Monday, February 10, 2014

Tips For Boy Moms

I'm not an expert, I'm not experienced, but I'm learning. I'm a boy mom in training.
As my tiny baby boys grow into knee scraping, tree climbing, sword wielding testosterone bundles I've been praying for wisdom as to how I can be used by God to help mold them into men. So far, here's my list of boy mom insider tips...
1. Get physical. Seriously, get bruised, scraped, tired, stung, and poked as you wrestle, hike, play catch, build, hammer, jump in puddles, throw snow balls, and build forts. Be a part of their world. Put down your phone, computer, book etc. when they are watching and as much as you can, say "yes" when they beg you to play with them. When they get to rescue their "Mommy princess" from the villain again you will have won their hearts.
2. Encourage, praise, and celebrate every accomplishment. Boys love to know they are a hero, even in the small areas. Look for every opportunity to reinforce the positive.
3. Don't yell. Studies have shown that a raised voice, particularly when used on males, will actually hinder comprehension as their "fight or flight" reaction takes over. Take a minute to calm down and think/pray through your words when they need correction.
4. There's a difference between responding and reacting. Wether grown or little, guys don't do well with hysterics. So skip the "reactions" when something gets broken, someone gets hurt, or he confides something shocking. Respond in a way that conveys a solid place for him to land when everything else seems unsure.
5. There are going to be those moments when you know you can help him accomplish something faster, better, and the right way. But if he says he doesn't need help, don't take it personally. Back off, give him space to grow in his independence and problem solving skills.
6. And when he comes to you later saying he needs your help because he just can't figure it out do NOT hint at any kind of, "I told you so" responses. Gladly come alongside him and point out the great effort he made so far.

7. There will be times when you will have to be stern, discipline, and correct, but being scornful does not have a place. Boys are visual and when they see excessive scowling and displeasure they will be distracted from focusing on the training you are trying to instill in their hearts.
8. Boys have a pride and an ego. These are designed by God and in place to grow leaders, protectors, conquerors, and heroes. Do not break your little man by damaging that fragile part of his being. Nurture it by asking him to "lead" during a hike or to "fix" a broken appliance. These serve to nurture a pride in their acts of service and abilities to achieve.
9. Be on their level. When I need to convey instructions, discuss a needed behavior change, or just to listen to a story one of my guys are excitedly telling me, I get down on their level. No male does well with someone towering over them, especially if it involves a directive or a critique. I get down on eye level to calmly instruct, respond, or just to listen.
10. Listen, don't interrupt. Boys think linearly. Their minds can't jump around and multitask. Interrupting with a request or thought, even if you think it will enhanced what he's saying, will only serve to confuse and frustrate your little guy. Hear him out, show your interest, give visual responses like raised eyebrows and hand over mouth in surprise etc. He feels validated and the small conversations that you display honest interest in now will only grow his knowledge that you will always be there to listen to him as he grows older and the conversations grow deeper. 
11. Boys don't like a lot of words, so use moments and actions to show and prove what you say. If you have to correct and train, keep it short and simple or they drift away mentally.
12. Teach them unconditional love. It's not hard to tell cute little guys, "I love you so much," as you tuck them into bed. But in moments of bad behavior, foolish decisions, and direct disobedience, they need to know your love is unconditional. So especially after discipline and correction, get down on their level (#8), and say, "There is nothing you can ever do that will make me stop loving you." Little men need to know that your love isn't based on performance. This erases a fear based relationship and grows one of desire to love and protect their relationship with you.

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