Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Boys, boys, boys!

I'm sitting here reading, and re-reading this post, and each time I go to press the "Publish Post" button, I chicken out. Why? Because I want to make sure I do this post justice without hurting any feelings, sounding judgmental, or pious. So, if I offend, or come across as harsh, please forgive me. I just want to speak my mind as delicately as possible. DEEP BREATH. Here we go...

Everyday Mommy has pulled together a wonderful grouping of posts she has written called Like Joshua where she discusses our roles as moms in raising our boys to be Godly men, and what the world is doing to attack our efforts. She also extends a challenge to us (moms) to "employ the God-given motherly influence we have to raise our sons to be like Joshua." Please, please take a moment to read her posts and the comments. They are really good! And, they inspired me to really think about my own son, and what our goals are for him!

As I started to write this, one question was going over and over in my head... Do you think there is an epidemic in our world for Godly male role-models? I do ... I hate that many men "act the way they do" because they think "that's the way they are," and use it as an excuse. They accept that their "masculinity" renders them incapable of being gentle, nurturing, or viewing things from an emotional perspective. But scripture tells us to not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Many worldly fathers are often unavailable. They don't communicate well, and possibly don't care. They focus on either their own success, or just keeping their heads above water. Boys are taught to "take it like a man," "real men don't cry," and "sensitivity equals weakness." Many boys will go without receiving acts of affection from their parents ... not just their fathers, and boys are considered "tough," and are treated like that and expected to act that way. This is the epidemic I'm concerned about.

There is just so much for a boy to learn on his way to becoming a man ... especially a man of God. When boys look around them to see what makes a healthy, Godly man, don't you think that they get contradictory, confusing, and inconsistent information about what defines being a man?!

I know when I was pregnant, I really wanted a girl, because I was so intimidated about raising a son ... after all -- I am a girl! But you know what the good news is? My son was God's idea! Praise God for that! I am so head-over-heels in love with this little boy, and as his mom, I can be influential in teaching him how to go from boyhood to manhood, shaped by God's character and purposes.

Some of my goals (along with my husband, of course) in raising my/our son are: teaching him how to be "emotionally intelligent;" how to respect people not just their elders; how to "grow a heart" for God; how to live life responsibly and independently; how to be a man with honor and integrity; how to deal with failures, loss and grief that life is bound to hand him; how to find joy in the mundane; how to love, honor, cherish and respect his wife; how to love and raise his own children. And ... that's just a few of my goals! Granted, some of them have been 'coined' by other people, but hey ... they're my goals too (and there's a lot of them)!

You see, I consider it an honor to have been handed this little child to care for and raise. And, I honestly feel that a mother's influence on her son(s) is unique and valuable. I only have a very few, short, not-long-enough-18 years with him until he legally becomes a "man" in the world's eyes (GAAH!), and I want to make every minute count so that I can make the biggest, Godliest impact on his life, hopefully while directing him to eternal things!

Now, I'll be the very first to admit that I know nothing about raising boys. Okay, girls either. But ... I have many friends (in person and in blog-land) that are either raising boys or have raised boys, that I can go to for advice. Dr. James Dobson has written for years about the importance of the traditional family (a dad and a mom) and especially the critical role that fathers play in the lives of young children. And, I am blessed beyond measure to have a husband who strives on a daily basis to be a Godly man. I know without a doubt that he will serve as a living example to my son, and will be involved in every aspect of his life. I also see characteristics in both my dad, and my father-in-law that are Godly that I want my son to see.

I recently learned in my Living Beyond Yourself Bible study that women are powerful and influential... so, when it comes to raising Godly sons, how can we use that power and influence? Well -- we can start by encouraging our husbands to be the head's of our households. I read on a blog somewhere that an "empowered man as head of the household is better and creates less strife than the co-captain of a ship, which can run a ground." We can also find ways to enable him to have quality time with the kids ... date nights, family nights, sports, scouts, walking the dog, yard work, movie time, etc.

"It is a wise father that knows his own child."
William Shakespeare

Fathers are important and valuable in our sons lives, and many dads don't discover this until it's too late. I'm reminded of something I once heard at a youth conference ... the speaker said there are three kinds of dads: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who ask what happened! As a woman, we can use our "power and influence" to encourage our husbands to be the kind of dad that "makes things happen."

