Before He Becomes A Man and A Husband
For those who know me or my family, you might know this past week was a big week in our lives. For those that may not know us as well, I’ll fill you in! We have seven kids. We have 6 boys and one girl smack dab in the middle of all those brothers! Our kids range in age from 3-22. So, we are currently potty training and wedding planning. But as of June 8, the wedding planning commenced as we watched our oldest son become a husband! A real-life husband! It feels surreal. Absolutely surreal!
I tend to be a bit sentimental, and this week I’m proving to be nothing less than that! I find myself mulling over the memories of the last 22 years, and a host of emotions overwhelm me. First and foremost, I am excited! I am thoroughly thrilled to see how God has answered our prayers for Taylor and the young lady He has brought into our son’s life and our family. I couldn’t be more eager and excited to add her to our family!
In addition to the utter joy and excitement, I find waves of other emotions. I feel a little sadness that his boyhood is truly over—He’s a grown man now with the responsibilities of bills and someone for whom he will need to provide and protect (and that’s not bad, just the reality of things never again being as simple or easy as they were in a young boy’s world). I feel proud of the man he has become—I remember all the things he has accomplished, learned, and truly grown in. I feel a little anxious about what the new relationship between us will look like and feel like—we have shared a really close relationship, and I know that the leaving and cleaving will bring about some expected and healthy changes. I feel a little scared to play a new role—being a mother-in-law sounds scary and daunting, and what I really hope to impart to them is a sense of true support and love for them. I feel anxious to watch them become a family of two that works together for God’s purposes. And I must admit, I feel a small sense of panic. Panic? Yes, panic, as I ask myself, have I taught him everything he needs to know to be a good husband?
As I’ve soul searched this, for the past several days (and many mid-nights), I have come to realize five important things I would hope to have taught my son before he becomes a husband. Considering that training and teaching is a process, I would suggest not waiting until a few days before the wedding! LOL!!Consider the big picture and start training and guiding your son from a very early age in the traits that will build his confidence and ability to be a good man and husband. Click & Tweet!
1. Help your son develop an awareness for God and His purpose for Him.
A spiritual walk with God is the only thing in life that won’t fail your son. Guide him in learning early of God’s love, forgiveness, provision, and protection. There is nothing greater that we can impart to our son. His dependence on God will be something that may be tried at different points in life, so a strong and stable concept of God is key. A strong relationship with God will enable your son as he grows into the role of a man and husband.
I remember my oldest son sitting in the back seat of my car, strapped in his car seat, talking to me about his fear of going into an uncertain situation. He was probably only 3 ½ years old, and I can still hear his small voice as he talked about his “baby heart” being scared. His fear was real, and it was understandable. But the situation was unavoidable. I clearly recall giving him some reassurance and then us singing the song he had just learned in Vacation Bible School, Be Strong and Courageous. We had already memorized the corresponding verse and used it regularly to calm his fears. To this day, I know that verse carries significance in his life and we’ve used it for many other fears or challenges throughout the years. I have seen this verse as well as many others contribute to his spiritual stability over the years.
2.Train him to control his emotions.
Please don’t mistake this as me saying to keep his emotions from showing. This is NOT the societal message that boys shouldn’t cry. I promise! Rather, it is important that a boy learn to control his emotions by expressing them in appropriate ways. Whether good emotions or difficult emotions, boys need to become accustomed to keeping their emotions in check. Sometimes we share them openly with others, sometimes we guard our hearts, and sometimes we take risks. This ability to learn what to say or share and when, takes a level of emotional maturity. We can teach our boys this, as they learn to express their feelings whether, mad, sad, glad, or anything in between!
I remember back to one of the very first big disagreements I had with my oldest son. I had dropped him at football camp the day after having surgery on his wrist. It was the summer after his eighth grade year. Because he was still taking pain medication, he was staying the night at a hotel with me after camp. A good size issue emerged that evening that had caused us both some hurt. It was the biggest disagreement we had ever had. But I remember it incredibly well. Why? Because I walked away from the situation with a new respect for my son. He had handled his emotions so well. He spoke calmly and listened to my feelings. He was able to reassure and offer his differing perspectives in such a mature way. I remember this incredible moment as I saw a glimpse of a true man in my little boy. In fact, I remember calling my mom in tears the next day to retell the story and share my amazement at his emotional maturity! Emotional maturity will be one of the best tools for your son to take into relationships, learning to communicate what he feels and connecting with someone who has her own set of emotions.
3. Teach him to understand others who are different.
No matter the age, it is easy for a little boy to believe that his way is the right way or that everyone thinks like he does. It is important that little boys learn to value others, even their differences. It is good to point out those differences in a way that helps establish a respect and acceptance for those differences. This will be a handy tool in dealing with all people but can especially make a difference in learning to understand the opposite gender. This ability to understand and respect differences can go a long way in dating, engagement, and of course in marriage.
One of the earliest forms of differences come in understanding racial or societal differences. I remember quite clearly standing in Walmart with my oldest when he was about 3. We were waiting to pay. As we stood in line, a very tall and muscular African American man walked up behind us. My little one had not been exposed to much diversity at this point in life. He turned around, took one long look and then loudly announced, “Look, it’s a chocolate man!” I of course cringed in embarrassment but had not time to waste being mortified. I looked into his innocent eyes and then just quickly explained, “Not chocolate, but just like ice cream, all people are different too! Isn’t that special?!” Thankfully the man behind me was gracious and said he appreciated the explanation! But it was a quick lesson in teaching little ones to first appreciate differences as something special, not different as negative in any way!
