Let's Hear It for the Boy!It takes time to cultivate an integrous, sensitive sort of man who remembers to call his mother! Here are some ideas on building a strong mother-son bond.
It takes time to cultivate an integrous, sensitive sort of man who will remember to call his mother! Don't despair when public hugs become unthinkable. The mother-son bond still remains vital in both of your lives, and always will.
It all starts with the art of communication.
Society entertains the stereotype that emotionally expressive men are soft. Therefore many women strive to raise thick-skinned sons yet wind up criticizing their husbands for not being sensitive enough. "Ladies," cautions Massachusetts psychologist Dr. Heller, "you can't have it both ways!"
According to Heller, validating your little man's feelings of hurt, anger or disappointment rather than telling him to grin and bear it is critical to open communication and emotional health. Say, "Gee, I understand why that would make you sad." Then, proceed with "How can you deal with this situation?" "Mothers can share their own experiences for comparison," adds Heller.
Articulating feelings and demonstrating empathy fall under emotional intelligence, a trait that can take your son far in both corporate and personal relationships. Moms should model proper emotional responses and encourage dads to ditch the "don't-be-a-sissy" mentality.
In their book, Raising Sons and Loving It! (Zondervan), authors Gary and Carrie Oliver write, "The more open you are with your emotions—the more you name them and learn to resolve them in healthy ways—the more your son will feel safe and free to express his own emotions."
Men of action
The Olivers explain why women, often subtle communicators, become frustrated by their son's lukewarm cooperation. They believe "A son needs direct, clear communication from his mother." So be specific! Instead of asking your son to "Pitch in around the home," request that he "Please empty the dishwasher."
Dr. William Pollack explores why boys can be so tight-lipped in Real Boys (Random House). He suggests, "Often by simply doing something with the boy—playing a game with him, joining him for a duet on the piano, taking him to an amusement park—we forge a connection that then enables him to open up."
Artistic opportunities (drama, art, music) are important for all kids, but many boys get short-changed. That's a shame because creativity offers recognition of and access to their emotions. Have boys play out or draw what their emotion feels like. Heller says, "Help identify what their drawing, choice of colours or acting out, conveys." Try asking "Where in your body do you feel that tune (limbs, heart)?"
Boys who have open, quality-time focused moms who demand respect and demonstrate personal talents learn a lot about how to treat and appreciate females. Years later, be sure your future daughter-in-law knows who taught him, so she can do likewise should they have kids.
Many moms wonder which activities they should share with their sons. The answer: Anything that fills a mental scrapbook of fond memories. Spontaneously invite your son out for late-night diner food or pizza runs. Join boys in physical activity through sports, hiking, or swimming. Realize Dad isn't the only one who can play catch. Ask older boys to teach you the secrets to scoring a soccer goal. Initiate building projects, or, if you find toolboxes daunting, join the father-son team. Find ideas at http://www.boyslife.org/workshop and http://www.yesmag.bc.ca/projects .
Ya gotta have faith
It takes faith to raise a godly son. Teach boys to pray, and pray for them. Check out Christianity Today's"40 Ways to Pray for Your Children".
Pastor John Wesley of Great Britain once said, "My mother was the source from which I derived the guiding principles of my life. I learned more about Christianity from my mother than all the theologians of England." If kids learn by example, moms who model Christ-like behaviour have the upper hand … literally. When one of mom's hands is grasped by her child and the other rests securely in God's, miracles can happen!
Kim Perrone enjoys writing inspirational parenting, family and human interest articles for publications such as Living Light News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Living Light News, May/June 2006.
Used with permission. Copyright © 2007 Christianity.ca.