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5 Parenting Strategies to Empower our Kids

Family Relationships, ParentingGuest ContributorComment

When my first-born son was little, I never imagined the day would come where he’d be all grown up and his life would be his own. The nights rocking him, the days volunteering in his first grade classroom, and the countless nights driving him home from worship band practice never prepared me for this—a season I’m finding to be much harder than I realized. I’m aware that the decisions he makes now, at nineteen, have far greater consequences than they did years ago. Years ago the decisions were small—what sport to do, what project to complete, which friend to call--but life has upped the ante. It’s no longer my job to tell him what to do, or impose rules and create consequences reinforcing responsibility. My role has shifted and instead I’m left to wonder, watch, and wait—to walk beside him, not ahead of him—and suggest the way to go only when he asks.

This reflective perspective has me pondering my parenting choices for my younger kids and longing to refine them.

We know by our experience, and we do what we know.

5 Parenting Strategies to Empower our Kids via The MOB Society

I’m longing to do what I know—to optimize my decisions now so my kids will optimize their decisions later.

In case you’re in the throes of baby and toddler care, or perhaps like me, still spinning in the whirl that is the school years, I humbly offer 5 ways I’m aiming to empower my boys for this adulthood, because whether it feels like it amidst these daily days or not, an adult season is coming sooner than we realize.

5 Parenting Strategies to Empower our Kids

1. Patiently let them learn to do for themselves

Oh how we miss the mark on this one. How many times do we pick up their things, make their peanut butter and jelly sandwhich, or just tell them the answer to their homework problem. Doing so is often faster, more efficient, and reaps a better result—for me. Unfortunately though, it creates children who are at best, somewhat dependent and inefficient, and at worst, ill-equipped, entitled, and lazy. May we harness our patience in these moments and let our kids learn to do things for themselves more than ever. Independence comes with practice, and stripping them of that practice fails to bring the qualities they’ll need for the future, even though it seems easier now.

2. Allow them to learn to fail

There is no way around it, learning to lose is hard, unavoidable, and none of us like to fail. It's hurtful, humiliating and down right painful, but most often, pain is our best teacher and learning to lose can be more important than learning to win. Anyone can learn to win, but it is failure that helps us get over ourselves, cultivate humility and empathy, love more deeply, and appreciate what we have so much more.

3. Embrace consequences as the most loving choice

I am often tempted to give grace, so much grace. And many of us overlook too many offenses or even swoop in and try to save our kids from pain. While doing this in the short term can feel loving, in the long term it causes adults who grow to believe they should never experience consequences anywhere in their lives. Excessive permissiveness is an inaccurate portrayal of the real world. Instead, allowing natural consequences, in the context of the safety net of our love, will help our kids handle the inevitable natural consequences adulthood will bring.

4. Give them weekly home responsibilities for work

When we provide responsibilities for our kids at home they develop more ownership and become more invested as part of the family team. Working together with others and cooperating for a common benefit are essential life skills that help kids have a greater gratitude when something is done for them.

5. Extend at least three physical touches every day

From the very first moments we hold our children, it's crucial to recognize the importance of our touch and to continue to value it. Every day may we hug them, hold hands with them, rub their backs, massage their feet, or scratch their head. May we touch them frequently and consistently, and even more so the taller they are.

We know by our experience, and we do what we know.

And this experience of affection between a mom and her son sets the foundation for his future relationships, and can be one of the greatest gifts we can give. With the experience of physical connection, our sons feel affirmed and empowered, and touch becomes second nature to them--with the potential for it to become a natural part of their role as husbands and fathers one day. And what an amazing gift for them to offer to those they love.

 

Suggested Resources:

Parenting with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline & Jim Fay

Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline & Jim Fay

Parenting the Whole Hearted Child, by Jeannie Cunnion

Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel

 Jacque-Watkins

Jacque Watkins is a podcaster of Mud Stories, mercy lover, and champion of second chances, who's been found by God's mercy, and  knows His mercy can find you too.

 

 

Squelching Sibling Rivalry: On Creating Fan Boys

Family Relationships, ParentingGuest ContributorComment

Two blonde boys, one tall, muscular, and a natural athlete. The other one is younger, skinnier, and also a natural athlete. One of them, however, has the tenacity to go with his talent, and this one factor takes his natural athleticism and punches it up a notch. On the soccer field or the baseball diamond, our two boys are competitors through and through. Most nights they come home crusted in dirt, sweaty, sometimes teary depending on who won and just how physical the game got in the backyard. They are one another's greatest rivals when it comes to all things sports related, but I also want them to be each other's greatest fans.

