5 Conversations: Redefining Manhood

Today is the week one wrap up for the study we are doing on 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son.  If you are doing the study with us, here is where we will converse about the daily study.  Contribute to the conversation by leaving your thoughts in the comment field.  Make sure you check the box for “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” so the conversation isn’t just one-way and you can also respond to comments.  If you have insight into parenting boys but aren’t necessarily doing the study with us, you are also free to join the conversation!

The title of this week’s conversation is “Redefining Manhood.”  There was so many rich things we could talk about here but what really stood out to me was the building up of character.  Drawing from examples in 2 Kings and Genesis, there was a building up of character we want to nurture in our boys.

A Penitent heart  (a tender or responsive heart over wrong doing)

Humility (Having or showing a low estimate of one’s own importance – – the rare quality of caring more about God’s approval than the approval of men)

Courage (grounded in faith, seasoned in love)

From boyhood to manhood, we want to partner with God in raising up men who embody these three characteristics.

In one of the personal reflections, the question was asked: “How might you encourage a penitent “softening of the heart” when your son does something wrong?” 

I have to be honest here… my answer was:

I. don’t. know.

In our family, we believe in discipline, we believe in consequences.  These are good things, but I was really challenged with whether or not we are also forming the hearts of our boys to respond with a heart like Jesus… a heart that breaks like His.

It all came to a head on day three when another character trait came up. This time it wasn’t regarding the boys, it was for the moms.

Fear.

“But while at first glance hovering Helicopter Moms may appear to have their child’s best interests in mind, their high need for control is unhealthily rooted in fear.  Fear of danger. Fear their child will not find future success (as defined by the Helicopter Mom). Fear their children may not be accepted if they don’t look or perform a certain way.  In a nutshell, Helicopter Moms want to ensure that their children turn out according to their personal script and time line.”

I was really proud when I took the Helicopter Mom quiz, I only checked one thing (Confession – I’ve signed my kids up for 2 extra curricular activities in one season).  I’ve never considered myself a “Helicopter Mom.”  But I was challenged that I often respond, discipline, and react from the root of fear.

What do I fear?  Perhaps they will not choose the narrow road.  What if they would not live healthy lives – choosing things or lifestyles that are unhealthy? What if they end up doing drugs? Or get caught up in pornography?  What if they choose friends or a spouse  who will not love them or love God.  I have many fears about the outcome.

In the beginning of the week, the author used the illustration of a mother perhaps acting like a “regent” to a king. Someone working to surround him with Godly role models throughout his reign to help him make good decisions, be a good influence to help him live up to the potential and carry out God’s plan for the boy and the nation.  We ended the week with Rebekah, a mother who manipulated and made her plans and timing supersede God’s.

There is a thin line between a regent and a manipulative, helicopter mom.

Our plans and God’s plan.

Courage vs. Fear

One way to teach our boys courage is to parent courageously.  Knowing there are lessons with skinned knees and brokenness.

Father, help us raise these boys to men according to the plans you have for them, not our plans.  Give us courage to let them live adventurous lives, learning how to trust you when they encounter difficulty and danger.  May they learn throughout life how much bigger you are than them and may they learn to seek you with all their heart, soul, mind and strength so that at the end of their lives, they would be known as men who did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.

Questions:

1. What, if anything, do you fear in parenting?

2. How do you encourage penitence, humility and courage?

3. What were you challenged in your parenting this week?

4. How were you encouraged in your parenting this week?

Feel the freedom to answer, one or all of the questions in the comment field.  Be sure to check the “follow-up box.”

15 thoughts on “5 Conversations: Redefining Manhood

  1. My oldest son (almost 18) took his younger brother a very naive 15 year old to Hooters Friday night for dinner with money I’d given them to go out. I laughed at first and then as it sunk in the Helicopter Mom in me was furious. I came up with a long list of reasons this was TOTALLY inappropriate. Before I launched my attack I prayed about it. Then I went and spoke to the oldest of the two and asked why he wanted to go in the first place knowing it was his idea. His confession – I’m bored. I’m not the popular guy at school, I don’t get the girls, I don’t get invited to parties. All exaggerations from my perspective but not so much so that I couldn’t hear his emotional pain. So why Hooters? I wanted to see what adult life is like thinking it might be more exciting? “Was it?” I asked. “Not really”, he said. Now with a little breathing room between us I was able to explain my concerns about this. He apologized and the next morning was obviously disappointed in himself. I let him just sit with that but left a card under his pillow that night that he found Monday morning. It said, “God and I have something in common. We both love you.” I wrote a short little note telling him I believed in him. He came downstairs and thanked me and told me the card meant the world to him and then put it on his trophy shelf.

