2/3/10 My boys got in trouble this morning. I’m going to invite you into this drama because the issue illustrates what a team effort means in a family. I personally believe the three older boys (sixth grade, ninth and twelth) could and maybe should take care of their morning routine entirely themselves. This means, wake up with the alarm, fix their breakfast, and make their lunch in time to catch the bus. However, I choose to be in the kitchen at 6am to participate in the beginning of their day because it is time together that I value. Another kindness I offer the older boys is the use of my car every Wednesday. Unfortunately, they decided since they were driving to school this morning that they would sleep in. Bad choice. Aside from the alarms going off during my bible study to which I had to holler for them to turn them off, the whole morning routine was off because they were still showering when they were supposed to be at the breakfast table. Donny makes the sandwiches for everyone. Kevin gets the juice poured. Jordan gets the brown bags and waters and puts names on the bags. I put the fruit and snacks into the lunches, and I make breakfast. Everyone has a job. (Jack gets to sleep until after they have all loaded onto buses. He’s the lucky one.) If anyone has extra time there is trash to take out, dishes to load and food to put away. So, this morning as grouchy sleepy teens tumbled down to the kitchen late I was annoyed. I let them know they selfishly threw off the morning routine. If I chose to sleep in how would that go for them? They got the point. They learned the hard way what a team effort is all about in the mornings. We parted peacefully with a good lesson learned. If it happens again, they won’t have a car to get them to school on Wednesdays. It’s a long walk to the high school if they miss the bus. Forgiveness is guaranteed, but consequences come to drive home an important lesson. I really don’t appreciate my kindnesses being taken for granted. Someday their wife will serve them in ways that are selfless and I don’t want them to take her for granted either, so they are in training now. I might be a little hard nosed about this because I know they are great kids, but great kids don’t just appear, they grow with consistent and regular lessons about selflessness.
1/31/10 We went to dinner last night and at one point Craig reached onto Kevin’s plate and took a bite without asking. Kevin was offended, and so Craig apologized and admitted that it was indeed rude to take without asking. This was good in itself because Craig modeled humility to his son. However, not twenty minutes later, Kevin reached onto Jack’s plate with his fork and took a french fry without asking. Jack recognized the hypocrisy immediately. Kevin dropped the fry, and slumped his shoulders as he said: I feel so ashamed. We all had a good laugh, but we reminded eachother that the remorse Kevin felt is the good work of the Holy Spirit in him to help develop his integrity. He should be relieved to see the spirit working in him to change his feelings about his thoughts and choices. It was a good learning moment.
10/1/09 Last night was the final class we had on raising boys. The discussions were so interesting for me to hear about other mother’s and their perspectives on raising sons. It’s bonding material when we know that boys really are “certain” ways. Like they have hunting instincts, they have battle modes built in, and they can only hear short succinct instructions at one time, which means our many words pass through one ear to the other and nothing sticks in between. We all nod occasionally without words and think, yes, we all get “it” because we share the bond of raising sons.
One thing we can all rest our concerns on is that the bible has answers, assurances, promises, and encouragements for us. When we are confused it is the authority, if we are professed Christ-followers. What relief to know and believe that God has created our sons with special unique traits .Our job is to help them discover those traits in a parallel path with their discovery and knowledge of Jesus as their personal Lord. Our job isn’t really about us and what we want or expect to suit our needs. We are to release these boys and point them to God so He can fill them when they leap out of our nests. It’s not healthy to hold on too tight to these boys. When they are set free at the appropriate time, they will come back. (And Craig says they better bring a suit case and a return ticket)
As I begin to prepare my class for raising sons about the topic of sex…
Here are a few things I learned from the Christian books about sex and boys:
- 95% of boys masturbate and the other 5% lie about it
- men reportedly think about sex an average of thirty-three itmes per day, or twice an hour
- lust is a constant struggle and those boys who choose to live a life of sexual purity face a mighty battle
- a man is instantly aroused merely by the glimpse of a female body– extremely visually stimulated
- boys get seven to ten hormonal shots of stimulus for sex every day, women get 300 hundred in a life time accompanied with ovulation
- studies show the longer a boy holds off before dating the greater the chance he will remain sexually pure until marriage
What does the bible says about this subject:
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heaten, who do not know God.
- Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, bretheren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, hwich is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you hae learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.
- I have a 216 page book compiled of only scripture from God’s book and what it says about sex, it’s called: Every Young man’s battle guide by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoekler with Mike Yorkey, and their other book: Every man’s battle is one I left on the boy’s desks a long time ago when puberty ramped up for them and they discovered it as a means of answering their many confusing questions they wouldn’t bring to their parents.
9/8/09 There’s a lot of food in my fridge one day and then a couple days later it’s gone! And if I don’t get to the grocery store lickety split there will be a mutiny on my hands. Feeding these growing boys is a never ending process. They eat at least four regular meals a day and sometimes even five. I have always felt committed to teaching them, perhaps it’s more accurate to say train them to appreciate and eat health food. We try to keep treats a special occasion. We have good eaters, I am thankful for that. This means though that opening a bag of something doesn’t satisfy their hunger.The older two can cook basic foods. Kevin has zero interest in learning to cook. He doesn’t even want to know where I keep the pans. Jack has recently begun to enjoy cooking. Sometimes the boys can make dinner if they don’t have more important things to do. It took me most of my life to learn healthy eating habits that they already have without thinking about it. I’m so thankful for that it will make their future easier, fitter, healthier, and more enjoyable.
/4/09 In our class about raising boys we discussed how to effectively communicate with boys, mom to son that is.
- It has been confirmed boys cannot listen when it does not interest them in the least.
- too many words in instructions blend together into slush, they need short succinct direct intructions
- then they need to repeat them to me so I know they were listening
- when moms nag or repeat themselves endlessly the boy is thinking (and so is the husband) Oh God make it stop.
- the timing of insructions is important, and morning before school is never a good time. They have things on their minds too, and for us to interrupt and disrespect their thinking isn’t so nice.
- Kevin says it always helps him listen if I give him a cookie.
- teasing shuts them down completely, and if it is about girls we’ve closed a door they’ll keep locked for a long time.
- it’s important to control our body language and tone of voice then match our nonverbal communication to the actual words we say.
- we are to assume full responsibility for what our kids are hearing, so it’s my job to be clear, reliable and understandable.
- Mom– we need to learn this foreign language and not just enough to get by but to be fluent.
- some activities we enjoy together helps them relax and open up like baking, walking the dog, cooking, fishing, a camp fire. When they are happily doing something they are also happy to open up their heart.
9/1/09 It is not easy to let your kids learn lessons the hard way, but we’re getting better at it. Jordan went to tryouts for golf at his high school today. As a freshman we knew he wouldn’t have a chance at varsity, but he was determined and refused to consider the odds against him. So we kept quiet and hoped he wouldn’t be devastated when it didn’t work out like the plan in his head. Sure enough we got the call today that he was cut from Varsity and will play junior varsity. He wasn’t crushed, he had a new experience to bank about competitive golf, and he saw a wide variety of golf talent then spotted himself on the spectrum of it. He took it like a man. I was proud of him. I’m glad I didn’t try to tell him anything, but stood by to watch him handle a grownup situation less like a child and more like a grownup.
8/31/09 Teaching the boys to balance family time, friend time and school work has become an intricate concoction of mom management. Here are a few things I enforce and offer to strike this balance:
- no tv sunday night til friday and no exceptions
- one weekend night with family
- one weekend night with friends
- homework after school before activities
- for older boys no friend time monday- thursday
- family dinners are worth wrestling to get as many days a week as possible, that’s when we learn all the news, get a good family laugh and enjoy relaxing together
- one year we offered “Friday Friends” which meant no goofing with friends during the week but on Friday nights they could invite their friends all over and I’d make dinner and they could hang out here. I got to know their friends, we celebrated a good week, and it was motivating to get the work done. (this was in AZ where they were outside 95% of time)
- to enjoy friday friends though they had to look up their grades on line and show me how the week went. If there were any missing assignments or low grades they lost privileges. Another motivator.
- leisure time at home is hopefully destressing types of activities because their young lives have a lot of pressures: exercise room, pleasure reading, ipod chill out, playing piano or guitar, walking lucy, and even yard work to earn money… they like to earn money and yard work is a great way to release stress.
