Growing up and seeing as my mother raised my brothers and I, I learnt a great deal. My mother always spoke life into my brothers and still does to this very day, but what is so beautiful is the relationship she has with each of them. My mother speaks to my brothers every single day and she is always on hand to give them advice. She has always been there for us and she put us first even when there were times when she had her own issues going on. I never always realised this, especially not until I became a mother myself, but sometimes life happens to us all, but because we are the only parents to our children, we continue because that is what we have learnt to do; I want you to know that it is okay to lean on your village of support, that is what they are there for, to step in when you need support. I have put together a list of some important points about raising sons, I hope it is helpful.
A quote I solemnly live and swear by. The words we speak to our children should be positive, we should uplift them not just to their faces, but in our prayers too. Daily we should be covering them in prayer and asking God to keep them safe from things seen and unseen. Prayers from our great grandparents are still keeping us even up to this day, so why should we stop with them?! Let’s continue what they have started and teach our children to do the same.
It is important to always reinforce how important your son(s) are. They do not have their father present to do this, but just because you are their mother it does not disqualify you from stepping up and speaking life into your children. You carried them, they lived inside of you and by the grace of God you are the one who is raising them, so everything they are learning mainly comes from you, their mother.
Communication Is Key.
Be receptive, communicate with them and listen to their thoughts and ideas. Let them know that they are important because they are. Spend some time with them on a daily basis asking them how their day has been, what they have enjoyed about their day and really get to know what is going on in their lives. This is a great way to connect and build a strong relationship because they will know they can come and talk to you about anything. Sometimes they may just need someone to listen and that is okay too.
Motivate them, don’t teach them to be better than anyone else, the only person they need to be better than is who they were yesterday. Try not to compare them because comparisons will make them feel inadequate and will plant a negative seed which will be very difficult to weed away in years to come. They need to hear it from you, how special they are. They may not be good at everything, but there are a lot of other things they will be good at. Always let them know that their best will be good enough.
Allow them to express their emotions. One thing my mother and aunts never did was tell my brothers and cousins off if ever they cried, I don’t remember them crying often as children, but if and when they did, they knew it was necessary. Crying is a release of negative emotions; a build-up of suppressed feelings and it is so important for boys and young men to be able to express themselves in this way. There is nothing good about retaining their feelings and causing themselves internal hurt and damage.
I personally see nothing wrong with a man being in touch with his feelings, it is a good thing. So many men grow up with this, “I have to be strong!” mentality and it does them more damage than good. I know not everyone will agree with my opinion on this, but this is my opinion and if ever I have a son, he will know that it is okay for him to express himself in this way. Crying does not make boys/men weak or “wimps.” Ask them how they are feeling, ask them if there is anything they are struggling with or that they feel compelled to share. I would encourage you to even share how you are feeling, so that they understand that everyone has good days and bad days – it reinforces the idea that they are not alone and that you are both human.
Raising young boys to know that their feelings are important and that they matter will prevent them from surpressing their feelings as an adult. They will be able to freely express themselves to anyone and they will not be ashamed of their feelings because you have always taught them that their feelings are just as important as anyone else's.
Positive Male Role Models.
Finding positive male role models for your son(s) is another important step. Although their father is not in the picture, they should be able to have other male figures that they look up to. If you are part of a church or religious community that is an excellent place to start and you may have males in your family who you believe are good role models. Your son(s) will learn a lot from having these important people in their lives and they may well teach them so many different things, such as showing them how to be a man and how to treat women well. They can learn some of these things from you as a mother but being demonstrated by another man is very important because they are both of the same gender and therefore can see things from a male’s perspective.
You are still their mother, and nobody can take that away from you, so embrace the fact that having a male role model is very beneficial and will expand their horizons. Male role models may even take them to see the game (if sports are not your thing) or they will take them to do other activities. It is great bonding time for them and allows them to have another familiar adult in their life who loves and cares for them. This will take some weight off your shoulders because you cannot carry everything by yourself. These male role models are inclusive of your support network. Remember the saying, “it takes a village?” Well, they are in your village, they are there for you to lean on when you need to.
Another important point to note is that you should make it your duty to know your son(s)’ companions. Who do they hang around with? What are their friends like? What do they get up to in their spare time? It may seem intrusive, but you do not want your child(ren) to be caught up in the wrong crowd. It is even better if you speak to their friends’ parents too as you will get a better understanding of their background and the environment they are coming from. You would not want your son(s) to be in their homes and God forbid something happens, so it is a nice idea to be at peace knowing that if your child(ren) go to their friends’ homes they will be safe. I recall growing up that my brothers’ friends were always at our house, they all became apart of the family and when we had family functions it was a guarantee that they would be there! It was lovely because I gained extra big brothers, but also because my mother has such a big heart if ever, they faced difficulties at home, they were welcome to come to our home.
Give Them Freedom.