In our home, we talk a lot about the differences in personalities and family members. It can be easy to view some characteristics as better than another, especially when they are traits we possess. But just as we value our traits or perspectives, others do too! It is imperative to bridge this gap early in life. Teaching them to value differing sibling traits and perspectives is the first and best way to practice this skill! We have some children that value alone time, while others value socializing. We have children who are quick to adjust to other’s plans, while other’s like to be quick to make the plans. I find myself talking this through with them often, as they feel the urge to get frustrated when a sibling does the opposite!
As parents, we can teach our children the great value in differences, rather than great frustration! Click To Tweet
4. Direct him as he learns to value relationships and desiring them for the right reasons.
I was quite intrigued that my son included this on his list of things he felt were important for a young man to know before he became a husband. I must admit, I would not have thought of it on my own. But he felt it was extremely important for him to get to a place that he wanted a relationship to give to someone else and enjoy life with someone else, rather than want a relationship for selfish reasons. I couldn’t argue that! So from the mouth of a boy turned man…this is key!
We set up boundaries with our kids that they wouldn’t date until they were older (junior/senior year). This was often not a popular plan. And yes, they were at times, the only kids in their circle that weren’t attached. But we did feel it was important that they take time to learn about the opposite sex and what they liked and didn’t like. What they were drawn to and appreciated and what they were not so inclined to like! We encouraged them to have friends of the opposite gender but that they allow those friendships to grow without the constraints of dating. We wanted them to develop a true appreciation and ability to value a relationship, not just come and go and change relationships like a pair of socks! We felt it was important for them to develop a strong inner sense of what kind of person they would be in a relationship with and what characteristics they would look for in a strong dating relationship.
I wrote a Bible study for our kids that I do with them in their 15th year. They know they are not allowed dating privileges until the study is complete. At that point, I will have a good pulse on their motivations, convictions, morals, and personal thoughts on peer pressure, their spiritual walk, and dating and be able to make a determination of their readiness. It has worked out great so far! And it allows us some good one-on-one time together at a key time! I look forward to doing it with the next few kids coming through! We also take them on a special getaway in their tween years for the Passport to Purity materials, which helps us prepare them for the changes of adolescence and discusses dating. This generates some good discussion and bonding time as well!
5. Prepare him that connecting with someone takes understanding what they like, enjoy, or are comfortable with as well as how to communicate well with them.
My oldest son relayed to me that this was one of the bigger lessons he had to learn. He figured out through some trial and error that the way he connected with guy friends would not be very successful with his girlfriend. That came a little bit as a surprise. He remembers discovering that what the guys would hang around and do with odd jokes, strange voices, and teasing was not getting as favorable responses as he had hoped with her. Now we hear that as parents and we think, uh yeah, that’s simple! But maybe that lesson is better taught with some intentionality. Maybe pointing out those differences and generating some good discussions as we observe people interacting would be eye opening. Maybe this is something we encourage to be practiced when we initiate our kids connecting with other generations, groups, or outreaches, in ways that are meaningful to them. Sometimes, relating and connecting takes the willingness to step outside of what you know or prefer and instead step into another’s world. This skill is necessary as they learn to date and connect with someone of the opposite gender who may have a very different personality as well!
One of the best ways we can help them learn this is by modeling it! I remember when I found out that my first baby was going to be a boy. I remember that day as though it were yesterday. I remember sitting at my grandma’s house and talking to my mom over the phone as she was away on a trip. I was crying my eyes out, “I have no idea what to do with a boy! I have never even had a brother!” I was terrified. Somehow, in all my years of playing with baby dolls, I had never once mothered a boy doll, nor had I entertained the idea that there was even a remote chance to mother one myself. I felt utterly unprepared and unable to relate to a boy! What a sense of humor God had to send five more after that!! LOL!!! You are so funny, God!! 😊
But I can tell you this. Relating with my boys has been an incredible journey. My relationship with each one of them is close…and different. If I attempted to relate to one just as I did another, it could be a real miss! But I have learned to try, to risk, and to be uncomfortable at times! And it’s worth it!! I cherish the relationship and connection I have with each boy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
Maybe connecting with your son feels challenging as well. Or perhaps you have a daughter but still struggle to connect with her as well. Let me share with you some simple idea starters to get you thinking and moving toward a better connection. Click these links to get 10 Tips to Connecting With Your Son and Connecting With Your Daughter. Feel free to print them out for future reference. You might also find this tip sheet on 50 Things Every Child Needs to Hear helpful, as you seek to connect by communicating. Trust me, it is worth it to make the connection and teach them how to step out of their comfort zones to connect and communicate as well! These are skills you want in place for your relationship with them as well as their future relationships.
And I have to tell you, I was reminded many times over, as my oldest son talked about the matters on his heart and mind leading up to the wedding that the time we take to connect and relate are a great investment! I don’t know what this next stage of life is like. I don’t know exactly what to expect of our relationship as the leaving and cleaving takes place. But I can tell you this, I do still feel connected, and I feel prepared to encourage the connection he makes with the new woman in his life! I trust the strength of our relationship and know it can be a great gift for years to come! And while I don’t feel like I’ve covered everything (how could a Mom?!) I do trust that God has him covered! God has them covered! And I couldn’t be more grateful!!
These are the five things that struck me as important as a mother watching my son become a husband. I hope this offers you some encouragement as you look at your little man and raise him well! And I urge you this– Start praying for the young lady that your son will marry. Pray that God will be filling her heart and life with Him and His love. Pray that she will be protected and strong as she is growing and learning. Pray that she will have others surrounding her that are investing in the things that will prepare her to be a good wife and woman. That will be another article in the future!
And if you are sitting there with a little lady, be the one who is investing in her. The concepts mentioned above are important for her to know and understand! I will definitely be taking some time to think of the things I want my daughter to know before becoming a wife. And I promise I will share that article as well!
Now, let’s head out on this venture to help our little ones grow into the best adults they can be!
Let’s do this!!