- now we’ve been able to add wednesday night church which is great fun for the boys, even though they awake on Thursday a little groggy.
- finally: limit commitments. I don’t see any point in exhausting ten year olds with a schedule that’s over committed. They need that down time.
8/29/09 There are a few choices we have made while raising the boys that I believe make a big difference in their ability to respect. Specifically we have always had them share rooms. It has never mattered how big or small our house is, the boys share a room. I believe it encourages intimacy and it requires them to really learn how to share and be compatible, both of which are valuable characteristics for when they are in college and later married. Occassionally one of them will complain it’s a problem being surrounded constantly by their brothers and they want/demand their own room. I have a simple answer: if you can find anyone in this family who has their own room then you can have one too. (This logic works because there are six of us and we have four boys. I do understand if there were a girl in the mix it would skew my system considerably. But I believe in making the best of what you get, and this is my best solution for having four boys.)
When Donny goes to college this will throw off our plan. Jordan was quick to announce how much he’s going to enjoy having his own room, and of course he was rubbing the little guy’s noses into his celebration. I quickly announced I will invite an exchange student into the house to take Donny’s part of the room. We will continue to share. Won’t that be fun for all of us?
You should have seen Jordan’s face. Priceless.
8/28/09 At the dinner table last night I set out to interview the boys as research for teaching the class at our church “raising sons”. The topic this week is communicating, and how can mom’s get their sons to communicate with them in a way that involves more detail and descriptions of real feelings. What a riot! They were quick to inform us of all the ways we don’t do it right. For example they don’t want too many words from me. A short request and even shorter explanation is welcome. When i launch into a lecture they tune out and think, “o God make it stop!” We laughed and laughed because it’s true, Iknow it. Also I learned timing is important to them. Often I interrupt their own thoughts and their own ongoing agenda in their mind of what they are needing to deal with so I can make more demands. How rude of me not to consider what they are thinking when I get my bossy boots on and begin walking all over them. We agreed a “honey do” list is a good idea. I recommend “interviewing” your kids and take notes like I did, it makes them feel heard and important.
8/26/09 We had our first class tonight for moms with sons who have a great interest in understanding how to better relate to and guide their boys. I feel so honored and humbled to lead this group of women who are eager to understand what God wants us to know about raising sons. It’s such a great responsibility to be mother’s of sons. These boys will grow up and be leaders of their families. Their children will reflect what we teach their fathers. We are responsible for understanding how God created them special and unique. It may not be bent in the direction we want them to go, but if we are clever and observant we will discover the unique way God made each individual son we have. Then we have a responsibility to help them become all that God created them to be….. not what we want then to be. Keeping them tame and passive and calm isn’t how they were designed to be. Boys need the freedom to go ‘full throttle’ and test out all that’s been built in by way of testosterone. Our responsibility is to give then opportunity to go “full out”, explore all the adventure they need to get and conquer the mountain they desire to be king of. And someday they will find a “beauty” they are compelled to rescue and protect. This is how boys were made and as moms we are apt to allow it.
8/24/09 Currently there are chocolate chip cookies baking in the top oven and blueberry muffins for tomorrow’s breakfast in the lower oven. The house smells like a place the boys will be happy to arrive home to for the first day of school. I can’t wait to hear the stories. It occurred to me, as I baked, I have hover mother tendencies and I would never have pegged me for one of those. My day just filled up with appointments and lists of things that MUST get done today. I was considerably irritable by this because I wanted to be wide open and free to receive my boys on their first day of school. I didn’t want my own life to intrude on such an important event- my welcoming them home is the event I am thinking is so critically important. To them, I know they really like it when I am home for them after school and it has been a personal rule to be available and home during that welcome/transition hour after school. But they don’t need me the way I want to provide myself to them. My background presence is as good as my incessant questions and desire for a play by play of their day. Case in point: Kevin just walked in from his first day ever of changing classes and using his locker he says “hi mom! Oooo you made cookies, sweeet. “ Then he skipped up the stairs to his desk to organize his stuff. That was it. All I got. It doesn’t matter to him that I have a few appointments tonight. I’m home. He’s got cookies. Lucy wagged her butt for him and that’s all good enough. I suppose it’s time to let myself have my interests. They’ll be ok if I do. This summer when Donny was preparing to go to Nicaragua I mentioned at the dinner table I’d really love to go and be a chaperone. Donny went pale and couldn’t meet my eyes. Craig spoke for him and said, “Tonya, you’re a very involved mother, the kids need to use their wings on trips like this.” I understood but I was disappointed. Donny started breathing again after Craig said that. I suppose if I worked full time then going on a trip like that might help our relationship but since I’m “so involved” it would most likely hurt our relationship. I am a little surprised, but wiser for the lesson. I keep my “cool” distance. . . but he better let me visit him in college at least once.