Squelching Sibling Rivalry: On Creating Fan Boys via The MOB Society

Brothers have a natural bent toward competition. It is in their little male nature to want to one-up the guy next to them, and the closest guy will most likely be the one living under the same roof.

A little good-natured sibling rivalry isn't a bad thing. Competition will make all of us try a little harder and want to be a little better, but how do we help the competitive boys in our midst move beyond the playing field, and mold them into not only one another's greatest challengers, but also each other's number one cheerleaders?

Here are three ways to encourage your competitive boys to become one another's greatest fans both on and off the field:

1.) Let Them Play Together as Often as Possible

It isn't uncommon for the younger of my two boys to be a little better at sports. Spending more time playing with older boys pushes him athletically, and he will either rise to the occasion or quit trying to keep up. This is an opportunity for both boys to enjoy healthy competition together in the safety of your back yard.

This is also the perfect place for them to learn and practice good sportsmanship. I have one child who takes losing very, very personally. I'd rather the meltdowns occur here than on a public field. Every day he's learning to temper his need to win by congratulating his brother on a good game--even if he has to say congratulations through gritted teeth.

2.) Don't Overpraise One of the Brothers

Both of our boys are gifted baseball players. One is a great pitcher, the other excels at first base. Pointing out their individual gifts within the same sport keeps some of the jealous competition at bay. This can be challenging, however, when we're in a group setting and one of the boys is singled out for his ability in front of the other.

As mothers, we often recognize the differences in our children's abilities before others, and we have the task of not pitting them against one another. It's best to watch how often you speak of one brother's talent in front of the other, and to instead, praise and build up both boys for their individual gifts.

3.) Encourage Them to Cheer One Another On

As often as possible, the brothers should attend one another's games, and it should be expected that they watch and cheer one another on. They should be the first to stand up and give a joyful shout when brother makes a good play. This communicates an I've-got-your-back mentality that will give each brother a boost of confidence, and will ignite a special kind of life-long camaraderie.

It's also wise to keep them from coaching one another from the sidelines. Let them encourage, not instruct, in order to preserve the brotherly bond.

Brothers born with a competitive drive to be the best also have the potential to be the largest influencers for athletic success in one another's lives. When those athletic, competitive brothers become each other's super fans, they will not only spur one another on to be better, stronger, tougher, and fiercer, but they will also know that at the end of the day, brotherhood and family supersede sports.

Resources:

For a sweet and encouraging read on well-known athletic brothers, check out this post on the 25 Greatest Brothers in History.  

To understand the history of sibling rivalry, head to Genesis and re-read the story of Jacob and Esau. If ever there was a cautionary tale of playing favorites, that was it.

Finally, for those of you raising athletic challenges, here is an old post I wrote on how to keep your children, and yourself, humble in sport.

Kelli-StuartKelli Stuart is a writer and a mom of four who spends most of her days shuttling children from one event to another in her smokin’ hot minivan. For years, Kelli perfected the art of the starving artist by ghost writing, editing, and writing newsletters back when newsletters were actually printed on paper. In 2008, Kelli discovered blogging when her then-youngest was a newborn. She launched her first site, Minivans Are Hot, as a way to write about the often baffling and hilarious business of being a mother knowing that if she didn’t laugh at life, she just might cry. She’s recently transitioned to a new space online where she loves connecting with creative-heart moms to encourage them to continue developing and using their creative gifts for God’s glory! You can find her over at KelliStuart.com — Kelli currently lives in Tampa, Florida where she tries hard to concentrate on balancing her love of writing with her desire to sit on the beach and read a good book.

 

Why It's Worth It to Stay Up and Listen

Family Relationships, Just for LaughsMelanie Young5 Comments

Stay up.Listen.

When I saw this month's topic of staying connected to your teenage son, I laughed.  I’ve got the answer for you,  you’re just not going to like it! Here’s my advice: Stay up late and listen.

Stay Up and Listen
Stay Up and Listen

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At my house it looks like this...I’m exhausted and really want to be in bed, but the trouble is that I’m so tired I don’t want to walk upstairs, so I sit there piddling around on social media. Finally, with my eyes about to start bleeding, I reach to close my computer and stumble up to my room and fall into bed.

Not so fast there, Melanie,

“Mom? Have you got a minute?”

