She entered the front door of the crowded Urgent Care just three minutes before closing with the intensity of a tornado. As I sat holding my sick little girl, gently rocking her, my body tensed as we listened to her harsh words for her child. Our name was called, and I breathed a sigh of relief. After leaving, we headed to the only drug store still open at that hour. I stood in line still holding my tired, frail child impatiently waiting for the prescription to be filled when this same mom walked up and began a conversation with me. When asked about the number of children I had, I answered, “I also have three boys.” She exclaimed, “Oh, you poor woman! I do NOT envy you one bit! I have three girls and one boy and let me just tell you, that is more than enough for me!” Her eyes rolled and her body tensed and shivered.
James Dobson stated, “It’s better to make your child stretch to reach your high opinion of him than stoop to conform to your disrespect.” Not only did the strangers around us hear her verbal slander of boys in general, but both of our daughters as well. It reminded me of another Dobson quote, “When one sex is favored dramatically in the culture, the other is destined to lose. Who gets the leftovers?”
Last week, I had to explain to one son why it wasn’t okay to shoot a lizard with an air soft gun in front of his sister. Another son picked up a handful of dog food from a dirt pile in Walmart and put it down his sister’s shirt while the other two were sword fighting with purchased rolls of wrapping paper. One drop kicked his brother while shopping on a different night. And to think I’ve been training them for more than a decade! The youngest filled both bathroom sinks with water and every sandbox toy he owns hoping to wash them clean while simultaneously flooding the bathroom floor. The same child was found naked on the front porch talking to his favorite neighbor, Mr. Steve, across the street! He’s also the one who builds his own bike ramps at the age of five, and loves to ride while standing on top of the bike seat with one foot in the air. Boys!
But here’s the deal: I think they are fabulous.
Exhausting? Confusing? Overwhelming? Aggressive? A little gross? Yes. But also, fun, exciting, adventurous, hysterical, delightful, mysterious and intriguing. Our boys will rise to the level of expectation that we speak into their lives. Every word spoken makes an impact—great or small. We have a choice in our actions and the words we use to either build them up or tear them down. I am tired of media portraying men as stupid, ignorant, unnecessary and infuriating. I am tired of hearing words directed to boys that cut them at the knees instilling the lies of our culture promising them to grow to be as inadequate as the society around us.
Boys need moms who will speak words of life into their thirsty souls. They need moms who will expend their every waking, exhausted moments loving well by building up and not tearing down, watering instead of neglecting, listening instead of criticizing, affirming while refusing slander.
And that goes for what is said about them as well. Our friends can be told the hysterical, crazy, infuriating moments that make up our lives as moms of boys, but it must be done in a way that does not jeopardize the relationship we have with our boys. Our opinions of them matters to them. A son wants to make his mom proud, to see her smile. Why would we diminish his view?
Our boys are men in training to lead, and we can either raise them up or shut them down. They will rise to the level of the bar that not only we set, but the ones we allow others to set for them as well. That bar often determines the path they will choose to travel. You know that old saying, “It takes a village…?” While true, we need to be vigilant about who is allowed within the village to speak into the life of our boys as we seek to raise men. It’s words and actions that will mold the heart and mind setting boys up for either failure or success, confidence or shame, security or weakness.
Will we ever be able to do this mothering thing perfectly? Absolutely not. Do I have to apologize on almost a daily basis? You better believe it. Do some days feel like a battle instead of a joy ride? Yes, but that’s what I signed up for when I chose the role of Mom. But this I know, when my kids lay their heads down at night, regardless of whether it was a good day or bad, they know they are my favorites, and I’d pick them every single time.
Don’t forget about the little girls who are listening. Watching. Learning. They take their cues from Mom. The words and actions used with the boys in the house, including her Father, will shape how she views the role of a man, their character and their worth. If she grows up viewing the male gender as broken, wrong, frustrating, incompetent and not deserving of respect then the marriage relationship she is longing for will be damaged and promises heartache. What man can love and serve well if having to live under, not up to, those expectations? Some little girls grow up with opinions and views that harm their perceptions of the male role which stunts future relationships, while some little boys grow up being impacted by the negative, harsh words that tell them something is wrong with who they are and how they were created. Little girl meets little boy. They fall in love and marry, but quickly find that happiness is not an ever after affair. She wasn’t taught respect for the man in her life. He wasn’t taught to love well because he was just trying to figure out how to be good enough and fix what was broken.
God never makes a mistake. Our boys were created by God on purpose with a bigger than life plan in mind. He calls us as moms to shape, build and instruct them so they can grab ahold of their assignment and run the race set before them! To fulfill our calling, we must protect the boy that they are! Because God chose you to be the mom to that boy, He will equip you with everything you need to raise him well. Ask Him, then welcome His answers.
As for the mom in the drugstore, I simply stated, “No, we love the boys in our home. We think they make life super fun and exciting, and we don’t know what we would do without them!” We need to rise up and stand for our boys, their fathers too. That requires respect, and our boys need it just as much as their fathers. Our words matter. The world is full of women who are quick to demean the role of a man today, and their voices are getting louder. It’s time to raise ours.
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