In society, I’m a brand new mom. I’m only (almost) 7 years old in motherhood. But I would like to think that my soul is an ancient one full of wisdom and knowledge. I cannot look at a woman who has been a mother for 25 years and tell her I know more than her. I don’t. But I cannot doubt that there are women in this world who can go through the motions and never actually learn. While there are other women who go through the motions and crave more knowledge. I’d like to think I’m the later.
And so, my journey of motherhood didn’t begin when I became a mother, in fact,it began when I became a young woman who was interested in men. And even more so, when I married my husband.
Growing up, we can all say our parents made mistakes. Heck, our parents will tell you they made mistakes. And I’ll tell my adult child (when that day comes) how many mistakes I made. But the reality is that when we, ourselves, are children, we often think we can do things better than our parents. And thus begins the course of trying to find what we really want in life.
For me, I wanted to graduate high school, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. But, I failed to understand one thing…
…I had absolutely no idea what a real man was.
And so I tried to find a real man in a high school boy I barely knew…
I tried to find a real man in a man who didn’t even know himself, but wanted to know me…
I tried to find a real man in a boy who, to this day, is probably still one of the most childish people I know…
And I tried to find a real man in my now husband.
Oh, how I wish I would have waited for him.
What a naive girl I was, as most young women are.
I sing that song in my head sometimes, Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys.
Mama’s, don’t let your babies grow up to be men who disrespect women, are unkind, lazy, rude, and useless.
Mama’s, raise your babies to be strong and courageous men. Raise them to be kind and gentle, and yet strong and manly. Raise them with soft hearts and strong skin. Raise them to the highest standard. Raise them to the standard you deserve. Raise them to the standard that one day she, his future wife, will deserve.
When my husband and I first married, we both had a lot of growing up to do. A lot. I am grateful we “grew up” together. Though there was a time when we thought we might not make it. Honestly, I’m grateful for that time too.
And as I look at my son now, I see his father in him. All of the good parts, and a few of the bad. Some of my good characteristics, and some of my bad as well. But I am constantly reminded that, no matter what….
I have been given one of the greatest tasks in life—raising and training a man.
|2012 – ©Courtney Anderson Photography|
It has been challenging, and I mess up, daily. And the sad reality is that so many times, he is training me, rather than me training him. Parenthood is a calling, of that I am certain. It’s the calling that shatters our hearts, mends them over, and breaks them into a thousand pieces again…followed by hugs and kisses. It forces us to face our biggest flaws, and to celebrate our smallest of victories. It makes us realize that we weren’t right about everything when we were 13, and sometimes, our kids might be able to teach us a thing or to.
During these years, I have had to remind myself of these things. Daily.
And while the emotional and characteristic side of manhood is necessary, there are some practical things to teach him as well.
:: How to Raise Our Boys to Be Men ::
Teach him kindness. With his words….with his body language…with his heart. Teach them to have a kind heart when someone is being picked on. Teach them not to pick on anyone. Show them love and tell them it’s ok to love. Loving them unconditionally will allow them to love unconditionally when they become men.
Teach him to work through emotions. And let them know that emotions are ok…even for a man. The human body was created to have emotions, for good reason. But little boys still must be trained on how to properly handle them. Crying is ok (if you’re hurt, really sad, or not feeling well), whining is not. Being happy and excited is ok. Loving on mama is ok, and daddy too. Being angry when someone has hurt you is ok, but there is also grace and forgiveness to be taught.
Teach him to be helpful and independent. No matter how little, teach them how to clean, do their own laundry, how to wash dishes, how to keep a clean house (I royally suck at this), how to keep their bodies clean. Teach them how to live on their own, rather than them waiting for a wife to come along to do it for them. You want to talk about culture shock when I got married? I came from a household where dad cleaned up after himself and did his own laundry. My husband came from a household where he didn’t do a darn thing. We have since found our happy medium. That happy medium is called “clean it up yourself, or it will sit there until I have the time, and don’t you dare complain about it.”
Teach him to be a provider. Not only for himself, but for others. Teach him work ethic and independence. Teach him how honorable it is to be a man of stature and provision. Teach him the Biblical standard of a hard working man.
Teach him to respect women. Teach him that her body is her body, not his. And that even after marriage, he can’t just treat her however he wants to. Teach him that she is a daughter of a King. From a young age, they should be holding doors open for women, even mom. But of course, they will forget most days. Teach them “ladies first” and how to be proper. Sure, there are women out there who like to act like men, but not a single one of them will complain if treated like a princess. But that brings me to my next point…
Teach him to be courageous, and to never be walked all over. There are some very strong women in this world, and if given the chance, they can walk all over a kind hearted man. Teach him to be courageous and respectful, but to never tolerate being walked all over. Teach him to stand up for himself when another person comes against him in life. But also teach him to have a teachable spirit in case he needs to learn a lesson.
Teach him to work with his hands. Because he will need that skill more than either of you realize in the real world. A little dirt goes a long way. And you never know when he might have to fall back on that skill.
Teach him to be self-sufficient. Does he know how to take care of a family? That’s a big deal when it comes to learning manhood.
Teach him to hide the word of God in his heart. There will be trials and tribulations—temptations and personal demons. Teach him, from a young age, to hide the word of the Lord in his heart. So that if ever he strays away, he will remember. And that when he does find his wife, he can share it with her as well.
Teach him to be a leader. But with humility and justice.
Teach him right from wrong. This is a given, but unfortunately so many parents just think their children automatically know right from wrong. Trust me, if you are not actively teaching it to them, someone else will…and not necessarily in the way you wish.
Make sure he knows that he owes no one anything, that he doesn’t have to depend on someone else to live this life (other than Jesus), and that he was fearfully and wonderfully made by the same hands that created the entire universe.
But most of all? Teach him who he is in Christ. If nothing else, mama, teach him this. Who does God say he is?
List them all, one by one…
He is a child of the most high King. (Galatians 3:26)
He is greatly loved by his Father. (Romans 5:8)
He is a friend of Jesus. (John 15:15)
He has been redeemed. (Romans 3:24)
He is a temple of God. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
He is predestined in Christ. (Ephesians 1:11)
He is a workman of God. (Ephesians 2:10)
He is bold and confident. (Ephesians 3:12)
He is guarded by peace. (Philippians 4:7)
He is dearly loved, chosen, and clothed in compassion. (Colossians 3:12)
…and the list goes on and on.
Mama, I know the days are long sometimes, and the road is hard. But never ever forget what you’ve been entrusted with. And most importantly, never forget that we are constantly in training, as we train our own young boys to become incredible young men.