And another thought that crossed my mind ... It is difficult to be a single mom. It can be discouraging, and I'm sure there are many times when a single mom feels like she's reached the end of her rope. Women who do not have godly men to look up to in their own families need our support and the guidance of a godly church body that upholds biblical roles and believes in supporting the fatherless and the widow. We can all help single moms cope. We can encourage them, and be actively involved in their lives.

We can also help them by mentoring their children. You might be thinking that you just don't have the hours in your day or even the knowledge needed to make that kind of commitment. Well, mentoring doesn't always have to involve the huge amount of time and energy that you might think, and you don't need a four-year "mentoring degree" in order to make a positive impact on children around you! Simply investing even an hour a week with a child -- taking them out for ice cream with your family, helping him with his math homework, sharing Scripture and ultimately just loving him or her can make a world of difference. You can be a family, an empty-nester, a single person, or a couple that doesn't have children yet. All you need to do is take the first step towards making a difference!

And, it's not just the single moms that need our help. In the past year and a half, my husband has started taking our PastorMan's son (who is in 8th grade) fishing... he started this before our son was born, and the thing about fishing is ... they have all kinds of time to talk about silly stuff, as well as spiritual stuff. I KNOW his dad is a Godly man, and loves his son, and spends quality time with him ... but I also know that his dad is a busy man, and can use all the help he can when it comes to role models for his son... I know I'll certainly appreciate that from the men in our church as my son gets older... and I can promise that there are parents out there (single or not) that WILL appreciate your positive influence in their kids lives.

Finally, we should also remember the many children here in the US, and around the world who don't have a family. Now, more than ever, the privilege of adoption is something that Christians, in particular, need to consider. For an orphaned or abandoned child, being adopted into a loving, intact family can literally mean the difference between life and death. As followers of Christ, there can be no higher calling than for us to extend our hands to one of "the least of these" -- the overlooked in our society -- and invite him or her into our home as a son or daughter. And another thing I learned from Beth Moore's Bible study ... is that in a very real sense, that is what God has done for each of us through His own Son, Jesus Christ. My husband and I have discussed sponsoring a child through Compassion International. That is an immediate goal of ours. But my own personal long-term goal is to one day adopt a child who is in need, and welcome them into our family as one of our own.

So -- back to the original reason for this post ... when it comes to raising my son "like Joshua" ... I'm game. Are you?

Feel free to share in the comments section your goals for your kids, and even tips on how you plan to implement them, or have already implemented them! We can all support each other and share with each other things that work and things that haven't or don't. If you don't have kids yet, I encourage you to make it a personal goal of yours to make a difference in the life of one child in your church or neighborhood.

"Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them." Joshua 1:6


Additional Posts of Interest:
1) Foster Care - The "Aging Out" Dilemma -- Janice's Interview (5 Minutes for Mom) with Diane (Praying for A Prodigal)
2) Why Foster Care? Part 1 of 3 by Diane from Praying for A Prodigal
3) Why Foster Care? Part 2 of 3
4) Why Foster Care? Part 3 of 3
5) She's An Expert by Carol at She Lives (an article on Parenting)

If you know of any other posts that correspond to this discussion, please let me know! Thanks.


Faith said...

WOW! What a powerful post! I am left speechless. You did such an awesome job with this. Ditto to everything you said!

Stacey said...

You sure didn't step on my toes!! I completely agree with you. Raising two boys myself, I can totally relate with your goals, fears and worries. It's a tough world for a little boy!

I also agree with the adoption and foster care side of things. We've actually looked into adoption recently but we're not sure that's what God is calling us to do yet.

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Thanks so much for this post today. I am honored that you linked me on your blog--regarding this very important concern. I love the energy of compassionate really make a difference in the world!!!!


Peach said...

Great post, GiBee. You have nailed it . . . and on a tough issue, too. I wholeheartedly agree with your position and am proud to be married to a Godly man who possesses the desire and the Holy Spirit to accompany it in the raising of our son.

