Monday, February 8, 2010

Raising Boys: No Greater Challenge, No Greater Joy

A while back, I was reading in the Old Testament about King David’s elite soldiers. They were known as “The Three.” Their exploits were renowned.

Fast forward to today. Meet “The Two.” Their exploits are becoming quite renowned as well. While they’re not slaying Philistines, they stake out other covert ops—like knowing just the right time to hit the Swiss Miss stash in the garage.

In Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons, Dr. Meg Meeker writes that everyone wants the kind of boys who run and play outside, building forts and climbing trees. No one really wants their son to camp out in front of video games all day long. So on one hand, we want our boys to be active and energetic; yet, on the other hand, that energy can—at times—drive us moms up the wall.

It is true that boys are usually messier, louder, and rougher than their female counterparts. Raising them requires much patience, and a good sense of humor. It takes a special kind of woman. If you feel like you’re not that woman now, take heart. God is using your boys—and the challenges you encounter--to refine you into a more holy woman for His glory.

While you’ll encounter many challenging moments as you raise your sons, you’ll also come across lots of gold nuggets. Little boys adore their mamas; they grow into teens, then men, who will fiercely protect you. They’ll pick dandelions for you and present them to you with as much pride as if they bought you a beautiful bouquet (in their mind, the dandelions are a beautiful bouquet). They love to pamper you, bringing you beverages and massaging lotion into your heels when they see they’re cracked and dry. You’re their best girl, until they find their wife.

But until they leave the nest, enjoy each day with them. As everyone says, it goes by so fast.

In the meantime, here’s some practical help for raising our boys:

  • When they’re bouncing off the walls, send them outside. “But it’s the middle of winter, and I can’t send them out.” Yes, you can! Get them bundled up and send them out. They’ll burn off a little steam, and so will you.
  • It can be easy to nag our boys about their boyishness. As much as possible, try not to.
  • Take time to build close relationships with them. Do special things together. While I don’t agree with everything they say, I love Mike and Debi Pearl’s advice about “tying strings of fellowship.”
  • Find the cute moments each day. Give those more weight than the times you find your boys covered in Swiss Miss brown (even though those times eventually become funny to you too).
  • Pray for perspective on those hard days: Treasure your treasures!

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3).

(Visit Works for Me Wednesday for more tips on a bunch of subjects!)


  1. I don't know you and I have never read your blog until tonight but I want you to know how much it speaks to me today. My husband and I have two children one of which is a boy. He is two and testing my limits lately. Thank you for the gentle reminder to relish in the gold nuggets each day and remember that my kids are really God's gift to me!

  2. Thanks! Glad you found some encouragement. :) Hang in there. Two has been a difficult time for my boys as well. If you stay consistent with character training, and tying those strings of fellowship, there will be a time soon enough where the "phase" dies down and it gets more manageable ;)

  3. Boys are great AND parents will survive (its a miracle)! My 2 "little" boys are 26 and almost 21 and I look back on their antics (now) and can laugh. Boys are a blessing and it melts my heart to get hugs and I love You's from my big boys! Enjoy them!

  4. Our children, two boys and one girl went in and out of several particularly challenging phases two, often on their "even" years (2,4,6) But, happy to report at ages 13 and 18, my boys are delightful, compassionate guys who write me poetry and give the sweetest hugs. Even now, however, we have an occasional boxing match in the middle of the kitchen! Our daughter at 15 is growing beautifully, and is compassionate and modest. We are still doing so much work with them, but can now see how much our hard work paid off, in their beautiful development. Patience, and remember to enjoy them in the midst of the chaos. Kerry

  5. So which of those tips works for you? What have you tried? I'd love to hear something personal that worked for you with your boys. Thanks for the post.

  6. Hi Marineswife...I guess I'm not totally following your question. (?) The list of my personal tips I shared are what works best for me, and I use them everyday in life with my boys.
    I'll try to clarify a bit more, though...

    When the boys are running lap after lap in the living room and getting way too wound up, I usually bundle them up and tell them to go outside for a little while and play out there. This is easier in the summer, obviously, but even a few minutes outdoors in the winter helps burn off a little of the excess energy.

    In regards to not nagging them about their boyishness, it's easy for me (when they get rowdy) to keep asking them to please settle down...over and over again. While at times it is a self-control/obedience issue for them, most times, I just need to remember they are acting like the boys they are, and I need to just appreciate the fact that they are different from me (and send them outside sometimes too!)

    Doing special things together: reading books, baking, fingerpainting, involving them in your work with you, taking walks, any number of things unique to your family's interests that build fellowship together.

    Remembering the cute moments: try not to focus on the bad things that happened each day, or the rowdiness, or the crazy things your boys did, but go to bed each night choosing to remember instead the sweet moments, like when my little boy beamed so brightly because he was so proud he built me a "surprise" (a rough paper airplane out of construction paper, hugs and "I love you, Mom," those kind of things).

    Is that clarifying what you were asking a bit better??

    Sometimes, my attitude toward my boys is more of a spiritual issue. I wrote a post about that here:

    Let me know if you have more questions!! Thanks, Cheryl

  7. I have 4 boys and 4 girls. Delight in their boyishness. I often find myself saying "They are such BOYS!" and it's so true. That saying doesn't have to be an insult!

    I like Dr. Dobson's book about raising boys, too.

  8. Great tips on raising boys! :D
    I have one son and have taken care of 4 boys before. WOW! LOL! Great tips! My son is such a loving boy. He loves to write little notes to me, give me a shoulder massage, or heat up my heating pad. They definitely are a blessing!

    Have a great Wednesday!

  9. This is great advice! I have one son and this helps so much! He does love and protect me fiercely! I would love it if you'd link up to my Tuesday's Tips with this post here:

  10. Hi Lori, done!

    It Feels Like Chaos--I agree :) The pic cracks me up. They look so serious, like the "Men In Black" but it's more like brown from all the hot chocolate.

    Thanks for the kind comments, everyone! :)

  11. I love your post. My 8 year old and my 2 1/2 year old are VERY energetic boys. My 4 year old is pretty energetic too, but he loves to please and he's a little more laid back as well. I'm going to see if my library carries that book. I can't wait to read it. I have to constantly remind myself, "God created them like this for a reason."

    I think you might appreciate this that I posted today about protecting our boys.

  12. As the mama of three boys I agree with your first tip especially- let them get their energy out! I am constantly amazed by the amount of physical energy my boys have!

  13. Good encouragement...especially for this mama that's been in the house through two blizzards in five days with four boys (and a girlie)!

  14. I found your blog via org.junkie and have been so encouraged by your posts. I have 2 boys (6+4) and 1 girl (2) who are all very active. Your comment about not nagging them for boyish behavior was so helpful and timely! Boys are special and I love how they care and watch over their sister too!

  15. Hi, I just found your blog today :) I just wanted to say thank you for this post. My husband and I are getting ready to have our first child in June, and it's a boy! At first, to be honest, I wanted a girl to dress up and play dolls with, but now, I'm so excited about a boy. They are so much fun! And I've heard that they will always be a "mama's boy." I can't wait!