? This was not going to fly in my house. It was my aha! moment. So this is why you gave me boys God. I get it. With only one female in a house of 5 members, it falls on me to provide them with the knowledge and understanding of what it means to be a good man, husband, and father from a female perspective. It also gives me the opportunity to show them what all a woman does and can do.
So, how do train our boys to be good men? How do we keep them walking with the Lord when none of their friends are? We talk to them. We talk openly and honestly with them on a daily basis. Talk to them about what it means to be a man of God. My favorite verse that is said around here all the time is Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good pleasing and perfect will.” This verse has been very helpful in wrangling the thoughts of the boys back to reality. There is a lot of corruption in our world. There are people on the t.v. and social media all over telling us what is right and wrong. If you stand up for your beliefs and they are different from the norm, you are the bad guy. Christians are called to suffer. We will always be backed by our heavenly father, so we can be courageous in making the right decisions based on what God intended.
When the same six year old came home from school and used a curse word because the kids on the bus say it all the time. In spite of my shock, I just simply quoted this verse to him and explained that he is different and in our home we don’t use those words. Use every chance you get to be a teaching moment. I could have easily went off the rails and grounded him to his room for saying that word. It took everything in me not to, believe me, but I took a deep breath and used it to teach him why. Sometimes we forget that kids are just that, kids. They don’t always know the meaning or ramifications of what they say and do. They know it’s bad by our reaction, but they don’t always understand the wyh? By taking the time to really explain why what they’ve said or done is wrong, it really takes the meaning to a level they can comprehend. It gives more weight to what you are saying. When my child said that girls could not play Ninjago I asked him for the why? He couldn’t really give me an answer other than that she was a girl. I was able to give him many reasons why she could. When given the toy the little girl showed them that not only could she spin the Ninjago, she was really good at it. All of a sudden, they were asking her how she did that and could she teach them.
In addition to talking to them, we show them. In a marriage it is imperative that a boy sees how to treat a woman from his father. If the dad isn’t around like many of my single mom friends, then you must show them how you expect to be treated. When children see respect being given, it sticks with them. We as moms and women must show them what we will tolerate. I also think it is extremely important to show your boys affection. I don’t expect my boys to be hard. If they cry because they’ve hurt themselves, I will hug them. If they wake up afraid in the night they can always yell for me, and I will come to comfort them. My boys are not ashamed to show emotion. I hope to keep it that way. My oldest son is 15, and I make it a point to talk to him every day about his school and his friends. It’s not an interrogation, but simply a conversation. I show a genuine interest in his life that lets him know that I am there for him and going to be a constant presence. He usually tells me everything and sometimes more than I wanted to know, but I’d rather have it that way. When he got his first girlfriend this year, he told me right away. I love this, because at his age I would have been too embarrassed to tell my mom or dad.
Pray with them. This can be hard for some people because prayer is a very private thing. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. If my oldest is stressed about school work, I always ask him if he’s prayed on it. Sometimes he says yes, and other times he says will you pray with me? My little ones and I say our prayers together every night. There is nothing better than hearing your children talk to their heavenly father and the connection and trust that it builds between you. It took me a long time to get comfortable praying with other people, but with my kids it just feels right.
Raising any child is a huge responsibility. With the world we live in now, we can’t fail our boys. They need our support and nurturing more than ever. If we want them to change the world and the way women are treated, it starts with us. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. He will make mistakes. He will do things that are not right and experiment with things he shouldn’t. It is our job to plant this seed and water it constantly. If he is shown the right way, he will find his way back. It starts with us and it starts now. We as moms need to pray constantly for guidance and patience. God is faithful and he wants our boys to be good men. Pray for them now, for their future, and for their future wives. Never cease in praying for them. We have them for only a short time, so we need to make every moment count. Even when you don’t think they notice or are paying attention, they are!
The other day my 15 year old came home from the mall with a big box of Swedish fish candy (my favorite). I asked him if I could have some and he said “no.” He took them up to his room and then came back down the stairs to go back to his friend’s house. I told him not to be surprised if I got into them while he was gone. “They’re not for you. They’re not for me either.” He said. “Who are they for?” I asked. “Guess.” He replied. “Natalia? Is it her birthday?” I mused. “ Yes, they are for Natalia and no it’s not her birthday. They are her favorite candy.” My heart melted. He was actually thinking of someone else other than himself. He spent his money on her and was putting her likes above his. It was just a glimpse for me, but it gave me hope. That is the way to treat a young lady. Maybe I’m doing okay at this boy mom thing after all.
There are so many dynamic women in the Bible that I always share with women in my ministry as encouragement, but I’ve found these same women to be excellent examples for the boys also. One of my favorite women is Esther. She was by all accounts a beauty queen. The reason she was chosen for queen was because the king’s current wife didn’t want to be a trophy wife and paraded around. He divorced her and set off a pageant of sorts to find the next most beautiful queen. This is how women were supposed to be thought of and treated by men back then. They were property. Sound familiar? So, Esther wins the contest because of her amazing beauty. What the king didn’t know was that she was a Jew. When there was a threat to kill all of the Jews, Esther held a banquet. She held this festivity to speak to the king on behalf of the Jewish people. Her courage and strength paid off and she was able to persuade the king and save the Jewish race. She also had an amazing source of support and guidance from the Lord. That had to be very scary for her to confront the king on this issue. He could have had her killed, as well as, all the others. With that being a real possibility, she had to do what she had to do and take that chance. She proved that day to be a great person of integrity. She also proved that she was more than just a pretty girl. She was so much more than that. She was a woman of God with a very special purpose. Remember that always. You are a woman of God, and you too have a very special purpose!