May we all be encouraged to raise men of character and conviction who will take a stand in the next generation.

kpjara said...

Wow! That's awesome and inspiring! No offense there...only Biblically grounded guidance and encouragement.

I can see the fruit of time I spend with my niece and nephew in their lives. I also know in their lives, I am an aunt they can and do come to with their troubles and concerns and since I don't have to be their frees them to be more open in sharing. It also gives me an opportunity to help them find God in their situations!

Obviously this was a God-inspired post! Blessings and gratitude!

Overwhelmed! said...

What a fabulous post Gibee! I have to agree with everything you've said and the goals you have for your son are very similar to the ones we have for ours.

Our family is a bit unique in that my husband is a work-from-home dad and I work outside of the home, because at this point we still need two incomes.

Believe me, there are times I'm jealous that I can't be the one staying at home with our son. I'm sometimes jealous of the fact that my husband sees and experiences more of Snuggle Bug's milestones than I do because he's the one caring for him during the day (I take over when I get home and on the weekends, so that my husband can find time to work).

But despite these jealous feelings, I'm more grateful than anything.

I'm grateful that our son has a close relationship with his father that most children don't. I know that my husband is a sensitive, loving role model to Snuggle Bug and that this will make all the difference in the world as Snuggle Bug grows up. My husband is definitely the type of man who 'make things happen!'

I'm grateful that my husband has found his groove in caring for our son and is confident and happy in this roll. Most of my mommy friends are afraid to leave their children at home alone with their husbands, I don't share those fears at all.

I'm grateful that our son doesn't have to be in daycare. I know that it's not the end of the world for a child to be in daycare but I have such peace of mind knowing that our son is at home, with his daddy, getting all the love and attention that I would give him myself.

Hmm…I think this will end up being a topic on my own blog sometime in the near future! :)

I really like what you say when you mention that all of us could use help when it comes to role models for our children.

So, in answer to your question, yes I'm game for raising my son "like Joshua".

HolyMama! said...

so very, very well written!

shannon from rocks in my dryer said...

Excellent post, Gibee, as always.

One thing I've learned, having three boys, is that masculinity can manifest itself in many different ways. Before I had boys I found it easy to lump them all together as little dirty noisemakers, but I'm learning that this isn't necessarily the case. My oldest is sensitive and artistic, my middle is gregrious and tough, and my youngest is curious and super-super-compassionate. Occasionally I have felt that some authors (particularly "Bringing Up Boys" by Dobson, which had some good points notwithstanding) lump all boys together. Just a thought.

The longest I mother, the more I realize that my most powerful parenting tool is prayer, pure and simple.

Susan said...

Wow, you wrote this well! I'm not a mother but I think what you said here makes a lot of sense and it will stick with me.

Good Job!

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

Wonderful, inspiring post Gibee! I can't imagine anyone taking offense to it. You had some excellent points and ideas.

I too was intimidated at first by having a boy, butnow I wouldn't change it for the world!!!!

In my former ministry as a youth worker, I got the chance to work with some boys. (generally I worked with more girls.) But I cherish this time I had to learn more about boys esp now as I have a son.

In fact, as I look back, working withthe boys was some of the "easiest" times - although very challenging too of course. But the boys were so honest - less mind games. And I just really enjoyed getting glimpses of their souls through their "masculine" masks they had put up. (These boys were primarily raised in tough situations.) These experiences I had really inspire me now as a mom to my own son.

Being from a home where my mom did the "raising" - my dad travelled extensivly with his ministry - it is often a challenge for me to put my hubby where he needs to be in the role as father. We really work at it though and I need all these reminders like your post to keep making sure that i encourage my hubby to be the role model my son needs him to be.

Thanks for the insight -oh and for the link to my interview with Diane. It was so inspiring to hear more about her personal story.

flipflop said...

I can't believe you were afraid to post this. It's wonderful.

I can't say I know anything about raising boys, but I do know that as soon as the girls get old enough to where I dont' feel as overwhelmed we are seriously considering adopting if God allows. There are so many children that need love and love to be needed.

