Helping Sons Grow Into Manhood...
Just as our daughters transition from girlhood to womanhood, our sons naturally grow from boyhood to manhood. Many of the challenges of growing up are exactly the same for boys as for girls. However, there are obvious differences, as well. Because we, as home managers, have experienced life from a woman's point of view, we may be more in tune with how to help our daughters than we are with how to help our sons.
It is important for a boy to have a man of good character in his life to help him through issues surrounding puberty and his developing sexuality, as well budding manly character and growing physical strength. Of course, in a two parent family, the father is the one who guides the boy into manhood. Single moms may need to enlist the aid of a trusted male role model, such as a grandfather or uncle, to help her son with certain issues.
Though a boy does need a man's guidance, a mother also plays an essential role in the son's transition, however. Here are some areas in which the mother can be very helpful to the son's development:
1) In our culture, many women enter marriage and motherhood either with negative attitudes about men or with a naive lack of understanding and appreciation of men. If they fail to overcome these things, they will inadvertently manifest a negative attitude toward their husbands and even toward their sons. A friend of mine once walked her children to the school bus stop in her suburban neighborhood. Many other mothers were there with their children. They were women who, on the surface of things, had happy marriages and families. Yet, my friend was surprised and dismayed at how much of the conversation consisted of complaining about husbands. This was in the hearing of all of the children. Mothers who want to raise secure children, especially sons, must be careful about how they speak of others -- especially of their own spouses -- in front of their children. Mothers do well to model a high view of marriage. If a mother is always putting her husband down, she is, in essence, also putting the son down, as well. If she favors her son over her husband or one son over another son, she is doing her boy no favor, either. A boy intuitively thrives when he sees his father being tender and thoughtful toward his mother and his mother being respectful toward his father.
If we allow our sons to be unduly influenced by our culture, he may pick up on our culture's mixed-up signals about things such as what it means to be a man, what it means to be a woman, what it means to have a marriage, and what it means to be a family. One of the best things we can do for a son in this day and age is to model respect for our husbands, as well as to have a positive and encourage attitude about the fact that our son is growing up to be a man. A single mom can model a positive attitude, as well.
A mother can model what it means to be a woman with noble character. Of course, none of us have reached perfection in this area! We may be conscious of our many faults and sins and of our need for grace. However, our sons will pick up on the values by which we live our lives, even if we do goof from time to time. If we do not grow weary in well-doing, our sons will see that. A mother with a high view of God and of His purposes for her life can have a profound impact on her son's character, sometimes without her even realizing it in the moment. At the very least, such an example encourages a son to treat women with respect, rather than to judge solely by superficial standards.
3) A son needs affection and words of affirmation from his mother. For some boys, it's true that they may go through a time of being finicky about hugs from mom, especially in front of friends. As moms, we need to understand and respect that. However, we must also know that, deep down, our son does appreciate little gestures of affection and encouraging comments. My son is grown and happily married, and he still greets me with great big bear hugs whenever we see each other.
Actually, a son needs affection and affirmation from both his father and his mother. A single mother or the wife of an undemonstrative man can bridge the gap, with the Lord's help. However, boys do thrive if they know that they are loved and valued by both of their parents.
Girls, also, need affection from both parents, as well as encouragement. A girl especially thrives if she feels loved and valued by her father.
Just the right amount of of proper parental affection and encouraging comments strengthens our children. If they do know how deeply loved they are, they will be less vulnerable to negative peer pressure. They will also be less vulnerable to sexual temptation before marriage. They will be better prepared to establish a healthy marriage when it is time for them to start a family of their own.
4) A mother can recognize and encourage the milestones in her son's life as he takes steps toward manhood. It may bring a pang to her heart to realize that her little boy is no longer so little. However, it is healthy for him if she allows him to mature into manhood at the pace he needs to. Since we mothers can be overprotective of sons, we may need the help of our husbands to help us know when we are holding on too tightly and when we truly do need to be protective. Single moms can consult some trusted man, such as a father or brother for advice in this area.
Often, our fear makes us want to overprotect our sons; this is where trusting the Lord is so important.
5) A mother can help a son's physical development by providing nutritious meals, as well as plenty of fresh air and wholesome exercise, sports, and activity. This is important for both girls and boys, but boys have an extra need for healthy physical activity in order to grow into healthy manhood. The glory of young men is their strength. Proverbs 20:29. Also, healthy play and healthy work help a boy manage his natural abundance of strength, energy, and drive. I believe that some boys who seem to be hyper-active simply may not be getting enough physical activity.
6) Boys sometimes do not realize the power of their physical strength, especially if they experience sudden growth spurts. They may feel and act clumsy, and they may inadvertently be too rough and tumble at times. They may not know the line between friendly roughhousing with Dad and the boys and how to treat mothers and sisters. A mother's gentle instructions can help a boy learn how to be gentle with women. Of course, a father's instruction and example is important, as well. A mother can also be patient with a boy's clumsiness and teach his sisters to be so, as well. This can help him through any awkward stage he may experience.
7) Mothers can point out a father's hard work and other things she appreciates about her husband. This can inspire a boy to follow suit. She doesn't need to do this in a way that makes her young son feel that he is being compared to his more mature father, but she should simply be appreciative of the things in her husband that a son would do well to imitate. This is something we, as wives, should be doing anyway, but a son benefits when he sees that we do appreciate these things.
8) A mother should encourage her son to fulfill whatever responsibilities have been assigned to him. In this way, she will help him grow into responsible, unselfish manhood.
9) A mother may despair of her young son ever taking an interest in keeping himself well groomed. There will be a point when this suddenly becomes important to him. Perhaps, though not necessarily so, this will be at a much later age than a girl usually manifests interest in her appearance. Until then, she may need to help him take care of his health and appearance.
10) It's a good ideas for computers and video games to be used in public areas. This helps protect a boy's purity.