My insides let out a gut-wrenching NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! while I calmly reply,

“Sure, honey. What’s on your mind?”  I glance around frantically noticing that my dear husband has slipped upstairs and our son and I are alone. My heart sinks. (Hey, I’m only human and I was utterly exhausted.)

“I just wanted to talk. I’ve got some stuff on my mind…” he confesses and an hour later I’m even more tired, but I’m so glad I stayed up.

Those times when everyone else is in bed are rich. They’re parenting on steroids. Always stay up when they ask. Always. No matter how much it stinks. Just get some coffee or something, okay?

The other part is listening, which is harder than it sounds.

Sometimes teens talk on and on about things we don’t care about at all.Listen anyway. Sound interested. After all, you are interested in your son, aren’t you?

Sometimes they are worried about things that are silly. Or determined to talk about something urgently that’s not urgent at all.

Listen anyway.

Sometimes they just want to chat at really inconvenient times. Seriously, their melatonin production is a couple of hours off and they get sleepy later and wake up later. Pry your eyelids open and listen. Before you know it, they’ll be off at college. Listen while you can.

I am laughing, but every word is true. Teens want to talk late at night, alone, at inconvenient times. You may not feel like you want to listen, but teens are quiet when you feel like talking and open up when you feel like sleeping. It’s worth it, though, because when mom is there to listen when they need her, when she listens to what they care about, they keep coming back. They keep asking for advice. You can’t beat that.

Our adult sons have become some of our best friends. We enjoy them so much – and they enjoy us. It took a lot of late nights to get here, though, so grab a cup of coffee and say, “What’s on your mind, son?" and listen.  You’ll be glad you did.

Pray with me. Father, please help us to remember to be gracious when our guys want to talk late at night. Help us to remember what's really important and not all we have to do tomorrow. Help us listen and give us wisdom to give our boys. In Christ's name.

Related Resources

We have three great webinar series for parents that will help you navigate all these things: Preflight, for teens and their parents, will help you get them ready to launch into the world. Boot Camp 9-12, for parents of boys nine to twelve or so, will help you get past the emotional swings and addleheadedness to get them geared up for the teen years. Boyhood Boot Camp is for parents of younger boys who want to learn all they can about raising godly sons. We'd love for you to join us at one of them!

Melanie-Winter-Pic
Melanie-Winter-Pic

Yours in the battle,

Melanie

10 Things Your Teen Son Wants You to Know

Encouragement, Family Relationships, Puberty and SexGuest Contributor9 Comments

We sit at lunch, just me and my teen son.  Right after we order I just say it, I ask him...

"Can I have your advice?"

"Sure," he says, drowning his bread in the balsamic, and shoving the quarter-loaf in his mouth.

"If a mom wants to build a close relationship with her teen, what would you tell her to do?"

I sit and hope he doesn't see how badly I want to know and the silence that follows almost smothers me. For a moment I wonder if I should have asked at all.

Ten Things Your Teen Son Wants You To Know

 

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He's almost 17 and our relationship is strong--stronger than I ever expected it might be considering all we've been through.  I'm so thankful.

But having a teen son is particularly hard. Ten short years ago he was my little guy, lovingly gazing into my eyes and crawling up on my lap. I was the only woman he loved and the first one who held his heart, but it won't be long before all that changes.

My heart simultaneously aches and bursts.  This stage is hard, even with a strong relationship, and I'm certainly open to tips to make it better.

And then, he answers. The words pour out like a river, like I've just breached a dam waiting to be opened. He has so much to say. And I am glad to listen and brainstorm so I can let you all in on what my teen told me.

10 things Your Teenager Wants You to Know

1. Be cool

Be laid back but engaged, classy but fashionable--stylish and aware of the latest trends. Be a hospitable host who welcomes his teen friends. And provide food, LOTS of food, whenever possible!

2. Let conversation happen naturally

As much as we long to know how our teen is doing, do not force conversation through repetitive interrogation. Allow conversation to happen spontaneously while engaged in an activity together--driving in the car, cooking dinner, or even shopping. It's possible that the more time spent in each other's space will foster more conversation.

3. Own your mistakes and refuse to be a hypocrite

If teens are blessed with any sixth sense, it's their ability to detect hypocrisy. For that very reason, it's so important for us to admit when we're wrong and offer an apology with a humble heart. It's also important to share our failures with our sons at appropriate moments--moments when it helps him with whatever he's facing. If our teens see us as real people, they're more likely to respect us and learn from us as well.

