Recently, I was in a checkout line behind a mom with her little girl and boy. The energetic boy was about 3 years old. While his mom repeatedly called his name, her head constantly turned to see where his little feet had taken him. She was trying hard to complete her transaction with her sanity still intact. Meanwhile, her daughter was quiet, peaceful, and compliant. I found myself smiling at this little guy full of life and joy. I wondered if his mommy understood the world of boys. Did she know the reasons behind his energy and zest? I wanted to encourage her, so I attempted to begin with, “I have three little boys of my own!” Her expression was tired and weary. Before I could encourage her, she responded, “I used to think it was just simply how you raise them, but I’m finding that isn’t the case at all.” She and her children hurried out the door.
I wish we could have talked.
First, I am passionate about raising men of valor. Our boys are taught obedience and respect from infancy. I believe one of the best training grounds to teach children self-control is the grocery store. Because of that, our 11 and 8-year-old boys could successfully shop our grocery store without me. I can’t promise there will not be a few football passes down the aisles! It took perseverance, determination, many utterly embarrassing moments, one broken glass bottle, and eleven years to finally achieve that goal for our oldest two kids.
God’s design for boys has been different from the very beginning. We teach obedience and self-control, but we must also embrace the need for the boy in our life to wiggle, bounce, jump, and climb.
They cannot be expected to give what they do not yet possess. A grocery trip will bring out the wiggles in a little boy, no matter how well we teach and instruct them! A stick will still become a gun! The word “b-u-t” in a 5-year-old boy’s reading lesson will still cause endless giggles. (Wait. What? Not yours? Don’t judge 🙂 )
Our first child, Tanner, has always been compliant, easy going, and obedient. He could sit for hours and play. He walked and never ran in public. I thought I was so good! Then his brother arrived. While he has always been sweet with a tender heart and constant smile, Gray fit the typical definition of boy. He ran…everywhere. He climbed…everything, including the kitchen pot rack. He was always naked. Mud was his preferred playground. His love language is physical touch, but gentleness escaped him at first. He would slug me and run away with a grin that would melt my heart. Today it’s wrestling. When he was 18 months old, I wasn’t sure I was going to survive. I was bewildered and confused. I had done the parenting thing so “right” the first time. What was I doing wrong?
I found answers when I bought Bringing up Boys by Dr. James Dobson. God threw me a life preserver. It was exactly what this clueless mommy needed to swim to shore and begin to explore the incredible, mysterious world my child was living in. After I read it, I no longer felt I was drowning in disillusion. I was refreshed with knowledge and insight. I had been given a window to vividly see the wonderful world of my boy. I looked at our firstborn and thought, “You are the exception,” and to our second, “You are so very normal!”
Friends, I don’t have any deep, theological insight. I know some days are just hard. Some of us have husbands who come home to find us
hiding praying in our closets. I KNOW! But I also know our boys desperately need us to embrace their world. They need us to smile and giggle with them in their silliness. Don’t worry about what the woman in line behind you is thinking! Smile more than frown. Laugh, even when it hurts. Don’t be the constantly frustrated mom who lacks understanding. In the midst of the crazy, they need a mom who will stop just to say, “If God lined up all the little boys in the world, I would choose you every time!” They need a mom who will not look at them with scorn, but with joy and wonder too. They need to know they are wonderful, amazing gifts from God, and their mom is their biggest fan, no matter what. Because honestly, sometimes your boy just can’t help it! I am not suggesting life with our boys isn’t frustrating and irritating. It’s in the midst of those times that our reactions and responses to them matter most!
I may not be able to fully understand the wonderful world of boys, but I sure do love my view of it!
“Remember that they are men in training. Their aggressive nature is designed for a purpose. It prepares them for the ‘provision and protection’ roles to come. That assertiveness also builds culture when properly channeled. I urge you as parents not to resent or try to eliminate the aggressive and excitable nature that can be so irritating. That temperament is part of a divine plan. Celebrate it. Enjoy it. Thank God for it. But also understand that it needs to be shaped, molded, and civilized.” Dr. James Dobson
Do you live in the “wonderful world of boys”? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!