Giving your son(s) space and encouraging them to be whoever they were meant to be without forcing them to be anyone else is crucial. Not everyone was meant to be a doctor or a lawyer, but it does not mean that they will not grow up and have a brilliant career. Too many people get pushed into careers or lifestyles that they never wanted and when they reflect on their lives, they wished that things could have been different. Don’t do that to your child(ren) give them the freedom to be do what sets their souls on fire, allow them to pursue their passion and discover their purpose. When you see talent(s) in your child(ren) encourage them wholeheartedly, teach them to embrace their talents and not be ashamed of who they have been called to be because it will eventually form part of their destiny. As mothers we should always encourage our child(ren) whenever we can, but if they tell you that they really do not like engaging in an activity and you can see that they do not enjoy this particular activity, for example playing an instrument – listen to them and try to find something more suited for them. There are so many different activities that your child(ren) can participate in, do not limit them to just one.
No Negative Absent Father Talk Allowed.
I have said this before in previous posts, but please do not speak badly to your son(s) about their father regardless of how you feel. This causes confusion and can also create bitter, angry feelings of resentment towards their father. This can easily be avoided by you remembering that your son(s) come first in everything and one day they when they are old and wise enough to form their own opinion of their father, they will do just that without your input.
With that said, I do not believe that you should make excuses for their father and you should not tell them things that are not true. You should be open and honest, but there are ways of saying things without going into too much detail. As my daughter is growing older, she is starting to develop more of an understanding and when she talks about her father, I allow her to express herself. When she asks me questions, I answer them to the best of my knowledge, but what I will never do is cover up for her father because he had a choice to be there and he chose not to.
There are some things that can be excused but walking out on your child(ren) is not one of them. If however their father will do them more harm than good by being neglectful, always making empty promises, being physically or emotionally abusive, etc then they are better off without them in their lives. All you can do is continue to be there for them, to do your part and to understand that what you do however big or small is enough.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T is earned, would you agree? We can teach our child(ren) by leading by example what respect is all about. Showing them respect by giving them some space and their privacy as they are growing up will teach them to do the same to you and others. They will be more open and able to express themselves to you because they acknowledge that you respect them.
As your son(s) are growing up I would encourage you to think about what privacy means to you and how you can ensure that you give your son(s) the privacy they require without searching their rooms and listening to their conversations, this can be quite intrusive and unless you have a real reason to do this, please don’t!
You need to believe that you are raising a well-rounded, trustworthy and sensible young man who knows what you expect of him and he would not want to disappoint you by doing something that displeases you. It is about finding a balance between giving him his space, but still asking him questions and establishing what is happening in his life. He will communicate these things with you because of the rapport you have built over the years. Just have faith, that you are doing a good job and he will communicate with you.
Let Your Son Be A Son.
My opinion on son(s) being seen as the “man of the house” is quite divided because I understand why people would refer to a young man as the “man of the house” if he is the male in the house, but at the same time it is not a child’s responsibility to be the “man of the house.” Children should be children; teenagers should be teenagers and so forth. Your son has an important role to play that does not include him aspiring to be the “man of your household,” he one day will be the man of his house, but he is your son. Men of the house are required to do a lot of adult duties, they are mainly seen as fathers, husbands and so forth. Your son should be encouraged to enjoy his youth without worrying about the demands and pressures of manhood just yet. He should be free to play, laugh with his friends, watch his favourite shows and do things that make him happy. It is okay for him to want to look after you, but you are his mother and it is your duty to look after him for as long as possible.
Roles And Responsibilities.
On the other hand, I think it is a great thing to encourage your son(s) to join you in the kitchen. Making this part of your family routine is special because this can become your bonding time and you can catch up with your son, whilst teaching him how to cook. This is a lifelong skill that will help him when he is out in the real world by himself, he will be self-sufficient because of you enabling him to do different things around the house. He will also not rely on his wife or any woman in his life to do these things for him.
I have heard a lot of ridiculous statements over the years, such as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” and “men have no business doing duties for females,” I could write a whole blog post on my opinion of these two statements, but I will say this – a woman’s place is wherever she wants to be and that same rule applies for men too. Women and men should be able to look after themselves and do basic things in and around the house. It is our responsibility as mothers to not fail our children by neglecting to teach them basic principles and life lessons. We are their first teachers and our home is their first school, it is so vital for us to make sure that what we instil in them now will help them for many years to come.
Being actively involved in your son(s’) schooling and education is also essential. Try to always be present at school meetings and if ever you have concerns about things, speak to your son(‘s) teachers and let them know what is going on. Remember, they cannot help if they are not aware of the situation. Don’t be afraid or feel as if they will judge you, because they are there to help you and your son(s) in any way they can. Growing up we were surrounded by educational resources; our family home was (and still is) like a library! It is probably where my passion for books and writing stemmed from, but in addition to literature and resources we did also have an array of toys.
My mother always emphasised the importance of studying and making something of ourselves and because of her encouragement it led us to become who we are today. She sat down and spent time with each of us doing our homework, even though we were all different ages, I imagine how tired she was and how she probably just wanted to go to sleep after being at work all day, but she dedicated her time to us.
Actively engaging in homework sessions with your son(s), helping them to excel with their strengths and encouraging them to work on their weaknesses will also be of great help to them. They will feel supported and they will also feel that with you watching them and helping them, that they can do anything (because they can, and they will!) It lets them know that you want them to succeed, sometimes words are not enough, we must be actively involved too. Your encouragement will go a long way because even as grown men, your words of encouragement will be fresh in their minds – they will never forget how you were always their biggest cheerleader!
Please let me know your thoughts below!
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