Recently, I was contacted by a friend about how to establish and nurture a healthy relationship with our boys. Over the years, she has watched the way we have raised our boys and has admired our ability to reach them.
There is no formula for raising boys! I wish I could say, if you do X, Y, and Z, then your kids will turn out perfectly, but that is not the case. Each child comes with their own unique set of abilities, personalities, and temperments. What works for one child may not work for another.
What I do know is that each child is a blessing from the Lord, and He knows our children even better than we do. Pray for your children. Pray for wisdom in reaching their heart, pray for how you may best nurture that child specifically. Pray for your relationship with him, and pray for his relationship with the Lord. One of the greatest joys that I have had as a parent is sharing the love of God with my children, and leading them to Christ.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4 ESV
I once met a woman who remarked how similar my son was to her son. I knew her son, not as a boy, but as a grown man. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this man, and so I asked her what I should do with my son, so he would turn out like her son. I will never forget the response of this wise woman. She said, “Wear your knees out in prayer!” What great advice! It is not only our privilege and a joy to pray for our children, but it is a necessity. We live in a fallen and sinful world, and the enemy wants to destroy our boys. In John 10:10 we learn, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly.” Praise Jesus! He came that we may have an abundant life!
Raising boys who become men who love the Lord doesn’t happen by accident. Having your son’s heart requires intentional parenting. Making wise choices about what our children are exposed to is also very important – cultivate a love of whatever is noble, true, and right. Expose them to good literature and stories about heroes of the faith. Be mindful of what they see on television, computer screens and video games. Emphasize purity of mind, and thought, and deeds.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 ESV
I think a popular children’s bible song says it best: O be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go and be careful little mouth what you say.
Parenting our boys sometimes requires us to make unpopular or counter-cultural choices that are in their best interest. This is why prayer is so necessary so that we can know what is best for our family, and for each individual child.
Keeping lines of communication open is vitally important. Time spent around the family dining table talking about anything and everything is a great tool for discipleship. We talk to our kids about everything, and we have always encouraged them to communicate honestly with us. As our boys have grown, we have had many important conversations until late at night. I think a huge part of having your child’s heart comes from good communication. I want to make myself available to them, whenever they want to talk.
My friend indicated that she felt like she was missing the mark in reaching her 12-year-old son’s heart. Junior high can be a challenging age! Our once sweet little boys become full of testosterone and start to become men, and they begin to change. Our roles as mom change also, as they pull away from us. It is our job to continue to love, nurture, and pray for them as they become the men God has created them to be. When boys hit junior high age, it is important for the father to become more involved in leading and disciplining his son.
Boys require hard physical work. It is good for boys to work hard physically, either in playing sports or manual labor of some kind. I always joke that boys are easy: just feed them well, put a ball or a shovel in their hands, and let them go. They need physical work, but they also crave purpose in their lives and should be challenged intellectually. This will look different for each of us, which is why we should pray for wisdom specifically for each child.
There are many good books on parenting. The most important book is The Bible – we must teach them to know and love the Lord and the Word of God. The Bible is our instruction book for life. In addition to the Bible, listed below are some of the books that I have found helpful in raising my boys.
Created for Work, Practical Insights for Young Men – Bob Schultz
Shepherding a Child’s Heart -Ted Tripp
The Power of a Praying Parent -Stormie Omartian
The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood – Sally Clarkson
Keeping our Children’s Hearts – Steven and Teri Maxwell
Hints on Child Training – H. Clay Trumbull
Bringing Up Boys – Dr. James Dobson
Prayerfully this will encourage my friend, and anyone else struggling to reach the heart of their son. What are some other things that you have found are helpful in raising boys? I would love to hear from you.