4. Refuse to micromanage

Even though this involves trust and letting go, it is so important that we give our teen sons incremental freedom and allow them to practice making decisions. Until their choices require a removal of that freedom, let's refuse to micromanage the details of the things that are their responsibility. This will make them feel respected and convey your belief that they are both capable and trustworthy.

5. Fill our emotional needs elsewhere

We must not look to our teen sons to meet our emotional needs. They were our babies, it's true, and we desire them to reciprocate that love, but behaving in a way that obligates them to reciprocate, makes them feel forced, and may drive our teens away. Our needs should be met by our time with God, by the strengthening of our marriages, and spending time with our friends.  Being cognizant to loosen and eventually cut those apron-strings allows them to develop into the independent adults they need to become.

6. Be the kind person you'd like him to marry

It's no surprise that often our sons end up choosing a spouse similar to the woman who raised them.   If we care about the quality of our sons' future spouse, we need to focus on growing our own character and embodying the characteristics of the kind of spouse we would want our sons to one day marry.

7. Don't nag

Let's refuse to be the dripping faucet that irritates and annoys our teens. If their behavior must change, natural consequences tend to be the best motivators.   This not only conveys our respect and confidence in their ability to make a different choice next time, but also puts the responsibility where it belongs--on them.

8. Have interests other than just our teens

We need to resist making our life, as a mom, solely revolve around our teens. It makes them feel like you can't do life on your own two feet, which leads them to lose respect for you. Having some independent interests will help our sons grow healthier relationships, with us and with others. So please, find hobbies, discover new interests, or invest in friendship and service to others--all of which will serve as a good model for how they should do life as an adult.

9. Ask their opinion

As a teen, our sons long to feel important. They want to be heard and know their opinion truly matters. So ask them what they think and be ready to listen!

10. Be prepared to give them advice

Our teen sons are going to have questions--big ones--about God, our society, and our world. And when our teens ask, it is so important for us to be prepared to give them an answer. So please, study. We must research the issues and know where we stand. That way when they ask, we'll have a great answer.

What do you think is important for the parent of a teen to know?

What advice would you give?

Jacque-Watkins

 

 Jacque Watkins is a mercy lover, podcaster of Mud Stories, and champion of second chances, who knows God's mercy can find you too.

 

This post is a part of our series on building relationship with our teen sons. Click here to read them all!

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How to Build Relationship with Your Teen Son

Family RelationshipsBrooke McGlothlin10 Comments

How does it feel to raise teen sons? You recently told us on our MOB Society Facebook page: Invisible

Not needed

Powerless

Helpless

Exhausted

Exhilarated

Frustration

Bewilderment

Fear

Hard work, right?

I sat through a parenting class before I was even a mom, and heard a seasoned grandmother say these words, "Go after their hearts. Whatever you do, however you discipline them, whatever you teach them, keep their hearts with you. Do everything in your power to keep their hearts trusting in you and your battle will be so much easier."

It's about relationship.

Those words have stuck with me for years, and as I've raised my boys I've kept it at the forefront of my mind. We must commit to build relationship with our boys so that when troubles come they'll have a safe place to land, turning to us instead of the world (<<----tweet that).

We must commit to building relationship with our boys so that when troubles come they'll have a safe place to land.

 

How to Build Relationship With Your Teen Son

Because this is so important, we're going to devote the entire month of September to the fine art of building relationship with teen boys. You'll hear from veteran boy moms like Tricia Goyer, Laura Groves, Gina Smith, Melanie Young, Lisa Whittle, Julie Sanders, Monica Swanson, Jacque Watkins, Tracey Eyster, Becky Barnfather, and from Nathan Clarkson (who isn't a boy mom, but whose story gives so many of us hope that our hard work will pay off in the end).

We'll keep a running list of posts here, so you can refer to them over and over, and in the end, we might just make this little series available as a fun download. Make sure you don't miss anything by signing up to get our blog feed in your email right now, and we'll see you with post #1 on Monday.

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 Ten Things Your Teen Son Wants You to Know

 Eight Simple Things You Can Do to Stay Connected to Your Teen Son

How to Trust God in the Hard Times

Three Daily Reminders to Connect with Your Teenage Boy

How to Keep and Deepen Relationship with Your Teen Son

Why it's Worth it to Stay Up and Listen

Five Perks of Raising a Teen Boy

Four Ways to Grow a Young Man

Three Ways to Tune in to Your Teenager

Laundry and Boys: Five Practical Tips