Lessons in Young Motherhood- Mothers and Sons
I read an article the other day about how some of the challenges we experience in parenting our sons, may be due to not giving our sons the respect they need. Since one of the highest needs of men is respect they argue, logically boys begin needing respect as they grow into young men. And we mothers, need to make sure that we are giving it to them.
This idea of men needing respect, comes from the book, “Love and Respect” by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. It’s a book that is WIDELY accepted in the majority of Christian churches as the ‘Ultimate Marriage Material’. One day, I would really like to write an in-depth post on this whole concept of men needing respect and women needing love. But, for now I would like to say two things;
First, this whole theology of marriage is based off of one verse in the Bible. ONE VERSE. We all need proceed with caution when anyone uses one verse in the Bible to make money and build a ministry. Second, men do need respect- yes. But, so do women. Women do need love- yes. But, so do men. Men need love and respect. Women need love and respect. They are two sides of the same coin, and you cannot have either, if you do not have both.
My article reading last week was inspired by a situation that transpired a few days prior in our family. One of my boys interacted with me in a way that was outrageously disrespectful. The interaction was brutal, abusive and hurtful, and I was not sure how to handle it. I won’t go into specifics, because it’s not relevant to the post, but it got me thinking about mother/son relationships.
Some popular Christian leaders over the years have taught that once boys reach a certain age, they mostly just need their dad. So, mothers should take a backseat in parenting at that point. [For example, Dobson in his book, Bringing Up Boys.] Reading those things always made me feel a little sad, the way people tend to feel when they are told that they are irrelevant. I don’t want to take a backseat as a parent, and I’ve come to believe that this idea is not true or healthy, and it’s certainly not fair.
Mothers, I want you to know today that you are not irrelevant in the life of your sons. Nor will you become so as they grow. This list of course is not exhaustive; over time I’m sure I will do several posts on the mother/son relationship. But, here are just a few ways that mothers should not take a back seat in parenting as their boys grow.
- When faced with a disrespectful son last week, my husband and I discussed the best course of action. Both of our guts said it would be best for me (the mother) to be the one to talk to him. And here’s why; one of the reasons that your son needs a mother desperately in his life, is because culture tells him that it’s acceptable to treat women as lesser than men. Your job is to stand in the face of that and say, “No way. Not in my house!” There is no room for weak women in the face of raising sons. You must stand firm and not allow yourself to be disrespected or talked down to. You are teaching him how to treat women- co-workers, school mates, teachers, bosses, and perhaps, one day, his wife.
- You definitely do need to respect and love your son. Do not ever belittle him. Encourage him. Build him up. Not necessarily as a “man”, but as a human. He is made in the image of God, and that alone makes him worthy of respect and love. Encourage him to follow his dreams. Allow him to try (and fail) at things. Notice things about him that are honorable, and point them out. But remember- being respectful of a persons worth as a human is one thing, but respecting behavior is another. Respect in that way is earned, it is not a right.
- Allow your son to feel feelings. Another thing that our culture communicates to boys is that they need to “man up”because “crying is for girls”. Raising boys has made me aware (uncomfortably so, sometimes) that the male gender experiences emotions in the same way as the female gender. Imagine that! Experiencing emotions is not a “girl thing”, it is a human thing. Unfortunately, unlike girls, boys generally do not have a lot of healthy outlets for expressing those emotions. It is common for them to bottle them up, and then explode later on. Create safe spaces for them to talk about their feelings. Do not correct them for having an emotion, and definitely do not dismiss them. Rather, affirm them, be understanding and help them to define the feeling and identify what is triggering it. This will help them to grow in emotional maturity.
That’s what I have for you today. Thanks for reading my first Lessons in Young Motherhood post!