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Let Them Be Boys

I am no expert on boys.  We happen to have five of them (and three girls). and they still surprise me.  But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our boys.  Not just mine, but every mom out there who has one or two or three.  I’m concerned.  Not about the ability of moms to raise these boys, but about the pressure we have on us.  Pressure to make sure they are performing at a certain level, in school, in sports, in relationships and at such young ages.

Have you ever paused for awhile and just really listened?  Listened to what your heart is telling you your boy needs?  I’ve done this many times and most of the time, it’s the same answer:  he needs time to be a boy.  And when I doubted myself, my husband confirmed it.

Why is it wrong for them to spend large amounts of time (especially when they are younger-I’m talking much of the elementary years) chasing frogs, playing in the dirt, jumping off of things, starting fires, driving go-carts, riding their bikes over jumps, learn to shoot a bb gun, tearing apart a coffee grinder and putting it back together or whatever their interests are?

Our oldest son completed 5 years of college by age 21.  He is motivated, intelligent, and hard working.   I kept telling people that it wasn’t my great homeschooling plan or techniques that got him there.  Finally, my son looked at me and said, “Mom, you gave me the gift of time.  Time to be a boy and explore and time to do school at my own pace.”  Because of this, he has never lost his love of learning.  And when he found something that he was passionate about, he went after it full speed ahead…without me.  Boys will do that.

Yes, there were some gaps in his learning (there always are) but no, I didn’t leave him completely directionless while homeschooling him.  Although we did workbooks, our life didn’t revolve around them.  We spent the mornings doing the same things…a simple routine, chores and couple of pages in each workbook.  The rest of the time we spent living real life together.

One thing I can see as our oldest five have left home (3 of those are boys), is that they learned more by example and real life than anything. THAT’S what had the most impact on their character and, ultimately on their education.  Not the character training curriculum (that we never used), but the decisions my husband and I made about a million things along the way. (You can watch my interview with him here-this was a few years ago)

So when I hear about second graders who have to write a book report, honestly, I cringe.  I especially cringe for the boys.  They seem to be SO full of life and energy and passion and craziness and a conquering spirit and it is rarely over a book…especially in second grade.  I’m afraid we are sucking the life out of them.  And I think it stinks.

Yes, we need to teach them to respect boundaries, be polite and be responsible.  We started teaching our boys this at an early age:  you are responsible to take out the garbage and do these pages in your workbook and help mommy unload the dishwasher, or hold your baby brother.  We added responsibilities a little at a time, sometimes intentionally and sometimes out of sheer desperation as our family grew!

But they felt needed.  They felt useful and it encouraged them to love being productive.  It helped them realize that they are part of something bigger than themselves.

So I’m on my knees praying for you, moms.  Praying that you will have the courage to go against the culture that seems to want to destroy our men.  Listen to what God is telling you today, whatever that is, move forward in it and don’t look back.  Your boys will thank you for it.

If you’d like more encouragement, Durenda has just published a simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling called

Here are a couple more resources that have been super helpful to Durenda over the years (aff):

Better Late Than Early  by Raymond Moore

Boys Should be Boys by Meg Meeker

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