Monday, October 10, 2011

Raising Boys: All Wrong

So I've been going about parenting the fours of boyhood all wrong for the past few months now.

With G's assertion {as of his fourth birthday} of his independence and wanting to do everything by himself, his {right} way {as opposed to my oh-so-terribly wrong way}, I'd been allowing less grace when he'd ignore me so he could instead do things on his own terms and shortened my tolerance for the bad attitude that ensued after we began warring over him doing things on his own {unproductive, time-consuming} terms.

Such arguments with a preschooler, I've come to learn, are futile and normally result in a lose-lose situation:
I'm left out of sorts, even more behind schedule, lacking any kind of progress while an irritated little-big guy stomps reluctantly behind me, half-deflated, half-angry, unwilling following my weary lead.

And so I came to one conclusion: something needed to change.

But what?

After praying about it, remembering that God made boy to grow into men who lead and reading a really eye-opening post at MOB Society about how parents must embrace their boys' wildness if they want them to grow into the men God created them to be, I decided to start with adjusting my own attitude -- mostly because it was easier to change mine than it would have been to change his.

Plus, I didn't want to enforce a change on the outside; I really wanted to help him change his heart toward embracing our guidance without squashing the essence of his person.

I've been asking God to reveal to me how he created men and the boys that grow into them:

*He created them to lead with integrity and love {Ephesians 5:23}.
*To provide  {I Tim. 5:8; Eph.5:26-27; Eph.6:4}
*To be responsible. {I Cor.4:1-2}
*And to submit to His rule over their lives. {Deuteronomy 6}
But boys don't just slide into manhood, understanding how to do these duties anymore than we women learn how to be wives or mothers or journalists for that matter without training or fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience.

John and I take seriously our mission to guide our boys, and in that, I think we parents must embrace the very qualities our boys have been given, working with them and their personalities rather than against them.

My attitude before -- the whole train of thought that G has been doing things "on  his own {unproductive, time-consuming} terms" -- was short-sighted, to say the least.

While it may have seemed that he was going nowhere fast while trying to buckle his belt tightly around his waist his own way for the fifth time in so many minutes, he was actually accomplishing so much while experiencing natural consequences: if he buckles it too tightly, his stomach hurts; if he accepted guidance, his pants stayed on without hurting his stomach.

It was a powerful lesson -- for us both -- when I stopped arguing and demanding and instead just let him walk his own path while standing aside and offering guidance when he needed it.

If we want our boys to grow into men who take the reigns, who can flourish as the men they were created to be, we've come to realize in our house that we cannot constantly be quashing their attempts to figure out the problem or complete tasks alone or explore how life works without a guide walking along side them instead of a ruler lording over them: an up close and personal lesson in servant leadership.