/23/09 Here’s a great idea to have some fun with the kids. Take them grocery shopping and let them choose the menu items, but everything has to be of the same agreed upon color! I probably wouldn’t do this on a week day unless you are still enjoying summer vacation, but for a fun weekend adventure this could be interesting. What if the color was picked out of the hat and everyone went for a scramble through the grocery store to choose an item for the meal. That sounds like fun to me, and I think my kids would “eat” it up. I’m going to try it and report on it, if you try it please leave me a comment and let me know how it goes.
If you missed the video, please look up the post: Disciplining Boys– it’s sure to leave you with at least a smile, but hopefully a good giggle.
8/21/09 10 Gifts for your Teens
- The gift of time
- The gift of respect
- The gift of hope
- The gift of caring for their friends
- The gift of parameters
- The gift of flexibility
- The gift of understanding
- The gift of other adult friends
- The gift of loving our spouse
- The gift of a consistent role model
-from Yates: “How to like the ones you love”
8/20/09 “The power of a mother’s influence is like a steady river carving canyons through the landscape of history.” Rick Johnson
I wish I had read that quote when I stood over the Grand Canyon and observed the rush of the Colorado River snake through the canyon. I believe it’s the little examples of every day things we do that help develop their characters and encourage the God given talents inside them waiting discovery. They don’t just stick they become a part of them. My role in parenting teens is far more relative important than I ever imagined it would be. They need me now more than when they were toddlers, and in a way that is all in code! I’m supposed to know that “a bad attitude” means “I’m feeling insecure.” I trust God will continue to help me decipher their teen language so I can be the mom they need to develop into independent responsible men.
8/19/09 Donny can be indecisive. He understands both sides of a problem so well it renders him stuck without a choice. As a parent this can be exhausting as we are bombarded with questions and opinions without seeing him lean to one side or the other for all our advice. Tonight we wouldn’t tell him if he should go to a party. We made him make the choice and we set out the circumstances: need to be up early, have a late night with karate tomorrow and a busy day etc. It was comical to watch him pace around in deep concern because if he went to the party it meant he didn’t want to spend time with his dad and he didn’t want to give that message. I finally pushed him out the door and said go have a couple hours of fun with your friends because I was just so happy to know how much his relationship with Craig means to him. We simply can’t be in two places at once, even if that’s what we want. I’m elated he wants both at this stage in his life.
8/18/09 One of Donny’s friends from church youth is moving to Montana this week because his family is going to start a church there. This is worth celebrating so we through a teenage party last night at our house. It was fun to meet the whole crowd he runs with. They are really polite good teens, but the regular noise and drama prevailed – to our entertainment. The kids arrange their social life on “facebook”. So when Donny put the invitation out there I required him to write: “my mom and dad said only one piece bathing suits or a two piece with a dark shirt over.” He was embarrassed but he also understood we were enforcing our belief in what the bible teaches about modesty. The girls agreed to it with no drama. They all enjoyed the pool last night from 5:00- 10:30, when they moved the fun to a movie until midnight. I had to take a nap during the afternoon so I could stay awake for that long. I wonder if I’ll survive his social life. Really, I adore teens and I want them here in my home so I can borrow some of their energy.
I signed up today to co-teach a bible study at our church on Wednesday night on the topic of raising sons. I have a little bit of experience with that. Don’t ask me what to do with a girl. Boys? Yeah I’ve seen a lot. I will share here what is interesting and surprising in our class adventures.