The Joy (& Pain) of Raising Boys

Joshua 2 to 21 V2As the mother of three boys (age 13, 21 & 22), I am constantly learning new things about raising sons, which is very different from raising my daughters, now both 26-years-old. How do you raise a godly man? A man that will be caring, responsible, and confident; one that will be his family’s spiritual leader?

How do you mother someone who never stops moving long enough to have a conversation, who likes to pee outside, and is often found jumping off the highest thing he can find? A boy who has a vocabulary full of “whys” and whose favorite one-word answers are “good” and “nothing”…usually to “How was your day?” and “What did you do at school today?”

And then throw in the fact that boys just love their mamas. For example, my son Joshua has always made me feel like a rock star in my own home with the way he loves me. This bond and his sweet personality made it very hard for me to discipline him. When he did something wrong, he would immediately say he was sorry, and then hug me. This did not excuse him from the consequences of his actions, but his loving spirit definitely made his sentence lighter. I’ve always told the kids that you get more with sugar than you do vinegar!

He used that ability on his elementary school principal often. In 1st grade, I was tired of him getting sent to the office for behavior issues (like climbing on the urinals in the bathroom). I told him, “It’s not a good thing to visit the principal’s office. You only go there when your teacher doesn’t know what else to do with you.” He replied, “Well, she likes my hugs.” What was I supposed to do with that?

Although his early years were insanely rambunctious, Joshua also had this amazing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Once when I had a headache (but had not mentioned it to anyone), I felt his little hand on my shoulder. When I looked back, he was praying for me. Over the years, I’ve tried to help him understand that this is a special gift from God that he is to use to build His kingdom. But how do you know if you’ve done enough?

I recently had the opportunity to go to L.A. with Joshua and his band Rellen to meet their new producer and his amazing team of professionals (which included management, branding & PR, multimedia, life coach, stylist, car service, etc.). It was truly a “once-in-a-lifetime” trip. Watching my son interact with music business professionals and take direction in the studio from his producer was incredibly humbling. He made me so proud. He worked hard. Whatever he was asked to do, he did without hesitation, with a great attitude.

Once while recording vocal parts, his producer said, “Got it. You didn’t hold that last note out long enough, but it’s good.” Not satisfied, Joshua replied, “I can do it again.” To which his producer said, “Let’s get it.” Once more and it was perfect! That’s the kind of effort I wanted to see from him.

His effort and attitude was a far cry from the struggles we had just trying to get him to just clean his room. Was this the same boy? Did he grow up overnight?

It reminded me of the day he turned sixteen. We had a party at our home and I made chocolate fondue with strawberries, bananas, and all the fixings. Joshua was sitting on the couch with his friends (some of whom were girls) when I mentioned that the fondue was ready. He sarcastically replied, “You know I’m allergic to chocolate.” What? Since when?

His attitude that night just progressively got worse towards me. It had happened overnight…my son was “killing the mother” just as Dr. James Dobson described in his book “Bringing up Boys.” This was the season in his life when he would begin to separate himself from me. He needed his own identity. I understood, but knowing that didn’t make it hurt any less, and yes, I cried.

Standing in that recording studio in L.A., I felt like crying again…actually I did. The first time they played Rellen’s new song and I heard Joshua’s voice, I just couldn’t hold back the tears. He was moving into a new season of his life…a season where he will make his own decisions, discover who he is, and stretch his wings.

Just like on his sixteenth birthday, I’m not ready for this season either. But these are the moments of parenthood where all of your character-building efforts are tested and proved; the moment when you realize you have done what God asked you to do:

“Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

– Proverbs 22:6

My focus now has to be to fully rely on God to protect and guide Joshua. This is so different than shaping and molding him. My job now is to pray continuously for him; to provide advice when asked; and to provide support for him when things do not go as planned (because they never do).

It’s very easy to second-guess our parenting decisions. But I know that God entrusted me with being the mother of sons on purpose for His purpose. I’m going to enjoy this launching season in Joshua’s life, and be happy that I still have one more son to raise.

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