    I don’t know how you encourage a penitent heart and it’s hard in a frightening world to not hover but one thing I’m learning is that older kids actually understand more about why they make bad choices than we think they do. Pausing as a parent before you react seems to have a lot of merit. Restraint as a parent is called for. I think if God reacted to every mistake I make I’d have been struck by a lightening bolt long ago and I’m thankful for the ways He’s listened and gently corrected me over the years.

    • Karen, thank you so much for sharing your story. It was so powerful and encouraging to read. I absolutely love the note you wrote to your son. It brought tears to my eyes. I am sure that, this conversation you had with him and the note you wrote him will be forever etched in his heart and mind.

      • Nicolle…you just never know what’s going to stick as a parent do you? Yesterday I went in Luke’s room to get something and he’d turned the card I gave him over and written, “Remember to take your tithe check to church.” That made me teary eyed. You wonder when they are little if everything you’re trying to encouarge in them will take root and then when you see that happening it’s very humbling because you know that did more wrong than right but obviously God multiplies any good seed you do sow.

  2. I have a fear of failing. I want so much for my boys to grow up with a heart for God. I want them to be Godly Fathers and Husbands. In todays society there is a lack of strong Godly Husbands and Fathers. I feel like all their decisions good and bad reflect on me. It is scary to think that one day they will be off on there own and raising families. I want so much to be the Godly example they deserve. I have to remind myself daily that we are all human and make mistakes, and I have to allow God to teach me how to teach and guide them.

      • I was happy to see that my response to the question about goals that I have for my boys in life were all spiritual Godly things. Success to me is not defined by what job they get or how popular they are, but were they place God in their lives and if they live their lives devoted to him. Yet still I need to step back and think about the fact that as their mother I can only guide them so far and then it is up to them to decide which path to take.

  3. The penitent heart was the one that really got me. I realized, without previously being able to put it into words, that that is one of my greatest desires for our boys that I really have no idea how to teach. After much thought…I am not sure this one is ours to teach…perhaps model but mostly pray for.
    If there is a fear that I have in parenting it’s that I get too caught up in the day to day tasks that I do not take time to know and connect with their hearts and all of the sudden they are adults and we’ve missed it. That one mostly drives me to be intentional but can get my critical head spinning a bit :).

    • Laura, I completely relate to what you said. I am at a loss for how to teach the penitent heart also. Suzie, do you have any insight into this? I would like to spend more time thinking and praying about how that looks.

      I also fear that the culture we live in keeps us too busy to spend the time loving and teaching our children like we desire to. We are often running around like chickens with our heads cut off. This is something I have fought against (being too busy and over committed with activities). I think we are doing a pretty good job considering all the options that are out there but I still feel like it’s just too much. Like you, Laura, I fear that suddenly they will be grown up and gone and I will feel that I didn’t do enough to prepare them.

      • Nicolle, Thanks for your insights and comments! I too struggle with how to teach a penitent heart. One thing I’ve been trying (that seems to work with adults too 🙂 is to ask questions. A heart change has to happen from within, not because of what someone’s told you. Getting another person to think about what has transpired, the outcome and to develop empathy can be encouraged by asking the right questions. I’ve tried this occasionally when helping the boys deal with fighting, but as you said… the evil of busyness often gets in the way. Living in surrender to Christ often means living into divine interruptions.

  4. AT Christmas time my sister in law and I were talking about our kids and some of the issues you are discussing (fearing that they won’t end up living for God). And we both felt like most of the time we were just reacting to situations with our kids instead of being intentional and we should not let life live us but we should live life. So I’ve started praying for each child more specifically and intentional and trying to have more discussions with them about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit (after a movie, tv program or book or something that has happened in news or at school that they bring up). Just trying to tie things in life back to spiritual things. So they can see the bigger picture. I was also wondering about the penitent heart and it made me look at my own heart and I realize I find it really hard to say sorry (admitting wrong) and kids pick up on those things. So yes, the example I set is a huge part of how my kids are/will be. Hard work! Lots and lots of prayer.

  5. The thing that stuck with me this week was to teach them to bounce their eyes. I am not sure why out of all the other good points during this weeks reads that that was what stuck out to me. But I was able to us it with my 8 year old this past weekend. We were out and about and my son came across a poster of a woman dressed very skimpy. He asked me if that was ok, and why they would put up things like that. I was able to explain to him that there will be many times when we will need to bounce our eyes, because God does not want us to see those kinds of images. I was also able to share with him that we should not allow images into our eyes that we don’t want to remember, because you can’t unsee something. Hopefully he will be able to us bouncing of the eyes throughout his life to avoid bad situations.

    • That’s so good Susie. This was a hard one for me to wrap my mind around. Learning to bounce our eyes has got to be one of the biggest challenges we all face, and more so for men. I’m so glad to hear you were able to begin the practice with him this week.

  6. Pingback: 5 Conversations: Choosing Sides « Suzie Lind

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