Several months ago, I read a book entitled Your Boy by Vicki Courtney. My world was somewhat shaken when the realities of what will face my, at the time, unborn son streamed across the pages. After several pep talks with others, I regained my confidence and ventured happily into motherhood. Flash forward a year later and I come upon a documentary, The Mask You Live In. Once again, I found myself packing our suitcases to head to a remote village in the middle of nowhere (wherever that town is located).
The film described many realities that young men face in our society (I’ll refrain from stating details so that you can watch the insightful film for yourself.). Situations and experiences help to shape who we are and I understand the value in going through hard times to strengthen traits within our personalities. Yet at the same time, I am a mother who wants to protect her child. It’s like that saying (not sure who originally said it), “I don’t want you making the same mistakes that I made.” My desire is to prevent my son from feeling heartache and to save him from an array of negative emotions; yet at the same time, I want him to go through life and become the man that he was created to be through the molding that takes place when we succeed, and when we fail. (I’m kind of feeling like this post is a pep talk to myself.)
As a new mom, I’m trying to balance these worlds. Allowing the Be-The-Hero world to slowly blend with the Let-Them-Have-At-It world. Providing for my child’s needs, without raising a kid who is completely dependent on me into adulthood. So, as I reflected (and cried and laughed and cried more) on the statistics of our society and the world that is developing around my son, I created a list of 4 things that I want to focus on as his mother…
- Provide an environment where expressing emotions is modeled. There are many stereotypes associated with when/how a man expresses emotions. Yet he is human, and because of this, he experiences many feelings throughout various scenarios. I want to provide my son with a home where he is free to express his feelings, and a place where he sees his parents modeling those expressions. It is okay to feel anger, sadness, frustration, failure, happiness and so much more. And as individuals, there are different ways in which we can express those sentiments in a healthy manner.
- Encourage him to participate in activities that allow him to hone in on his unique talents. The future can be huge, if we allow it to be. I want my son to feel that his special skills can be used where he feels most led. Just because he is a boy does not mean he has to play sports, but if that’s his passion, he will be supported. It will be okay if he enjoys reading a book under a tree, instead of climbing up the branches. If he likes singing, he can sing his heart out. One of the advantages I feel our family has is that we are a blend of two cultures. What is taboo in one culture, is often the norm in the other culture. This allows our son to experience diversity in what he can participate in throughout life. His talents can blossom wherever they take root.
- As his parents, we will model love and respect. There are dozens and dozens of character traits that are valuable and desirable, yet love and respect are two that my husband and I find key in a family. Everyone makes mistakes in life and when my child does, I want him to know that we still love him. This will be a main piece of discipline. The misbehavior will have a consequence, and yet we will explain the love behind our need to provide those boundaries. Likewise, a mutual level of respect will be displayed as we have our share of disagreements and frustrations as a family. I want my son to know that he will not always agree with others, but it is essential to still carry yourself in a respectable and dignified manner.
- We will raise him up and then one day (but please Lord, not too soon) set him free. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge for me. To not control the environment surrounding my son. To allow him to make decisions, even if I believe it will cause pain. To transition from drooling kisses, to soft hugs. To educate him in academics, morals and faith…and then allow him to independently carry out those lessons in life. To tearfully watch as “Mommy, I want to marry you one day” becomes “Mom, I met the woman I want to marry,” and to warmly welcome her into the family. To instill in him the importance of being an active parent, and then watch from a distance as he becomes a daddy for the first time. To know the praying will never cease, but the freedom to make decisions must now be his own.
I am sure that there are many more areas of focus that will arise throughout the home training of our children. Sometimes we will be successful and other times we will fail. Regardless, these four targeted areas will remain a priority in helping to raise a boy who is surrounded by the many challenging and mixed messages that are fluid throughout our society. At the end of the day, it will be my son who has to make pivotal decisions throughout his life; yet, I believe it is my role as his mama in this complex and challenging world, to be his biggest supporter…. his greatest champion.
Ahmeli… to provide the foundation for my children to overcome the struggles that life will present.
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