When we went on a mission trip to Alaska there was this little boy (well not really little), he was 14, but he followed me every step I took. I miss him so much and I think of him often. He had no father and the men in the village were very poor examples for him to look upon as a father figure. I hope that he and all children know that if they feel let down in any way by their father that there is one father who will never let them down and can take them fishing for eternal fish.

flipflop said...


Thank you!

Addie said...

Great stuff Gibee! Even for those of us, with just girls, it's so important to have a vision, based on God's principles to guide the way we raise our kids.

Thanks for be an encouragement, as always! :)

Shalee said...

Words of wisdom yet again.

It is so good to see others being mindful of our children in this very selfish, SELFISH world. I have never found a person yet who said, "I wish my parents hadn't spent so much time with me while I was growing up." They need us to love, guide, play and instruct them in these days of maturing and finding their purpose in life. I readily admit my guilt at putting my wants and needs before my children's, but I am praying that God reminds me daily to remember my place and purpose in this family.

And despite what "they" say, children do need both parents to help mold them into whole people. (Obviously this is not meant when there is abuse in the family.)

At Everyday Mommy, I also stated this:

"Fortunately, my boy has a very active, participating father who daily is showing him how to live a Godly life and for what purpose he is to do so, and other Christian men who spend time with him who show him the same thing.

For my part, I strive to show him Godly actions, love, commitment when things are rough, God's strength when I am weak, how to say/be sorry when at fault and how to let it go afterwards, how not to worry but to give it to God, to be joyful in all things and to pray about everything, including, but not limited to him, his schooling, protection from evils, his spiritual walk, his future wife, his children, and anything else that comes to mind."

I can't imagine doing all that without a godly male role model for BOTH my kids!

I'm game, and I know the outcome is life or death eternally.

BooMama said...

I'm the mama of a boy, like you are, and I am totally on the same page. My husband I and are trying to be very, very intentional in encouraging A. to be "a man after God's own heart." It's so important for a young boy to have a role model (and it may not be his father - it could be a grandfather or a mentor) who is totally submitted to his Heavenly Father...I think so many obedience issues from guys result from mistaking humility for weakness. Oh, I could go on and on. :-) Great, thought-provoking post! Thanks, GiBee.

GiBee said...

Just wanted to mention that I whole-heartedly agree with Shannon. You can NOT package boys into one "neat" lump ... just as you can't with girls! They all have their own personalities, and praise God for that!!!

Flip Flop -- I love what you said: " father who will never let them down and can take them fishing for eternal fish." My husband is always saying something very similar to that!!!

Oh, and Kris -- pssst -- your welcome!

I love that we're able to share our viewpoints so openly and honestly ... and even better ... we're all in agreement!

Heather from One Woman's World said...

Wow, Gibee. Thanks for such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I think you're right on so many levels.

Everyday Mommy said...

I've created a blog devoted entirely to raising our boys to be like Joshua.

I'd love to copy this post and put it on the Joshua blog, with your permission.

Chrissy said...

Wow! I just skipped over here from Every Day Mommy and was blown away! I too am raising a boy and you expressed your hopes for your son so eloquently. They echo my own. He is the third child and my only boy. Hubby and I just assumed he'd be a girl, but God in His wisdom had other things in mind! What a blessing and what an awesome responsibility...

Dabbling Mum said...

Nicely said. I think men today need a wake up call and you may just be the one to give it to them. WINK.

sarahgrace said...

With two boys, this is definitely a subject that is close to my heart. I love the book "Bringing up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson. Very eye opening and educational. Good for you for speakin' up for boys!

aggiejenn said...

GiBee, I took my time commenting on this post because I wanted to wait until I really had time to sit and read it. I knew it was going to be a good one and I wanted to soak it in. Your thoughts are so great. I, too, was intimidated about having a boy because I only had a sister growing up and know nothing about raising boys! But, God is faithful to grant us what we need to raise our children in His ways. I love the idea of raising our boys to be like Joshua. I named him Caleb for a reason! The story of Caleb and Joshua and their faith in our great God is incredible. I want my Caleb to know that story and so many others that tell of great men following God's leading. Thanks for your thoughts. You are an inspiration, and I'm so glad to be "partnering" with you on this journey to raise our boys to be godly men.