We have a houseful of boys. Five to be exact…not counting my husband. Most of these boys are teens right now and it has become clear to me that even though I have been a mom to boys for 19 years, I have not been as careful as I should be lately about respecting them.
These boys are fighting an uphill battle. Our culture is NOT friendly toward men or true manliness. Watch a sit-com for more than five minutes and you will see blatant disrespect toward men and men who act disrespectably. The bar is set ridiculously low and when the men live down to it, they are mocked and ridiculed.
School classrooms are NOT conducive to healthy growth and development of most boys and instead of changing how we teach them, they are often labeled and made to feel inadequate. But moms, we can make such a difference in these boys’ lives! God can use us to grow strong and healthy men who will go on to do great things and most of all live godly lives. But we have to continually fight the urge to squelch their God-given design. We have to keep our thoughts toward them right. We need to embrace, appreciate and admire the differences between us.
It’s like comparing apples and oranges. They both contain nutritional value, both are juicy, have a peel, both are fruits and taste sweet. Do I criticize the orange for not being an apple? Do I say it’s worth less because it’s an orange? Do I insist that it SHOULD be an apple? NO! Because it wasn’t meant or designed to be an apple…ever.
Our men were never meant to think like us or approach life like us. We are equal, but different. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and if it were not for their particular strengths, mankind would have never conquered nations, built bridges, dams, skyscraper, computers, and so much more! Please don’t think that I mean that women can’t do these things, but the truth is that more often than not, this comes more naturally to the men. It’s how they were designed. It’s wonderful and amazing and something to be encouraged.
It’s a fact that men desire respect more than love. This is what our men need be they young or old What is respect? It’s defined as a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
Even though I know how important it is, my vision sometimes becomes clouded by feeling worn down by life…you know laundry, meals, hormones, keeping up with getting kids where they need to go. I forget how important respect is to these men of mine (including my husband). I begin to dwell on negative thoughts about the differences in the way that they approach life and problems in general. Even their sense of humor.
So what does this look like at home in real life? They need us to VALUE their thoughts and ideas about things. Ask them what they think and validate what they say. We can still challenge their ideas with things they may not have thought of, but we do it respectfully. More often than not, our boys don’t follow through with the zillions of ideas they have, but they still need us to listen. By doing this, we give value to their thoughts and encourage their ingenuity. We teach our boys how a woman should respond to them by how WE respond to them. Sometimes it means we let them follow through with their ideas even if we are sure they aren’t going to work (I’ve been surprised more than once). And when they don’t, we resist the urge to point out their “failure” and, instead, point out something positive, like their creativity or persistence.
As your boys get a little older, ask them what makes them feel respected. I have been surprised.
As important as it is to respect our boys, we must also insist on respect from them. This means that I set clear boundaries with our boys and I keep those boundaries (within reason). Boys will push those limits on a regular basis, but will respect a mom who is firm. It’s a fact that children in general are more secure and creative within limits. God has designed the family with clear boundaries. We, as parents, are designed to be the leaders.
Lastly, use as few words as possible. A couple of years ago I was really frustrated with all of our boys and I spent about an hour telling my husband all about it. He listened patiently. When I was finished, he looked at me and said, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you use too many words with the boys. When you do that, they don’t respect you.” He was right. They just need us to be clear, concise and clean in our dealings with them.
When boys feel respected, they feel valued.
For more encouragement, Durenda recently wrote a simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling called The Unhurried Homeschooler