I was raised in a family of girls, so the world of boys is an ongoing mystery to me. I always thought I would have all girls since my mom also cam from a family of girls. I realize that my family of origin and my mom’s family of origin really has nothing to do with whether I have boys or girls, but it was still a natural assumption of mine.
When I became a mother for the first time, it was because I had given birth to a baby girl. The family I had always imagined was off to a great start.
I will never forget the day we found out that our second child was a boy. I kept making her check and recheck, but there was really nothing to hide – it was obvious that this baby would be a boy.
We came home with a VHS tape of the ultrasound, and even at home I watched that little baby swimming around time and time again and was still so fascinated that he was very much a boy. I was over the moon excited and terrified all at the same time. Once he was born I made the nurses show me how to change a boy’s diaper numerous times since I truly felt like a fish out of water when it came to figuring anything out about him.
That was almost 13 years ago, and I still feel the same way. Now I have not only one boy, but FOUR boys, three of whom are bringing up the rear of our clan. Just the other day I was watching the five year old boy “shoot” the three year old little boy complete with sound effects. When the younger boy is “hit” he was all boy, throwing his hands up in the air, making the groaning and gurgling noise, and then flopping to the floor in his own dramatic flair.
I have found there is something so special about boys, however, and the strings of my heart somehow attach to my boys in a different way than they do to my girls.
Although boys can seem so stoic, unconcerned, and unaffected by things, their hearts are just as vulnerable as their girl counterparts who make their feelings, worries, and struggles known much more easily for the most part. Girls show you their hand while boys make great poker players by hiding their cards a bit more, which means they are also hiding what’s on their hearts, too.
Just as our teen girls require special care, so do our teen and tween boys.
The amazing thing I find about boys, is that as you apply these principles, they are often much more responsive than girls. When I am intentional in following these ideas with my son, a smile, a hug, and an “I love you” appears much quicker than it does in a similar situation with my girls. As a girl myself, it may have to do with the fact that girls just need more time to “get over it” before they can move on and cling to the positive seed that is being planted in her life.
So, what must you do as the mom of a boy? It’s really pretty simple. Following some of these easy ideas will greatly enrich the relationship you have with your teen boy with results that you will see both immediately and in the days to come.
- Acknowledge the things he does. Whether he is accomplishing things on his own or following the directions, guidance, or requests that you have given him, acknowledge and affirm his efforts, even if they are not perfect.
- Tell him you love him – a lot. Even if he rolls his eyes, blushes, or pushes you off in some way, tell him you love him anyway. He needs it. He also appreciates it, even if he doesn’t say it.
- Show him love even when he has pushed you away or has been disobedient – even if he has been majorly disobedient. Don’t live your life with regret.
- Reciprocate. This is a hard one for me because my teen son’s timing is so bad. He will come up to hug me when I am in the midst of doing something important, but I know that I need to take the time to reciprocate. If your son hugs you, hug him back. If he compliments you, compliment him back. If he tells you he loves you, reciprocate.
- Build him up. Remind him that the things he is doing now are training him for who he will be in the future. Even at the young age of four my son loved hearing how taking out the trash was “boys work” that he will be responsible for in his home where he is the dad someday. As he is doing his laundry or mowing the lawn, remind him that someday his wife will love that he can take care of these things for her.
- Be there. Just as with teen girls, when teen boys decide it is time to open up, you will want to drop whatever you are doing and focus on him. Listen to him. Converse with him. Problem solve with him. Encourage him. No matter what you are doing, listen.
- Remind him that you are there for him anytime. For my girls this is an invitation that is immediately collected on, but with boys, this is often something that is just an open invitation to be cashed in at a future time. Consistently reminding him that you are there when he needs you will remind him that you can help. He will take you up on it at some point.
- Keep things short and sweet. When you need to talk to him, don’t be a woman about it. Be a guy about it. 100 words or less, well, not really, but get to the point and don’t beat around the bush.
- Remind, don’t nag. Reminding is a gentle nudge, nagging is a demanding and often demeaning command. Just as we don’t want to hen peck our husbands, we don’t want to hen peck our sons, either.
- Give him some freedom. Does it really matter if he wants his hair long while you prefer it short What if his clothing choices are still respectful but just not what you would choose? Does that matter? His desire to play sports, or not to play sports—does this matter? These are among the questions that you may be needing to ask. Just make sure he has some freedom over his own life. Boys need this even more than girls, I find.
Although I always thought I would have all girls, I am so thankful to have been given the high honor and privilege of being a mom to boys. It is such a new and exciting adventure that is full of surprises and unending rewards. I spoke a bit more about the things our sons need us to understand about them before, it is a great read, too. I have learned so much about boys from my sons.
These are some great reminders of the special needs of our sons as they get older and start maturing into men. Being intentional in the way we treat them in the way we love them, and in the way we train them will serve them well in their lives and fill our hearts with joy.