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Parenting Boys
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Posted by Bobette Hatteberg, Cornerstone's Children's Ministry Director

 

I’ve had a few conversations with parents recently about the challenge of raising boys, especially brotherspre-teen and teenage boys.  The scenarios I hear about seem like excerpts from my own parenting journal. The situations often include struggling to get their boys to study, to do homework, to do a few chores around the house, and to be respectful when they disagree on an issue.  I frequently hear boys described as easily distracted, moody, and obsessed with digital media. Let me just say, I understand!  It’s normal to have these parenting struggles. Very few boys transition smoothly from childhood to adulthood. You are not alone.

Here are a few tips that may be helpful during this season of parenting boys (although some of these tips may be helpful for your daughter as well).

  • Don’t be afraid to seek godly counsel.  As the Body of Christ we need to be transparent with each other and help each other in this difficult task of parenting.  Just make sure that the counsel you are seeking looks at your child’s heart, not just his behavior.  Solutions that only address the behavior and do not point your child to a great and loving God will in the end only bring more problems. 

  • Be gracious in how you speak about your child to others. There is a fine line between seeking advice and complaining or demeaning your child to others.

  • Look for ways to praise and encourage your child.  When there are multiple re-occurring issues that come up it is sometimes difficult to find things to praise.  However, our words will become a clanging noise if we do not balance it with words of affirmation, love, and encouragement.  The ideal is probably at least two or three praises for every criticism we dish out.

  • Be purposeful in making time with them.  As your child ages there will naturally be less time to spend with them.  Dads, especially, need to try and get time with their boys.  Doing something physical outside, whether it is working in the yard, going fishing, shooting hoops or playing a sport, is a great way to build an open relationship with your child. These types of activities provide natural opportunities to talk in a casual, non-threatening way about spiritual and moral issues. Some of my husband’s best talks, even about difficult subject, were spent over the ping pong table with my son!

  • Be patient. Parenting is not a short-term process.  We too often expect instant results from our teaching and discipline, but usually the fruit takes many years to grow.   Put on patience and love.  Think about how difficult it is for you when there is an area you need to change.  It takes time and work.  Impatience, anger, and a bad temper can destroy relationships and close communication with your child.

  • Figure out what situations and circumstances impact your child in a negative way.  Two of the most influential areas that often impact a boy are technology and sleep.  When these areas get out of control, often so does the boy!  I often noticed that the more time spent on videos, computers, and phones the more difficult other things became. The same went for lack of sleep. Therefore it would be wise to set clear rules or expectations for those areas in order to help your son.

  • Boys tend to have a lot of extra energy.  Make sure they are getting plenty of exercise and opportunities to burn off that energy. Sports is an obvious outlet but don’t forget to look closer to home such as helping with chores around the house. Chores are a benefit in not only burning off energy but in training them for future tasks and jobs. It doesn’t matter how menial the work is — just get them doing something physical.

  • Work outside the home becomes very beneficial as they get older. There are many benefits to this including doing work that tires them out, growing in responsibility, earning money (and then learning to manage it), learning to work for others and receiving correction and instruction from bosses and co-workers. This might initially be volunteering, but could also include a paid job.

  • Make family time the norm, not the exception.  Things as simple as eating together as a family, praying together, sharing news of the day, are vital times for a young boy.  While they may complain and try to avoid these times, they need this connection with you.  As much as possible keep those times free of discipline and talking about what they aren’t doing well.  Make it a fun place to be!

  • Pray more and say less.  I’m not suggesting we should not talk with our boys.  But less harping, nagging, and repeating ourselves could better be replaced with prayer!  Only God can do the work in a child’s heart.

My prayer for you this week is that you will make a conscious change in how you look at your boy and seek to come alongside him and encourage him.  You are raising the next generation of church leaders.  It is a large and difficult task but one that the Lord has equipped you to do!



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